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Monica Wallace: Board Member Profile

Monica Wallace, one of 10 senior level real estate professionals to join the Runstad Advisory Board in Fall 2023, is a retail brokerage expert with 24 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, a recognized industry leader, having previously been named Commercial Broker of the Year by the Washington Realtors, and a UW Alum. Eli Heller recently sat down with Monica to talk about her background and any advice she may have for our students.

Describe your current professional role and how you got here.

My current role at Kidder Mathews is Executive Vice President and Director of Retail. I am responsible for the leasing and sale of retail projects in WA, and work with the company’s retail brokerage team on developing our retail brokerage platform. I also work on the strategic growth of retail brokers in Kidder’s 19 offices.

I started my career in 2000 as a broker with Wallace Properties – in 2021, I moved my brokerage business to Kidder Mathews, but I’m still involved with Wallace Properties as a member of their board and a multifamily developer. KM is a west coast company – 19 offices in WA, OR, CA and NV. It is the largest privately held brokerage company on the west coast.

Tell me more about retail brokerage – what are some specific features and trends that you see in that specific area of brokerage that make it unique?

Retail brokerage is unique: retail is one of the strongest asset classes in the country. I’m drawn to retail and love playing a part in building communities from the sidewalk; from the ground level. Walking in downtown Bellevue, or Kirkland, I enjoy seeing how the retailers I’ve worked with have become part of the neighborhood. I love the community building piece of it. Activation of storefronts is such an important part of a thriving downtown or a thriving community, and with the trends over the last several years with Covid and work from home, it’s been interesting to watch: historically, suburban markets have low vacancy rates. Retailers have now moved out to the suburbs to serve the work from home markets and we are starting to see additional leasing opportunities as employees are returning back to work.

Bringing employees back to keep the retailers in business, but we need to have storefronts and sidewalks activated in order to do this. It’s a “chicken or the egg” kind of thing. I enjoy seeing communities come back to life and seeing how important retail is for that.

What makes you most excited about joining the Runstad Advisory Board? What impact do you hope to make as a board member? What have been some highlights for you so far?

The RAB is a group of some of the strongest leaders in commercial real estate in the Pacific Northwest; it’s an exciting group to be around. Where I find the most excitement is contributing to the UW MSRE in real estate program. One highlight is participating in the mentorship program, and helping students find their path and become the best they can be

Also, having the opportunity to present to the incoming MSRE class [at MSRE Orientation] on the topic of retail real estate – I strongly recommend the opportunity if you have it. From that class I  have had multiple students reach out to me directly, which has been great, because I’ve gotten to know some of the future leaders of real estate, so I’ve enjoyed that piece, and giving back to the students.

As a UW alum yourself, what advice do you have for current UW students pursuing either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in real estate?

Take advantage of all of the great opportunities that these programs provide: mentorship, networking, access to industry leaders who are always happy to hop on a call or meet for coffee. You always have this huge pool of industry leaders who are UW alumni and are happy to give advice and help you figure out what your path is – when you meet with these people, ask lots of questions. There are so many options for what path you can take, so really leverage the collective knowledge of our real estate community.

I know one undergrad who met with over 60 industry leaders to figure out what he wanted to do in real estate. To me, he did it right – not only was he building his network, he was also figuring out what path he wanted to take. And he did this before graduating, so he had a plan for what to do after he was out of school.