Pasadena-headquartered JRW had 147 net lease sales last year.

Pasadena-headquartered JRW had 147 net lease sales last year.

Melinda Marston is a veteran real estate broker with more than 30 years of business experience at companies including Target Corp., VF Corp. and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

“I’ve had a great career in terms of the breadth of what I’ve been able to do and the companies I’ve been able to work in,” she said.


But when Marston moved to Pasadena-based brokerage JRW Realty Inc. in 2016, she felt like she was really able to make an impact.

 
“I had the ability to work directly with the decision-makers and the owners and work more creatively to come up with solutions for problems,” the brokerage president said when asked what drew her to the role.


As president, Marston oversees both the team’s day-to-day and big-picture operations. And while the company is owned by Warren Thomas and Joshua Ungerecht, the firm’s six employees are all women — a rare occurrence in the industry.


Data from the Commercial Real Estate Women Network shows that in 2020, women accounted for less than 37% of the commercial real estate industry’s workforce and earned 10.2% less than their male counterparts.

 
But Marston said that when she’s hiring, she doesn’t specifically look for women brokers.


“With regards to my own team, I’ve just focused on people who have talent and integrity and the same kind of work ethic I bring to the company,” she said. “It just so happens that as I add people to my team, they’ve been women. It’s not an accident, but it’s not really intentional either.”


Marston said JRW Realty has been focusing on properties with long-term net leases. In a net lease, the tenant leases a property from a landlord but is responsible for most things including maintenance and even property taxes at times.

 
Marston said she has been working on net lease deals since 2012 but explained that they’re particularly well-suited for current conditions. “These types of assets historically have been resilient during recessions,” she said.

 
JRW was involved in 147 net leased property sales in 2020 for more than $681 million — the highest total in the firm’s history.


Marston said these properties are desirable now because “they really do multiple things for an investor. They reduce the overall operating expenses like property taxes, insurance, property maintenance, and they get long-term leases between seven and 15 years, and you can lock in the rent, and that will provide the investor with a stable income.”


“Even in an economic downturn, the investor can be assured that they will receive a return on their investment,” Marston said.


Many of these net leased properties, she added, are for essential uses and have remained open and are doing well during the pandemic.

 
“There’s been too much demand for the type of assets that we source. It has been an absolutely incredible year,” Marston said.


Some buyers that had not invested in these types of properties before, she added, are now interested in these net lease assets.

 
“These are the investments that are going to give you the most stable income. There’s been a flock to quality during the pandemic,” she said.


All that interest has a downside, though. According to Marston, there’s a lack of available inventory, which makes for an increasingly competitive field.


Still, she thinks 2021 will be another busy year for the company, which already was involved in net leased property sales worth $28.5 million in January. 

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