“It comes from, I think, just the passion of what I do.”
Jay Rubin of Lee & Associates is a commercial real estate broker for Lee and Associates, based in Westlake Village. He adores his work, and he blends it with his other passions—he photographs his listings with drones that he flies himself. He makes the most of what he does, and is sure to have fun while he’s doing it.
Work and Commercial Real Estate in 2021
During his interview, Jay tackles some of the questions most of us are currently asking: what will the commercial real estate workforce be like post-COVID? How are businesses addressing remote work, and do companies want to return to the office? If physical offices are no longer a necessity, how does this impact real estate?
The conversation then turns away from work, and hones in on some of Jay’s superlatives, ranging from his favorite concert to his favorite food to his favorite superhero and beyond. His taste is eclectic, and his preferences give some insight into what makes him tick.
Listen to Jay’s Story Here
Click Here to Read The Transcript
Intro Speaker 0:00
From Los Angeles, this is the Echelon Radio Network.
Brian Hemsworth 0:14
And here we are at the Echelon Radio Podcast and today in the studio, we’ve got Jay Rubin. Thanks for coming in.
Jay Rubin 0:21
Brian, thanks so much for having me. Such a pleasure.
Brian Hemsworth 0:24
Jay, tell us a little bit about what you do. Now anybody that’s around at least the West Valley where I am a lot, you can’t drive down a block without seeing your name on a sign somewhere.
Jay Rubin 0:38
So I do commercial real estate brokerage and specializing in office product, office leasing sales and investments. So we work with a lot of the landlords and tenants throughout the greater Los Angeles area. And really enjoy helping companies fulfill their space needs.
Brian Hemsworth 1:00
And the company is?
Jay Rubin 1:01
Our company is Lee and Associates.
Brian Hemsworth 1:04
And where is Lee and Associates headquartered?
Jay Rubin 1:08
So Lee and Associates, my umbrella is Westlake Village. And we have three offices, Sherman Oaks, and Oxnard. But Lee and Associates is in about 36 states right now.
Brian Hemsworth 1:21
Wow. That’s a lot bigger than I thought.
Jay Rubin 1:24
Yeah, yeah. So we’re in all the major markets. We’ve got a great network, we typically get together a few times a year, we’ve got a session coming up in Las Vegas in October. So they do a really good job of cohesiveness and sharing market information, working with a lot of various clients together. But it’s it’s a great group.
Brian Hemsworth 1:47
So so one of the things that I’ve really liked in the years that I’ve known you is, I’ve always been impressed that you have a really good handle on what’s going on in this neck of the woods. Right. So we’re, we might talk about a development, we might talk just about the market. And that’s something that I think has been helpful.
Jay Rubin 2:07
Yeah, well, xdd And so I’ve been involved in a lot of the development process as an example, in Warner Center with the new specific plan. So I was on the committee that helped write that specific plan over about a seven year period. And now you can see that it’s, it’s implemented with a ton of new development, a lot of exciting mixed use projects coming online. And we really transform the landscape over there in Warner Center.
Brian Hemsworth 2:37
I was gonna say if if you saw Warner Center 20 years ago, when you see it five years from now, that’s gonna be a big difference.
Jay Rubin 2:43
Absolutely. I mean, just in the last five years, you’ve seen you’ve seen a ton of evolution, a lot of multifamily, a lot of interesting retail. Westfield has a really interesting project coming up with the mixed use as well as a entertainment venue of probably about 15,000 seats. So I think that’ll be a great asset for the area. Love to have a live venue out here for sports and entertainment.
Brian Hemsworth 3:13
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s gonna be very interesting to see what it does. And it really will be one of the very few places in LA where people can live, workshop, play.
Jay Rubin 3:23
Absolutely, absolutely. Many of them. And there’s walkability. You see that in other parts of LA, I mean, really over the hill, but you have that walkability aspect here. You have the great employment pool and a ton to do.
Brian Hemsworth 3:37
So let’s get the the kind of the COVID question out of the way. You had to have had sort of an ‘Oh, crap’ moment when the world shut down. And businesses were shutting down, or at least leaving their office spaces.
Jay Rubin 3:55
Brian Hemsworth 3:55
And wondering, you know, are people going to be paying rent? And what happened from your point of view?
