From finance to real estate, David Hungerford has gathered an immense collection of knowledge that is reflected in his success within the commercial real estate industry. In this episode, David discusses why it is crucial to pair education with real world experiences.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. Listen above for the full podcast.
How long have you been in real estate? About eight years. I started at the beginning of 2014 with Saunders Ralston Dantzler. For eight years I've gathered enough knowledge and stories. It’s something new every day. You kind of gather and collect stories as you go.
Did you go to school for real estate? I did. I got a degree in real estate from Florida State University. It's similar in the sense that you learn a lot about theory, about numbers, but then you get thrown out in the real world, and you have no idea what you're doing. I came to the business with a lot of knowledge, but didn't really know what I was actually doing. I just knew how to spew the textbook. Those first couple years, you got to learn the streets a little bit, but also you got to prove that you're legitimate. Once you make it past the first couple of years, they go, “Okay, well, maybe this person knows what they're doing.”
Do you recommend going to college for real estate? It depends on what career path you want to take. If you're going into brokerage, the real estate degree is going to have limited application. Most people go into corporate real estate or property management.
Publix is a good example. Here in town, Publix has a real estate department. They're managing shopping centers, they're going out and acquiring property, they've probably got 100 people in that department that are doing that kind of thing. Your typical real estate degree is going to have those classes that are helpful for those commercial real estate endeavors.
Did you always want to go into real estate? Actually, when I was at Florida State, I was getting a finance degree. Then my buddy told me we could double-major and take two extra classes. As I'm thinking about doing this, I saw real estate as an option. I had no idea you could get a real estate degree. To me, there were two extremes. It was either Donald Trump or a lady with a big hairdo selling houses. There was no world in the middle. Once I had my eyes open to that, it was just fascinating and that became my focus. Florida State was one of the few schools at the time and still today, that has one of those programs. They're becoming more prevalent, but still only a couple dozen of them.
What is CCIM? It’s a good alternative to getting your real estate degree. CCIM is a Certified Commercial Investment Member. It is an education group as well as a networking group. So, you have to take a certain amount of core classes that go into real estate finance and real estate market analysis. Somebody without a real estate degree could basically get a streamlined degree in the form of CCIM. It's good for deal making as well.
What is your role at CCIM? I am the treasurer for the West Coast Florida District, which is the Tampa district. I was volunteered into the position and I got CCIM my designation in 2019.
How did you start at SVN | SRD? I started in land because of my connection with Dean [Saunders]. I was working with Trent [Saunders] and Richard Dempsey and we all did some deals together. Later, I was actually presented with an opportunity outside of Saunders Real Estate. When I looked at that opportunity, I was honest with Dean, we discussed it and things got switched around. Gary [Ralston] was looking for a protege to maybe switch over to commercial. There was a good opportunity for us to team up and that's what we did. The rest is history.
Do you do all of your deals with Gary Ralston? So, we're deal partners. Essentially, we work on all deals together, but I might be the lead or he might be the lead on any given deal.
Attempting to network. At Saunders Ralston Dantzler, we have an annual client appreciation barbecue that we do. Over 200 people come to this barbecue every year and we get to work the event. My job was to man the greeting table. So I'm welcoming people, signing them in, and giving them their name tags. It was my first year in the business, so I don't know a lot of people.
This guy comes walking up in a cowboy hat just like 50% of people there. I welcomed him and asked his name. Then he kind of steps back and looks at me very sincerely, very earnestly. He says “Ben Hill Griffin.” That's the name of the football stadium at UF. One of the biggest names in the state of Florida. I took my foot out of my mouth and said, “Hey, Ben, how's it going?” The good news is I saw him in a meeting three or four years after that and he did not remember me.
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