Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With CorpHousing Group's Brian Ferdinand
This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.
Brian Ferdinand leads CorpHousing Group, a short-term apartment rental operator. CorpHousing was founded in 2017 and assembles and manages Class-A multifamily throughout the U.S. via partnerships and long-term or master lease agreements with advisory, investment and development firms. As managing partner, he is responsible for spearheading the overall company business vision and strategy.
That strategy currently includes expansion: CorpHousing has offices in New York, Miami and Nashville, and manages units in Columbus, Ohio; Miami; Nashville; Philadelphia; Denver; Seattle; and Washington, D.C., and it is looking to expand to four more cities in 2019.
He is also an owner and operating partner of SoBeNY, a national hospitality platform that markets CorpHousing’s portfolio to provide luxury, short-term rental accommodations for travelers in core urban markets. The platform provides corporate housing standardization across cities.
On top of leading those two companies, Ferdinand is working toward a master's degree in revenue management from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.
Before he got into the housing game, Ferdinand was in proprietary trading, and founded ECHOtrade, which he grew to 900 traders working in 13 global offices.
Bisnow: What is your favorite part of your job?
Ferdinand: I would have to say my favorite part is watching our team’s hard work and dedication come to life. While we may not know the exact outcome of everything we set out to achieve, there’s nothing more satisfying than bringing a project to fruition. It’s always gratifying to look back and recognize incredible teamwork and execution when you collectively share the same vision.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Ferdinand: My worst job was working for a company that had a different work ethic and culture to my own. It was a traditional corporate setting; I prefer to work in a more creative environment that is aligned with my philosophy.
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Ferdinand: I would definitely like to be a professional skier. When I was younger, I participated in the Junior Olympics for skiing and continue to do so recreationally, but with the same competitive edge that’s a part of my DNA.
Bisnow: What deal are you proudest of?
Ferdinand: There are several that come to mind, but I think our deal with Infinity Real Estate for 1200 Ocean Drive in South Beach made me the proudest. We overcame several challenges leading up to its finalization, but thanks to everyone involved, it worked out well. I really enjoyed collaborating with their team; their quality of work, integrity and thinking as an organization are world-class.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Ferdinand: Some of our Nashville partnerships have not worked out as planned. It’s a highly competitive market, serving as a popular bachelor and bachelorette destination, resulting in heavy traffic. We established a presence in the area before we trained our ground support and operational teams. This resulted in some customer service and maintenance failures, which left us in a somewhat strained market position. The most important outcome to this “failure” was owning it and utilizing the lessons learned to ensure it doesn’t translate to other markets that we serve.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Ferdinand: It would be people who tend to lose perspective. No matter what happens in the heat of the moment, we should always try our best to stay focused on the end goal. That mantra has proven to be a constant in my career, and one that supports long-term success.
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Ferdinand: I’ve learned not to have them, as I had many when I was younger. Now, I’m very family- and business-focused. I would much rather grow my business than spend money outside of it.
Bisnow: What motivates you?
Ferdinand: The journey motivates me, while reaching success drives me to the end. I crave “climbing the mountain” and celebrating every little victory, no matter how small. This, in turn, creates momentum, pushing me to always move forward.
Bisnow: What advice do you wish you got when you started in CRE?
Ferdinand: How important it is to focus on the operations of the business and not just the financial modeling of the deal. The former is so complex, thus, it needs tremendous dedication, including a strong team, revenue management and quality client service.
Bisnow: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Ferdinand: I took the biggest risks in my 30s. I scaled too fast and accepted outside capital, while working with partners who did not align with my vision for the company. Now in my 40s, I’ve learned the importance of having a strong team and that slow and steady wins the marathon, not the race.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Ferdinand: Letting my team down and not accomplishing what I’ve set out to do.
Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?
Ferdinand: My favorite travel destination of all time is the Amalfi Coast, with Lake Como and Aspen coming in a close second and third. It wouldn’t be right to not mention a skiing location.
Bisnow: Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?
Ferdinand: Skiing, fitness and coaching my children’s sports teams.
Bisnow: What CRE trend do you think will have the most impact over the next few years?
Ferdinand: I believe that corporate short-term rentals are one of the most impactful CRE trends that are here to stay. Not only is it a vehicle for developers to mitigate risks associated with low occupancy rates, but it also gives guests a hospitality option that feels like home, while offering hotel-like standards. These multifaceted qualities makes this sector a mainstay in the CRE space.
Bisnow: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Ferdinand: Not many people know this, but I’m a great skier. Some might even say I could go pro.
Bisnow: What do you want your legacy to be?
Ferdinand: My resilience and commitment. I want people to remember that I worked hard for success in both my business and family life. I’ve learned over time that while it’s easier to give up than to fight and win, the latter is far more rewarding.