Updated: Jun 3
David Baker, Principal Broker at Baker Storey McDonald Properties, has 38 years experience representing national retailers including Sprouts, Petco, Sports Authority, Old Navy, Michaels, Best Buy, Burkes and more in various states including Tennessee. He also cofounded X-TEAM, a national team of tenant representation experts in 31 cities. David is a true leader in the industry and was kind enough to share his insights.
Tell us about your early experiences in commercial real estate.
My real estate career started with CBRE in Nashville. One of my first transactions was with Pier 1 on White Bridge Road with Sam and Carol Silverman. I represented Pier 1, and the Silverman’s owned a vacant property at the corner of White Bridge and Post Road where they wanted to develop a shopping center. What I learned about real estate then is true today, that the relationship in a transaction is so important. We completed the Pier 1 deal, and I ended up leasing the rest of the shopping center for them. My wife and I became friends with their Family, and we trusted each other during the course of leasing and construction. Our firm now leases and manages the center.
Biggest lesson learned during your career?
Showing up. Many business coaches have said that 80% of success is just showing up. I can remember when I first got into the business and went to the annual International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas. At that time there were I am sure 25,000-30,000 people in attendance. I knew about 50 of them. Either I could go back to my room, or walk the exhibit halls and hotel lobby, hoping to see someone I knew, and hopefully being introduced to a new person. If not I might see someone’s name badge and just startup a conversation. While now I do not have as much time during these conventions (assuming there soon will be conventions), I still enjoy meeting new people, and introducing those around me to others. Just being there created business, and still does.
What excites you about the future of real estate?
Real estate is constantly changing. When I started, malls were hot, and downtowns were dead. Now it is the opposite. I enjoy being a part of the changing trends. Today, retail is adapting to Amazon and COVID, where those that adapt will survive and prosper. Those that do not provide opportunities. In the last year I have completed six sales on former Sears boxes, with only one being redeveloped for retail.
What advice would you give to a young professional in commercial real estate?
First of all, being honest should go without saying. I represent many different national tenants throughout the mid-south. On occasion, I have received calls from developers or leasing agent, not aware that I represent several retailers, saying that one of my tenants is negotiating a letter of intent in their center, which I would know if that were true. From that point on that person has no credibility with me, and I must then fact check everything else they say from that point forward. My underling philosophy is to act with honesty and integrity, which I learned from my grandfather. While its easy to make up stories to get the deal done, in the end the truth will come out.
Baker Storey McDonald Properties, Inc. is a commercial real estate firm providing development, property management and brokerage services in the Central South. Ranked by the Nashville Business Journal as the 12th largest firm for lease volume at over $55 million in 2019. BSMP was founded in 2002 by David Baker, Carl Storey, Allen McDonald. To learn more visit www.bsmproperties.com
CRE615 is a networking group and educational platform for Nashville's next generation of commercial real estate professionals. To learn more visit www.cre615.com