Russ Sande Named Top Influential Finalist

January 15, 2015
There’s pride evident in Russ Sande’s voice as he shares the story of one of his firm’s most notable transactions of the year, also likely the largest pure office transaction ever concluded in San Diego.

Sande, managing principal at Cresa, helped negotiate a build-to-suit project for new office space for LPL Financial, now in a new 13-story, 415,000-square-foot building at La Jolla Commons. With Cresa’s work, LPL consolidated seven offices with expiring leases into the single-tenant tower. Hines operated as the developer, owner and property manager.

Projects such as this lead Sande to say that not once during nearly 40 years of work in the commercial real estate industry has he ever felt bored.

“I’ve always felt this way, and I’ve always advised my daughters: If you’re not having fun, and you’re not really passionate about what it is that you’re doing, then pay attention to that and think about doing something else,” said Sande, who is close to his two grown daughters and three grandchildren.

The quality of Sande’s clients and coworkers at Cresa, combined with the variety, complexity and multifaceted nature of transactions, keeps the days challenging and interesting, Sande said. With 58 offices, Cresa is the largest commercial real estate firm solely dedicated to tenant representation in the U.S. Cresa San Diego represents larger end-users of non-retail commercial space; clients include BAE Systems, EMC, Insurance Company of the West, Isis Pharmaceuticals and ITT Technical Institutes, among others.

“You really get to know the client. These are primarily the decision-makers for these firms,” Sande said. “You’re playing at a high level, and you’re really getting to know these people over time. I’m fascinated by that. I love people anyway, and to have the opportunity to be their advocate … is very satisfying.”

Sande is passionate about tenant rights and eliminating conflicts of interest that invariably arise when brokers represent tenants and landlords.

“In my opinion, a brokerage firm must be all in, either a pure tenant brokerage company or a pure landlord brokerage company to maintain the proper fiduciary with the client,” Sande said. “On the landlord side, they’re in the real estate business. On the tenant side, they’re not in the real estate business.”

Sande does much of the hiring and mentoring for the San Diego office, which has 18 employees, with plans to grow steadily in the coming years.

Sande, a Southern California native who loves San Diego, got his start in commercial real estate upon graduation from San Diego State University, at the recommendation of his father and a friend. Sande sits on the board for the SDSU Corky McMillin Center for Real Estate.

He began his career as a broker with Grubb & Ellis in 1975, and 10 years later, started The Sande Company, one of the first two firms to solely represent tenants in the city. Seven years ago, his company merged with Cresa, which Sande credits with opening national and international opportunities.

“When you’re a small company, it’s very, very difficult to compete with the huge brokerage firms,” Sande said. “Anything that happens in San Diego, any inbound business that comes in from any of the other offices that we have, we never had that luxury as The Sande Company. We’re doing national work now… and that’s significant.”