Episode: How to Become a Real Estate Developer with Adam Gilbert
Guest: Adam Gilbert is the President of The Firm Commercial where he leads a team of agents specializing in commercial real estate sales, leasing, land acquisition, development, government relations, and value added entitlement development deals.
Big Idea: Any Real Estate Agent, Developer, or Investor Generates Consistent Income by Positioning themselves to Receive a Continuous Flow of Deals Crossing their Path. Adam has a unique way of doing this in the realm of commercial real estate, as discussed during this episode.
Dan Breslin: Some of my best partners have come through listening this podcast. Maybe you’re the next. Today’s guest is Adam Gilbert, the president of The Firm Commercial, where he leads a team of agents specializing in commercial real estate sales, leasing, land acquisition, development, government relations, and value-added land entitlement development deals. Any real estate agent developer or investor will generate a consistent income through positioning themselves to receive a continuous flow of deals that are coming across their desk. Adam has a unique way of doing this in the realm of commercial real estate as discussed during this episode. And we also dive deep on how to become a real estate developer covering details of a few recent development deals and we also touch on the Palm Springs, California Real Estate market.
So, I was doing some research for our show here and I found that you’ve recently exited your vacation rental business. So, I’d like to begin right at that point if we could, and maybe you could touch on how you built the business, how it operated at scale, and then what was the ultimate reasoning that led you to selling and exiting.
Adam: Sure. So, quick background, I’m born and raised here in Palm Springs, and I left for school. I came back in about 2011, which was an interesting time in the market for a variety of reasons. But that summer, I had stayed in this new thing called an Airbnb in 2011, Washington, DC. We had spent the summer in New York and my wife was like, “We’re going to spend the night in someone’s room at their house? This is crazy.” I’m like, “We did it. This is the future, honey. This is going to be amazing.” And so, when I moved back to Palm Springs, there we have like a long history of vacation, rental properties for 50-60 years, but not on the platform of Airbnb. So, I was one of the ones who got just a couple of condos on the platform and they just started crushing. Absolutely amazing because this whole new marketplace of people were looking for properties on Airbnb. So, it kind of just grew organically. I was like, “Okay. Well, I’ve got a housekeeping service, I’ve got a handyman, I know how to do these reservations, and we just built this business.” By the time 2018 came around, I had 35 full-time properties. We had like, 50 around the time Coachella came. It was a great business. It’s a very labor-intensive business and it takes a lot of time, and it’s holidays and all that kind of stuff. So, at that point in my real estate investing career, it was just a little bit too much. And so, I made a deal with TurnKey, who’s a venture-backed vacation rental company out of Austin, Texas and they were acquiring small companies like mine at the time. I made an exit and focus my attention on other ventures.
Dan: Okay, so was it more of a freedom thing? Or was there some timing and pricing that also made it worthwhile?
Adam: There were a few factors in there. Just the perils of running a business, partners, all that kind of stuff. I think it was more timing. I had to decide. It was that point when I had 35 properties, I would have needed to invest in the business, in terms of employees. I did some calculations, I wasn’t going to make any money again until I got 75 properties, and I’m like, “Okay. Is this what I want to spend my time doing?” So, it’s kind of an 80/20 principle thing of “Where am I going to focus my time to have the best ROI?”
Dan: Got you. So, what’s been the focus of your career? Since 2018, you exited, you jettisoned the responsibilities, which was kind of what I was expecting an answer there. So, what’s been the focus since then?
Adam: Yeah. So, mostly since then, it’s been building of my real estate brokerage, both commercial and residential, here. It’s mostly commercial, but on the residential side, I do specialize in short-term vacation rentals, which the Palm Springs Market is well known for and has been absolutely blasting since COVID. Palm Springs has been a great market since that’s happened and then, I’m also working on my own deals and I have a little niche in value-add entitlement deals and zone changes. And so, I spent a lot of my time kind of doing that and entitlement work.
Episode Sponsored by the Deal Machine:
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Resources mentioned in this episode:
Adam & I Discuss Commercial Real Estate Syndication:
Government Relations During Land Development
Identifying Value in Underzoned Property
Palm Springs California Real Estate Market
The Group Any Commercial Real Estate Broker is Wise to Join
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