Realogic was on hand as Bisnow held their Property Management and Office of the Future panel discussion in the Grand Ballroom on the 16th floor of the Trump Tower late last month. The Property Management panel discussion, hosted by Don Shapiro of Foresite Realty Partners, touched on several points regarding the increased responsibilities that future property managers will face; technical savvy over operational knowledge, financial acumen, increasing value of common spaces, tenant retention, shorter lease terms, decrease in square footage per employee trend.
At the end of the discussion, Don handed over a crystal ball, which looked suspiciously like a water glass and asked each panelist to summarize their thoughts on the future of Property Management.
"I think it's always going to be the basics. Property Management 101 is service, like Bob said. Property Management that is committed to service attracts and retains more tenants," offered Kristen Bowersox of SVN Crossroads Property Management.
Kristen then passed the "crystal ball" over to Randy Waites of Cushman & Wakefield. Randy added, "I'm going to be optimistic on behalf of our owners and their returns. I've been doing a lot of reading on new office space and it's implications for the tenants and users. There is lots of talk about lack of productivity, lack of privacy, increased illness, lots of negatives are coming with the big open office space. Looks great on paper but wrong client, wrong fit. We are seeing some retro fits happening and we are seeing some more traditional office space, private use space, going back into these offices which are going to push back out the square footage and reduce the density."
Bob Assoian of NAI Hiffman offered some more personal insight, "The suburbs aren't dead. Things always go back and forth over the years. I agree with Randy... My son works at Groupon, sits at a table and has about 10 square feet to him, I don't know(chuckles from the audience).. he puts his headphones on and he hates that work environment...he likes the company though so I think there might be some backlash. Are people doing that because employees really want it or are employers doing it because it saves on rent? I agree with Randy that there will be some mid-level settlement on that. At some point the 20 year old grows up, has kids and doesn't want to send them to private school in the city and there is life in the suburbs it just goes through cycles."
Betsy Traczek of The John Buck Company offered this last wisdom, "I think it's all about the people. We can design smart buildings, which is a top priority for a lot of us, and make them as efficient as possible but there is still that pressure on the Property Manager and the Property Management team. This is a customer service business. They have to be out there, they have to make sure the tenants are happy. That is an important part of tenant retention vs. how much can you keep pushing down on their total rent cost."