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Multifamily Brokerage Firm KIG Reflects On Two Years Of Success

Chicago-based institutional multifamily brokerage firm KIG turns two this year. Synonymous with cutting-edge real estate analytics and expert brokers, the firm celebrates a new office, a bigger team and a growing portfolio of successful transactions. Principal and managing broker Susan Tjarksen founded the game-changing company and brought on managing partner Todd Stofflet to help cultivate the franchise. They sat down with Bisnow to reflect on how far they have come, and to discuss where KIG is headed in 2017.


Bisnow: Are you surprised with how much KIG has achieved so soon?

Tjarksen: Our plan was to revolutionize the multifamily brokerage firm by being very data-driven and hands on. We have assembled our team accordingly and we are going to reach $1B this year in transactions. In 2016, we were close; in 2017, we will do it. We are very proud of that, but I am not surprised. 

Stofflet: I am excited about how well the community is embracing what we are doing. Our goal was to be transparent and dynamic and I think we proved to be both of those things. 

Bisnow: How has your team grown?

Tjarksen: We have continued to gain momentum and have filled in some key positions. We have added another sales director, Marissa Pellegrini, to cover more of our footprint more effectively. We have hired a full-time data analytics person and spend almost 25% of our annual budget on data and data analytics for our brokerage business. I think it is important for us to control our process, so we also have our own internal marketing person, our own internal copywriter and our own internal public relations person. We control the process from soup to nuts so that our clients get the best service possible.

Stofflet: We also brought a lot of people in from different areas of real estate, from property management to ownership. We have a really diverse skill set in our group that I don’t think you will find in many other brokerages. 


Bisnow: Data analytics has changed how investors interact with properties. How has KIG Analytics helped pioneer that shift?

Tjarksen: No one needs more data; people need data turned into information that can help them make better decisions. We set out to find very curious people — who may or may not have had real estate experience — and encouraged them to explore several different areas that were tangential to real estate. For instance, bike lanes; how long Millennials will travel to get to work; at what age are the Baby Boomers retiring and where they are more likely to buy; where they are going to rent after selling their family home; how long after they sold the house were they going to continue working; and how many of the Baby Boomers were from two-person income families? We are not only exploring the hard data — rent, occupancy, year built, cap rates — but also the softer, and yet equally important, data like demographics and the shifts in the marketplace.

Bisnow: KIG recently made the move to your own floor in a new building. What has it been like so far having space along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile?

Tjarksen: We are thrilled to be in this new space on Michigan Avenue. Our office space now perfectly reflects the brand.

Stofflet: It is a lot more functional space for us. And I cannot complain about the views.


Bisnow: How has the KIG team continued to evolve?

Tjarksen: When I started this company, we needed a franchise player, and Todd Stofflet did certainly prove to be that player. I couldn’t be more proud of him and the work he does. I am happy that Jason Stevens has been promoted to second-in-command as our senior director of sales; he is going to make a huge difference for us. Our internal people also have a very strong bond. The other day when I left, they were all drinking whiskey and playing Euchre at the conference table in the office. That speaks volumes about the team approach and atmosphere that Todd has had a big part in creating.

Bisnow: What does 2017 have in store for KIG?

Tjarksen: We are going to see a lot of deals in secondary and tertiary markets, as they continue to mature and ripen. We have targeted Indianapolis, Milwaukee, parts of Michigan, Iowa, Louisville and parts of Ohio. That is why we have hired an additional sales person, to handle these second and tertiary markets. We also have some exciting announcements coming in the next two months about downtown Chicago.

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