Exclusive: Transwestern San Francisco's Newly Appointed Senior Managing Director Talks Shop
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Transwestern’s newly appointed senior managing director and leader of the San Francisco office, Jeff Moeller, said real estate and athletics have a lot in common.
“You have to learn from your mistakes,” Moeller, a former water polo athlete, said. “Athletics teaches you the simple thing called practice. You take what you learned in the game and learn from your actions and get better. If you don’t get better, you don’t perform.”
He said in commercial real estate, if you do not learn from your mistakes, you will not stay in business.
Moeller (above right) brings this knowledge into his new position at Transwestern as well as 20 years of experience in Northern California commercial real estate. He has executed transactions in excess of $1.2B totaling over 1.8M SF.
He said commercial real estate is all about relationships. He plans to improve relationships within the office, within the brokerage community and with clients.
“My focus is tearing down the walls of communication and getting to the nuts and bolts of what each service line is doing and how they can help each other get deeper into the relationships with their clients,” Moeller said.
When Moeller started his career, he was fresh out of college with a political science degree from UCLA. He started at CBRE as a researcher, which gave him a different outlook on the business and how interconnected the different service lines and support players are in an office.
He said having good relationships with competing brokers is important.
“It’s a hard business, and you would make a lot of enemies if you’re not careful,” Moeller said. “We compete with all of our friends in the business, and then we need them to execute business because there are two sides to every deal.”
One way Moeller wants to improve relationships is by becoming more in tune with client wants and needs within San Francisco. This breaks down to the needs of a tenant, who is focused on recruiting and retaining talent, and the landlord, who is focused on assets that maintain long-term value.
The workforce and talent is a key focus for tenants who come to San Francisco because of the intellectual workforce available. Buildings become more valuable to owners and landlords because the workforce also is more valuable.
Transwestern is working toward providing more workforce analytics for its clients regionally and throughout the country to better assess the needs of the corporate workforce.
The talented and highly educated workforce will continue to be a main driver of demand in the Bay Area.
“One of the most vibrant commercial real estate markets in the U.S., San Francisco’s life science and technology sectors are fueling demand for office space, and major infrastructure expansion with the Transbay Terminal bodes well for the city’s office, retail and multifamily sectors,” Moeller said.
Despite mild slowdown, Moeller said the market is still strong. He said the market has gotten smaller in part due to many tenants making long-term commitments in large spaces. This leaves very few quality assets for tenants available.
“Five to 10 years ago, [today’s] rents were unheard of and would have given many people pause,” Moeller said.
He said San Francisco still needs more space and more density. With the approval of higher-density projects like 181 Fremont, he hopes the city is embracing the growth needed. He said Prop M has been the opposite of helpful.
“The city needs to realize that the open market will help temper growth,” Moeller said. “If you build too much, the market will slow and now longer support growth. Putting artificial caps on growth just makes the market become more expensive.”
He said tenants looking for space are traditional lease expirations and groups that are growing beyond their space.
“People are realizing that the type of space helps attract talent. If you have a nicer and better performing space, you get more and better employees and efficiency is very important in San Francisco,” Moeller said.