Michael Tidwell is a Director with Cushman & Wakefield specializing in Multifamily Investment Sales. Based in Los Angeles, Michael has over 18 years of commercial real estate experience as a trusted advisor on a full suite of multifamily services regionally and across the U.S.
Following a robust career spanning nearly two decades working in Valuation & Advisory (V&A) and over $10 BILLION in valuations nationally, Michael recently shifted his business into full-time brokerage during 2022.
Michael’s recent career move within the real estate industry has been relatively seamless and has allowed him to draw from his prior extensive experience and knowledge of residential and commercial valuation solutions. In his previous V&A role, Michael provided countless appraisals for numerous clients, which included some of Los Angeles’ most *prominent developments (scroll further below for key examples).
We spoke with Michael about his recent career move and how being an Appraiser has benefited his work as a Broker and his investor clients. We also learn why Michael chose a career in real estate, and the chance meeting he had at a job helping to pay his way through Appraisal School that really helped his career take off:
How has your career as an Appraiser helped you in your Brokerage Career?
The specialized work I did as an appraiser and the skill accumulated over the past two decades has equipped me with a strong foundation that has provided immense insight, analyses as well as learnings in property evaluation and trends which I am now able to apply to my brokerage business. This skillset has given me a more well-rounded perspective and serves as an advantage in advising clients in their multifamily investment goals.
Of note, during a transitionary period between my Appraisal and Brokerage career I also worked directly in the Multifamily Capital Markets sector. For over a year I primarily did work in underwriting, with some of Cushman & Wakefield’s and the industry’s top multifamily brokers. This experience provided even greater depth to my understanding of the multifamily investment sector, the local and national real estate landscape, as well as provided valuable lessons in client services.
You are a native of Los Angeles, what does it mean to be a successful professional in your hometown and how has growing up there benefited your career?
I am very proud to be a native of Los Angeles, a city that I love, where I grew up and now where my wife and I also raise our family. My first-hand experience living in the LA region for decades and seeing its changes and progression over a long period of time and understanding the intricacies and nuances of each sub-area has been beneficial to me as a real estate professional. It has allowed me to uniquely provide investors with deep-rooted market knowledge that considers market activity, participants, and historical changes in the Greater Los Angeles area.
Understanding the dynamics of Los Angeles, one of the world’s most prominent, unique and diverse markets that caters to all types of people, property types, and investors, has helped me to better understand other major markets, and in identifying their differences but also similarities.
How did you choose a career in commercial real estate, and can you talk about how your job as a bartender played a key role?
My interest in commercial real estate started in my early 20s. I had a neighborhood friend who was a few years older than me and was an entrepreneur. We would talk and he would share what he was learning in his line of work about real estate and investing which started to ignite my own interest in the industry (and as an investor)—the Robb Report and the associated luxury lifestyle also fueled my interest in the investment sector at that time. I picked up a real estate career book and started to sift through the various specialties and Appraisal immediately caught my attention. I was intrigued by the work they do and from an investment perspective how it would help one understand real estate value.
As for how my career came to be, I would say a mix of perseverance, drive & determination plus a bit of chance and good fortune. As I said, I was attracted to the appraisal business when I was younger. To get your start as an appraiser you needed to first complete 4,000 hours of training under the tutelage of an experienced V&A professional (a trainer). I must have cold-called about 1,000 numbers—40 to 50 calls a day—but was not having any luck connecting with anyone.
At that time, I was also working as a bartender to help pay for appraisal school. One evening while bartending I overheard a gentleman talking about value and property, which I became curious and walked over and asked if he was an appraiser. I mentioned my own ambition in the same field which he said a guy he worked with was looking for trainees and kindly gave me his info. I contacted him and was able to meet a mentor to help me complete the training needed to begin my career. And so I ultimately earned my opportunity thanks in part to a job that I was working to help pursue my career as an appraiser.
What Led You to Want to Become a Broker at this Time in Your Career?
I must preface this answer by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed my work as an appraiser and am thankful for that experience and knowledge. But at this point in my career what drew me toward brokerage was that it offered me a chance to grow both personally and professionally. I consider myself a people person and I greatly enjoy talking and interacting with people and clients. I also consider myself a problem solver and believe my personality is built to work and help people, and these are traits necessary in brokerage and in working closely with clients every day to help them identity solutions and achieve their investment goals.
Cushman & Wakefield’s leadership and my colleagues have been great and supportive of my transition, which I appreciate and has been important in this role shift.
What Are You Able to Offer Your Multifamily Clients?
With a robust national platform of coverage and apartment inventory, I provide investors with an extensive suite of advisory services for multifamily assets such as agency for property acquisition and disposition, property management, debt, DST and 1031 exchanges, ESG, valuation/appraisal, and financial reporting.
My work is also supported by Cushman & Wakefield’s preeminent full-service platform, a tremendous team of professionals, as well as strategic initiatives such as the firm’s joint venture with Greystone, a leading national commercial real estate finance company. Greystone is a top multifamily lender, including bridge, Fannie Mae DUS®, Freddie Mac Optigo®, and HUD, giving Cushman & Wakefield’s client base more direct access to a broad range of debt products for property acquisition, refinancing or substantial rehab / new construction.
I have advised investors, asset managers, family trusts, landowners, and private capital firms in property acquisitions, dispositions, and other real estate objectives customized to their investment profile and demand.
My experience also includes complex and high-value residential, condominium units, small multiunit residential, and institutional-grade apartment communities. My expertise also extends to valuation of self-storage facilities, mixed-use properties, single-room occupancy (SRO) hotels, sustainable buildings, and vacant land.
Lastly, I have extensive experience with affordable housing projects with LIHTC, project-based HAP contracts, and land development sites.
What Are Your Quick Thoughts on the LA Multifamily Market and Outlook?
The Los Angeles multifamily market remains favorable for investment with healthy underlying fundamentals, favorable demographics, and high demand for rental properties. Despite some challenges posed by inflation and monetary policy, the Federal Reserve is approaching its terminal rate, which could bring stability to the financial markets. The multifamily and industrial sectors remain popular among investors, with limited unit availability and healthy demand. However, legislative ordinances by city and county officials pose challenges for building owners.
More about Michael:
Michael’s notable appraisal work has included:
- The One Bel Air Mega-Mansion, consisting of 105,000 sf of usable spaces on 3.86 acres of land with unobstructed 360‐degree views of the Pacific Ocean, Downtown Los Angeles Skyline, and the surrounding neighborhoods.
- Hollywood Park & Sofi Stadium Portions of Land, that are a component of the larger 300‐acre site, inclusive of the LA Rams and LA Chargers NFL stadium that was under construction at the time. Michael completed the valuation of 100 acres, including the construction of 3,000 residential units, 2.7 msf of commercial office space, and a 300‐room hotel.
- Vista Del Mar & Camino Del Mar Affordable Apartment Complex that consisted of two 88‐unit affordable apartment complexes with a combined 170,000 sf.
- Domain Weho, a 6‐story apartment complex containing 141,000 sf of net rentable area within 176 residential units built and 10,000 sf of ground floor commercial space.
- Monticello, a 5‐story mixed‐use multifamily building with 41,000 sf of rentable area within 60 residential apartment units and 10,000 sf of ground floor commercial space.
- An Apartment and Self-Storage Asset Portfolio in Greater Los Angeles. The multi-city portfolio comprises 120‐unit, 49‐unit, and 33‐unit apartment buildings along with a 55,000‐sf self‐storage facility with 73 RV parking spaces and a self‐service car wash.