By Al Barbarino
Six years ago, David Schechtman was sick of locking horns with other lawyers. So he took a career leap into brokerage. He called it a “tremendous diversion.”
“Very often I found myself advocating for one side only,” he said, about his years as a litigator. “As a broker, very often you’re working with more than one party to achieve a common goal and it’s not just to espouse one position or another. It’s a wonderfully refreshing place to be.”
Schechtman, 37, was promoted in December to executive managing director at Eastern Consolidated, where he has spent the latest six years of his professional career. In that time he has competed more than $2.4 billion in transactions – for clients that include U.S. Bank, Capital One and Aion Partners – as leader of Eastern’s loan sales and turnaround group. Last year alone he closed 41 deals.
While taking sides no longer jived for Schechtman, the skills he built as a litigator gave him a leg up against his competition in brokerage, giving him a free pass on subjects like contracts, accounting and tax law, he said.
“I can’t imagine being a broker and handling the 170 deals I’ve handled in six years without a law background,” Schechtman said.
But, ironically, his roots in litigation also caused a few bumps along the way, as Schechter developed what he called an “impetuous” demeanor, particularly in the face of heated deals. For guidance, he often looks to Peter Hauspurg, chairman and CEO of Eastern Consolidated.
“I’ve never met somebody that has so much poise, even in a stressful moment,” Schechtman said, adding that, if Hauspurg isn’t around, all he has to do is look up. “I have signs up on my office walls that remind me to take that deep breath and give that extra moment of thought before I communicate.”
Schechter isn’t bashful about the other upside to being a successful broker, noting that there’s “exponentially more money to be made as a broker” than there is as an attorney. He recalled a day in the summer of 2010 when, representing a lender, he attended a bankruptcy auction. The initial bid was $14.5 million and he had expected the bid to stop at $15 or $16 million. But before he knew it, the bid was at $19.6 million.
“These were two very credible bidders and I just remember thinking to myself – ‘this is incredible,’” he said. “The market’s coming back. I can see it right in front of me. That was cool to know that I was going to be compensated no matter who bought it. And to watch two people driving the price up – what’s better than that as a broker?”
Schechtman is equally excited about 2012. It’s a tremendous time for real estate, with great potential in retail and residential rents – as well as wonderful debt financing available, he said. Right now, debt is at a discount despite prices being at a premium, something he believes will reverse course in 36 months.
“The last time I was this excited about real estate was 2006,” he said. “Many buyers recognize that it’s worth paying the premium because the debt is at a discount. I can’t keep land on the shelf.”
The promotion came as a surprise to Schechtman, formally announced during a company outing at a local bowling lane. He’s been growing into a different role gradually, however, and said it was “wonderful to naturally progress in the chain of command.”
Schechtman was named Eastern’s “Most Promising Broker” in 2006 and “Broker of the Year” in 2011, in concert with his new promotion. What’s next?
“They also nominated me as emperor of the universe,” he joked.
*this article appeared in the January 25, 2012 edition of Real Estate Weekly