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Brian Katz of Katz & Associates: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry

An Interview With Jason Hartman

No transaction is the same. You really can’t just go through the motions daily. Each time you enter a negotiation, you have different players, personalities, wants and needs. As the facilitator, this really forces you to be thoughtful and flexible as you move through the process.

As a part of my series about the ‘Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry’, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Katz.

CEO Brian Katz is responsible for the operations and management of Katz & Associates, a boutique retail real estate firm conducting leases and sales along the eastern seaboard from its six offices, as well as strategic planning and execution for his clients’ real estate expansions and dispositions. Brian has competed deals valued in excess of $3 billion dollars in NY, NJ, CT, PA, DE, MD, VA, DC, and FL. He has a successful transaction history with several national retailers, and has led market entry assignments and strategy plans across multiple states and MSAs.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?

I grew up around the business. My father spent 23 years at Melville Realty Corp and rose through the ranks to President of the Real Estate Division. In 1995, when Melville spun off each of its retail companies, he started Katz & Associates. At the time, I was a freshman in college. After graduating, I worked at Forest City Ratner companies in Brooklyn for about three years. It was a great place to get an education and training and ultimately led to several relationships I still maintain today.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?

I was representing Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) and we were working to relocate and expand the store on Broadway in Soho. At the time, it was the largest transaction I had ever worked on. We had the CEO of EMS in SOHO and were heading to visit the proposed new space with the Landlord representative who was also young and new to the business. We arrived at the building and the Tenant who occupied the second floor portion of the space was closed and the door was locked. It was a Tuesday at 11am. Nobody contemplated not being able to get inside. Now we are standing on the street and the EMS CEO who was very pleasant was irritated by the situation. Landlord rep call his boss and his boss says “figure it out. Either climb the fire escape and break the window or knock down the door.” Fifteen minutes later we were inside …

Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story? The lesson is (1) Don’t lose track of the details and (2) There is always a way to get things done with persistence and creative thinking.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? Over the past few years, I’ve been working with Floor and Décor on site selection in the Metro New York Area. The opportunity to start with a company with zero stores in our area and work with the company to plan the entry and multi-year expansion is very exciting. How do you think that will help people? Bringing new business to the area creates jobs, fills large vacancies and broadens the brick and mortar shopping choices to the consumer. For me, participating in this process is rewarding and it is always fun to be able to drive-touch-feel your work years after it is complete.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We consider ourselves a family boutique firm with the infrastructure and reach similar to much larger competitors. This enables us to maintain personal relationships both inside our walls and with our clients while executing on the larger stage. We have long-standing relationships with our clients that extend beyond any particular transaction and often see ourselves as an extension of the clients’ internal resources. No door is closed here. We have intentionally remained our size to maintain this culture.

About five years ago, we had a friend of the company who was battling cancer. One of the principals of our firm came to me and asked what we could do to help him with his existing business and family long term. We spent the next few months working with him and his family to arrange a long-term structure that would enable him to maintain his existing business and in the event he were to pass, have his family continue to benefit from his work. He has since passed and we continue to execute on his family’s behalf.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My father has been a great mentor and advocate for me to this day.

Prior to starting our business, my father was running a very large real estate division for a multi-divisional retail company. He had a high-ranking corporate position on the inside that was executing thousands of transactions across the US annually. Having inside access to his experiences and knowledge was of tremendous value. There is not one specific story that stands out however we spent close to 20 years in the same office. I inherited my deal making style from him and use many of the lessons learned to this day.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry? If you can please share a story or example.

  1. No transaction is the same. You really can’t just go through the motions daily. Each time you enter a negotiation, you have different players, personalities, wants and needs. As the facilitator, this really forces you to be thoughtful and flexible as you move through the process.
  2. It’s alive — The ability to see, touch, feel your work. I am constantly pointing to stores when out with my family and sharing stories of when we did that deal, why it almost didn’t happen and who was in the space prior. I’m sure this bores my kids to tears but it gives me a genuine sense of fulfillment.
  3. The personalities- Being NYC based but doing business along the entire eastern seaboard offers the chance to meet a variety of different people along the way. We also can have days spending 8–10–12 hours in a car with 2 or 3 people. You can learn a lot about a person in this time.

Can you share a couple things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest? Please share stories or examples if possible.

  1. Up and coming talent. We are not seeing strong interest from the younger generation in our industry. As shopping and retail has evolved, the younger generation does not have the same relationship with the mall we had has kids. Our community needs real overhaul in its programs and strategy with outreach.
  2. Availability and cost of materials has had real impact. Everything from goods produced overseas, lumber and steel for interior fit-outs and utility services. These issues have reshaped thinking on both sides of the transaction in terms of schedule, penalties, and allocation of resources. As space vacancy rates continue to decrease, we will need to see an uptick in new construction and if cost and availability of materials don’t stabilize transaction costs won’t be viable.

What advice would you give to other real estate leaders to help their teams to thrive and to create a really fantastic work culture?

Be accessible. Listen to your people and adapt to change. Our people are our greatest asset.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time finding a way to manage my time in an organized and efficient way. Too often, I see people trying to juggle so many things that they never get anything done. If you don’t use your time effectively your chances of success are very low. Working with our people to find ways that work for them is a high priority for us internally. Every person and their own process is different but at the end, those who are efficient and smart with time generally rise to the top. The other pillar for me is preparation. We are in the service business and being prepared is paramount. Even the simplest task of picking up a client from the airport. We have clients who wake up at 4am for 6am flights to NY. Using this example, I track the flight, check the traffic, wash the car, get gas and arrive at the airport 20 minutes early with materials and the day planned to within 15 minutes. All this can be done pretty quickly but I can’t tell you how many clients have told stories of brokers showing up late, getting lost and not have proper materials.

A few of the other things I constantly tell people that seem obvious but are equally important: be proactive, be persistent, maintain relationships, collaborate with co-workers and friends, and lastly pay attention in your off hours. Retail is everywhere. New relationships can come from the simplest ideas. Walk into the interesting donut store on vacation, talk to your hair stylist, be the person at the restaurant bar that starts the conversation with the stranger.

Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

At this point in my life, I am not yet to the point of inspiring a movement. I am focused on inspiring the people around me, my family, friends, co-workers, colleagues. Certainly a part of this includes causes important to me but I am still a few years away from inspiring a movement!

How can our readers further follow your work online?


Instagram: @katzretail; @bkatz255

LinkedIn: Brian Katz; Katz & Associates

Facebook: Brian Katz; Katz & Associates

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.




In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Jason Hartman

Jason Hartman

Author | Speaker | Financial Guru | Podcast Rockstar

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