Location: Columbus, Ohio

Square footage: 12,000

Lot size: 1 acre

Floors: 3

Year built: 1967

Extras: Good location, close to business corridor and transportation hubs.

THE CHALLENGE: Gregory P. Schenk, SIOR, broker-owner of the Columbus, Ohio-based Schenk Company Inc.,
an exclusive tenant representative brokerage and commercial real estate
advisory firm, had a big job on his hands. In November 2007 he agreed
to list a commercial office building that had three stories, no
elevator, a 19 percent vacancy rate, and numerous properties for sale
within a 2-mile radius. “It had previously been listed by a major firm
that tried for two years to market it,” Schenk says. Now, it was his
turn to get it sold.

How did you get buyers interested?

SCHENK: The building had good potential but it
hadn't been marketed properly. It was previously listed with a big real
estate company that just didn't have the time to devote to it. They
basically posted for-sale signs and waited to see what happened.

We don’t even use signs. We try to keep our finger on the pulse of
the local market and broadcast e-mails to people who might have an
interest in the property.

On this listing, our first move was to get the seller—a financial
group out of New York—to do a price reduction of about $100,000. I told
the seller that price is a function of demand and time and this was
based on what we thought the property was worth, what it would sell
for, and what repairs needed to be done.

The seller had been leasing the building to a local firm that used
it as a corporate headquarters but had acquired another facility to
meet its needs. So with the current tenant moving and taking that lease
income, the seller was motivated to accept my suggestion.

What was the selling price?

SCHENK: I listed the property for $575,000 in November 2007. It closed Feb. 10, 2008 for $510,000.

Tell us how you got this listing?

SCHENK: Through a referral. We are a big
relationship firm. Someone I knew called to tell me that the seller had
listed the property with a large real estate company with no luck and
asked if there was something I could do. I talked to the seller, and I
was confident I could get the job done.

How much did you spend on marketing?

SCHENK: Almost nothing. I posted the property on Craigslist.com and put out some feelers to my contacts.

How many times did you show the property?

SCHENK: I showed the property three times.But the
buyer came to me through another broker who read the Craigslist.com
advertisement. The company had three different divisions and planned to
put a business unit on each floor.

What do you attribute to closing the deal so quickly in a tough market?

SCHENK: Getting the seller to understand market conditions and lowering the price. Those were the two main factors.

Tell us a little about your business. How many transactions do you oversee annually?

I serve about 30 clients each year. I got started in commercial real
estate in Columbus, Ohio, in 1986. I set some high goals and gave
myself two years to make it. If it didn’t work, I would move back to
Los Angeles.  

Within two years, I had hit all of my goals. I started my own firm
in 1996, representing tenants, buyers and investors, and I was
teaching, training and speaking nationally. In 2006, I won the Micro
Entrepreneur of the year award winner for real estate in Central Ohio.
And I am part of the REALTORS® Commercial Alliance 2009 Signature Series.

What lessons did you learn from this transaction?

SCHENK: I realized that now more than ever, people
really need us. What I always say is that people need advisers and
consultants first, and resultants second.

I am not here to sell anything. I advise and consult first. I put
together a strategic plan. And then I help surround my clients with all
the people—such as the real estate attorney, commercial banker,
accountant, contractor, architect, and project manager—they need to
implement that plan. The days of putting up a sign and hoping for the
best are gone.