Bob Selton has been a commercial real estate agent with Colliers Dickinson for seven years.
HOW DID HE GET
INTO COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE?
After graduating college, he interviewed with several companies to see which profession fit him best. “I decided to get my real estate license and interviewed with all the commercial real estate firms in Jacksonville and Walter [Dickinson] gave me an opportunity here and I took it. I came straight out of college and have been here ever since.”
He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and environmental studies from Rollins College. “I enjoyed the environmental side of it just because that’s where the world is going to some degree. It was an area that interests me because the world is growing so much. The other reality of life is the economics side of it, which explains how things run. Both majors helped me to understand how those two come together.”
WHAT WERE YOU
GOING TO DO WITH
“I had no idea. The idea behind going to a liberal arts college is really to get ideas and formulate opinions. You can go beyond your undergraduate degree and get a master’s degree to get more specific.”
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE?
His family has several generations of real estate agents, investors and developers. “It was a natural niche for me.”
“I don’t like to be considered necessarily a specialist in one thing. I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades. I do a little bit of office, industrial and retail. I do that because when one portion of the market is not up, I have another portion of the market that can take me through. I stay kind of diversified with 80 percent of my business in Duval County and 20 percent in Nassau County.”
DO A LOT DOWNTOWN?
“I do a lot of business downtown. When I started, not a lot of people saw downtown as a growing area. But with everything the DDA [Downtown Development Authority] and the JEDC [Jacksonville Economic Development Commission] have pumped into the downtown area, it’s now one of the hottest markets in the city. ”
“That’s the only way you are going to make it in this business. It’s driven by personality and perseverance and you don’t have a paycheck at the end of the day unless you get on the phone and talk to people.”
IS COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE SALES HARD?
“It depends on the day and the deals you are working on. It can be an extremely hard job, but you just have to do the right deals and be in the right place at the right time and continue to move. You can’t just come into the business and expect to get a paycheck. It takes about six months to really get going and that’s tough. You have to be able to stick it out through the hard times to get to the good times.”
DO YOU LIKE IT?
“I’ve been here for seven years, so I don’t know what else I would do if I wasn’t in real estate. I think I’m here for the long haul, hopefully. It’s something that I am good at, that I enjoy and I have a lot of repeat clients that I work with. As long as that continues to be the way it is, I think I’ll continue to be in this field.”
“I think now that we have the residential and new office projects coming online, they need to concentrate on the retail side of it because if you are going to get a nucleus of people in an area they need to have the retail to back them up. They need to have close proximity to the food stores. Granted there is a Winn-Dixie, but it is down the road. They need to have a little more than that and it needs to be positioned in an area closer to the residential.”
ADVICE TO THE
“The biggest thing that you can do is get in front of people and stay on the phone. If you are not on the phone or talking to somebody, you’d better be sleeping. The key is to persevere and just stay in front of people. Burn a box of business cards a month, meet a lot of people and try to do as many deals as you can, big or small, to get the experience.”
A FAMILY AFFAIR
His uncle, Dan Selton, is a commercial real estate agent in Atlanta and helped him get his system down. “He helped me look for the right things, know what to look for and know the right questions to ask to be effective. My father was also helpful. We are a family of real estate agents, so most of my mentors came from my family side. Jack Garnett of Garnett Commercial Real Estate told me he did as many as 50 deals in one year. He told me, ‘You just need to get out there and do as many deals as you can.’ Little things like that really helped me. That was one of the goals I set for myself, to do as many deals as I could.”
He has been married to Carrie for six years. They have two children, Hunter, 6 and Brenden, 3.
— by Michele Newbern Gillis