In this month's member spotlight, we interviewed Kevin Irandoust, Associate Vice-President, Lees & Associates. Drawing from a solid foundation in research, analytics, and risk assessment, Kevin prioritizes understanding each client's unique goals against the backdrop of the market's pulse. From the influence of mentors and the importance of staying updated, to the deep-rooted inspirations of his immigrant family, Kevin's narrative offers a fresh perspective. Read mote to discover how this young professional's passion for his craft, coupled with real-world experiences and strategic pivots, has paved the way for his success.
What's your story and what inspired you to pursue a career in commercial real estate?
Kevin: Growing up, I was always drawn to sales and competition, probably due to my background in sports. When I was finishing up my undergrad in finance at York University, I applied at Cushman and Wakefield, curious about the industry. That's where I met Mark Cascagnette, Managing Partner of our Lee and Associates office. He mentored me and introduced me to the diverse facets of the industry. This unplanned dive became my passion.
How critical do you believe mentorship is in the commercial real estate industry?
Kevin: It's absolutely essential. It's essential to have senior people that have gone through things that you're about to go through and who can share their wins, mistakes and pain points . It just accelerates your career so much quicker.
Mentors, like Mark and Luis, provide invaluable insights from their experiences. They share their successes, failures, and growth strategies, which can fast-track your career. Six years under their guidance has immensely boosted my confidence and effectiveness.
Become a sponge. Absorb everything. Be curious, be active, engage in conversations, and learn from everyone around you. Experience is the best teacher.
Do you identify as a young professional?
Kevin: Yes, I'm 28 now. I started in the industry during my last year at uni. I guess as I approach 30, my professional tag might change. However, I feel it's more about the mindset. Many young professionals, including me, share a zeal and dedication, which helps form strong bonds.
Can you recall your first transaction?
Kevin: Absolutely. It was a warehouse lease. I collaborated with Luis on it. Observing him, discussing strategies, and experiencing the process from start to finish was invaluable. It was my first real insight into transitioning from meetings to transactions.
What was the most challenging deal you've faced and the learnings from it?
Kevin: A recent building sale comes to mind. The building had an existing lease, and there were challenges related to the market value of vacant versus tenanted industrial spaces. The deal involved multiple parties, from tenants to eventual buyers. It was complex but taught me a lot about negotiation and navigating challenges.
Why did you decide to join SIOR?
Kevin: It was the sense of community. Being around experienced agents and tapping into their wealth of knowledge has been invaluable. Surrounding myself with such dedicated professionals that have a proven track record of great business has aided in my growth.
What are your favourite SIOR events?
Kevin: It's a tie between the ski day at Blue Mountain and the golf event. Both are fantastic for networking and relaxation.
what do you see as the biggest trend or change currently impacting CRE industry how are you adapting to those changes?
Kevin: One of the most significant challenges that has reverberated across various industries is the fluctuation of interest rates. This shift has notably affected debt, institutional capital, private investors, and owner-occupiers, with each group feeling unique pressures. Consequently, sales volume has decreased more than it has in recent years.
Given this environment, I've pivoted much of my business towards leasing, particularly in the warehouse sector. With the rise in interest rates, many potential buyers now find it more challenging to purchase. Consequently, they are turning to leasing as the pragmatic solution. Over the past 18 months, my primary focus has been on assisting these tenants in locating suitable spaces and forging strong ties with landlords.
My parents migrated to Canada from Iran during the revolution in the mid-to-late nineties. As a first-generation Canadian, witnessing their journey, the challenges they faced to provide what I have today, fills me with gratitude.
How do you stay informed about industry trends and ensure what you observe is a broader trend, not just a localized event?
Kevin: Staying updated through reading is essential. It's crucial to review reports and economic data. However, the most valuable insights often come from speaking with peers who are actively involved in the field.
I primarily rely on our broker network and key figures in the industry, especially those owning substantial real estate. My focus is mainly on the industrial sector. So, I often consult landlords, leasing representatives, and other brokers. We discuss observations, recent deals, and even compare notes on how we'd evaluate certain properties. Keeping these conversations alive and maintaining relationships is crucial. When multiple industry players echo similar insights, it bolsters my confidence in sharing those findings with clients and peers.
Any advice for newcomers to the industry?
Kevin: Become a sponge. Absorb everything. Be curious, be active, engage in conversations, and learn from everyone around you. Experience is the best teacher.
Reading and improving your craft is crucial. But, just as important, if not slightly more so, is gaining real-world experience. Don't hesitate to approach someone at a networking event and strike up a conversation. Being that person who's eager to engage and ask questions can be immensely rewarding. You'll learn so much from it.
We've heard about your involvement in blood donation. Can you tell us more about that?
Kevin: Blood donation holds significant importance for me. My partner, Casey, regularly donates blood, following in the footsteps of her mother. Inspired by them, I've also taken up the practice. Additionally, with both of my parents being social workers, I've developed a deep understanding and compassion for mental health initiatives. Ensuring that individuals have access to counseling, social services, and shelter is essential. I believe that as a society, we must prioritize mental well-being and actively work towards creating a supportive environment for everyone.
Who are your biggest inspirations and helpers?
Kevin: My parents migrated to Canada from Iran during the revolution in the mid-to-late nineties. As a first-generation Canadian, witnessing their journey, the challenges they faced to provide what I have today, fills me with gratitude. It offers a profound perspective—our daily issues seem so small compared to their past struggles. Their strength serves as a constant inspiration.
We hope you enjoyed our deep dive into Kevin Irandoust's journey in commercial real estate. May his story be one of the many that inspire and guide your own endeavours.