Real Estate Legends: Sage Advice

September 6, 2017
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Real Estate Legends: Sage Advice

What are the biggest lessons I’ve learned working in the real estate industry?

I was honored to be one of three real estate “Legends” on a panel at the 39th Annual Real Estate & Economics Symposium. The Symposium, held at the Inter-Continental Hotel in San Francisco, was sponsored by the Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics at U.C. Berkeley. The conversation was fascinating, and great fun as well. Who would have thought that the autonomous vehicle would be a major point when one of my co-panelists was asked what he saw as the biggest future disruptors to the real estate industry!?

One of the questions put on the table by our moderator, Dick Wollack of Fulton Capital Advisors, was “what are 2 or 3 of the biggest lessons/insights you have learned?” Here are brief highlights from my response, including a bonus #4.

  1. Cycles repeat – a lack of fundamentals might be the cause of overbuilding and overlending , but the cycles can look dramatically and deceptively different. In the 70s there was inflation, in the 1980s the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, in the 90s Subprime lending. Could it be deregulation in 2018?
  2. Have a mentor.
  3. Pay attention to Public Policy – if you aren’t at the table you’re on the table.
  4. Team up – be open to working with strategic alliance partners. It has always led to great success for me. At EY in the early 90s our institutional lender clients needed operational assistance for hotel assets and they needed it fast. EY didn’t have that expertise internally at the time so we teamed up with Rick Swig and RSBA Associates to do operational studies for and provide strategic advice to those clients. In 1995 my mentor at the time in EY’s Real Estate Advisory Services, Michael Evans, led a merger with Kenneth Leventhal, creating EYKL which overnight became the powerhouse professional services firm serving real estate industry clients. Now REITs are seeing the value of Joint Ventures. It works.

In my next blog post I’ll share my response to the question “What are things that concern you about the market today? – what I call “disruptors.”

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