Livingston, N.J., August 19, 2022 – The following is a Q&A with Gebroe-Hammer’s Joseph Gehler, sales representative, where he discusses his path to success in the multifamily investment brokerage field. For six years Gehler has been with the firm, which maintains affiliations with several real estate organizations, including PAA, NJAA, NJPOA, NMHA, NAA & NPOA.
Q: What is your most notable recent transaction?
A: When asked this question, one recent transaction comes to mind. Like a number of deals that were in progress at the onset of the pandemic, this 200+-unit garden-apartment community in Bucks County was impacted by the great pause – albeit temporary – of early 2020. Fast forward 24 months and the 1970s-era property, which had a significant value-add component and posed tremendous upside in terms of rents and property appreciation, sold for a 30% price increase over what the offer of 2020 had been.
Located about 10 minutes from Burlington, NJ and 20 minutes from Center City, this property possessed all the amenities and lifestyle conveniences that appeal to the area’s surging pandemic-recovery tenant base. As a result, it garnered a high volume of interest among multifamily investors who have been and continue to be drawn to value-add product within thriving transit-centric suburban-bedroom communities. In short, this deal embodies the saying that when one door closes, another opens.
Q: What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment thus far?
A: One of the greatest affirmations of a job well done is the opportunity to work with multifamily investment clients on a repeat basis, whether it involves expanding their portfolio holdings within or beyond a certain market and/or being awarded an exclusive on a property for which I spearheaded the sale to the current owner five or six years ago, when I was just starting out in this business.
For me, this is a validation that I’ve earned my stripes so to speak and measure up to the storied standards of today’s investors as well as what Gebroe-Hammer Associates has built over the course of its 47-year history. All of my accomplishments – the small wins and the multi-million-dollar transactions – are directly tied to Gebroe-Hammer’s time-tested training regimen, which does not include sitting behind a desk gathering market information for other brokers in the field. From day one, I participated in the sales process, soaked it all in and have cultivated these relationships to grow and expand.
Five-plus years later, I’m directly involved with assisting a number of these investors realize their business plan – at tremendous profits – for an acquisition I sold them a few years ago. In short, I am part of the property business-plan lifecycle from acquisition to resale. In one case, I sold an investor their first multifamily property and have since helped them acquire/dispose a number of assets for the bulk of their current portfolio. We share a lot of common ground and career experiences associated with starting out and growing together.
Q: Who has been the strongest influence(s) in your career?
A: In addition to being shaped by my past brokerage career experiences thus far, I am the product of Gebroe-Hammer Associates’ first-class mentorship. When I entered the industry six years ago, I was guided and shaped by some of the industry’s greatest icons – President Ken Uranowitz, Executive Managing Director Joseph Brecher and Senior President Eli Rosen. They instilled one very important principle that continues to ring true today: no deal is too small or too large, too simple or complex.
They gave me the foundation of Gebroe-Hammer’s time-tested training regimen and encouraged me to apply my own entrepreneurial mindset without ever sitting behind a desk gathering market information for other brokers. Since my first day, I participated in the sales process and absorbed as much as I could. Thanks to this program, I found myself ready to roll and spearhead my own deals with confidence and integrity.
Q: How do you contribute to your company and/or the industry?
A: Since joining the multifamily brokerage profession in mid-2016 as a trainee, I have served as a member of the Greater Philadelphia MSA/South Jersey Metro market team. In addition to securing exclusive listings and procuring buyers as either the sole broker or as part of a Gebroe-Hammer team, I have also served in an integral advisory role to property owners considering an expansion of their portfolio and/or disposition or 1031 Exchange.
In this capacity, I help owners realize the maximum value of their assets and educate them regarding current market conditions and anticipated trends. Specifically, during the past 5 years I have contributed toward Gebroe-Hammer’s overall Greater Philadelphia Metro sales totals, which number over 175 deals and 18,830 units sold for in excess of $2.3B.
Q: What role does networking play in your career?
A: At Gebroe-Hammer Associates, it is all about relationship building. And, given the extended conditions under which we have been interacting, connections are more important now than ever. Even with these hurdles and as we gradually enter a new normal, the strong relationships that I have cultivated are feeding what continues to be a robust pipeline of multifamily deals. This includes fielding requests from buyers who have capital readily available for investment and obtaining new listings that are attracting very competitive offers. In addition, I’m continuing to identify new opportunities in established and emerging markets for both Gebroe-Hammer Associates and clients.
Q: What personal qualities and/or traits make you successful in the multifamily investment brokerage profession?
A: As I have learned from my mentors and clients alike, it is important to keep your eye on the bigger picture. Of course, this means being proactive when facilitating deals and acting as an intermediary or facilitator when needed. This drive – along with my in-depth knowledge of the Philadelphia Metro and its surrounding suburban submarkets – and what I refer to as common-sense intuition have allowed me to succeed. This has made a significant contribution toward Gebroe-Hammer’s expanded presence in the Philadelphia/South Jersey region, the firm’s heightened sales activity and its expanded client base of active multifamily owners and investors within this important MidAtlantic Region market.
Q: What challenges did you need to overcome to become as successful as you are today?
A: Through past experiences, I have learned the importance of really listening and becoming better at it. This trait has helped evolve both my work as a broker and in my personal life. Being a multifamily investment broker has shown me that it is important to listen and really hear what is being said by coworkers, clients and buyers. Another situation that I had to embrace is the fact that no two deals or properties for that matter are ever the same. Being “brought up” in Gebroe-Hammer’s training program, I was able to both listen and learn from the best and register how they operate every day. I’ve also come to understand that being a good listener is an important leadership quality that goes hand in hand with Gebroe-Hammer’s other core values of integrity, persistence and patience.
Q: What inspiring word of advice would you give to others pursuing a multifamily investment brokerage career?
A: My inspiring words of advice for brokerage career starters – as well as those currently in the profession and today’s multifamily property owners and investors – is this: don’t let the talk about a looming recession or other negative sentiment deter you. By its very nature, commercial real estate – including the multifamily sector – goes hand-in-hand with the typical economic cycles that have occurred since the beginning of time. Yes, the multifamily investment market is undergoing an adjustment from the hypergrowth market of the past few years as interest rates rise and the recession conversation is more prevalent.
BUT the offsetting reality is this: lending and capital deployment are still flowing into multifamily properties without any hesitation whatsoever thanks to their recession-proof nature. Furthermore, occupancies are in the +96% range thanks to record unemployment and increased wages. As proven by past economic peaks and valleys, the appetite for multifamily investments is unwavering. Investors are still buying, and owners are still selling. Even in a market adjustment period, there is still plenty of business to do and plenty of ways to make money.