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Profiling an Industry in Transition

October 26, 2017 | John Salustri

Having just returned from the very successful IREM Global Summit in Chicago, it became clear to me once again how much this industry is changing.

A quick scan of the session titles alone would go far toward proving that point, promoting topics inconceivable even a decade ago: “Driving Revenue Through Effective Social Media Content” or “Real Estate Fracking: Impact of the Sharing Economy on Commercial Real Estate.” Even the panel I moderated: “May I Help You? How a New Suite of Amenities Enhances Your Brand and Your Occupancy” underscores the changing nature of occupant expectation--whether that occupant is commercial of residential.

Amenities ranging from dog-walking in apartments and 24/7 package collection in all types of properties now join such new-age services as office concierges and gathering spaces for tenant socialization, all--in the words of one panelist--to “win the market.” (That same building manager--Alan Yeung of Anar Group Shanghai--even talked of offering karaoke services.)

It should be noted too that, even though the payback on such services may not be immediate, amenities properly chosen and properly managed can double building value--as another panelist, Tom McAndrews of Tiarna Real Estate Services, made clear.

For those more senior IREM members who fear that machines are taking over the world, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Artificial intelligence is real and it’s here. As Real Estate Management News reported in its recap of the Summit, Yardi Systems’ Peter Hill “explained how Yardi is using AI in their energy management platform, LOBOS. Rather than rely on manual adjustments of HVAC systems at irregular intervals, LOBOS constantly makes automated corrections to a building’s operations—saving energy and labor. Hill also described how Yardi will employ AI in other platforms. For instance, AI will help predict whether a prospect at a multifamily community is likely to sign a lease.”

In the Industry Leaders panel, the shifting nature of the workforce (read: younger) was a major topic of conversation. Dealing with a new generation of job candidate demands a different take, a different mindset, on the part of senior decision makers. Cindy Clare, NAA chair and president of property management for Kettler Management AMO, suggested that millennials are often misunderstood. “It isn’t that they don’t work hard; they often just work differently.” That difference is the sticking point that will confound managers who cling to older methods of team-building every time.

Of course, in the midst of changes that range from generational to technological considerations, there are constants, which was also made clear in the Industry Leaders session: As has always been the case, active membership in one or more of the associations represented on the panel is key to maintaining best practices. As Real Estate Management News reported, “It’s not only the information and resources that IREM, BOMA, NAA, and CCIM provide on technology--it’s the ability to network with peers to take advantage of the shared knowledge and experiences in helping to navigate in an era of unprecedented change.”

The more things change . . . well, you know the rest.

About the Author

John Salustri is editor-in-chief of Salustri Content Solutions, Inc., a consultancy focused on enhancing the web and print content of clients around the nation. He is a regular contributor to JPM Magazine and a frequent blogger for IREM's website. Prior to launching SCS, John was founding editor of GlobeSt.com, the industry's premier real estate news website, where he managed the daily output of 25 international reporters, and prior to that, he was editor of Real Estate Forum Magazine. John is a four-time winner of the National Association of Real Estate Editors' Award for Excellence in Journalism.

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