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Field Guide to Breaking Into Commercial Sales

(Updated August 2013)

Though both the U.S. and world economies remain in a somewhat precarious state, the commercial real estate market has shown incremental improvements since the economic collapse of the 2000s. Navigating the commercial real estate landscape often requires deft knowledge and skill, but the resources below provide guidance and background on how to get started. (K. Stockert, Information & Web Content Specialist)

Q - ProQuest articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the ProQuest/Find Articles page.

Some Facts About the Commercial Real Estate Industry:  

  • Sales of major properties (over $2.5M) advanced 15 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2014, totaling $87.0 billion, (Source: Commercial Real Estate Outlook, May 2014).
  • Commercial members completed a median of eight transactions in 2013, (Source: 2014 Commercial Member Profile, National Association of REALTORS®).
  • 52% percent of REALTORS® name lack of available financing as a major obstacle for commercial real estate this year, (Source: 2013 Commercial Real Estate Lending Survey, National Association of REALTORS®).

Primary Business Specialty of NAR's Commercial Members: 

  • Investment sales: 29%
  • Land sales: 27%
  • Office leasing: 24%
  • Retail building sales: 20%
  • Retail leasing: 20%
  • Office building sales: 19%
  • Multi-family building sales: 18%
  • Industrial building sales: 17%
  • Commercial property management: 10%
  • Development: 9%

(Source: 2014 Commercial Member Profile, National Association of REALTORS®).

For more commercial market data, go to NAR's Commercial Research Page.

The Commercial Real Estate Market

Commercial Real Estate News, (The Wall Street Journal, n.d.).

Multifamily, Commercial Mortgage Loans Jump 34% in 2Q14, (Housing Wire, July 31, 2014).

Investors Gasp for Air Space, (Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2014).

Commercial Real Estate Revives as Tech, Energy Hiring Picks Up, (Yahoo! Finance, June 13, 2014).

Commercial Property Prices Pick Up Steam in May, (Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2014).

REALTORS® Declare Confidence in Commercial Market, (Florida Weekly, May 21, 2014).

REALTORS® Report Positive Outlook in Commercial Market with Increases in Sales Volume, Income, (National Association of REALTORS® Press Release, May 6, 2014).

Survey Predicts Commercial Property Sales Will Reach 10-Year High by 2016, (Journal Record, Apr. 15, 2014).

Commercial Real Estate Rents on the Rise, (Kiplinger, Aug. 31, 2013).

Chinese buyers develop a taste for U.S. commercial property, (Reuters, Dec. 20, 2013).

Commercial Real Estate News, (The Wall Street Journal, n.d.).

Commercial Real Estate: The Basics

Understanding Commercial Real Estate Indices, (Journal of Real Estate Portfolio Management, Sept.-Dec. 2012). Q

Protecting Tenants, (REALTOR® Magazine, May 2013)

What Dodd-Frank Means for Commercial Real Estate, (REALTOR® Magazine, July 2011).

7 Tips for Negotiating a Better Office Lease, (REALTOR® Magazine, Apr. 2010).

Getting started in commercial real estate, (REALTOR® Magazine Online, Jan. 2007).

Resources for Gettin​g Started

The Source — a blog brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® Commercial Division

NAR Commercial on Facebook

Commercial Connections — NAR’s quarterly commercial real estate publication

CommercialSearch — for commercial property listings

The NAR's commercial team regularly hosts podcasts on a diversity of commercial topics. For the latest, check out the Commercial Podcasts.

NAR Education Matrix — courses in commercial real estate.

CCIM Institute — The CCIM Institute confers the CCIM designation and is an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Commercial Investment Real Estate Magazine

Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) — The source for education, resources, information and membership for real estate management professionals.

Journal of Property Management Q

Society of Industrial and Office REALTORS® (SIOR) — The leading professional commercial and industrial real estate association.

SIOR’s Professional Report Magazine

Research ​on Your Own

To search for the most recent articles on this topic, visit ProQuest and enter subject terms such as:

  • Commercial real estate
    • Enter into ProQuest text box as su(commercial) AND su(real estate)

Information Savvy!

Many websites, such as Wikipedia, can be great resources to quickly get oriented on a subject before conducting more in depth research. However, anyone in the world can create and maintain a website or write a seemingly legitimate article and may, intentionally or unintentionally, publish false or "misinformation." When reviewing information on the Internet, you should always consider the ABC's:

  • Accuracy. Is the information accurate? Can you confirm the same information using other resources published by a different author or organization?
  • Author. Who composed the information? Can you easily identify the author and contact the author or website publisher?
  • Bias. What bias might the author or author organization have?
  • Credibility. What is the author’s or author organization’s credentials for publishing the information? What expertise, experience, or education does the author have in this area that makes him or her qualified to write on the subject matter?
  • Critical Eye.  When was the web page last updated? Is it possible the information might have changed since this web page was last published?
  • use your discretion and critical eye to determine whether information you find on the web (or even in books and news sources!) is trustworthy. Putting websites to the ABC test will get you started in developing a strong critical eye.

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Commercial Mortgages 101 (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Commercial Real Estate Investing (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Commercial Real Estate Investing in Canada (Adobe eReader)

Commercial Real Estate Investment (Adobe eReader)

The ABCs of Real Estate Investing (Kindle and Adobe eReader)

The Commercial Real Estate Revolution (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

The complete guide to buying and selling apartment buildings (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

The commercial real estate tsunami: a survival guide for lenders, owners, buyers and brokers, (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2011).

After the fall: opportunities and strategies for real estate investing in the coming decade, (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009).

Commercial real estate investing: a creative guide to successfully making money, (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2008).

Field Guides & More

These Field Guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to 1031 Exchanges

Field Guide to Commercial Property Management

Field Guide to Hotel/Motel Properties

Field Guide to Office Properties

Information Services Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.