Office v Wisconsin

Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame profile: CBRE's Bill Bonifas

Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame Bonifas profile,ph01
Bill Bonifas

Each year, Midwest Real Estate News runs its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame issue, an issue highlighting the most successful pros in our region. This year, we are running the profiles from this issue online, too. Today, we look at the thriving CRE career of William Bonifas, executive vice president with the Milwaukee office of CBRE.

Beyond the cows: Bill Bonifas and his Milwaukee CBRE team reach out to the Dairy State and around the world, making themselves a go-to group for some of the largest and most complex leasing and sales transactions anywhere. His team, a nationally-recognized leader in corporate advisory and transaction services, represents clients in more than 30 countries, accounting for more than 20 million square feet of oversight. The team turns in $250 million in transactional volume annually.

An award-winning career: Real Estate Forum magazine has named Bonifas a national Dealmaker of the Year. Locally, Bonifas has collected multiple Deal of the Year awards from the Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin for both office and investment deals, and he’s also often ranked as Wisconsin’s top producer for CBRE. In 2016, is volume ranked among CBRE’s top 10 percent among brokers throughout the Americas. 

Music man: Commercial real estate, though, is far from Bonifas’ only interest. He is also a jazz guitarist, who’s been teaming recently with Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch. He reports that they plan to write, arrange and perform music together for a gig at the Milwaukee Ballet in February of 2018. Bonifas regularly plays benefits, including a favorite: He and his jazz ensemble work a fund-raiser every year for the Cathedral Center Pathway Home, an organization dedicated to providing assistance to the homeless.

Giving back: Bonifas is a Milwaukee Ballet board member, and a past board chairman of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. He’s an active fundraiser for the United Way and the United Performing Arts Fund, and he’s on the board of the Catholic East Elementary School.

Getting schooled: Bonifas started learning about commercial real estate markets while in college at Lawrence University in 1978, doing urban economic research. Then, after graduation, he worked at the John’s Hopkins Center for Metropolitan Planning & Research. 

“The background in economic analysis was a great training ground before getting into real estate,” he said. 

Bonifas has picked a challenging specialty, and one, he says, that’s often tougher than it needs to be. 

“While specializing in international corporate advisory and transaction work, one of the greatest challenges is clients not being strategic about their real estate portfolios, and, therefore, they start important projects too late,” he said. “Many don’t even know what they have.”