Commercial Real Estate, Capital, Insurance, Leasing & Management

How this female banker-turned-CRE broker climbed the ranks

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Yvonne Baker, regional managing partner, discusses how one phone call launched her illustrious real estate career.

Excerpted from Orlando Business Journal story.

Yvonne Baker worked for eight years in commercial real estate lending before the late 1980s savings-and-loan crisis struck.

Lending was going to be on hold for some time and Baker realized she needed to try something new. So, she reached out to a real estate broker she knew — Sandy Reppert of Southeastern Properties Inc. in Orlando — and started in industrial leasing and property management. 

Soon, Baker was working on a variety of real estate deals, ranging from Section 8 housing to shopping centers and small office buildings — sort of like a survey course in real estate. “It was critical for me to learn all about the business,” Baker said. “Figuring out what you don’t like is where you figure out your passion.”

Baker discovered she most enjoyed office real estate. About 23 years ago, she received a call from Catherine Reeves, considered one of Central Florida’s most prominent office brokers before her 2018 retirement. Reeves recruited Baker to Associated Capital Properties, which in 1997 merged with Raleigh, North Caroline-based Highwoods Properties Inc. (NYSE: HIW).

Reeves asked Baker if she wanted a salaried job with commission, and Baker said yes. She eventually became senior leasing representative for Highwoods. Fast forward to today, and Baker also has had stints with top commercial brokerage firms JLL (NYSE: JLL) and Cushman & Wakefield Plc. (NYSE: CWK).

Three years ago, she was named regional managing partner of Tampa-based Franklin Street’s Orlando operations, a position she calls her first official “full-on corporate management role.”

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