Greg Schementi on Why Most Brokerages Have a Conflict of Interest
As Greg Schementi climbed to almost the top of Cushman & Wakefield’s tenant representative business, he noticed flaws in the brokerage’s model.
A little more than a year ago, he jumped ship to take the reins of Cresa as president of the Chicago-based brokerage that serves only occupiers — not both landlords and tenants, like the giants such as Cushman, JLL and CBRE. He officially started last month, after the expiration of non-compete clauses.
Cresa offered a platform Schementi recognized from earlier in his career. He started in commercial real estate at Equis, a small Chicago brokerage that served only tenants and expanded into dozens of American cities by the time it was bought by Australia’s United Group in 2006, setting up an eventual merger with Cushman.
“This firm at Cresa, although modernized and supersized from my early days, it’s very familiar,” Schementi said.
At Cushman he spent time convincing tenants the brokerage’s scale offered them benefits smaller firms couldn’t, yet he’s already become fluent in pointing out the advantages of selecting a service that works only one side of the tenant-landlord relationship.
“Other firms represent both sides of our business, and that’s very significant to our clients,” Schementi said. “There is an inherent conflict of interest there that we do talk about. We’re free of that. It feels different. It informs how we do our work and I know we do better work because of that.”
Schementi chatted with The Real Deal about how Cresa competes with other brokerages representing exclusively tenants, the state of the post-pandemic office market and which New York sports teams the Long Island native still cheers for after living in Chicago for decades. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
When a client tells you it’s coming down to hiring one of two different occupier-only firms, such as Savills and Cresa, how do you outcompete that brokerage?
For us, it comes down to the advisors, the team that will deliver the service. We always want to put our best advisors for that situation in front of an occupier client. How we compete is to get the best solution and best people in front of the opportunities early on. And then bring the best of the firm, give our advisors the best tools to show them what we can do, and how we can add value.