20 Jun Broker Spotlight
Get to know Nic Christen
Seeking mentorship at Province West
From work to play, Vice President Nic Christen enjoys the many personalities of Southern California every day. Based out of Province West’s Irvine headquarters, he focuses his time on land transactions in the Inland Empire and spends his off time in Los Angeles.
After attending UCLA for his undergraduate degree, Nic discovered his passion for real estate while earning a law degree at USC and working directly with the school’s Chair in Real Estate Law. As a Teacher’s Assistant (TA), he helped plan a business and real estate law symposium and gained a first-hand look at the daily work of developers, brokers, and lawyers.
“While my legal education provided an invaluable background, I knew I wanted to work on the business side of real estate,” he said. “I liked the idea of playing a role in the facilitation of a deal, rather than memorializing and avoiding pitfalls working on the legal side.”
Nic began his career in commercial real estate as a member of Cushman & Wakefield’s Capital Markets team. While he was gaining traction in the industry, his search for more profound mentorship led him to Province West in 2012.
“From my first interview at Province West, I knew it was a perfect match,” he said. “The principals had the experience and skills that I could learn from, but they also understood what it meant to start from scratch when you are working to build relationships and make connections.”
Guiding clients through successful transactions
Nic says the most rewarding part of his job is getting to know both landowners and developers so that he can identify and carry out transactions that are beneficial to all involved. “I consider myself part of my clients’ team. When I can present all of the available options the market can bring to bear and help them accurately assess the risk and reward, then they can make the best possible decision for their asset, themselves and their family, and I know I am doing my job,” he said.
Starting as a Junior Broker and working toward his current role, Nic credits some of his success to diving in head first, meeting people, and making deals happen. The rest he credits to Marc Kleiman, Dan McDonough, and Rett Coluccio and says his method is a combination of talents and skills he takes from these mentors.
“Our approach is thoughtful; we don’t just throw spaghetti at the wall and hope it sticks,” he said. “We’re strategic about what we advise our clients to spend their time on and take pride in putting ourselves in the shoes of both the buyer and seller so that we can help make the most of everyone’s time, energy, and assets.”
To date, the project Nic is most proud of is El Paseo, noting that he has seen the project come full circle, working with several landowners to cooperate in order to provide the critical mass required for a larger project, and thereby achieving higher values than they could have otherwise done on a stand-alone basis.
The 22.2-acre planned community was developed by Griffin Residential and will be built by KB Home with more than 241 detached and attached condominium homes in Fontana. Located in the core of the Inland Empire, the community is near employment, schools, restaurants, and shopping areas. To provide the best daily life for its future residents, the community was designed around a central paseo that connects amenities such as open lawns, tot lots, BBQ areas, pool, community center, and walking trails.
Millennial living in the City of Angels
Following the trend of many older millennials, Nic rented in downtown Los Angeles with his wife Gina for the past few years. The couple recently purchased their first home in the up-and-coming Eagle Rock neighborhood following the birth of their daughter Isla.
Although Nic appreciates the pristine look and feel of Irvine and its surrounding areas, he is drawn to L.A. for its eclectic neighborhoods, acclaimed foodie destinations, and selection of top entertainment.
“Everything in Orange County feels brand new but in LA, neighborhoods have evolved and have had different lives, and I appreciate and enjoy the city’s history and character,” he said. In his spare time, Nic enjoys seeing shows and concerts and exploring nearby neighborhoods for local eats. An avid follower of LA Times Food Critic Jonathan Gold, he enjoys discovering all of the incredible options throughout LA, from the dozens of new restaurants coming out of Downtown LA’s revival to the Chinese cuisine in San Gabriel Valley, to Boyle Heights for Mexican fare.
Insight into a millennial mind
Drawing from personal experiences, Nic has his ideas on the current housing market, pointing to the fact that like himself, millennials have not turned to homeowners in the same way as previous generations.
“For many of my generation coming out of the recession, there was a mentality of just trying to stay afloat in a time of tremendous uncertainty and turmoil, so it was completely natural you weren’t thinking about jumping into a 30-year mortgage and starting a family. Up until recently, many people of my generation may have resisted moving further out to new suburbs for a variety of mostly economic reasons, but one I think that hasn’t been talked about enough was not having a critical mass. Unlike previous generations in Southern California, there has only been a trickle of new suburban communities, and they haven’t necessarily been composed of young families navigating a new stage of life. When the majority of your friends and peers are still renting in city centers, there is a reluctance to be the first one out, but now I am seeing more and more of my friends and people I knew growing up making the jump as the delayed desire to start a family kicks in. I think it’s imminent that psychologically the move to new cities and neighborhoods we previously wouldn’t have considered is okay because those communities are filled with people just like us, and this dynamic will unleash an incredible amount of pent-up demand.”