Mile High Climber: Easton Enge, Director of Pursuit & Transaction Management, Brinkman Real Estate
Mile High CRE is excited to announce that our March Mile High Climber is Easton Enge, director of Pursuit and Transaction Management at Brinkman Real Estate. Mile High Climbers are industry professionals who innovate, inspire, collaborate, and take risks. They are future leaders and change-makers, and they deserve to be celebrated.
At Brinkman, Easton leads efforts to identify and pursue acquisition, disposition, and refinance opportunities. This includes playing a key role in business plan formation and execution, as well as monitoring the capital markets to determine an asset’s best course of action throughout the investment horizon. He also oversees the due diligence and closing processes.
1. How did you start your career in the CRE industry?
The short answer is my father was a residential real estate broker growing up and I used to tell him that I was either going to the NBA, or I would be in real estate. Needless to say, the hoop dreams never panned out. The long answer is when I was in college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I was a double major (Accounting and Finance) and I really did not enjoy my accounting classes nor the accounting internship I was in. My roommate was working for Marcus & Millichap at the time and convinced me to take Intro to Real Estate Finance. I fell in love immediately as I love numbers and was fascinated by this entirely unknown industry of commercial real estate. The rest as they say, is history.
2. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Kind of cliché, but there is always something new or different about each and every project. From deal to deal about 90% of the due diligence, analysis, etc. remain the same which I like to consider as the “science” of commercial real estate. However, that last 10% is where you get the “art” and where you can really find opportunities to maximize the end-user experience, income, values, etc. A great example of this is when we were working on the Foundry project located in Loveland, CO. We wanted to incorporate the percentage rent from the movie theater into our underwriting but there isn’t a great database for movie theater concession and ticket sales comps. I was on the phone calling all the local movie theaters asking average attendance, concession sales per customer, and varying ticket prices all so I could back into what a good percentage rent calculation would be. I never would have believed my professor in that Intro to Real Estate Finance course if he told me that was something I would be doing one day.
3. What have been some of your favorite/proudest projects or career accomplishments?
As I said, I’m a big numbers person so underwriting acquisition deals, beating pro forma, providing outsized returns for our investors, all while providing a great experience for our residents is very rewarding to me. Development deals are really fun too because you start with an idea and some land, form the vision, work through modeling, entitlements, and then create a tangible experience and asset. That doesn’t really answer the favorite projects question but I really believe in our mission at Brinkman and love working on all our projects.
4. What have been some of the biggest challenges in your career and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest decisions I made in my career was about 4 years ago. I decided to pack everything up, quit my job, and move out to Colorado. It was a big gamble as I had just settled into my new role at a large bank in commercial real estate lending, but decided it wasn’t for me and I wanted to be closer to the action on the principal side. I poured over job postings on Indeed and LinkedIn (before my move) and didn’t pull the trigger until I found the right situation. Once I arrived, I quickly realized that my education and experience didn’t really stack up to the expertise and knowledge of every single person I was working with. I did the only thing I knew how to do and that was work hard and learn as much as I could from all these amazing people around me. I’ve been at Brinkman ever since and making that move has been the best decision I ever made.
5. What advice do you have for an emerging AEC/CRE professional?
For a lot of young professionals, they feel breaking into the industry can be difficult. My advice is to get a foot in the door, work hard, and leverage your network. Your work ethic and eagerness to learn will be noticed and as your network expands, new opportunities will present themselves. From my experience, education teaches the fundamentals, but real industry knowledge comes from seeing many deals, projects, and scenarios. It really boils down to reps. As I said earlier 90% of the stuff is the same from deal to deal but that remaining 10% is where you really learn and grow as a professional.
6. What are some of your goals for the future?
My goal is to become a principal one way or another. How that happens or what form it ultimately takes is undetermined. Looking a little shorter term, I am excited as I think we are entering a unique time in commercial real estate given the current market climate. From geopolitics to seller expectations, to capital markets a lot of things seem to be at somewhat of a crossroads and the next six to 18 months are going to be interesting to see how it all plays out and exciting to navigate.
7. What trade associations or non-profits have you been actively involved with throughout your career?
I’ve done a decent amount of volunteering with various non-profits throughout my career and look forward to continuing that. Industry-related trade associations and the like are an area I’d like to get more involved in. Anyone reading please reach out with opportunities as I am #OpenToNetwork.