A recent visit by Angela Choi (Deloitte) to my market analysis class provoked me to reconsider the ways in which a building could add value to businesses using that building. Old style thinking emphasized that a business needs to locate somewhere and that real estate expenses were best if lowered. That made sense when a building was basically a box. Innovations in information technology has some people talking about “cognitive buildings” and people like Angela talking about disruption in the real estate industry.
Lots of people worry about the upcoming transition when the next generation takes over. Leaders with decades of experience in the real estate industry are stepping back or retiring: who will step up? The past few years have pretty good and many business want to expand: where to find qualified people at the more junior ranks? If real estate businesses cannot find qualified people then the people who live, work, shop, or play in those buildings will be unhappy.
I see this worry at an even younger level: university students who say they want to go into the industry. You know, the ones who can’t pay attention for longer than 30 seconds during class because they are so busy on Facebook and Youtube. The ones who can’t send an email without using obscure emojis and acronyms. In a few years, their distracted job applications will clutter the desks of HR professionals.
These might be serious issues but I see little real difference from 10 or 20 years ago. In my opinion, the solution is what it always has been: Continue reading
Spring is nearly here. Students are finishing their exams and heading to summer jobs or co-op jobs. Some are graduating into the Real World. And high school students are about to choose where they will spend their next four or five years. It is a time of change, excitement and a bit of fear.
Many people have trouble dealing with change because, in my opinion, they misunderstand it. Change is common; disruption is annoying. So, learn to accept change by preparing to be the disruptor instead of the disruptee.
At the recent Toronto Real Estate Forum, Frank McKenna noted that Airbnb is now the world’s biggest hotel company and Uber is now the world’s biggest car company. People are worried about the decline of the once-dominant manufacturing sector because the number of employees down, but output is up. As he concluded: the Stone Age did not end to end because of a lack of stones. It ended because there was a better alternative. Continue reading
Last Friday, the REHSA and Jeff Miller of Oxford Properties organized a tour though Milton, Mississauga and area showing off what is special about industrial properties. This property type attracts less attention than residential or office, which is either a mistake or an opportunity for somebody.
For example, did you know that the GTA is Continue reading
Ethical awareness affects people involved in the real estate industry. There is a lot of money at stake and, because investors are separated from their real estate by distance or expertise or uncertainty, lots of exciting operational challenges. Research has shown that these same features also create opportunities to mislead or to be misled. So, operations and ethics in the real estate business cannot be separated.
Being ethically aware is a good thing. Many industry associations have codes of conduct or courses which include an ethical dimension. Unfortunately, it is hard to teach a 20 year old how to be ethically aware, especially if the “good answer” seems obvious in a two-hour test. 60 year olds have more life experience and know that distinguishing “good” and “evil” is not so simple.
So, the discussions about potentially unethical behaviour by the next president of the United States represent a teachable moment about an important topic. Continue reading
Last week, I attended an interesting breakfast meeting which launched a new book. If you are new to the commercial real estate business, I encourage you to read it: it is published by REALpac and is an updated version of their most popular publication. This comprehensive resource will be useful as you discover your position within the industry. (Full disclosure: I will not get a commission for saying such nice things.)
As with most meetings, the most stimulating part is not what was listed on the official program but what happened during the conversations. I was fascinated by a conversation on literacy and the challenges it poses for everybody. Continue reading
The real estate business is interesting because illiquidity means that the messy bits of the market process are messy for reasons not usually explored in textbooks. Thus, there is a lot to learn. (One of these days, I will be allowed to teach a course on Negotiations, but not this year.) I receive mailings from a group that specializes in it and, at the end of last year, they sent me some interesting messages on what happened last year. Here is some help with your negotiations this year. Continue reading
The headlines show the many ways in which international events affect Canadian real estate markets. For example,
- Will Trump’s election cause too many Americans to move to Canada? (And, will Canadians want to stay in a Trump-branded hotel?)
- How will foreign buyers react to the new tax in Vancouver (and will its effect be bigger than the effect of the on-going anti-corruption campaign in China)?
- How do the tastes of recent immigrants to Canada differ from those of long term residents? (And do the tastes of first generation immigrants differ from those of second or third generation immigrants?)
- Will the competing initiatives on infrastructure in Canada and the US cause more investment in Canada or in the US?
If you attend the Real Estate Forum in Toronto at the end of November, you will see suppliers from many other countries talking with potential clients. You will also see many levels of government supporting international business links.
The real estate business is no longer all about “location, location, location”. So, the question is how to get ahead of this wave? Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, some of our students organized a competition for students across Canada. As much as I would like to think that everything educational happens only in a classroom, much learning happens outside of a classroom. Future leaders take advantage of the opportunities offered to them and show what they are capable of.
The Undergraduate Real Estate Case Competition (URECC) invited teams from universities across Canada to study a property for more than a month and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges drawn from the most senior level of the industry. The organizers, led by Sam Ives, Dan Adams, Sarah Reeve and Jill Brown, talked friends in the industry, such as the title sponsor Allied REIT, and raised about $40,000 to host the event at the Ritz Carleton in downtown Toronto. Continue reading