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DALLAS-The global financial meltdown is translating into an economic boon for experienced operations-type professionals, who are in far more demand than transactions-related peers. As the critical mass builds, workout specialists conceivably could be writing their own tickets after being let go by financial institutions.

“The quicker a bailout is in place, it will create a lot of activity and create a lot of jobs,” says Rick Gillham, founder of an executive commercial real estate search firm, Gillham, Golbeck & Associates Inc. in Dallas. He says there is an undercurrent building for workout specialists, but so far the musical chairs has been focused on operations’ professionals with years of experience, particularly in Dallas/Fort Worth. Corporate solutions pros have been in particularly high demand too.

Gillham says professionals who are moving around are winning their new roles with well-honed skill sets from years of experience, which have proven to be more valuable than ever before. “People want experience right now and anyone who has experienced a cycle like this. They want people who know how to maneuver in times like this,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “There are enough people around who went through the 1980s that it will be a lot more efficient this time.”

According to Gillham’s research, the average age of a broker is 46 and property managers, 43.5. The average stint at a company is 3.5 years. “I don’t know what it was in 1985, but it certainly wasn’t 3.5 years and the average age of a broker certainly wasn’t 46,” he says.

Gillham says Texas in general has maintained close to the same number of CRE openings as it had last year. “But, we are seeing more operations-driven positions. As capital dries up, it’s harder to build and it puts more pressure on assets,” he adds, pointing out that the trend has really taken root in recent months. And, the pipeline of CRE professional openings or those testing the water run the gamut from analysts to company presidents.

“There have been more places to go in Dallas/Fort Worth than other places. We’ve been very fortunate,” Gillham says. “We weren’t so fortunate in the mid-1980s.”

In Dallas/Fort Worth, professionals of all stripes have been changing brokerage houses or starting their own CRE firms to lay the groundwork for when good times return. The same scenario is playing out in Houston, where the CRE markets are going gangbusters, and Phoenix, where it’s at a slow crawl.

The most recent move in Houston was 25-year veteran Richard Rudd; Mary Carolan, with 15 years’ experience; Kent Peters, who has 14 years in the business; and Jared Chua, with at least five years’ experience. The quartet has moved to Jones Lang LaSalle from the CB Richard Ellis camp. Rudd, Carolan and Peters have started as managing directors and Chua as a senior vice president.

In Phoenix, Jack Hannum has moved to the local office of Houston-based Transwestern Commercial Services after seven years with CBRE. He starts as a vice president of investment sales for multifamily properties with 100 or more units.

“The worst thing for the real estate business is for us to remain stagnant. And, that’s exactly where we’ve been for a couple months,” Gillham says. “If you are in a good stable situation, obviously it’s not a good time to be looking.” The one caveat is the uptick in annual income that typically goes along with cutting a new turn-around deal.

Gillham predicts the US’ economic bloodletting will end up with a Resolution Trust Co.-type of agency that will be in dire need of street-savvy professionals able to bundle workouts for distressed portfolios. He says the job pool of candidates from the debt side is greater than in years past due to the capital markets’ crash, but he believes that is poised to change once a bailout comes into play. “Those are exactly the people they’ll scoop up,” he says.

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