Jay Rubin 4:02
I think we all had a real moment of what’s going on. I mean, I don’t think there’s anybody whether they’re retired, kids, everybody had this moment of trying to gain their bearings, trying to get a perspective of what’s happening, then you have the shock. And then how do we deal with it? So there were various stages to what happened and it evolved, and we kept looking at what’s happening. How can we help our clients out during this, this process? And that was really our goal. How can we help our tenants out? Evaluate how can they safely have people in the office or what are their needs? How can we work with the landlords who are concerned that tenants may not be paying rent? So there was there was a ton of concerns, a ton of problems that we faced and we were able to work through those. You know, in retrospect, we’ve we’ve taken a better look at it with more clarity. And I think we we tackled a lot of the challenges and came out on the other end. Now we’re super optimistic.
Brian Hemsworth 5:19
So let me ask about that specifically. I was speaking to a real estate attorney who works primarily in on the landlord side of commercial real estate. That’s where most of her work is. And I asked her a year ago, at this time, we heard Cheesecake Factory with sort of big fanfare, saying, we’re not going to pay rent at our 400 rent places. And if you’d asked me at the time, I would have thought there will be a landslide of litigation in the next 6, 12, 18 months. And so I asked her, is that what you’re seeing? And she said, not really. Most of it, using your words, most of it is kind of worked through.
Jay Rubin 5:58
It got worked out. And every situation was different. You know, even with a cheesecake factory, I mean, every landlord that they have, or a lot of the landlords are different, and everyone tackled it differently. Certainly, there was some litigation, but not nearly what we might have thought. And most tenants were able to pay their rent. And most businesses actually had a really good year, obviously, retail, brick and mortar retail and restaurants were a real challenge and our hearts went out to them. We’re certainly pleased that we see this recovery and huge demand to get back out there physically. But there was a lot of cooperation. And on both sides, you know, folks were, we saw compassion. And we were able to be creative on how to work with tenants that were having a hard time paying rent. There were situations where, you know, tenants bought their leases out. And we were able to be creative and get it figured out without having to go the legal route.
Brian Hemsworth 7:08
So if we, if we go to today, we hear companies saying, they’re going to stay very remote. We hear companies saying, ‘we can’t wait to get back to our offices as soon as possible.’ We have people saying, ‘we are going to take a smaller footprint.’ And we hear people saying ‘we’re going to take advantage of the market.’ So we’re hearing everything in every which direction. Are you kind of living that right now?
Jay Rubin 7:37
We’re hearing everything, but what we’re seeing is a great deal of activity. So we’re very optimistic about that. I mean, we’re seeing a lot of companies that are ready to get back in the market that want to bring their employees back. They’re taking advantage of great opportunities economically to bring folks back. And I would say the great majority of our tenant clients are looking to bring back the majority of their workforce. And I think that that trend is only going to continue. You saw throughout this process, as our clients would survey their employees, what percentage want to come back and during the height of the pandemic, you would see very low numbers, 10%. And now we continue to see those numbers ratchet up. 70, 80% are ready to come back. And they have that desire to come back. So I really believe that that trend is going to continue. We see the value of face to face physically being in the same spot. Have in a corporate culture. There’s there’s such a value in that. And we appreciate the electronic tools that we’ve used and will continue to use those. But I don’t see physical space going anywhere. And I think the pendulum shifting the other way, and people really saw what they missed out and want to relive that again.
Brian Hemsworth 9:02
Yeah. So when people see maybe some kind of listing or posting that you’ve done, they sometimes see a really nice aerial photograph. Those are not being done by helicopters, are they?
Jay Rubin 9:21
Mine? They used to be. They used to be but I think you’re alluding to the the drone footage. That we both share a passion for. And I do enjoy taking my own drone shots. So the photos that I use in my marketing materials are shots that I’ve taken myself with, with my drones.
Brian Hemsworth 9:44
There was one that I’m thinking this is one that you may have shot. You may have shot it with your drone, but it was a shot of Warner Center, I think one of the buildings there, but it was shot, my guess was it felt like it was maybe over Ventura Boulevard. It was back a bit and it was up high. And it was this wonderful shot of very modern Warner Center. And when I saw that it was your company, I kind of thought, I’m betting Jay shot that one.
