Ohen Darla Longo arrives at CBRE’s office in Glendale, California, Barbara Perrier is already waiting for her, dressed in a blue pantsuit. Longo, with perfectly framed blonde bangs, walks into the room – also wearing a blue pantsuit.
“I asked Barbara what she was wearing,” Longo says, looking at Perrier, her younger sister, who nods approvingly.
IIt’s a rare feminine moment in the world of testosterone-fueled commercial real estate. The two sisters have personally sold $10 billion worth of industrial property in the past year — more than three times what Blackstone paid for WPT Industrial REIT’s 38 million square foot portfolio — while still managing to send Valentine’s Day gifts to teammates, proving that success in the industry doesn’t have to be masculine or cold.
“They are brilliant performers for us,” said Lew Horne, chairman of Greater Los Angeles, Orange County and Inland Empire for CBRE.
Since Longo recruited Perrier to partner in industrial sales and leasing some 20 years ago, the two have dominated the industry. Los Angeles-area brokers consider them an untouchable duo. Few of their contestants were willing to talk about it officially, and even off-the-record, several made sure to note that they had nothing bad to say about either sister.
Longo isn’t shy about speaking for herself and her brother, not to mention the 32 brokers they run at CBRE, which she says has the largest market share of any industrial capital markets team in the country. .
A path with roadblocks
LOngo was still an economics student at UCLA in 1977 when she decided to go into real estate. Her father thought she would be good at selling. Growing up, she sold kumquats in her neighborhood in Glendale and lots of Girl Scout cookies. She thought real estate was attractive, but residential didn’t seem appealing – too many nights and weekends.
She got a job with Jon Douglas Company, a business brokerage firm, in West LA and organized his classes around work, without telling his boss that she was actually still a student. Her first contract was to sell land in Pacoima to Continental Yogurt – she earned $15,000.
It wasn’t all right from there.
“I can’t tell you how many offices I walked out in tears,” Longo said. “I was never brought up thinking there was prejudice against women. It just never got recorded.
AAfter graduating, she was hired into a training program at the Los Angeles office of CBRE, known at the time as Coldwell Banker.
IIn the 1970s and 80s, Longo said, she was one of the only women to work in industrial real estate. It was “super unusual” – most women at the time chose to go into retail or the office. When asked if any of them had other female brokers they could rely on for support, Perrier replied, “Who was that girl? Susan? to which Longo cut in, “Mary?” None of them remembered.
But Longo loved fabricators, a fondness she attributed to her father’s work in the steel business.
gone was tears.
“She was this bright, young protege who did very well from day one,” said Stephen Batcheller, a partner at Transwestern Development Company who worked with Longo in the 1980s at CB.
Bn 1989, his younger sister was also looking for a job.
Longo had helped Perrier get a foot in the door of Coldwell Banker, doing data collection part-time while she studied English at UCLA. After graduation, Perrier wanted to work full-time at Coldwell Banker in the Inland Empire, where Longo worked.
“I told Darla, “We’ll be in the same market,” Perrier said. “But she said, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea. Go do your own thing.
So Perrier got a job as a runner for Horne while he was still the company’s principal broker, working in the San Fernando Valley.
EEach of the sisters said they face multiple “barriers” as women in industry.
“I was young, I was blonde, I was a woman – strike, strike strike,” Perrier said.
“But you learn to cut out the noise,” Longo added.
JAlthough they declined to comment on specific instances, both said their early years brought harassment, sarcastic comments and discouraging and deterrent male peers.
“If they were dealing with these issues, you would never have known, they never let it show,” Batcheller said.
“The world was different,” Perrier said. “The world is a better place today where there are more opportunities for people to file a complaint if they want to, or breastfeed if they want to, or take maternity leave if they want to. wish.”
JThroughout the 1990s, Longo and Perrier operated separately, leasing industrial properties in their respective territories.
BBut as Longo continued to make a name for herself in the business, she wanted more. She wanted to start selling the buildings she was renting and financing the transactions. She was told she couldn’t do both — she would have to give up the rental.
