Excerpted from Bisnow story.
Leigh Anne McGarry has been exposed to the business of real estate for her whole life. Her grandfather, John Hartrampf, founded the residential real estate brokerage Metro Brokers in Atlanta, and her father runs one of the Southeast’s biggest billboard companies, Action Outdoor.
But McGarry — a senior associate at Franklin Street and this year’s winner of the Commercial Real Estate Women Rising Star award — learned how to sell very early on thanks to horses.
Growing up, McGarry — a native of the affluent suburban Northern Metro Atlanta community of Sandy Springs — rode horses competitively. To help make money to fund what is a pretty expensive hobby, McGarry would buy foals in Europe, bring them to Atlanta, train them to be competitive jumpers, then turn around and sell them.
Ultimately, her love for real estate won out over her love for horses when it came time to decide on a career. By 2013, McGarry earned her real estate license and joined Marcus & Millichap, working with Senior Director Sonny Molloy and his retail brokerage investment team.
“It was a definitely a tough decision, but I had gotten to the point where I needed a career and to make some money,” McGarry said. “Horseback riding is pretty expensive, and I was pretty much on the road full time. I kind of needed to grow up and get a real job.”
At the least, her decision on career choice was just given a boost by the influential organization CREW with its Rising Star award.
“She came in and was very automatic in creating value for our team. Our clients loved her,” Molloy said of her time at Marcus & Millichap as a transaction coordinator. “She is one of those people that just gets it. She came in with very little knowledge of what we do in the investment sales arena, and she, without having a background, was a plug-and-play on our team. Immediately resourceful, efficient.”
Molloy — whose team has sold more than $1B in mainly retail real estate in 20 states — said even though McGarry left Marcus & Millichap in 2015, she set the standard on what his company now expects out of a transaction coordinator.
“People who work for me hear her name as though she still works for us,” Molloy said. “She operates and does everything with a high-quality work ethic. She’s absolutely one of the most phenomenal people. She was the most optimal fit for our team.”
When McGarry initially joined Franklin Street, she moved into a transaction coordination job, a position often considered entry level. But in less than a year — sooner than Franklin Street executives expected — McGarry moved up into a landlord representative role and has yet to look back.
“She’s very impressive. I think it’s because it’s her life, it’s all around her. She doesn’t have the doubts and she has the answers to a lot of questions that people her age are still trying to figure out” about the commercial real estate industry, Franklin Street Managing Director Monetha Cobb said. “Some of the things people might learn in the first year of the business … terminology and whatnot. She just understands the players and the dynamic. That was a leg up.”
Her landlord clients at Franklin Street include Bluerock Real Estate, TPA Group, DDR and Equity One.
McGarry got married in 2016 to Kurt McGarry, whom she met at Marcus & Millichap, where he is a multifamily broker. The two purchased a home in McGarry’s childhood neighborhood in Sandy Springs.
For Leigh Anne McGarry, the next transition in the industry will likely be becoming a real estate owner. In the next decade, she and her husband dream of investing in commercial real estate, she said.
McGarry, 27, admits that she finds, as a woman in a male-dominated field, she encounters some hurdles that young men may not have to jump.
“Whether it’s just youth, my age and being a woman, it takes a lot of time for some of the older men in the industry to take me seriously. First impressions, people might blow you off. But when you get to know them, they understand, and I guess appreciate the work I can do,” she said. “It’s not always negative. It’s just something I think women in general have to deal with.”
McGarry’s skills have had an influence over CREW as well, Cobb said. McGarry headed up CREW’s university outreach committee, which holds an annual conference for college students interested in the commercial real estate world to meet with influential executives in the industry.
Open to both sexes, UCREW events usually see themselves with a handful of college attendees that are heavily dominated by men, Cobb said. This year, though, was sharply different. Not only did more than 100 students attend, but there was a healthy showing of female students eyeing a chance to enter the industry, she said.
“In the past, we had these, it’s been sometimes more men than women,” she said. “This year, they just knocked it out of the park.”