We all love a good party. The trick is knowing when it’s time to head for home. The party called real estate in the years prior to 2008 claimed a score of revelers who littered the front lawn with the debris of their excesses—the faulty deals, the sketchy underwriting and the questionable loans that contributed to the biggest economic downturn since the 1930s.

Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services knew when it was time to head for home. The executive committee that made that decision admitted that their firm too got caught up in the froth of the decade but, embracing the vision of newly appointed president and CEO John J. Kerin, embarked on a journey of sorts to retrieve the standards upon which the company, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, had been built.

In the first years of the new decade, “if you could fog a mirror, you could make a six-figure income,” says George M. Marcus, co-chairman of the Encino, CA-based firm. “You could email your way to success,” in a market that he believes had all but abandoned such concepts as client relationships, specializations and (in a way most important) accurate information. “And these were some of the principles upon which we founded the company in 1971.”

Kerin, a 30-year veteran of M&M, took the helm almost two years ago—a critical time to study the firm’s roots and its direction against the backdrop of the challenges the industry was facing. “We traditionally differentiated ourselves through what we call value-added brokerage,” he says, “which goes beyond typical marketing and advertising as the main vehicles for generating buyer interest.” The program involves analysis, valuation, positioning and marketing to targeted buyers. But, Kerin says, caught in the froth, “a lot of this value-added brokerage was overshadowed by the sheer trading mentality of the market.”

 

To read the rest of the story, visit the December 2011 issue of Real Estate Forum.