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Walnut Creek Magazine

A Conversation with Marilyn Hansen, Retail & Investment Broker at TRI Commercial

Q: What is TRI and what do you do there? 

A: TRI Commercial is a full-service commercial real estate firm. We’re affiliated with CORFAC International, giving me a national platform to serve my clients. As a broker, my specialty is in investment and lease advisory for office and retail properties in the Bay Area. Over the past 30 years, I've represented national and regional clients in various capacities.

Q: How did you get started in commercial real estate? 

A: I’m originally from San Bernardino. After majoring in marketing, I joined a wholesale diamond importer in Chicago and later relocated with the company to Miami. Upon returning to California, I decided to pursue commercial real estate. Most of my career, around 25 years, was spent with Grubb & Ellis and later Colliers. Now, I’m at TRI Commercial, working with a team of brokers across office, industrial, retail, and multifamily sectors.

Q: What was the industry like for women when you started? 

A: The business was male-dominated. You’d be lucky if the office had one woman in it.

Q: Tell us about the professional organization CREW and your leadership roles.

A: CREW, or Women in Commercial Real Estate, is an organization where members support each other, build relationships, grow business networks, and develop leadership skills. Being a part of CREW has greatly benefitted my career. I’ve worked on many committees, served on the board in various positions, and in 2021, I had the honor of serving as President of CREW East Bay.

Q: What advice would you give young women interested in becoming a broker? 

A: You need to be disciplined, self-motivated, and financially prepared, as it may take two to three years to find success. Enlist mentors, act with integrity, prioritize your clients’ needs, and ask a lot of questions. It’s important to understand the economics of the industry and anticipate future trends. Despite being a challenging field — women make up only 10-15% of people in the industry — remember that you are the master of your own destiny.

Q: How has the business changed over the years? 

A: The industry is strongly associated with the economy, technology, and future trends, so it is constantly evolving. For example, the average life span of a restaurant has shortened from 15-20 years to just 5-8 years. Retailers come and go, space requirements have downsized, and rents have risen due to increasing land costs, low supplies, and higher construction costs.

Q: What have been some major milestones in your career?

 A: One of the most rewarding aspects of this business are the challenges. Every transaction is unique and offers a learning experience. Retail is particularly rewarding, because it's visual. I can see the results of my labor every time I drive by a location where I've closed a deal. I live by the mantra, "My client’s success is my success." I'm proud to represent Fortune 500 companies in their expansion efforts, along with the ground-up development of numerous restaurants and retail businesses, and sale of various properties.

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