Commercial Real Estate, Capital, Insurance, Leasing & Management

Q&A with Greg Matus, Franklin Street partner

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As the regional managing partner of Tampa-based Franklin Street in South Florida, Matus tripled the size of his tri-county team to more than 40 agents, managers and other employees in less than three years.

Investment sales specialist Greg Matus joined commercial real estate brokerage Franklin Street in 2014 after a 12-year tenure with the national Marcus & Millichap brokerage. As the regional managing partner of Tampa-based Franklin Street in South Florida, Matus tripled the size of his tri-county team to more than 40 agents, managers and other employees in less than three years.

In October, Franklin Street promoted Matus to senior vice president, investment sales. The firm is close to hiring a new regional manager of businesses other than investment sales in South Florida. What’s next for the University of Florida graduate who grew up in Boca Raton? The Real Deal caught up with him last week to find out:

What is Franklin Street’s strategic aspiration?

Right now, we’re very strong in the Southeast. But we’ve got a five-year plan to grow nationally.

What made you leave Marcus & Millichap for Franklin Street?

I really bought into the idea of building a national company and participating in that as a partner, and really believed in the principals and the culture they were building.… I had 12 solid years at Marcus & Millichap as a top sales guy. I ran their operation both in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

How is Franklin Street trying to increase its market share in South Florida?

We’re looking to really expand in Miami next year. That could be a huge focus for us. We’re looking to bring another very senior person into that market.

How has your managerial role evolved at Franklin Street?

I’ve transitioned more to being a leader of the business. I’m still involved in all the transactions. I’m a broker first before anything, in terms of brokering the transactions and representing the clients. But I’m no longer trying to do it all on my own. I’m focused on building out a team.

How big of a team are you planning to build in South Florida?

We’re focusing on growth and finding the right people. We’re always looking for good people. … In two years, we’ll probably double the size of our office space to over 10,000 square feet, and within a two- to five-year period, we should be approaching 200 people.… We’ve got an office in Miami and an office in Plantation, and as our management business grows, we’ll open up [an office] in Palm Beach County.

How is your job different due to your promotion to senior vice president of investment sales?

I picked up more responsibility. Since that promotion, I have identified who I would call a ‘replacement’ for me in South Florida. It’s 99 percent finalized. He’s going to resign from his company on Monday and start with us in January and take over our Broward and Palm Beach operation.

Your “replacement” will oversee something other than investment sales?

We do more than investments. We have leasing brokers, insurance sales people. We’ve got [property] management staff. We’ve got an appraisal company that we took over a year and a half ago … insurance, advisory work, management – all recession-proof. We’re preparing to thrive not only when the market is good but also when the market is not good.

Going forward, I’m focusing 100 percent of my effort on investment sales. My role is to oversee the growth the company locally, regionally and nationally in investment sales, which is really my background, what I did at Marcus & Millichap.

How many agents do you oversee on the investment sales side of the business in South Florida?

We’ve got a total of four people, including me, on the retail side, and a six-person team on the apartment side.… We have very quickly in the last year built up a six-person apartment team. I brought over a top guy from my old firm [Marcus & Millichap] to help lead that charge with me.

What is your outlook for multifamily property in South Florida?

I think we’ve either passed it, or we’re at the top of the market in multifamily. And if debt becomes more expensive and less available, that is going to bring the values down. Not significantly down — it’s still a great investment, but we can’t forget about 2008 and 2009, when nobody wanted to invest in multifamily.… I don’t think rents are going to continue to rise. I think rents are going to flatten out, going forward. I think people in South Florida are tapped out on what they can spend on rent.

Which segment of the investment sales market is Franklin Street’s focus in South Florida?

My focus is in the private client space and the $6 million to $10 million transaction range.

However, Franklin Street has the listing for the Tiffany & Co. building on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and expects the sale price to exceed $40 million.

There is a tremendous amount of interest in that property. We’ve got offers on it. I anticipate that property will go to contract in the next 30 to 45 days. We want to select the right buyer.

Has Franklin Street competed for business against Miami-based MSP Group, formed in March 2015 by Franklin Street alumni Deme Mekras and Elliot Shainberg?

They’re both really good at what they do. They really know that Miami-Hialeah market and do very well on the private-client side with smaller, under-100-unit type [multifamily] assets. We haven’t competed with them yet. We just recently started to push effort into Dade County, and one guy I brought it from Marcus & Millichap is fluent in Spanish and has done a lot of business in that North Miami-Hialeah market. I would expect we’re going to compete for some business in this upcoming year. Hopefully we’ll collaborate and do some business together.

Is collaborative dealmaking among commercial brokers common or uncommon?

 Most brokers don’t work well with brokers from other companies. It isn’t the easiest business to collaborate in. But that’s our vision, collaboration. I’ve closed deals with the guys from CBRE, the guys at Marcus & Millichap. I’ve closed deals with other outside brokers, whether it’s my listing or my buyer.

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