Justin Walbert works as an Associate and Brokerage Analyst in JLL’s Retail Brokerage and Integrated Portfolio Solutions teams in the Pittsburgh office of JLL.
Years in the industry: 6 months
Favorite Pittsburgh neighborhood: The Strip District
Why did you get into the real estate business?
Real estate has always interested me because it’s a very tangible industry. Learning about a region’s real estate means you’re meeting real people and helping shape real neighborhoods. Having that front row seat to all of the new development and watching Pittsburgh reinvent itself and enjoying its time in the spotlight as an up-and-coming world-class city has been very exciting. Joining the team at JLL was the best decision for me professionally, and working for a firm that shares the same pride in Pittsburgh as its residents do makes the work we do even more rewarding.
What are some up-and-coming areas to look out for in Pittsburgh real estate?
Pittsburgh’s downtown fringe neighborhoods like Lawrenceville, the Strip District, and East Liberty are some of the most popular walkable urban neighborhoods in the country right now and for good reason. People are the greatest part of Pittsburgh though, so don’t overlook the work being done in the suburbs where developers are given a blank canvas to create amazing projects like Newbury Market in South Fayette by integrating mixed-use retail and residential development and producing whole new suburban business districts. Projects like this will attract more outside interest, boost millennial home buying figures and really showcase Pittsburgh’s fantastic local businesses and excellent schools.
What do you wish more people understood about the way your business operates?
There is a lot of pressure to make things happen quickly, and I think a lot of folks don’t realize how complex these transactions often are. It’s a challenge, but helping our clients understand that taking the time to make smart decisions ultimately benefits them is worth the effort.
What’s one thing most people don’t think about when planning a move to a new space?
All of the work and capital required to make a move or open a new location adds up very quickly.
What technology is transforming the way you work every day?
I think smartphones and their integration into our lives is making the biggest impact. There are so many different ways to communicate now and so much more of it. Keeping all of the texts, calls and emails organized is something you’ve got to pay a lot of attention to if you want to provide the best service.
What’s your industry’s greatest challenge?
In the retail world, I think the greatest challenge is the natural ebbs and flows of consumer trends and spending. You never want to find client locations where they won’t succeed, and you never want to lease a client’s space to a tenant who won’t be able to generate the sales required to honor their lease obligations. There is a delicate balance between location, sales, and finding the right concepts.