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Hessam Nadji

Hessam Nadji: Creating Value and Leaving a Legacy

The Real Estate sector is a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape where visionaries have redefined the rules of the game. From the early pioneers who saw the potential of land as a valuable asset to the modern-day innovators who are using technology to revolutionize the way we buy and sell property; real estate has always been a sector driven by innovation.

Hessam Nadji, President and CEO of Marcus & Millichap, is one of those visionaries who embraces change and innovation, continuing to shape the future of the commercial real estate sector. Marcus & Millichap is one of the industry’s leading firms and the largest in North America specializing in investment brokerage, financing, research and advisory services. The company was founded in 1971 and has built a reputation as a trusted partner to the commercial real estate investment community, dedicated to creating and preserving wealth for its clients.

Embracing a client-centric approach, Marcus & Millichap has garnered immense success by focusing on local market knowledge specialized expertise, and skilfully applying that to the unique circumstances of every transaction. His journey is nothing short of inspirational. With an educational background in computer science, his unconventional entry into the commercial real estate world showcased the power of adaptability and determination.

Let’s discover how Hessam’s innovation, adaptability and client-centric approach continues to chart a path for the company and its clients, ensuring a prosperous future in the commercial real estate industry!

A Visionary Leader

Hessam’s journey at Marcus & Millichap began when he joined in 1996 as Vice President of Research and Advisory Services. At this critical point in the company’s history, an aggressive national expansion was launched. Nadji was specifically brought in to expand the company from a pure transactional brokerage to include an advisory and consultative brand for the firm. His expertise in market trends, analyses and technology contributed significantly to the firm’s growth and market position.

Over the years, he advanced through the ranks, playing key roles in the company’s marketing, strategy and sales divisions. His client and market-facing role as the head of research meant he spent the of his time in front of investors and accompanying the firm’s top brokers in client presentations. In 2010, Hessam assumed responsibility for leading all the firm’s national specialty brokerage divisions, steering the company to unprecedented heights. Under his supervision, these divisions experienced rapid growth and functioned as client service teams of specialists in more than 12 real estate segments.

This phase of his career includes the creation of a dedicated division to service institutional clients and elevate the company’s ability to compete for larger accounts. The division, called Institutional Property Advisors, or IPA, has since become a major force in the marketplace by servicing the needs of pension fund advisors, public REITs, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies, as well as major developers, syndicators and private fund managers.

Hessam played a key role in the preparation and execution of Marcus & Millichap’s IPO in 2013, serving as the chief strategy officer. In April 2016, he was appointed as the president and CEO.

Hessam is frequently sourced by national business media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Real Estate Forum, CNBC, Fox Business TV, Bloomberg TV, and various commercial real estate publications on behalf of the firm. He also is a member of the National Multi Housing Council, the Urban Land Institute, ICSC and NAIOP.

The Path to Success

Hessam was born in Iran and his family migrated to the U.S. in 1978, where his father had always dreamed of living. The Iranian revolution forced the family to return to Iran, with Hessam staying behind in Seattle just after he had finished high school.

While pursuing a computer science degree, he took a data entry job at Grubb & Ellis, the third-largest full-service commercial real estate firm at the time. His job was to track and enter data on properties and tenants occupying them. As a computer science major, he had every intention of pursuing a software design or programming career but embraced the real estate research opportunity even though he had no knowledge of commercial real estate.

His career grew rapidly as he started to focus on trends that would help real estate decision-makers and the brokers he worked with gain business. He went with brokers to client presentations and helped them convert market insights to tenant representation and listing. This put research in a business generation light as opposed to an academic exercise and was noticed by Hal Ellis, Founder and CEO of the company at the time. Within a few short years, Hessam was elevated to lead the company’s research and technology nationally.

Throughout his career, Hessam’s work philosophy has always centered around going above and beyond to add value, leadership through servitude, holding oneself accountable to results and delivering value beyond expectations. As he frequently cites in interviews and presentations, he is a big believer in the American dream and the unique opportunities afforded to those willing to work hard in America. He also sees his main role as a team builder surrounding himself with passionate, individualistic thought-leaders with a propensity to collaborate and put the company first.

Holding The Fort

Marcus & Millichap co-founders George Marcus and the late Bill Millichap had a vision for the then-small brokerage. They tapped Hessam’s research and technology expertise to enhance Marcus & Millichap’s brand, focus on client relationships and boost sales. It was a great match of personality and shared vision that resulted in various role expansions for Hessam over the years, with the founders ultimately promoting him to CEO in 2016.