Jay Rubin 10:10
I’ve shot Warner Center from every angle, every direction up, you know the top of Topanga to in the heart of Warner Center. And I really just enjoyed doing it and started taking the drone on different travels and getting nature shots and beach shots.
Brian Hemsworth 10:20
And you’ve got two kids.
Jay Rubin 10:30
Brian Hemsworth 10:30
Do they like the drone?
Jay Rubin 10:31
They do. They do. They don’t fly it a whole lot. I think we’re still they’re still a little young for that. So we’ll work on that.
Brian Hemsworth 10:41
Yeah. Or maybe dad has a firm grip on it and hasn’t been letting it go.
Jay Rubin 10:44
Right. Right. I need to get one they don’t they’re not going to worry about crashing. I’ve already taken a few out. So it happens, it does happen.
Brian Hemsworth 10:54
I’ve had a couple of friends. I had one friend lose one in the ocean. And he was trying to get a shot of the beach. And he had his drone go out and and it just lost signal. And it just plummeted. And it was late in the day. So he wasn’t able to go get it, but he actually swam out. Got it the next day, it was still underneath the water.
Jay Rubin 11:16
I’ve flown it out over the water because you get some amazing shots. But you do have to be cognizant that you’re risking it.
Brian Hemsworth 11:24
Yeah. Well, drones are an awful lot of fun. I think they’re really fun to fly. But they really do serve a purpose. And you’re one of those guys that actually gets to do it the way that it should be done.
Jay Rubin 11:33
Absolutely. And the technology just keeps growing. I mean, what they what they keep coming out with, it’s impressive.
Brian Hemsworth 11:39
So tell us a little bit about…you and I were just talking about this before we started. But vacation plans, a lot of us had vacation plans over the last year that were cut short. Didn’t happen or canceled. What’s on the schedule now? What do you and the family really want to do?
Jay Rubin 11:59
Well, yeah, we have a huge desire to travel again. During the pandemic, we taken a few road trips, which was nice. We went to Sedona. Beautiful, did hiking. Yosemite, great trips, but next month, we are going to take a trip to Maui, going to Hawaii with the family. very much looking forward to that as it’s one of our favorite spots on the planet. Just looking forward to the getaway. Quiet time with the family. Snorkeling in that perfect water.
Brian Hemsworth 12:32
And there’s also a little bit of real estate that runs in the family, just one on the commercial side and one on the residential side.
Jay Rubin 12:38
Sure. My wife is a residential broker with Coldwell Banker. So it’s fun, we get to see both sides of the real estate world, her on residential and commercial and we could come home at night and compare notes or commiserate.
Brian Hemsworth 12:55
What do you think the kids are going to do when they grow up?
Jay Rubin 12:57
Probably something completely different. You know, it’s it’s so hard to say and their personalities are very different. They love technology. It’s a good question. It’s a good question. They’re 10 and 8. So I think the world is their oyster at this point.
Brian Hemsworth 13:17
You know, we found with our daughter, she absolutely positively did not want to have anything to do with what Jerri and I did for the longest time, until she switched majors in college and went into communications. And we just kind of laughed, like, she avoided that for so long. And yet she ended up taking a turn, you know, back to it.
Jay Rubin 13:37
Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised either way. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if they rebel against it, because they’re there around us talking about it. And they’re often like mom, dad stop, talking about work. We get that all the time. Or if they see how much passion and enjoyment we have out of what we’re doing, you know that might happen also. You know, it’s hard to say at this point.
Brian Hemsworth 14:01
Tell us where you’re from. Where’d you grow up?
Jay Rubin 14:03
I grew up in Michigan. Suburbs outside of Detroit, born and raised.
Brian Hemsworth 14:08
And when did you come out here?
Jay Rubin 14:09
I’ve been out in California since ’96. So it’s it’s definitely home.
Brian Hemsworth 14:19
I’m going to ask you a couple questions that that Jerri sometimes asks and this is just kind of rapid fire. So if you go back, thinking of your whole life, favorite concert?
Jay Rubin 14:30
Favorite concert, I’m a Grateful Dead fan. I’ve seen some great shows and maybe the favorite would be in Michigan, early 90s with Jerry Garcia. I would have to say just the nostalgia of that at the pine knob, the outdoor amphitheater there, and it was a fun show. We had a great time. Just a few days ago, I saw that you know the newer iteration, Dead & Company, have scheduled their tour for late summer. So I’m super excited that live music is coming back. Yeah. And they’re doing three shows at the Hollywood Bowl. Bunch of other shows. So one of the things I missed the most was live music. Love, love live music.
