Nancy Lemas calls the dry-erase board hanging on her offices southern wall her brain on the wall.
Its a simple thing, a list of 10 or so high-dollar real estate deals in various stages of the selling process. But it stands for something more complex: the juggling act commercial real estate agents face constantly. Besides its complications, dealmaking is an emotional roller coaster.
You never know if youre going to be the windshield or the bug, Lemas says.
A typical day in Lemas Downtown Boise office is a clinic in multitasking. Over the course of five hours one day shortly after Christmas, she shifted gears between phone calls and emails, keeping track of a half-dozen transactions at the same time.
In the moments between, she explained to a reporter her philosophy on the best ways to do her job and the state of the local commercial real estate market.
Lemas (LEE-mus) grabs a cup of tea and settles into her office on the second floor of her companys building at 512 W. Idaho St.
Just being at the office and available to her clients is half the battle, Lemas says. Its part of what helped her survive the worst market in recent history over the past few years.
Now that the market appears to be improving, she says, shell use the same approach to thrive, not just survive.
Lemas iPhone rings an old-fashioned and loud ding-a-ling.
Good morning, she says to the caller, a Boise real estate developer. So do we have a deal again?
Lemas says she prefers the direct approach when it comes to business.
I dont do the small talk at all, she says. I go right for results.
The man has been working with Lemas on a land deal for a client whos considering a multimillion-dollar commercial development in Boise. Over the past few months, the deal has been on and then off, derailed by details. The caller tells Lemas it could be back on.
By the time she hangs up, Lemas mood has intensified.
Im excited about this deal, she says. This things kind of been in intensive care for the last two months.
Lemas, 58, began her career nearly 30 years ago in San Francisco. She was one of two women among more than 500 commercial real estate agents at Marcus and Millichap, a high-powered commercial real estate firm. Lemas says being a woman wasnt a problem for clients, lenders and other colleagues who only cared about working with someone competent.
In 1995, Lemas moved with her husband and two daughters to Boise in search of a better place to raise the children. Two years later, she founded Commercial Northwest, a real estate company. Since then, the company has branched out. Under the Commercial Northwest LLC banner, Lemas runs her own property management company and a property remodeling and maintenance company. She also operates as a broker for KW Commercial, the commercial real estate arm of Keller Williams Realty.
Commercial Northwest has 24 employees. Lemas was KW Commercials top commercial agent in 2009. Last year, she oversaw $23 million in sales.
After lunch, Lemas cranks up. She starts with a call to a lender to check on the status of a loan for a property she sold recently. Next, she calls a co-agent in another state to update him on progress in searching for property for a client. Then its an email to a property manager to make sure her client, who recently bought an investment property, receives tenant payments without any hiccups.
This is pretty standard stuff, she says, and its kept her in business. Besides listing and selling properties, she offers clients ideas from lenders, developers and appraisers on how to make their projects viable. She analyzes for them the details and bottom-line potential of every deal.
She says she even tracked down a clients tenant once after a sale closed to ask why the tenant hadnt paid rent.
Just because you close escrow, in my opinion, you shouldnt just walk away never to be seen again, Lemas says.
Lemas calls a bank to discuss options for financing the dead but potentially resurrected land deal she discussed earlier in the day.
The deal, or at least its outline, is close now. All thats missing is the buyers go-ahead. But its not in the books yet. Between an accepted offer and closing, a lot can go wrong.
Agents, appraisers, buyers and sellers bring egos to the signing table, and they can clash. There are deadlines for crossing various benchmarks in the deal. It can be nerve-wracking to wait on the appraisal to come back and hope it supports the price the buyer and seller negotiated.
Any of these land mines can end a deal, Lemas says.
Lemas receives a return email from the property management company confirming her client will receive payments as expected. Thats one transaction she can put to bed for now.
She calls the buyer in the resurrected land deal. She compares its costs to the money he stands to make. The fact that she can do this, that shes done the legwork and has pertinent information at her fingertips, is one reason this deal is still alive, Lemas says.
An email arrives from an escrow agent notifying Lemas that a deadline is about to expire in a minor dispute over disbursement of money in a recently closed deal. Lemas requests an extension.
The buyer in the resurrected deal calls back. Lemas relates a few ideas she discussed nearly four hours earlier with the developer. She tells him this is as good a deal as hes likely to find. She suggests he talk to his partner before going ahead with it.
The buyer calls back asking for a few more details.
An email arrives from the escrow agent, agreeing to Lemas request for a deadline extension.
Glancing at her phone every so often, willing it to ring with good news, Lemas admits shes nervous about the resurrected deal.
This is the critical moment in time right now, she says.
That good-news call doesnt come.
A few days later, Lemas says the buyer called and told her he would wait and hope that by doing so, hed save a few thousand dollars on the land purchase. The risk the buyer was taking was losing out altogether.
Later still, as the deadline for this article nears, she says the deal still has a heartbeat, but just barely.
Lemas is disappointed but not dejected. She has moved on to a different, potentially better deal with the same client, and she still hadnt given up hope on this one.
I never believe its dead even though they say its dead, she says. The balls still in play. Ive still got two other cards up my sleeve.
Sven Berg: 377-6275