CRE Midwest

Next Realty's Andrew Hochberg: A love for the deal

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Andrew Hochberg in one of his favorite settings -- retail space.

Andrew Hochberg began his career as a site selector for his family-owned sporting goods chain, Sportmart. Hochberg would sit in back of the station wagon touring potential locations with his father.

Andrew Hochberg began his career as a site selector for his family-owned sporting goods chain, Sportmart. Hochberg still remembers sitting in the back of the family station wagon touring potential locations with his father.

“My favorite deal was putting together space in Daly City, California," said Hochberg, managing principal at Next Realty LLC. “It was a very difficult market to enter, so we had to re-purpose a furniture store. We worked on the deal for a long time, and the store was not a prototype. It was very deep in the sales floor. But it was really successful.”

With more than 20 years of diverse real estate industry experience, Hochberg remains in the industry because he loves deals and retail real estate.

“Driving around looking at potential deals is one of my favorite things to do,” he said. “We probably look at a few hundred deals a year. Some are Internet submittals, some are word of mouth and some are relationship-driven. Though the industry has changed a lot, and the prospects for many of the tenants aren’t as bright, retail real estate is a very big business. And we are very good at it.”

Next Realty’s knowledge of the industry, and how it works, is what sets the company apart from its competitors, according to Hochberg.

“We focus on tenant relationships and executing detailed business plans within our retail investment portfolio,” said Hochberg. “Within our parking portfolio, we have developed a great ability to predict demand for properties. Nextpertise is our term that refers to our ability to analyze deals, create business plans for assets and execute. Our Nextperts perform these tasks in the retail and parking business. We do not operate in a bunch of 'food groups' or extend ourselves in terms of geography.”

The quality of the company’s team is what excites Hochberg.

“We have a great combination of deal people and executors,” Hochberg said. “A good real estate company needs both, like the credit department and the relationship department at a bank. We acquired a surface lot in Honolulu that could be very exciting. We have been investing in grocery anchored deals with a story. Either assets that are mis-priced because they are not a market-share leader but are strong operators, or assets where the grocery store and shadow-anchored space are owned by different entities. These deals are too complicated or risky for big players and too large for smaller ones.”

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His expectations are more of the same for the first half of the year in the retail industry, “Pricing driven by financing, not necessarily improving performance. There's a lot of money chasing deals.”

With ICSC 2015 approaching, Hochberg prepares by setting a few goals and strategies.

“Crazy bidding for deals. I like to set a couple of goals in the leasing area, and try and walk the whole floor to pick up ideas. I like to see our Chicago folks and DC folks talking.”

So how does Hochberg find the balance between work and the things that keep him sane?

“Volunteering,” he said. “The strength of our team allows me time to be active in the community. I have served as campaign chairman for a local philanthropy that raised over $80 million. Its focus is human services in the health care, education and senior citizen arenas. I served on the council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and have been a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence for many, many years.”

His greatest accomplishment outside of working in commercial real estate? His loved ones, of course! “I have a great family and strong friendships. I am fortunate in both areas.”

Hochberg’s favorite movie/song? "I like Whiplash and Blank Space by Taylor Swift.”

Reflecting on when he entered the industry more than 20 years ago, if Hochberg could his younger self advice back then he’d say, “Buy one deal every year and put it away, no matter how big or small. It is important to build equity over time. Too many investors look to the big kill. Most wealth is built one day at a time, one deal at a time.”