A partner and vice president of asset management at Atlanta-based Coro Realty Advisors, Patti Pearlberg has more than 25 years of experience in commercial real estate. In today’s Four on Friday, we talk with Pearlberg about how she became interested in commercial real estate, what compelled her to obtain her law degree and the challenges facing women who work in commercial real estate.
Many thanks to Patti for her time.
Pearlberg: I refer to Coro as a boutique real estate investment advisor. Our role is to find unique opportunities for our clients to invest in, whereby we often invest alongside them. Our goal is to provide clients with returns that meet or exceed the market within their own investment parameters, which is why we invest in a broad range of product, including retail, multifamily, office, land development and mixed-use in predominately urban markets.
As a small company, we all wear many hats, especially the partners. I act as in house counsel to a certain degree and handle many of our internal operations, such as insurance, property taxes, etc. I am also what we call the “multifamily person,” so I handle oversight of all our residential and mixed-use projects. As asset managers, we stand in the shoes of our owners and clients, directing management and leasing to achieve the long-term goals and objectives set for each investment.
HS: How did you originally become interested in working in commercial real estate?
Pearlberg: I grew up in a real estate family. My father was in residential sales and development most of my life. In fact, he was the first owner of a franchised agency and had to fight all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court to protect his rights to hold a broker’s license as a franchisee.
Through contacts, I made my way into the apartment industry, where I worked throughout the 1980s and into the 90s on new developments from Texas to Boston to Miami.
HS: You got a law degree after being in the commercial real estate industry for a number of years. What compelled you to do so?
Pearlberg: I actually fell into it. I went to school to get my MBA, and after finishing I wanted to get my Ph.D. At the time, I was working full time and was the single mother of a teenage son. When I was accepted into the Ph.D. program, they told me I had to commit to full time, which I couldn’t do and put food on the table. A guidance counselor suggested I take the LSAT and get my law degree. I took it, was accepted, and, as they say, that’s all she wrote.
HS: What are the primary challenges facing women in commercial real estate today?
Pearlberg: In many respects, commercial real estate is still a predominately man’s world, but women are making great inroads. I think the biggest challenge for young women coming into the industry is finding a mentor to help show them the ropes. Men, those with many years of experience, don’t typically mentor young women, and, quite frankly, there just aren’t enough of us “more seasoned” (not about to say “older”) women around.
In addition, women still face the challenge of work-home balance more so than men, but technology is certainly helping with that. Real estate has typically been slow to latch onto new technology, but we may find women leading that charge as a way to grow their careers and manage their home life too.