EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story appeared in the March 5 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.
Within a few minutes of meeting David Erstine, you’ll get the sense he knows what’s happening where and who’s part of it.
That’s how he makes a living, as a successful and connected commercial real estate broker with CBRE in Fayetteville. Ask him to sell the benefits of living and working in Northwest Arkansas, and you’ll get a confident, data-driven elevator speech that embodies why Erstine continues to separate himself in the industry.
He was just 25 years old when the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal recognized him as a member of the 2004 Forty Under 40 class. Although he has made a couple of moves to different companies since then — and is the first person to be featured in this space who’s still eligible for Forty Under 40 consideration — Erstine is just as enthusiastic now as he was then. That goes for both his career and for Northwest Arkansas, which Erstine touts like a seasoned pro.
“Most people we deal with are intrigued with Northwest Arkansas to begin with at this point,” Erstine said. “We’re very blessed and fortunate to show up in a lot of news outlets as a dynamic place to live. What’s interesting now is you are seeing a transition to where we’re able to show people the opportunity to grow their business here. There are success stories, and it’s fun to see how we are positioning the market.”
Erstine, 39, first dipped his toe into the real estate industry while he was still in college at the University of Arkansas. He completed an internship for a Fayetteville appraisal company owned by Tom Reed in the summer of 2000, after his junior year.
It was there he was first introduced to Brian Shaw, who was staffing a satellite office in the same Springdale office building for Little Rock commercial real estate firm Irwin and Saviers.
Erstine, who got his real estate sales license as a UA student, later earned a broker’s license in 2002. In 2003, he and Reed formed Real Estate Market Data Inc., supplying financial institutions, property owners/managers and real estate professionals with market information.
While growing the data company, Erstine also grew his profile on the brokerage side of commercial real estate, thanks to mentors like Shaw, Jim Irwin, Tommy Van Zandt and Mark Saviers. By the end of 2004, he had participated in a pair of sizable real estate deals and his interest was fully piqued.
In early 2005, Irwin and Saviers moved to dissolve, and Erstine helped Shaw, Van Zandt and Saviers form their own company in Fayetteville, called Sage Partners. Over the next five years, he advanced his career to become a junior partner with an ownership interest in the firm, but he also became more familiar with the reach of CBRE, a global firm considered the largest commercial real estate services and investment firm in the world.
“At Sage, I saw the volume of deals CBRE clients were doing in Northwest Arkansas, and to do that they would partner with local offices to facilitate the deal locally,” Erstine explained. “Luckily for us at the time, Sage was a primary partner for CBRE. When I heard they were opening an affiliate office here, I was interested, knowing the types of services they offered their clients and the types of transactions they made.”
Erstine, who holds the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation, has worked for CBRE since late 2012. Now a vice president, Erstine, whose niche is office occupier leasing, has worked on about 250,000 square feet of office leasing over the past three years.
He said collaborating and problem solving are enjoyable aspects of the job, as well as the opportunity to act in an advisory capacity for clients.
“I’m very fortunate to have some long-term relationships with some key clients,” he said. “At this point in my career, I’d want to be known as an adviser, as opposed to just a transactional broker.”
Erstine, who is involved with Fayetteville’s “Startup City of the South” initiative, has also participated in several organizations as a board member including Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA and Northwest Arkansas Big Brothers Big Sisters. He was also named Arkansas’ Big Brother of the Year in 2008.