Brian Hemsworth 15:20
I’ve had a number of people say that. I think travel is one of the big ones that people have missed. You know, dining in a restaurant. You know, I’ve heard a lot of people that didn’t necessarily miss dining in the restaurant. They missed dining in the restaurant with good friends. I thought that was an interesting twist on that. And then I’ve heard several people say live music.
Jay Rubin 15:39
It’s It’s been one of my favorite things since I was a teenager, and really looking forward to get back into back to some shows.
Brian Hemsworth 15:49
Okay, so if I was to ask you your favorite type of food, what would it be?
Jay Rubin 15:55
So I try to eat really clean, and if I was going to have a cheat meal, which will happen this weekend, you know, my favorite meals probably a good steak, a filet. You know, with all of the sort of trimmings for cheat meal, I’ll probably go to pizza and get a good pizza. It always does the trick. It always does the trick. But I like all the junk foods. cheeseburgers french fries, sweets. Sweets was something that I used to like to indulge in quite a bit.
Brian Hemsworth 16:35
Now I’ll give you just one more of these off the cuff. Favorite superhero when you were a kid?
Jay Rubin 16:43
Favorite superhero? You know, it’s probably Batman, just because I remember having this rubber Batman figurine.
Brian Hemsworth 16:54
You’re talking about Batman on television, the Adam West Batman.
Jay Rubin 16:57
I didn’t watch it. But I suppose it was the Adam West Batman because this was before the Dark Knight and all that. But it must have been. I mean, I remember having like Batman and Spider-Man figurines, but we didn’t have, like, I wasn’t into comic books. And I don’t remember, we didn’t have the Marvel movies. So I don’t remember that superheroes was like a huge, huge part. It’s not like it is now. Yeah, but I don’t think my boys are too much into superheroes. I mean, they do watch the movies, and they like that. But more, you know, video games. Yeah, I mean, like outdoor activities.
Brian Hemsworth 17:40
Jay Rubin 17:42
We have the cutest Labradoodle. Golden Doodle, I’m sorry, Golden Doodle. We might have to edit that out. So she doesn’t get upset, Lolly. And she’s a sweetheart. A lot of fun.
Brian Hemsworth 17:54
Let me let me just close the loop on on commercial real estate. Do you have any thoughts if you were talking to a group of 10 or 15 people that are sort of, they’ve got businesses, they’re a little bit on the fence of like, what do we do going forward? What what are maybe just a few of the things that you’re suggesting to people right now to look at? What maybe are opportunities? Or what may be are cautions that you have?
Jay Rubin 18:20
Well, I think they’ve got to really evaluate their company culture and what they’re looking to do in the future. Right now it is very challenging for companies to determine if they have a lease coming up or they need space. How many employees am I going to have? Are they going to be comfortable? And I’ve seen a lot of companies take a bit more space than they’re anticipating because of those surveys where employees keep saying, ‘Well, now we’re ready to go back.’ So I think it’s really a matter of trying to evaluate the short and long term goals. And a lot of circumstances, there’s opportunities where maybe they can take a little bit less space, maybe have a first right on some adjacent space, negotiate some other opportunities in the building that if they need expansion space that’s available for them. So there’s some flexible options. And what we do is sit down and really help them evaluate how to look at that. And how best to protect themselves for future needs and current needs.
Brian Hemsworth 19:21
You know, we’ve asked that question of a number of Echelon members, that are trusted advisors with their clients. And that word ‘flexible’ seems to be one, whether it’s in law in accounting, commercial real estate, we’re seeing the same thing with marketing. We really don’t know what it’s going to be like in a year. So you’ve got to maintain some flexibility as we go forward. We think everything’s gonna be better. We’re not sure how fast that’s going to happen. And we’re not really sure. You know, we used to do projections 15, 20 years out. I think we’re lucky if we could do three right now. Three months. Well, Jay, listen, thanks for coming in. Appreciate you.
Jay Rubin 19:58
Thanks for having me. Appriciate it, Brian. Thank you.
Intro Speaker 20:10
Presented by Echelon Business Development. More than just networking. Way more