1. According to your bio, your family members are real estate connoisseurs. How did your upbringing influence and contribute to your career path? How old were you when you began learning the ropes?
I come from a long line of real estate owners and developers. My great-grandfather, Hamilton McClure Forman, arrived in South Florida in 1910 and started the first dairy farm in the area. The farm spanned hundreds of acres and contributed to the overall economic development and history of Broward County. Hamilton was among the founding families of Broward County, along with the Stranahans, the Cromarties and the Pallicers. Sadly, the dairy farm no longer exists and the land was divided into grants and real estate parcels. Today, what would have been the farm is now the city of Davie.
My grandfather, Hamilton C. Forman, father, H. Collins Forman, and uncle, M. Austin Forman, subsequently took on the responsibilities of managing the family’s real estate ventures and investments. I knew that eventually I would have to learn the ropes to handle family affairs in the future, so I decided it would be a good idea to get involved early. I was 15 years old when I started working at our family’s accounting office as a bookkeeper. I worked there for seven years and I still help out whenever I’m available. My experience in accounting and bookkeeping was undoubtedly beneficial to my career in commercial real estate. Being able to comprehend finances and the nuances of real estate transactions was incredibly useful then, and of course is still a large component of my day-to-day responsibilities now. Ultimately, my experience growing up in the family real estate business drove me toward the commercial real estate industry.
2. Are there any areas of the commercial real estate leasing market in which you specialize? What is the current state of those sectors?
At the moment, my focus is on the industrial leasing market. I find the industrial sector to be one of the most interesting and dynamic areas of the leasing market. It’s also one of the most popular and in-demand types of commercial real estate in Broward County.
The overall commercial real estate market is in a healthy state. It has been experiencing slow and steady growth, which is favorable because it reduces the opportunities for ‘bubbles’ in the real estate market. Gradual growth is much more stable and beneficial to the community compared to spilt-second skyrockets and consequent crashes.
In terms of the industrial leasing market specifically, Broward County is in very high demand. There’s not much inventory left, particularly for small warehouse spaces, which have been the most popular in my experience. Because of the lack of inventory, rent prices for industrial spaces are increasing. What is currently a tenant’s market is shifting towards a landlord’s market due to the high demand for property and limited available space. Fort Lauderdale has become a hub for regional, national, and international business relations. As such a desirable location for commerce and industry, people are willing to pay premium rates for commercial real estate in the area.
3. What are your predictions for the future of these leasing areas?
As a result of the limited inventory of land and industrial space in Broward County, I’m anticipating the demand for industrial space will increase, however, development will be constrained for the foreseeable future. There are very lucrative opportunities for landlords and developers to purchase any available land and build new warehouses, business parks, office complexes, storage and manufacturing bays, and more. With such high demand for this type of commercial real estate, there’s almost a guarantee that available space will be quickly absorbed by tenants paying favorable lease rates.
4. You are very dedicated to being an active member of the community. What charitable organizations do you work with and what is the scope of your role? How is charitable service important to you?
I’m very passionate about being involved in the community and volunteering with various charitable organizations. Some of the organizations I work with include Grace Place Schools, Saints International, Operation Christmas Child, Lifework Leadership, National Christian Foundation and Teen Challenge.
At Grace Place Schools, I have the opportunity to work with at-risk teens who have experience with or are potential targets of human trafficking. With Operation Christmas Child, I work with a dedicated team of individuals to send gifts around the world to underprivileged children.
I’m also actively involved with charitable initiatives at my church, the First Christian Church of Fort Lauderdale. We run an outreach program with children from disadvantaged communities to help educate and socialize them in ways that their schools and communities are unable to provide. Additionally, I dedicate some of my time to the God Squad, a group of parishioners tasked with prayer activities and community awareness programs with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
Charitable service is a principal component of my life. I approach it the same way that many people approach exercise – I make time for it as often as possible and always give 110 percent. Several of the organizations I work with are faith-based. I think that my religious beliefs and community service go hand-in-hand in terms of dedication, passion, morality and philanthropy.
5. How do young professionals benefit from mentors or senior colleagues in the commercial real estate industry? What advice would you give other young professionals?
As a young professional, I would say that succeeding in commercial real estate is practically impossible without mentors or senior colleagues. My time working here with Berger Commercial Realty Corp. has been invaluable to my launch into the Commercial Real Estate Market. The Berger sales associates, brokers, and property managers have been incredibly patient and helpful to me as I learn the “ropes” of the industry. Being a sales associate is not one of those professions where you can pick up a book and teach yourself the logistics and become an expert overnight. To learn commercial Real Estate one must simply work in the industry and gain experience. As stated by my coworker Steve Hyatt, “Commercial Real Estate unfortunately is the school of hard knocks.”
The advice that I would offer to other young professionals interested in commercial real estate would be to do as many internships as possible. This industry requires a great deal of experience and the best way to learn is with a hands-on approach. Connections are also critical – not just to find a job at a firm, but to eventually gain clients that come to you to explore their commercial real estate options. Also, get your real estate license as soon as possible. This will not only qualify you to work in commercial real estate, but will also give you that extra push to pursue your career path.