After college, Steve Karlson’s father introduced him to his long-time friend, Mike Huff, who became a mentor to him for his career path.
Karlson took interest in his career and says Huff told him, “You really should start in property management to get your feet wet in all areas of the business.” After that green light, Karlson reached out to a number of real estate companies and eventually found an opening at CBRE. Although he had to wait six months to fill the position, it was worth it, seeing as how it’s 12 years later and he’s still in the industry.
"I really enjoy the constant change in the commercial real estate industry,” Karlson said, now Senior Property Manager at NAI Hiffman. “Whether it’s operational, a swing in the market, chasing a transaction, or the complex day-to-day change in priorities, I enjoy finding solutions while servicing my clients, customers, and teammates. It’s also rewarding to assist brokers in clearing obstacles to make transactions happen or to provide financial protection to a client by doing extra due-diligence.”
Due to working in the Chicagoland area, what he really enjoys about commercial real estate is watching the deal flow change in each sub-market, “It can go completely silent in one area, but be very hot in another.”
During his twelve years in the market, he’s also learned to keep the first things first.
“There is so much going on in real estate between tenant deals, aging receivables, construction projects, financial reporting, and tenant conversations, that it’s easy to get distracted and lose sight of what is the top priority. I’ve always aimed to align my goals with what the client and company finds most important, whether it’s a lease or financial report.”
At NAI Hiffman, Karlson provides direct leasing support and client oversight for over 11 million square feet. Although he’s made tons of deals, one that stands out happened last year when he successfully expanded a tenant and renewed them for 10 years.
“The tenant was previously very discouraged with building operations, HVAC, and the communication of solutions that were being provided,” he said. “The impetus was put on me to calm the tenant and help win the transaction. With assistance from our vendors and team, I was able to communicate the solution, show the landlord’s commitment, and convince the tenant that their decision to renew was the right choice.”