When The Real Deal interviewed Newmark president Jimmy Kuhn in 2014, he told us that he doesn’t put much value on possessions. Seven years later, little seems to have changed about his attitude towards wealth. For Kuhn, the end goal has always been to empower marginalized communities.
“If you’re not giving back,” he said, “why are you working?”
In an interview with The Real Deal founder and publisher Amir Korangy, Kuhn reflected on how the past year fits into Newmark’s history as a company. The firm was founded during a turbulent year — 1978 — when people seemed to be giving up on New York City. (Sound familiar?)
That experience gave Newmark perspective going into what was one of the toughest years ever for the real estate industry. In the past year, the firm prioritized the life science and logistics sectors, which Kuhn said are “two of the hottest markets since the pandemic.” Newmark had already started placing its bets on those sectors around four years ago.
Kuhn also emphasized the importance of reaching out to clients during bad times and maintaining regular meetings regardless of their intentions to do a transaction. That kind of loyalty, Kuhn believes, will “come back in spades in the future.”
The past year was also a period of tremendous social and political upheaval, prompting many companies to reckon with their lack of diversity. Real estate was no different, and has historically been an industry with many barriers to entry for minorities. Kuhn reflected on Newmark’s efforts to bring in and mentor more people of color, including providing scholarships for students of color, and scouting for promising candidates at historically black colleges and universities. Kuhn says that brokerages only stand to gain from prioritizing diversity.
He also pushed back on the idea that it’s a bad time to be a commercial real estate agent, given the challenges of the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn.
“It’s a great time to be a broker,” Kuhn said. “But you have to work harder than you did before”