June 10, 2022

CRE Future Leaders: AJ Patel of Greenstone Partners

AJ Patel joined Greenstone Partners in 2019 as Associate, Investment Sales and focuses on the acquisition and disposition of multi-tenant retail assets throughout Chicagoland.

Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
I grew up on the north side of Chicago in Skokie and went to Niles West High School. I attended UIC for undergrad, where I studied bioengineering. I worked out of college as a biomedical engineer for about two years before deciding to change careers. It didn’t take me long to realize that engineering was not for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I started exploring by reading books, networking, and I eventually started a business doing social media marketing, which I did for about a year prior to being in real estate.

How did you get your start in the industry?
I started reading about real estate when I decided I wanted to change careers a few years back.

My top reading list from that time:

  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
  • Apartment Syndication by Vinnie Chopra
  • The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Jay Papasan
  • How to Create Lifetime Cashflow Through Multi-Family Investing by Rod Khleif

I began by attending real estate seminars and networking events. At an event in Skokie, I met a mortgage broker who helped me begin my journey as a real estate investor and helped me network with other investors. A good friend of mine from high school was also looking into real estate around the same time, so we decided to partner and buy an investment property. After buying my first multifamily investment property in 2018, I realized I really enjoyed real estate.

Soon after, I started cold calling and emailing real estate companies in Chicago. Fortunately, Danny Spitz at Greenstone Partners answered my email, met with me, and eventually hired me as an analyst. A few months into that role, I decided to launch as a broker specializing in the investment sales of retail properties. My business today is a mix of retail deals ranging from single to multi-tenant retail across multiple markets. It was the best decision, and I haven’t looked back.