Karen Simon: Breaking Barriers by Bringing Transformative Impact on Real Estate

Karen Simon | President and Managing Partner at Emersons Commercial Real Estate Tarrant Co
Karen Simon | President and Managing Partner at Emersons Commercial Real Estate Tarrant Co

Women have become trailblazers in the rapidly evolving field of real estate, defying expectations and transforming the sector. They have overcome the restrictions that formerly kept them in their place, making a strong presence in a formerly male-dominated field by knowledge, devotion, and an uncompromising pursuit of success.

This shift is best shown by Karen Simon, President and Managing Partner at Emersons Commercial Real Estate Tarrant County Division. Karen has been a force to be reckoned with in the DFW commercial real estate market for over 37 years, succeeding in the office, retail, industrial, and land sectors. Her accomplishments speak for themselves; she constantly ranks among the top achievers and has been the top producer for her firm for a number of years.

A Story of Commitment and Resilience

At the time Karen started showing interest in real estate, she worked as the executive assistant to the regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her responsibilities included handling public relations and intergovernmental relations for region 10, which covered Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. However, being an employee of HUD, Karen couldn’t hold a real estate salesman’s license due to the potential conflict of interest it presented.

One day, a bill in the Texas legislature caught Karen’s attention. It stated that individuals qualified for a broker’s license could sit for the exam even without a salesman’s license, as long as they received approval from the Texas Real Estate Commission. This piqued Karen’s curiosity, and she decided to send her transcript to the commission. To her surprise, she had completed 57 hours of real estate coursework, just three semester hours short of the requirement. Determined to take on the challenge, Karen took a two-week leave of absence from her job, attended classes during the day, at night, and on weekends to fulfill the remaining hours, and successfully passed the broker’s exam.

Armed with her broker’s license, Karen returned to her job. Within the next six months, fate intervened at a Christmas party when she met a gentleman who headed the industrial and land department at the Henry S. Miller company, the largest real estate company in Texas and the fifth largest in the United States at the time. Curious about Karen’s involvement in real estate, he asked her to share her story of having a broker’s license despite not having prior experience in the field. This led to further conversations and eventually an offer for Karen to head the industrial and land division of the Miller company in Tarrant County, where she resided.

Initially unsure about her knowledge of industrial real estate, Karen expressed her concerns. However, the gentleman believed in her ability to learn and highlighted her management skills and educational background. Moreover, the Miller organization had no women leading a commercial department, making Karen the first female to head such a division within the company. She also became the first female industrial realtor in Dallas or Tarrant County. Stepping into a room filled with men, Karen stood out as the only woman.

Her journey in the real estate business truly began when she attended her first industrial school, where she was one of 36 men and the sole woman, easily identifiable as Karen Simon. This marked the start of her active participation in the industry and her ground-breaking role as the first female head of a commercial department at the Miller company. Karen cherished the opportunity and saw it as a chance to pave the way for women in the industry. It was a fulfilling experience, and she appreciated the chance to make progress for women in the field of real estate.

The Firm

Emersons is a unique commercial real estate company that offers a comprehensive range of services. They specialize in property management, sales, leasing, consulting, and financial analysis for their clients. However, Emersons has expanded its operations by acquiring a 50% stake in a company called 1045, which was established around 2019. The primary role of 1045 is to manage Kroger Real Estate’s vast portfolio nationwide. This includes overseeing approximately 2,800 properties spanning over 80 million square feet. Due to their expertise and extensive management capabilities, Emersons and 1045 have attracted other clients seeking professional property management services, further enhancing their position in the industry.

While Emersons initially operated from offices in Dallas and Fort Worth, including Karen’s office, they have expanded their reach. 1045 has established smaller offices across the country, including Cincinnati, where Kroger’s headquarters are located, and St. Louis, the base of 1045’s other owner, Priority Properties. Around two years ago, the principals of Emersons’ parent company, Richard Webb and Matt Price, along with the principal of Priority Properties and the former head of Kroger Real Estate, collaborated to form a real estate investment trust (REIT) named Essential Growth Properties.

The first fund for this REIT was fully subscribed at $50 million, and the second fund, valued at $100 million, is currently about 70% subscribed. These funds are primarily used to acquire stable shopping centers anchored by grocery stores. Investors in the fund can expect an 8% preferred return on their investment.

Emersons distinguishes itself from competitors by offering such a diverse range of services and having involvement in various aspects of the real estate business. This comprehensive approach sets them apart and contributes to their success in the industry.

Keeping an Eye on the Market

In the real estate business, it is necessary to complete 18 hours of continuing education every two years. This ensures that professionals stay updated with the latest legal developments and regulations.

As part of this requirement, Karen takes a legal update course every 24 months to stay informed about any changes in the legal landscape. Additionally, she attends a course on broker responsibility to understand the guidelines and expectations set by the Real Estate Commission for her role.

To stay ahead in the industry, Karen actively participates in seminars and workshops. These events provide valuable insights into market trends and forecasts, allowing her to make informed decisions.

Client-centric Approach

Emersons adheres to a client-centric strategy in which their customers’ needs come first. The organization, like any other professional business, strives for financial success, but their major priority is still meeting the demands of its customers. By ensuring that invoices are paid on time before receiving personal remuneration, they put the interests of their clients first. Emersons avoids going beyond, displaying their dedication to preserving their financial stability while carrying out their duties.

The two pillars of Emerson’s ideology are integrity and a diligent work ethic. They are committed to building trust with their customers by operating their business with honesty and integrity. The Emersons team is committed to making the required sacrifices to produce success. They understand that the real estate industry may require working outside traditional office hours. Whether it means showing a property or meeting a client on a Saturday or Sunday, Emersons is willing to go the extra mile to meet their clients’ needs. They believe in doing whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand and provide exceptional service.

Commitment to Mentorship and Equality

Throughout her career, Karen has experienced fortuitous circumstances where she found herself in the right place at the right time. She acknowledges her good fortune and considers herself fortunate to have had such opportunities. As a result, Karen feels a sense of responsibility to extend similar opportunities to others, especially young individuals she encounters, particularly young women who face their own challenges.

Karen is aware that despite advancements over the previous 35 years, the commercial real estate sector is still mostly dominated by men. She is aware that women sometimes have to work harder to have the same chances as males. Karen, though, is adamant that women can succeed in the field today but with a greater level of commitment and tenacity.

Encouraging Mentorship in Commercial Real Estate

Karen places a heavy emphasis on the value of information as the cornerstone of corporate success. She recommends that in the real estate industry, one needs to have a thorough awareness of many different factors. This entails having a thorough grasp of the goods being dealt with as well as geographical knowledge of certain regions. The importance of geographical knowledge and customer needs awareness cannot be overstated.

She also emphasizes the value of being able to transmit and share the information one has learned. People can increase their chances of success by voluntarily devoting time and effort to answering questions and offering advice to others. She highlights the need to communicate with clients and co-workers directly rather than depending primarily on computer-based methods.

Karen actively encourages and mentors’ young people, especially young women, who want to pursue careers in commercial real estate out of a desire to contribute to good change. She wants to provide kids with the opportunity, guidance, and counsel that she didn’t necessarily have when she started out in her profession. Karen is committed to helping others overcome the obstacles they may encounter, ensuring they have the necessary support to achieve their goals in the industry.