For Bob Knakal, baseball has always played a central theme in his life. His knack for statistics began with his love of baseball and has continued throughout his career in his statistical understanding of the New York City commercial real estate sales market.
With the recent sale of 150 Union Avenue in Brooklyn, in fact, Knakal has reached a career milestone of 2,222 properties sold. Adam America developed the 130-unit apartment building at 150 Union Street in 2015, and HUBB NYC bought it for $76.8 million.
Knakal, now in his 39th year of brokering the sale of investment properties in New York City, has meticulously tracked his sales activity since the beginning of his career. “My affinity for numbers began during my Little League baseball career. I was a pitcher and kept all my stats in a notebook. I also collected baseball cards as a kid and always loved reading the stats on the back of the cards,” Knakal told me.
He easily realized that he knew: Hank Aaron had 132 runs in 1957, Tom Seaver won 25 games as a pitcher for the Mets in 1969, and Don Mattingly had his best year in 1986 with 238 hits and a . 352 for Knakal’s beloved New York Yankees, everyone remembers from the back of baseball cards. Clearly, this is when statistics became a meaningful pastime for him.
His baseball career continued throughout high school, where he was an all-district pitcher in Hackensack, NJ, and on into college, where he is still in the record books at the University of Pennsylvania for his low batting average. earned during the second year.
Bob’s brokerage career began in July 1984 at Coldwell Banker Commercial (the predecessor company of CBRE). On his second day on the job, he met Paul Massey. The two teamed up and four years later formed Massey Knakal Realty Services in November 1988. They decided the name order with a coin toss in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria.
Massey Knakal was sold to Cushman & Wakefield in 2014. Knakal served as head of New York investment sales at C&W until June 2018. In September 2018, we arrived at JLL with 53 of our colleagues, all of whom had worked at Massey Hang out with us.
Bob originally kept track of his transactions in a handwritten ledger, but now relies on an Excel spreadsheet after some prodding. So the handwritten books were converted to digital format and now the list is updated with the closing of each new transaction. The sale of 150 Union Avenue is not only the 2,222nd sale of his career, but also puts Knakal’s total dollar volume at over $20.5 billion, with more than 70 million square feet sold comprising more than 40,000 units housing.
Rod Santomassimo, founder of Massimo Group and trainer of Knakal brokers for more than 10 years, put it in stark relief: “We’ve trained thousands of CRE agents, and Bob is in a class by himself. His dedication to his craft has positioned him as an authority in the world’s most competitive market. The man lives to create experiences for his customers and family.”
For Knakal, the analogy of building sales to baseball remains.
“In the commercial real estate sales business, most of what we do every day is not glamorous,” he said. “It’s the basics — making phone calls, following up with prospects, tracking down comparable sales, reading real estate publications, showing buildings and preparing value opinions for potential sellers. These are the building blocks of business just as sprinting, pitching, and working on your curveball every day in practice are the building blocks of a pitcher’s life. These basic things are sometimes not fun to do, but having the discipline to do them day after day and month after month is a differentiator. They put you in a position to succeed.”
“In baseball, the moment of truth is when you’re on the mound and the umpire yells, ‘Play ball!’ In commercial real estate, that same moment is when you meet with clients to acquire the franchise, at the signing of the contract, and sitting down at the closing table.”
As for retirement, Knakal won’t hear of it. “I talk for a living and I get to talk to and help great clients achieve their goals every day, many of whom become personal friends. I also work alongside good friends who have been there for 20 years with me. Why would I ever stop that?” Sticking to the baseball theme, he added with a smile, “In baseball, 3,000 hits is considered a major career milestone. It may take a while, but I’ve got my eyes on sales building number 3000.”
Jonathan Hageman is a managing director in the capital markets practice at JLL and a 20-year business partner of Knakal’s.