Under Hessam’s leadership, Marcus & Millichap has expanded to nearly 2,000 investment brokerage sales and financing professionals with 80 offices across the U.S. and Canada. Hessam’s primary responsibilities include overseeing the company’s strategic direction operations, driving growth and creating value for clients, the sales force and support staff.

His commitment to swift expansion is underscored by strategic appointments, a cornerstone to enhancing the firm’s leadership. Richard Matricaria and J.D. Parker, promoted to divisional COOs, and Greg LaBerge, Chief Administrative Officer, illustrate this progression.

Matricaria and Parker transitioned from investment brokers to adept managers overseeing multiple offices. Their profound grasp of Marcus & Millichap’s brokers’ needs, technological acumen, branding prowess, and unwavering commitment to driving transformation have been instrumental.

LaBerge oversees infrastructure, technology initiatives, administrative support, and research. His extensive background, spanning broker roles to specialty directorships and augmented with substantial consulting experience, enriches Marcus & Millichap.

Evan Denner, Head of Business for Marcus & Millichap Capital Corporation (MMCC) brings 30+ years of real estate capital markets mastery. Steve DeGennaro, the CFO, a Silicon Valley technology executive background coupled with robust M&A experience. Mark Cortell, the firm’s Chief Legal Officer, transitioned from private equity, contributing valuable M&A insight. Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Strockis, previously a high-ranking marketing executive and business strategy consultant, fortified the leadership team in late 2021.

This dynamic synergy among the firm’s thought leaders nurtures a culture of consensus, individual ideation, and vibrant discussions, culminating in seamless alignment for impactful execution.

This has been further developed by Hessam’s leadership philosophy, which centers on staying humble, serving as part of a team and being accountable for client results as well as the career development and success of the company’s professionals. Hessam is passionate about seizing opportunities and leaving a lasting impact through the value he creates for others. This is grounded by his experience as an immigrant to the United States, which he believes in paying forward.

Shortly after becoming CEO, Hessam worked with the Board to expand the company’s growth strategy. Marcus & Millichap’s proven organic growth is one of the firm’s cornerstone advantages in the market. The company has continued to improve its organic growth while expanding its growth strategy through key acquisitions and by attracting market-leading brokers and financing professionals and teams.

Pillars of Success

The success of Marcus & Millichap’s commercial real estate strategy lies in its unwavering commitment to clients’ wealth creation and preservation. Hessam says, “Our overarching mission is to help our clients create and preserve wealth by providing the best commercial real estate investment sales, financing, research and advisory services in the industry.”

Marcus & Millichap’s four main charters include further building dominance in the private client segment, increasing penetration in larger, institutional transactions, expanding financing service capabilities, and strengthening advisory, research and consultative services.

Marcus & Millichap’s philosophy has been driven by being the very best in its specialized niche of ‘making a market’ for every property it represents by exposing it to the largest pool of qualified buyers and maximizing value. The firm also provides access to active lenders on the capital markets side, thereby bringing the best financing strategy and execution to borrowers.

By complementing organic growth with targeted acquisitions and fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment, Marcus & Millichap remains at the forefront of the commercial real estate industry. The company serves private investors, high-net-worth individuals, partnerships, private funds and major institutions.

The Power Pack

The company has specialized divisions, such as IPA, recognizing the different needs and execution requirements of institutional and private clients. Additionally, MMCC, a top financing intermediary, primarily services private clients in the $1-$20 million price point and a capital markets division within IPA that services institutional finance needs above the $20 million price point.

Marcus & Millichap/IPA bridges institutional and private capital, providing value for sellers and expanding investment options for buyers. The company’s research advisory capabilities support strategy formation and decision-making for clients, with dedicated professionals producing publications, research briefs and custom analyses.

Seizing Opportunities

Since its founding over 50 years ago, Marcus & Millichap has evolved through every real estate cycle with a single focus of adding value to its clients. Hessam says, “This means whether an investor is looking to buy, sell, refinance or hold – we’re ready to provide them with the market leading expertise and services that we’re known for.”

Through the market’s ups and downs, the dedicated research team has provided investors with the knowledge and insights needed to make informed decisions. He also states,

Our highly trained and specialized brokerage and financing experts serve as trusted advisors, working with our clients to make the right investment choices at the right times and execute with confidence.”

