Who’s Who in Real Estate
Neema Ahadian is a senior managing director of investments at Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real estate investment sales brokerage based in Calabasas, as well as director of the Neema Group, his own team which specializes in multifamily investments in Los Angeles.
Ahadian received a bachelor’s degree from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in international business from the Copenhagen Business School. He is a member of The California Apartment Association and the National Multi-Housing Group and is active in promoting landlord rights.
How did you first get into real estate? What led you to start The Neema Group?
I had a close friend I studied abroad with at Copenhagen Business School taking an international business management course. Being a USC Marshall School of Business graduate, speaking English, Farsi and Spanish, and being a world traveler, I was certain I was going to go into some sort of international business. While visiting my friend, I met his father, who was a build-to-suit developer and broker that built many Best Buy locations throughout the Midwest. I was fascinated by his line of work that combined the creativity of real estate and being able to solve issues and complicated transactions, all while helping people and building relationships.
After spending some time with him and his father, I wrote down ‘commercial real estate’ on a post-it note, came back to Los Angeles, and explored the industry. After some research, I found the Los Angeles Business Journal and pulled a list of the top 10 commercial real estate brokerage firms. I interviewed at the top five and chose the one with the strongest training program and market coverage and presence. I have been at Marcus & Millichap for 23 years and grateful for all the relationships, stories, transactions and memories I have made along the way.
Tell me about your apartment management background.
When I became an agent at Marcus & Millichap, I was building my career, experience and knowledge of apartments and sales. However, I felt as somewhat of a traitor speaking to clients about their apartments without knowing anything about operations, management or ownership. I decided to interview to become an on-site manager of a 47-unit apartment building in Mar Vista, where I learned a lot … a lot more than what I had expected. Section 8 tenants, drug dealers, bed bugs, water backups, sewage drain issues, 3 a.m. phone calls, (rent) collections and leasing was a short list of the challenges.
What’s special to you about the multifamily market?
Los Angles is a dense market of apartments that is always evolving. We go through cycles of ownership from syndicators, operators, high net worth investors, private equity firms, family offices, private owners and everything else in between. I love the diversity of the ownership and clientele that we get to service and learn from. There are many in our market with a passion for real estate and I am lucky to be able to help them achieve their goals of equity preservation and wealth growth. There are also many challenges in our markets, including anti-landlord sentiment, strict rent control laws and litigation that is becoming more regular.
You are an advocate of landlord protection rights. What rights are most important to you?
It is unfair the way Los Angeles landlords are being treated. For a city that complains about the lack of affordable housing and affordability challenges, the path to create new housing is very difficult. The power that tenants have is driving a lot of investors to red states that allow an owner to be free to renovate and provide quality housing. Many of our clients fleeing to alternative markets feel better and more satisfied in providing housing and having less friction in ownership. I am a member of The California Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council, as these organizations strive to protect our clients and their interests.
What’s next for The Neema Group?
We continue to be forces in multifamily and development in core Los Angeles and surrounding markets. Many of our private clients have also shifted to create affordable housing in our city, and with Karen Bass’s ED1 initiative, we understood the need to be a leading team in the affordable housing space and quickly advanced ourselves within that trend. We recently closed on a 157-unit site in South Los Angeles and have several affordable housing projects that are in contract and on the market.