Two Questions a Commercial Real Estate Broker Must Always Ask

Two Questions a Commercial Real Estate Broker Must Always AskOur business doesn’t always seem like an easy one. After all, we deal with extremely valuable assets or with complicated legal arrangement that can last for years. Those of us who are in property management are responsible for countless parts of a building’s operations and for managing scores of relationships.

You’d probably think that the most important question in the commercial real estate industry is like the Accounting oral test question in Back to School – one question – with 27 parts. In actuality, the two best questions in a savvy commercial real estate broker’s arsenal contain just five words – and that covers both of them.


For a single, simple word, why is amazingly powerful. When you’re a new to the business advisor, you can use it to keep a prospect talking while you’re figuring out what to say next. The most senior brokers in the industry, on the other hand, use it to gain deeper insights. Just about any response from a client can be met with “why,” and, in just about every case, “why” will get you closer to the information you need to help a client take the appropriate actions to achieve his or her investment goals. Here are some examples:

  • I bought this asset to hold it long-term…. Why?
  • I manage this asset myself… Why?
  • It might be time to 1031 to a new property… Why?
  • I usually like short-term leases… Why?

As long as the answer to the question isn’t completely obvious, why is one of the most powerful questions that you can ask. It can also be a good follow up and, with the addition of a few words here and there, can even be used a few of times in a row

I manage this asset myself.


Because property managers are too expensive and don’t do a very good job.

Why do you say that?

I’ve worked with three different ones and that’s been my experience.

What if You Don’t ….

“What if you don’t…”  is extremely powerful because it strips away artifice and leaves true motivation behind. How many times have you had a client tell you that he was going to sell a building and then turn out not to do a transaction? To avoid this problem, consider asking “What if you don’t sell your building?” Sometimes, the client will tell you that she is fine holding onto it. In other cases, she’ll tell you that she has no other option or that the other options are too unattractive to stop her from selling.

Some commercial real estate brokers are scared to ask a client about not taking action. However, just as it’s almost impossible to talk a client into doing something that she doesn’t really want to do; it’s equally hard to talk her out of doing something that fits her strategy. In either case, what you really want to do is to find out the truth of what the client actually will do so that you can begin making plans to help her.

What questions have helped you land more business? Have we missed any? Let us know below in the “comments” section.