September 1, 2005

3 Min Read
Not-So-Secret Sales-Agent Man

Charles Chico LeClaire should invent an industry version of Monopoly for self-storage brokers. Over the years, hes sold the storage equivalent of every property on the boardthe Baltic Avenues, Park Places, Marvin Gardens and Boardwalks. His Community Chest runneth over with closed deals and golden profits. In 2004, Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Co. named LeClaire its top self-storage sales agent.

A senior investment associate specializing in self-storage and a senior director of the companys National Self-Storage Group, LeClaire joined Marcus & Millichap in 1990. Last year, he recorded the highest sales figure in the groups history, closing 36 transactions worth more than $254 million in 12 states. He also ranked as the No. 6 agent in the firm nationwide.

LeClaires clients include private investors as well as some of the industrys largest public companies. Ive handled accounts ranging from the GE Capital Storage/USA properties to $2 million mom-and-pop individual sales, LeClaire acknowledges. Last year was the best of my career. He is quick to point out, however, that changes to the brokerage community itself played a role in his success.

For many years, the largest players traded portfolios among themselves, and the entrepreneur who had multiple properties for sale would go to those same known players, LeClaire explains. Just 10 years ago, there werent any brokers who worked on a national basis. Now the industry has brokers who can effectively get a portfolio out to hundreds of potential buyers, which increases the competition for property and gives sellers more money than they were able to receive in the past.

LeClaire credits e-mail, faxes and other tools of the Information Age for helping brokers reach a wider audience. If I take a listing, I can now contact the 250 best buyers in a matter of seconds, he says. When I first started, we had our own internal marketing on a nationwide basis, but the listings I took were mostly local properties exposed to local buyers. Just recently, I offered a seven-property portfolio and got about a hundred indications of interest. In the old days, three or four people would have responded and a couple would make offers.

Strong Connections

An avid tradeshow attendee and participant for the past 15 years, LeClaire has developed numerous contacts and relationships that allow him to expand his Denver-based business. But his connections have also had a charitable effect on the home front. LeClaire is a member of Brokers Benefiting Kids (BBK), a group of local commercial brokers who raise money for Colorado childrens charities. Over the past eight years, he has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organization, mostly by soliciting donations from clients. Five years ago, LeClaires 18-year-old son, Nicholas, passed away, and a memorial fund was established in his name; all monies are donated to BBK.

The organization holds a benefit at the end of the year, which is nothing more than an outdoor cookout, some games, and a silent auction for things the brokers or our clients or customers have donated, LeClaire says. Im probably the largest individual fundraiser.


Low interest rates have bolstered the popularity of self-storage as an investment, as has the increased recognition of the sector as an acceptable institutional product. LeClaire predicts greater consolidation of the industry, though he believes the disparity between the Treasury 10-year and prime rate will correct itself before June 2006, evening the playing field for local players.

The big question is: Will LeClaire beat himself at his own game, topping 2004s winning figures this year? Im a salesman. Im always optimistic, he says. This is probably one of the best times there have ever been to sell, because buyers are willing to pay at cap rates lower than theyve ever been. On the same hand, its one of the best times to buy, because the cost of funds is at a historic low. Its a good time to be a broker. With a laugh, he adds, Heres my phone number. Call me now!

For more information, call 303.320.1300; e-mail [email protected]; visit;

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