The Reality of “Big Deal” Commissions


Valladao Greg b&w

Written By: Greg Valladao
Senior Director of Investment Sales, Cushman & Wakefield


Over the past six months, Phoenix metro has seen repeated headlines announcing large commercial transactions including the sale of Camelback Esplanade III for $74.3M and Domus Apartments for $51.6M. As commissioned real estate professionals, our first inclination may be to speculate about the commissions generated by these transactions. At first glance, it appears that it would only take a handful of these mega deals to make for a great year, if not a solid career. However, the reality of the situation is that the complexity of these deals ensure commercial real estate professionals executing the assignments are industry veterans who focus on fostering long-term business relationships rather than generating large single-deal transactions.

Commercial professionals who work on these types of deals know the processes and timelines involved in big transactions are demanding. The investment sale brokers procuring these listings spend many years nurturing relationships with the selling entities. In many instances the broker may have originally sold the owner the asset or at least advised them on the original purchase. From the day the asset is acquired, brokers are consistently consulting with the owners on ways to maximize the asset’s disposition value. Once the decision is made to dispose of the asset, the process may still take 6 to 12 months to compete for and “win” the listing, prepare the Offering Memorandum, present the property to the market, tour with investors, select a Buyer and close escrow.

Additionally, the sale of these large institutional assets are executed by teams, not individuals. The team might include an out-of-state broker with a national relationship with the Seller, local senior brokers, junior brokers, a leasing advisor, a financial analyst and other support personnel. It is not unusual to find seven or eight licensees sharing in the commissions.

The reality of the “Big Deal” commission is that it is not as large as expected. While owners understand the value a great sales team brings to the process, they also understand commercial real estate is a very competitive business with many well-qualified commercial brokerage companies actively vying for investment sales. The end result is that commissions paid on large investment sale transactions are rarely in the million dollar range. Those stratospheric commissions are usually reserved for land sales, large user building sales and tenant representation assignments.

If you are deciding to circumvent the listing process and make your fortune by representing “Big Deal” Buyers, unfortunately, you may want to rethink your decision. For a litany of reasons that are too detailed to list in this article, a Buyer Broker involved in large commercial real estate investment sales does not exist. So when you see the headline of the next “Big Deal” that happens in the Valley, know there is not one individual broker retiring on the commission, but a team of seasoned professionals working collaboratively to make the sale.


Greg Valladao has more than 30 years of commercial sales, management and legal experience.  Greg serves in roles supporting the commercial industry such as ICSC and NAIOP. Greg can be reached at by email at or by phone at 602-229-5907.