Jill Duemelands, President & CEO of Bismarck-based Duemelands Commercial Real Estate, was recently named one of the nation’s top real estate brokers in the book Brokers Who Dominate. We interviewed Jill to share her experience and insights on commercial real estate, the North Dakota market, and beginning a career in real estate.
Tell us a little about your background and experience. How’d you get your start in real estate?
Our company has been in business for over a hundred years and I am the fourth generation in the business, so I was learning about cap rate on the way to school in third grade. However, I said I was NEVER going into real estate nor was I going to join the family business….until my freshman year at University of St. Thomas. I still remember vividly in the spring of 1999 calling my dad from my dorm room in Grace Hall on south campus saying “Guess what dad? St. Thomas is starting undergraduate real estate program and I am going into real estate”. From that moment on, I was all in!
Could you describe your company Duemelands Commercial Real Estate and the services it provides? How did it fare during the recent economic downturn, and what opportunities do you see for growth in the near future?
At Duemelands Commercial, we connect people with real estate opportunities. We have been successful in doing this since 1905. We are a full service real estate company providing development, brokerage, property and construction management services.
While the rest of nation was experiencing an economic downturn, new technology was formed which allowed oil companies to drill horizontally and access large amount of oil in the Bakken Oil Shale in North Dakota. As a result, our market has experienced significant growth. Williston and Dickinson have seen $400 million in building permit valuations for the last two years and lead the nation in job growth creation. The communities in our area have been in a race to keep up with infrastructure needs and seeing growth in all sectors of real estate. We are only in the 2nd inning.
What are some of the trends influencing commercial real estate in Bismarck and in greater North Dakota?
Our greatest challenge in the market are rising construction costs and land prices, which make it difficult to accommodate the needs for infrastructure in our market. However, those who have the capital and experience are able to do successful real estate transactions.
What projects or transactions have you been involved with recently?
We are working with developers on master retail developments in Williston, Dickinson, Minot, Watford City, and Stanley, all in the heart of the Bakken.
In Brokers Who Dominate, author Rod Santomassimo nominated you to the “Young Guns” group of brokers who are changing the way the business will be conducted tomorrow. How is commercial brokerage business changing and what opportunities does that create for other young brokers?
I take more of an “old school” approach on this. The technology is always changing the way we do business and that is the EASY part for the “Young Guns”. The opportunities this creates for young brokers is that the ones who use new technology and apply the basic fundamentals of honesty, hard work and forming relationships with people – those are the ones that will be the MOST successful.
How did a real estate education at St. Thomas help prepare you to succeed in real estate? What advice would you offer current students who are interested in pursuing a career in brokerage?
The real estate program at University of St. Thomas did an excellent job connecting students with real estate professionals in the field and connecting us with internships. UST connected me with a mentor that I still keep in contact with to this day and he provided me with an internship with Cushman & Wakefield when I studied aboard in London my junior year. Priceless. Prior to graduation, I had participated in three internship opportunities with three different real estate companies. My advice is to go all in – find a real estate internship as soon as possible. You learn by being active in the business. My definition of being active in the business in the very beginning years is doing lots of LISTENING and doing the “grunt work” to earn your keep. If you are willing to take anything on and always give it 110%, people will notice and want you on their team which will lead to new opportunities.
Having lived in both places, would you say the winters are worse in the Twin Cities or in Bismarck? What are you most looking forward to about Summer?
Winters are waaaaayyyy worse in the Twin Cities. My husband and I are expecting our third child in July. For the ladies getting started in real estate, you can have it all. Call me anytime and we can discuss.