“I refused to do it,” Longo said. “I wanted to be involved from the cradle to the grave, the whole thing.”
MMeanwhile, Perrier was working on a big rental assignment with Prudential Insurance in Glendale, until Prudential decided to sell the entire park and Perrier lost much of his business.
NOTNow that the two sisters were looking to branch out, they began to entertain the idea of working together, which their father had always suggested to them. But they hesitated.
“The brokerage business is a tough business,” Longo said. “The last thing we wanted to do was have a problem as sisters.”
Perrier finished thinking, “We didn’t want any commission disputes or other issues.”
SSources familiar with their decision to team up said Longo was really looking for someone to trust after major disputes with a few of his partners at Coldwell Banker. After their father died in 1997, they finally decided to team up — “all of these things fell into place,” Longo said.
OOne of their first transactions was on behalf of a cement company, Vulcan Materials, which was looking to sell a portfolio of buildings and approached Perrier. This type of deal usually went through an investment sales team, but the sisters decided to take the opportunity.
“We said to ourselves: “We’re just going to do this,” recalls Perrier. “We don’t ask permission.”
FFor 10 years, Longo and Perrier have worked together on sales and leases, dividing the commissions.
One of their deals in 2007 was a 1.8 million square foot warehouse for Skechers in the town of Moreno Valley in the Inland Empire – a lease valued at around $100 million. At the time, Longo described him as the largest single-tenant lease in the country.
In 2010, Longo and Perrier decided they needed to branch out and look beyond Southern California for clients – large REITs and investment firms across the country were looking to do business in Los Angeles and in the Inland Empire, and they wanted to do them with the sisters.
Jhe relationship with Vulcan proved fruitful. The company owned a 90-acre parcel off Highway 210 in Irwindale – and Perrier had watched over it for more than 20 years.
“We were driving in front all the time and my kids were asking what was going on with this site,” she said. “It was years and years and years.”
JThe sisters sold the property last year on behalf of Vulcan to Clarion Partners for $190 million. Clarion is building a new industrial development on the site – and Perrier and Longo will have the lease going forward.
NOTot every deal has been smooth sailing. In 2007, Perrier had a client – whom she declined to name – who was “very anal” about the offering memorandum. They wanted to change the commas and periods and rework all the other sentences.
Perrier spent about four months on the offering memorandum, and then the financial crisis of 2008 hit.
“The property immediately went from a very salable property to a $15 million loss in value,” she said. “They ended up having to keep him for another six years.”
Deals, deals, deals
OOver the past 10 years, the team has achieved approximately $220 billion in total sales and $45 billion in funding deals – Longo has fulfilled his wish to work on cradle-to-grave deals.
LLast year, the team made more than $20 billion in sales, with Longo and Perrier deals accounting for about half of that. Their commissions are always split evenly among their entire team – an uncommon strategy in commercial brokerage.
OWith commissions for industrial properties ranging from 1-2% – although some smaller deals may have a higher percentage – Longo and Perrier’s team likely netted the company a minimum of $200 million. This equates to $6.25 million for each broker.
For Perrier and Longo, CBRE would take about 40% of their commission. After that, Perrier and Longo could have earned around $3.75 million last year from sales alone.
Longo and Perrier declined to comment specifically on how much they earned last year.
For comparison, consider a four-person industry team at Cushman & Wakefield, comprised of Jeff Chiate, Mike Adey, Bryce Aberg and Brad Brandenburg, which won top production awards for brokerage last year. The Southern California team sold $4.3 billion in industrial real estate in 2021, less than half of what Longo and Perrier personally sold.
Perrier noted that even though selling prices for industrial properties have risen since the pandemic — to $289 per square foot in the first quarter of this year, a 34% jump from the same period last year — brokers still need deal flow to reach the top echelons of the industry.
“It’s not like they’re going up exponentially because prices are going up,” she said. “It’s the volume.”
LOngo’s strategy of taking over leasing, selling and financing has worked for her, Perrier and the whole team — they can handle it all.
“I see their names on many different lists,” said Krestina Babamuratova, an industrial broker at Savills who represents tenants. “That’s the point.”