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Longtime D.C.-Area CRE Investment Firm Launches Brokerage Arm

Berman Enterprises has owned and operated properties along the East Coast for over 70 years, and it is now expanding into third-party leasing and investment sales with a new brokerage arm. 

Ben Berman brought on Justin Shay from Transwestern to head the firm's mid-Atlantic multifamily investment sales team.

The family-owned company based in Rockville, Maryland, quietly started a third-party brokerage subsidiary, BermanCRE, in Miami last year, and it now tells Bisnow it is officially launching in its home region of D.C. It has hired a D.C.-area broker from a major firm to lead its multifamily investment sales team, and it plans to expand in other asset classes, providing landlord and tenant representation.

BermanCRE President Ben Berman, a partner at Berman Enterprises, founded the third-party brokerage with the idea that he would combine the company’s ownership experience with his own internal experience leasing the firm’s properties.

“A few years ago, I came to this realization where I said, ‘I’ve effectively been a broker my entire career, just for my own family’s book of business,’” Berman said in an interview with Bisnow

Berman Enterprises owns and manages more than 6M SF of office, retail, industrial/flex and residential and it operates in Maryland, Virginia and Illinois.

“I spent almost three months diligencing this idea of the Berman family, who’s always been an owner-operator, having a brokerage and working third-party clients and third-party engagements,” Berman said. 

The brokerage is taking things slowly. Berman launched the firm in Miami in June 2022 as a solo broker, and he started hiring six months ago. BermanCRE now counts four employees among its staff, and Berman said he expects to pick up hiring in the coming months, especially in the D.C. area, which is an initial focus for the firm. The firm is also working to expand in Atlanta. 

The brokerage brought in Justin Shay from Transwestern as its first D.C. employee. Shay, who was a senior vice president in Transwestern’s mid-Atlantic multifamily practice, will lead BermanCRE’s mid-Atlantic multifamily investment sales team. 

Shay told Bisnow that he is excited to "to grow and build something" with a family that he knows well and respects.

BermanCRE's D.C.-area office is at 5410 Edson Lane in Rockville.

In the coming months, Berman said he plans to expand the D.C. team to focus on other assets like retail, industrial, hotel and office. 

But in an environment that is seeing slow activity across asset classes, the firm’s main focus now is to build relationships with clients, conducting research and advisory legwork for them so when the transaction environment picks up, it can pick up those deals as well.

“As we’ve seen, there’s little transaction volume taking place at this time, so we’re here to be advisers and support clients any way we can,” Shay said.

Berman didn't disclose any of the firm's clients or deals, but he said the firm is working with landlords for grocery-anchored shopping centers and single-tenant medical properties as well as conducting broker opinion of value assessments for investment sales.

He said the firm benefits from launching as large amounts of data are widely available from third parties. 

“We have front-loaded the heck out of our data and software package where we are parsing data from many different sources,” he said.

The biggest challenge for the firm getting off the ground is just getting in front of prospective clients to make its case, Berman said. 

“We may be small, we may just be starting out, but from the standpoint of differentiation, there’s a lot of experience at the table, No. 1, and No. 2, we’ve got almost as much — if not as much — of the same data that anyone else in the market has,” he said.

CORRECTION, SEPT. 14, 4:30 P.M. ET: This story has been updated to correct the square footage and locations under Berman Enterprises’ ownership and management.