Executive Managing Director
ARA, A Newmark Company
“If you don’t know the answer, tell your client you will find the answer — it builds trust.”
Like many of the nations top CRE brokers, Chris Cowan, executive managing director for ARA, A Newmark Company, did not become a leader in his market or president of DMCAR, without his fair share of setbacks. But today he credits his success to the challenges he has overcome and learned from, both in life and in business.
Early in his career, Cowan was consistently the youngest person in the room, and considered the kid at the table. He had to learn quickly how to hold his own when meeting with senior and experienced owners and developers. He overcame his lack of experience with knowledge and by being aggressive, eager to learn, and earning the reputation. “Just listening in those meetings, allowed me to better respond to my clients’ needs and demands,” says Cowan.
As executive managing director ARA Denver’s, Colorado-based land services team, Cowan focuses on urban infill development and suburban land sales for all multihousing and mixed-use product types. He is involved in all aspects of the marketing process including valuation, client and prospect contacts, contract negotiations and closing.
Cowan has an unprecedented amount of knowledge relating to land brokerage and multihousing development. As he drives around town, he takes great pride in his ability to identify his work history by the current and future multifamily buildings under construction, by skyline changing developments, and foundational corners that are being created.
Back in late 2008, at the time of the stock market crisis, he lost his entire book of business that he had developed as a new broker. Rather than leave the commercial real estate business, he took the opportunity to do some fix and flips which allowed him to make a living and support his family, while he prepared for the market to recover. When 2010 came and the rebound of the market occurred, he was well positioned to capture new opportunities.
Since then Cowan has experienced exponential growth. In the past 13 years, Cowan has been involved in the sale of land for the development of more than 16,000 units with a total consideration in excess of $350 million. Alliance Residential, Martin Fein Interests, MKS Residential and Trammell Crow Residential are among his past and present clients. However, he does not keep just one deal on a pedestal as no two of his transactions are alike. “They all have their challenges and successes, but each one has and continues to provide lessons in life and business.”
From a team perspective, Cowan looks for and empowers young talent to be a vocal part of his team and the decision-making process. He shares highlights of his own experiences, teaches how to derive thoughts, and encourages emerging brokers to give their own perspective and feedback. Cowan emphasizes the importance of meeting with clients in person whenever possible, to always listen more than you talk, to understand clients’ needs, and ask questions, “If you don’t know the answer, tell your client you will find the answer- it builds trust.”
Promoting from within, Cowan has active analysts and transaction managers that are in growth and mentoring roles.
Mr. Cowan was honored as Denver’s Land Broker of the Year in 2011 and 2015 and currently serves as president on Denver Metro Commercial Association of Realtors’ (DMCAR) Board of Directors.