Are There Honest Brokers?

MARCH 21, 2016, LOS ANGELES – Sands Investment Group set out to make honest brokerage an industry staple, and today, it has a successful culture of community engagement and giving back, reports in this EXCLUSIVE story.

Sands Investment Group was founded with a pretty extensive goal: to rebrand brokerage. When Chris Sands, the founder of Sands Investment Group, started his career in brokerage, after retiring from his professional tennis career, he loved his job, but didn’t love the reputation of his industry. He set out to change the market perception and create a brokerage firm rooted in collaboration and honesty. Six years later, the firm is thriving with four offices throughout the country and 20 employees. To find out about his vision for a new type of brokerage and how the experiment is working at his firm, we sat down with Sands for an exclusive interview. What inspired you to launch your own firm? What did you see missing in the market?

Sands: I knew I had a passion for the business and loved commercial real estate, but I was disillusioned with the reputation of the brokerage community. There was a perception that we were in it for our own pocketbook and we would do whatever it takes to get a deal done, even if it was at the detriment of the client.  I wanted to start something with a new lens and a new paradigm, where it was not as internally competitive. I wanted to create a firm with a collaborative mindset and approach, where we had a common culture about giving back and making a difference that would really reshape and rebrand the perception of brokerage. I was hopeful at the time this approach would lead to a bigger impact in the marketplace and become the backbone of our firm’s culture and thus begin to reshape the perception of the brokerage community. I Googled the phrase ‘honest broker,’ and not one search result referenced any form of brokerage in real estate or any other industry. I think that was the indication that I wanted to start something new. How did you get your start in the industry?

Sands: I was playing professional tennis after playing at UCLA, and while I thought that was my dream, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and felt I wasn’t able to tap into that playing professional tennis. I began teaching tennis lessons in Silicon Valley as an interim step to finding my long-term career. During this time I was lucky enough to coach extremely successful business-minded individuals. I took the opportunity to pseudo interview them about their careers to find out what their industries entailed and how they became the best in their fields. A few of my clients where in commercial real estate and I was able to get a glimpse into the basics of the industry. In conjunction with this, I made a list of criteria that I was looking for in a long-term career.  As a result of both of these steps, it was clear commercial real estate brokerage fit the bill best for me.  I then started my career at Marcus & Millichap, which ultimately gave me the foundation to begin Sands Investment Group. How have you created an environment that supports your goal for “honest brokerage”?

Sands:  I was committed to creating a company culture that is unwavering when it comes to honesty, ethics and doing the right thing no matter what. It’s about driving home the mindset that we do what’s best for our clients regardless of what the outcome is for us . In keeping with this, it has always been important in the hiring process to seek people who were not only talented and driven, but their values fall in alignment with ours. The focus has always been on quality rather than quantity when it comes to our brokers and staff. The firm has a specific focus on collaboration and giving back. Why is this culture important to the firm’s identity?

Sands:  You are only as good as your reputation. At the end of the day, my reason for starting this has been to really make a difference in the marketplace. This is much bigger than me. I want to create a firm where people are proud and excited to be a part of the values that we believe in, and I want our clients to be raving fans. I want them to know that they are being treated with phenomenal service; that they are getting the results they want; and they know in their hearts t hat we are always doing what is best for them. If we can do that, there is no doubt in my mind we will continue to grow, and growth to me is so much more multi-dimensional than sales or transaction volume. Growth to me is mind share. When someone decides to list or sell their property, I want SIG to be top of mind and their go-to source for their net lease investments. What does the firm do to give back?

Sands: From the beginning, this has been an extremely important aspect of our culture. There is a reason on our website it says, ‘There is a big world outside of the real estate bubble and we know that with success comes responsibility.’  It’s because of this, that w e donate a percentage of our revenue to charities and organizations such as Meals on Wheels, Unbound—an incredible organization that sponsor s children in third world countries —and Big Brothers Big Sisters. In addition, this year each of our offices are identifying a need in their communities and volunteering their time in order to make a difference on a local level. It is our plan to continually grow this aspect of our company. Giving back is the least we can do, and that is why it will always be a focus for us.

See article in GlobeSt.


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