JTHS Council of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS - Jupiter, Tequesta, Hope Sound



From the Symphony to Miami Real Estate

by | Apr 24, 2017

By Chris Umpierre



John Dohm says he didn’t have innate, superhuman talent as a symphony musician, but he was a strong technical player who could hit the right notes at the right time. Being a reliable bassist helped him get selected for multiple South Florida orchestras.

Dohm, who transitioned to selling Miami commercial real estate 30 years ago, is still using many of the lessons he learned in the symphony. Forming partnerships, working with others, and serving the community can benefit all Realtors.        

“I didn’t have great talent or artistry in the symphony, but I loved how everything fit together. There are great lessons in that,” Dohm said. “In the symphony, if one person is not in sync or in tune it doesn’t work. The symphony can go from an enjoyable experience to almost unbearable. The same is true in real estate. You need to have the same collaborative effort.”

A University of Miami graduate, Dohm has sat on countless boards hoping to better the South Florida community. He believes in serving organizations and going to meetings and events so he could be a trusted member of the professional circle. The 2012 MIAMI Association of REALTORS ® Realtor of the Year and the 2011 MIAMI Commercial Realtor of the Year, Dohm is currently serving as the 2015 Chairman of the Board for MIAMI, the nation’s largest local Realtor group with 36,000 members.

Dohm attends and participates in every board meeting at MIAMI. The boards, which range from commercial real estate to residential to young professionals to the Broward County Council, are comprised of nearly 100 Realtors from different firms and companies.

“We are such a big group and such a diverse group,” Dohm said. “It’s everything I believe in: diversity, think tank, multiple opinions. All the folks on the boards are successful, and they’re all competitors. Yet, we all come together with a common mission. We see the bigger picture and we want to do things to benefit the profession and benefit the community.”

Dohm has done that in his personal career. Dohm was involved in the location, development and construction of ABC Distributing’s 1-million square foot facility on 80 acres in Hialeah off the Gratigny Expressway and LeJeune Road in Miami; the acquisition of 186 acres by Manheim Auto Auction; and the reclamation of approximately 30 acres for office development directly west of the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport at the entrance to Port 95.

In the latter project, Dohm’s group filled in a stagnant, pungent lake. Today, the area is home to more than 190,000 square feet of high-end industrial Dania Beach development. 

Dohm’s desire to improve the community comes from his undying affection for Miami. He has been a South Florida resident since the early 1950s. He has seen South Florida grow from a vacation resort to one of the world’s top global cities with world-renowned museums, parks, airports, sports teams, luxury condominiums and more. He recalls the humble beginning of neighborhoods like Wynwood, which has seen its commercial prices skyrocket in recent years.

“Miami is THE brand. It’s the world-renowned name everybody knows,” Dohm said. “You can go anywhere and ask people to look at the map of the earth and ask them to point to Miami. They will instantly find Miami on the map. They can’t do that with New York. They can’t do that with Washington, D.C. It helps that we are on the end of the peninsula like an arm reaching out. We’re very recognizable.”

Dohm doesn’t believe Miami will turn into the next New York.

For one, Miami doesn’t have the land mass. Secondly, Miami is significantly more diverse than New York. In fact, Miami is the most international city in the U.S. About 51.3 percent of Miami residents are foreign born, according to the U.S. Census. Miami’s concentration of foreign-born residents is more than double the national average of 19.4 percent.

Students at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the nation’s fourth largest school district in the U.S. with 345,000 pupils, speak 56 different languages and represent over 160 countries.

“If you start looking at the brain trust that will serve Miami, it gives you great perspective on what we have,” Dohm said. “Now, what Miami is doing is starting to re-think all of its areas. How do you make them nicer? How do you make them more livable? How do we better connect the diverse areas of Miami to one another?”

Dohm believes in infrastructure and how that can elevate a region. Before Henry Flagler brought the railroad to Fort Lauderdale in 1895 and to Miami in 1896, the only way to get here was by horse and buggy, or by taking a ship to Key West and then a barge to Miami.

The railroad made enough difference to kick-start South Florida’s economy. Miami went from a population of 861 in 1890 to more than 267,000 in 1940. Fast forward to today and there are more than 2.7 million residents in Miami-Dade alone and coming up on 6-million in the tri-county area.

“Now we are spending nearly $20 billion of our own money – with very few tax dollars – rebuilding two international airports, two deepwater seaports, our rail system and our entire expressway grid,” Dohm said. “That shows a commitment on the part of our twin-counties, Miami-Dade and Broward, that is the envy of just about everyone, everywhere.”

Dohm is excited for projects like the Underline, a planned 10-mile linear park beneath the Miami-Dade Metrorail that will not only provide a safe path for exercise but has the potential to significantly raise property values. To bring more of those developments to South Florida, leaders will need to work like symphony musicians.

“In the symphony, nothing happens by itself,” Dohm said with a laugh. “Even the person who looks like the leader, the conductor, is part of the team. Real estate is the same. That’s why you see so many teams in real estate. You need different groups of people with different experiences to make a project happen.”



Name: John Dohm

Board position: 2015 Chairman of the Board of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS®

Employment: Infinity Commercial Real Estate, Miami

College: University of Miami

Achievements: 2011 MIAMI Commercial Realtor of the Year; 2012 MIAMI Realtor of the Year; One of less than 875 people in the world to hold both the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors and Certified Commercial Institute Member designations

Did you know? Prior to his 30-year career in real estate John was a symphony musician and then a securities and commodities specialist at LaSalle Street Securities and the Chicago Board of Trade

Our “Getting to Know Our Leaders” series will feature each of the 2015 Leaders of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS: Chairman of the Board John Dohm, Commercial President Barbara Tria, Residential President Christopher Zoller, Broward President Christopher Tello and Young Professionals Network Chairman Christina Pappas.


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