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An unconventional path

Broker Matt Anderson likes to reel in fish and deals

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Print this page by Paula C. Squires
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Photo by Caroline Martin

Last book read: “Start with Humility,” Merwyn A. Hayes and Michael D. Comer
Favorite movie: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
Favorite app: Google Maps
Hobbies: Hunting and fishing
Family: Married with three daughters
On the bucket list: Taking his family to the dude ranch in Wyoming where he worked.

By Matt Anderson’s senior year at Hampden-Sydney College, the political science major was dead set on a legal career until a lawyer gave him this advice: “Take some time off and do what you want to do, because you’re never going to get the chance to do it again.”

Following that suggestion, Anderson and three of his classmates headed for Wyoming to work at a dude ranch. Over the course of two summers, Anderson worked as a shooting instructor (skeet, trap and sporting clays) for A Bar A Ranch and later as a fly-fishing guide, a natural fit since Anderson has been fishing since childhood.

After the second summer ended, “I traveled around the world for 60 days and came home broke,” he says.

Looking back, Anderson doesn’t regret his hiatus. “It was a real-world, maturing process,” he recalls.

After his return to Richmond, Anderson thought about going to New York to look for a job, because he had friends there. Then a neighbor, a friend of his father, commercial real estate broker Marc Allocca, invited Anderson to visit his place of employment, CBRE’s office in Richmond. Anderson accepted and toured the office, talking with Allocca and another commercial real estate broker, Trib Sutton, who told him about the work. Anderson liked the fact that brokers weren’t required to sit at a desk all day. They were expected to be out, visiting sites and talking with people.

With no background or experience in commercial real estate, he was hired as a junior agent, where he began to learn the business from the ground up. 

Fast-forward 12 years. Anderson, now 36, is a senior vice president and partner at CBRE|Richmond. According to CBRE, he has negotiated more than 600 transactions, valued at over $325 million, since joining the firm in 2006. These deals have involved government agencies, national corporations, REITs, medical practices, and local businesses and developers.

The key to his success, says Sutton, CBRE|Richmond’s director of brokerage services, is organization. “He works smart. Time is his most precious resource. He sticks to a schedule and a routine. Matt is the kind of guy who will get through most of his to-do list.” 

To stay on top of his game, Anderson is an early riser. On a typical day, he’s up by 4 a.m. enjoying some quiet time before arriving at the office. “Some mornings I’ll run. Other mornings, I walk the dogs, or I’ll read. This is my time to get ready for the day.”  

Anderson is a big fan of nonfiction, preferring stories about survival. “To me it’s inspiring and motivational to hear how other people have excelled — from running ultra-marathons to building some of the largest, most successful businesses in the world.” 

One of his most challenging real estate deals was the recent sale of the Alleghany Warehouse Co. building in Richmond, an old industrial structure that had been used for tobacco storage by nearby Philip Morris USA.

The 2.7-million-square-foot property had a prime location on 109 acres next to Interstate 95, but a buyer was going to have to invest in demolition to reuse the site.  

Richmond-based Hourigan Development LLC bought the property for $8.5 million. Hourigan plans to develop the site into 1.5 million square feet of built-to-suit, high-bay warehousing units that will be known as Deepwater Industrial Park because of its proximity to the Richmond Marine Terminal. 

“The creative part of that deal, “says Anderson, “was telling the story of what the property could be and getting a buyer on board with that vision.”

During a recent awards banquet, the Greater Richmond Association for Commercial Real Estate recognized the transaction as Best Industrial Sale of 2017. In June, Anderson was named a top industrial leasing broker by the CoStar Power Broker Awards, an annual program that celebrates the top commercial real estate firms and brokers in the U.S. and Canada.  

While technology has made reams of information about properties available online, Anderson says real estate “is still a relationship business based on trust.”

That’s why he recently told a rising senior from the University of Richmond — whose parents wanted him to be a summer intern at a real estate company — to stick with his job as a golf caddie.

“You get so much one-on-one interaction with a variety of personalities whether you’re teaching someone how to shoot a shotgun, cast a fly or help them with their golf game,” he says.  In his opinion, honing these people skills is a good way to prepare for a career in real estate.

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