Welcome to the first edition of Better Know a CRE. This series serves as a spotlight for Counselors of Real Estate leadership with the goal of helping fellow counselors and the real estate industry learn more about the organization, its happenings, and its history.
Given the format shift for the 2022 Fall Annual Conference in Boston and the recent 2023 Fall Annual Conference in Vancouver — whereby the agendas focused more on opportunities to experience creative local real estate projects with fewer panel sessions than in years past — it is fitting that we choose 2018 Chair, Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE® as our first interviewee. Mr. Nahas, a Senior Vice President with Equus Capital Partners, shares thoughts with Real Estate Issues about his career experiences, influences, as well as why the organization decided to shift the conference format last year.
What attracted you to a career in commercial real estate?
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: I was an economics undergrad major with 9 business electives to fill in my final year. I added 3 real estate courses and fell hook, line, and sinker. A year later I was in grad school part time as a real estate major. The appeal was the tangible features of real estate. You can see what exists, envision what it can become and act on it.
How would you describe the way(s) you learned the ropes?
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: I began as an analyst, then worked in brokerage, lending, and development. In the beginning, everything was analyzed on 13 column ledger paper, and in pencil! Then came Lotus, FinSim, Pro-ject, Dynamis, Excel and Argus. I worked with them all. After exposure to the various disciplines, I eventually ended up in the investment area.
Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently in your career?
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: Probably would have moved onto the principal side of the business earlier. It’s better to control your destiny and the outcomes, than rely on others.
Describe a meaningful activity, service, or story from your tenure as a CRE.
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: One of my more meaningful activities during my tenure as a CRE, was working on task forces for meeting content, which eventually led to the decision by the Organization, to move to a one a year annual meeting (from Annual and Mid-year) with a focus on real estate activities in the host city and less emphasis on panels, speakers and PowerPoint presentations. After all, we all have access to the later in our day-to-day work but getting out and touching and experiencing the real estate activity – well that’s how we learn and how we can help our clients.
What is one accomplishment or project kicked off that you are proud of from your tenure as chair?
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: The one accomplishment that I am most proud of from my tenure as Chair was reworking the “Find a CRE” feature on the web site. Previously, it only helped CRE’s find other CRE’s. I led a task force which reworked the feature so in addition, clients could find CRE’s. We expanded disciplines, expertise, and separated where a CRE was located from where they practiced, so clients can now find experts in their markets who might not be located in their markets, thus giving them greater choice and exposing more of our members to the market. We also added other designations and certifications and made the CRE profile searchable. Feedback has been positive.
Discuss your perspective on a significant challenge or opportunity the industry is facing.
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: One challenge our industry faces is the inconsistency in the collection and presentation of information provided to various stakeholders. Other asset classes seem to have addressed this problem, perhaps due to greater regulatory oversight or sheer demand from their stakeholders who, as a result, are better served. The NCREIF-PREA Reporting Standards Council, of which I am a member, has done great work to address and advance this issue. But overall, the industry still has work to do in both the adoption of and compliance with standards, as well as educating stakeholders on the benefits of doing so.
What advice do you have for young professionals entering the industry today?
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: Expose yourself to multiple disciplines, take advantage of continuing education opportunities, network, and when you are able – give back to the industry.
How do you define leadership?
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: Leadership is making the mission clear to all who are responsible for it, providing guidance and feedback to those who work on it and establishing a team of individuals with the skills to accomplish it. Foundational skills include ethics, vision, confidence, humility, and a willingness to take risk and learn. The leader doesn’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but smart enough to surround themselves with those who are.
Who has been the most influential person in your life-known or admired?
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: I admire three musical talents: Brian Wilson, composer and cofounder of the Beach Boys, Lennon/McCartney, songwriters and cofounders of the Beatles and Jimmy Buffet, author, composer and imagineer. Despite my passion for music, I am only a novice; I don’t write, seldom perform, but I find joy, peace, and comfort in music. Brian Wilson overcame amazing hardships, including an abusive father and deafness in one ear, but through perseverance, taught himself to read, write and perform, some of the most complex music and vocal arrangements ever written. Lennon and McCartney were each individually talented and often composed independently. But through teamwork, commitment, and passion for their craft, they put the finishing touches on each other’s work so that the sum of the parts was better than the individual efforts. Jimmy Buffet, a songwriter, and performer in his own right chose to imagine in his music, a world in which we don’t take life too seriously, and provided in his songs and books an escape from life’s challenges while enjoying life’s frivolities. Perseverance, teamwork, and imagination are traits which have influenced me.
How do you like to relax during your time off?
Joseph G. Nahas, Jr., CRE®: Spend time with my family, especially my wife and grandchildren, travel, read, jam on my guitar and get out on my boat.