The firm’s capital markets professionals have provided clients with financing expertise and tailored solutions when purchasing or refinancing a property. Clients looking to sell have found success through the company’s unparalleled marketing platform, culture of collaboration and ability to access capital across geographies and product types.

Integration of Modern Practices

Marcus & Millichap’s entire business model is based on information sharing to match every property it represents for sale with the largest qualified buyer pool. Sharing data among its sales force has been a keystone driving technology and automation focus from the start. Technology is ingrained in the culture, business plan, internally and for clients. Many enterprise systems and customized applications are unique to the firm and

constantly evolve.

Transitions for Perpetual Growth

Making a market in any market has been a longstanding hallmark of Marcus & Millichap for the past 50-plus years. The company’s goal is to achieve the best possible results for the client, even in disrupted market conditions.

Knowing the real buyers, increasing the probability of a successful close and identifying likely lenders are crucial in a disrupted market. In market conditions like those of today, “value-added brokerage” is even more critical and is an art that involves making a market one property at a time – this is where Marcus & Millichap excels.

Marcus & Millichap integrates a large and qualified sales force, financing experts, cutting-edge research, information sharing, professional managers and the latest technology. The company is constantly improving and taking its services to the next level, focusing on maximizing value for its clients.

What Next?

The company believes that the eventual passing of the current ‘perfect storm’ instigated by the Federal Reserve’s most aggressive interest rate increases in 40 years, impeding property sales and financing will result in higher volumes as the market reprices and credit conditions normalize.

Drawing from past market downturns, the firm has developed a playbook that consistently resulted in above-average growth and milestones in recovery cycles. This is achieved through a continued focus on recruiting experienced professionals, acquiring strategic complementary firms and providing training, internal communication and best practices sharing to support the sales force.

An additional area of focus is proprietary technology enhancements to better connect potential buyers and sellers with investment brokerage and financing professionals. For example, the introduction of a new tool called MyMMI automatically connects buyers with available properties for sale and notifies them of new listings that match their search criteria. This enables clients to tap into the largest qualified buyer pools in the industry, generating more interest and offers on listings.

Another area of focus is the expansion of the commercial property auction platform, which provides an additional avenue for commercial real estate marketing and transactions. There has been significant market interest in this offering, which helps secure the best possible prices for sellers in an accelerated time frame.

Additionally, the company’s loan sale and workout offerings through its dedicated loan sales division aim to assist lenders facing unforeseen circumstances in the market or macro environment. Providing support to clients regardless of their goals and challenges is a key feature of Marcus & Millichap’s all-weather business model.

On Trend

Commercial real estate investors are becoming increasingly sophisticated. This is being driven by three forces-the increased availability of information and research, the transfer of wealth from Baby Boomers to their children and an increasing number of investors who include real estate in their portfolios. As this trend plays out, investors are placing a greater emphasis on information and insights on a macro and local level.

Marcus & Millichap aims to be the most comprehensive gateway to success throughout the entire investment spectrum for its clients. This includes access to inventory for acquiring the right assets, utilizing the company’s research to validate pricing and supply/demand trends.

Once an investor is focused on maximizing returns during the hold period, the company’s research and local broker provided market updates help benchmark performance and maximize needs. When it comes time to refinance or sell,

Marcus & Millichap creates value by accessing the largest and most qualified buyer pool for each property. To secure the most competitive financing and favorable terms, its loan originators access the largest network of lenders in the industry. To bring it all together, Marcus & Millichap’s execution is simply second to none.

To help investors navigate the complexities of commercial real estate investing, Marcus & Millichap’s dedicated research team tracks and reports on major economic and investment trends. Hessam mentions, “The advisory insights offered by our research team identify emerging trends that investors can capitalize on to position themselves ahead of the market.

At the same time, the firm’s industry-leading, highly specialized sales force can offer investors street-level information harnessed through technology to help guide decisions. Marcus & Millichap brokers focus on specific property types honing their expertise in the specialty, making them the most knowledgeable resource at the local level.

Hessam says, “Our company’s emphasis on knowledge, research, insights and advisory services ties back to how I started in the industry–tracking the local commercial real estate market to find an advantage.” At the time, he noticed that the nuances of the market were creating unique opportunities and sought ways to help clients capitalize on the information most were looking past. Today, that strategy aligns perfectly with the increasing investor sophistication that will drive the market in the coming years.

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