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From the Ground Up

Brothers Team Up to Rule Commercial Sales

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 15, 2004; Page E01

Bill Collins swiveled in his leather chair to answer the ringing phone on his cluttered desk at the real estate service firm Cassidy & Pinkard. "Yes, yes. You're the next offer in the queue," he told the caller. "Hold on."

His secretary buzzed him to let him know that one of the biggest developers in town -- Raymond A. Ritchey, executive vice president of Boston Properties Inc. -- was on the other line. "Can you put him on hold?" he asked her, as he spun in his seat to answer his cell phone while balancing the black receiver on his shoulder.

Paul Collins, left, and his brother, Bill, accounted for about $1.4 billion of the $6 billion worth of the real estate sold in the region last year. (Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)

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Just then his brother, Paul, whose office is next to his, tapped on the door.

"Bill, I'm heading out to the burbs," he said. He too had just juggled a flurry of phone calls. "I'm doing one out there today," he said, meaning he was closing on the sale of an office building.

It was barely 10 a.m. and the two brothers already were immersed in the day's wheeling and dealing to sell office buildings. The pair has ranked among the top 10 sales brokers in the D.C. region for at least the last four years, according to the Greater Washington Commercial Association of Realtors, an industry trade group.

Last year, the brothers sold about $1.4 billion of the $6 billion worth of the commercial real estate sold in the Washington area. That put them in first place among about 100 brokers, the trade group said. This year, the Collins brothers said they expect to top that amount because they are selling some of the biggest and most expensive buildings in the region, including 1900 K Street and 1001 Pennsylvania Ave.

Real estate brokers are divided into three categories: those representing tenants looking for space, those representing landlords who want to fill their buildings with renters and those representing owners who want to sell. The latter is what Bill and Paul Collins do.

There aren't many siblings who work as a team, industry experts said.

Bill and Paul say they rarely make a deal without consulting each other. "You know each other," Paul said. "You can count on each other."

Bill, 48, has short, spiky hair, a salt-and-pepper goatee, and is built like a football player. Paul, 43, is slightly taller and thinner.

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