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The AFIRE Podcast
32 minutes | Jul 27, 2021
Episode #69: The Test Is Now Upon Us
https://www.afire.org/podcast/testuponuscast/ Facing fiscal challenges, social unrest, geopolitical conflict, climate change, supply chain disruption, and the ongoing COVID crisis, what should tomorrow’s real estate leaders do today to prepare for the future ahead? If ever there is a time when steady leadership is required in real estate—this is that time. With the mountain challenges presented by extrinsic circumstances in the world, the real estate industry demands good leadership. But good leaders can be hard to find when our definition of leadership is unclear. On this episode of the AFIRE Podcast, we explore the next generation of leadership with William J. Ferguson, Chairman and CEO of Ferguson Partners, a leading global talent management firm. Ferguson is also the author of four books, including the recently released The Test is Now Upon Us, which profiles some of the top leaders in global real estate and collects insights on leadership through uncertain times. Listen now on your favorite podcast service (Apple, Google, Spotify) for the full episode.
34 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
Shock Paddles for Cities
https://www.afire.org/podcast/mennonekatzcast/(opens in a new tab) When the pandemic first spread across the globe in early 2020, real estate and urban experts collectively began to ask: What will this crisis mean for cities? And now, as the world now deals with the latter stages of the pandemic, with many cities now cautiously entering a recovery phase, what have we learned, and how should CRE investors think about the future of urbanism? In April 2020, AFIRE’s CEO (and host of the AFIRE Podcast) Gunnar Branson joined Frances Mennone of Cross Street Partners and Bruce Katz of New Localism to ask—early in the COVID crisis—what it will take for cities to reopen and reactivate their economies. (See: “Re-Opening the Economy and the Complexities of Downtowns” at thenewlocalism.com) At the time, the authors concluded that “the recovery, particularly in the cores of our cities and metropolitan areas, can be faster and more inclusive if communities plan with ambition and act with focus. The future of our cities begins now.” Today, more than a year since their initial conversation, Mennone and Katz join the AFIRE Podcast to explore what cities have learned, and what they still need to do, in order to build back better—even as the pandemic enters its more muddled “delta phase.” According to Mennone, “Cities are humming organisms, and when you stop them, you will need shock paddles to get them started again.” Listen now on your favorite podcast service (Apple, Google, Spotify) for the full episode.
19 minutes | Jul 13, 2021
AFIRE Podcast #67: Sustaining the Future
https://www.afire.org/podcast/sustainingfuturecast/ Because the standards and expectations are different country-by-country, reaching sustainability goals is a complex challenge for global investors. But with the real estate industry finally learning how to integrate technology, leaders in the space have the unique opportunity to challenge assumptions and work towards a greener future. So how can (and should) companies use data to understand what’s happening onsite, throughout the real estate supply chain, and in the communities they’re invested? On this episode of the AFIRE Podcast, Dongsoo Kim, Director of the Sustainability Management Center for the Korea Productivity Center (KPC) discusses how the real estate industry has already adapted to sustainable imperatives, and what else needs to happen for organizations to move forward. Established in 1957, KPC is a government-supported agency that works to support productivity improvements across the country’s economy. KPC has played a pivotal role in increasing productivity and economic growth in Korea. The organization provides consulting, education, and training services, as well as support for the implementation of quality and environmental management systems. KPC has also developed and continues to publish Korea’s National Customer Satisfaction Index (NCSI) as well as the country’s National Brand Competitiveness Index (NBCI). Listen now on your favorite podcast service (Apple, Google, Spotify) for the full episode.
27 minutes | Jun 22, 2021
Mediating Real Estate
n the past two years alone, more than $50 billion has been invested into emerging proptech. As new businesses in proptech continue to expand, what should investors pay attention to? https://www.afire.org/podcast/mediatingre/ Although some experts suspected that proptech would face a slowdown in 2020, the sector actually grew faster than it did in 2019, consistent with the notion that the pandemic served as an accelerant for changes already underway across the entire CRE value chain. If investors weren't already prioritizing proptech, are they already too late? Steve Weikal, head of industry relations and CRE technology at the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab, discusses how investors can rethink the relationship people have with real estate through proptech. Enabled by emerging machine learning, AI, analytics, and other technologies, proptech has proven to generate a convergence of uses in the real estate space. What can investors expect to see moving forward?
25 minutes | Jun 17, 2021
AFIRE Podcast #65: Unpacking Proptech
https://www.afire.org/podcast/unpackingproptech/ The events of the past year have been the big push needed by the real estate industry to adapt to new technology. And with more than $50 billion in new proptech investments, the pace is quickening. Where can CRE investors find value in this rapidly evolving field? A few years ago, proptech was not a term that was used to define the real estate industry. Now, as the investors who have mastered big data emerge to the forefront of the global real estate industry, businesses across the entire CRE spectrum need the capabilities for capturing information, insights, and trends in order to stay at the front of the market. On this episode of the AFIRE Podcast, tech entrepreneur and investor Chris Happ discusses how investors can navigate the proptech space—especially how to separate the bells and whistles from the inner workings. Listen now on your favorite podcast service (Apple, Google, Spotify) for the full episode.
25 minutes | Jun 15, 2021
Ready To Travel?
Border shutdowns as a result of pandemic policy have been a major sticking point for cross-border investment over the past year. What should investors know about travel into the US right now? https://www.afire.org/podcast/readytotravel/ As the COVID-19 vaccines are being deployed in the US and other countries, with promising results, borders between countries are gradually reopening. But as the pandemic continues to mutate and affect different populations and regions, the rules for what is required when crossing from one nation to another can be confusing—and may even impact investment opportunities. Elizabeth Stern and Carl Risch, partners with Mayer Brown and part of the firm's Global Mobility and Migration Practice, discuss recent policy changes (as of June 2021) affecting business travel and global mobility, as well as the outlook for cross-border opportunities in the year ahead.
18 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Safe As Houses
The future of residential investments is all about demographics—and the forces behind them. https://www.afire.org/podcast/residential-investments/ With more and more time spent at home, capital appetite has grown for all things residential, with new living schemes entering the fray at a rapid pace. Yet not all living investments are as safe as houses. It is important to consider demographic wave crests and troughs and how these forces will impact prospects for the various components of the residential spectrum going forward. Sabrina Unger, Managing Director and Head of Research of Strategy for of American Realty Advisors, talks about the future of residential investing and how the COVID-19 crisis influenced the evolution of that particular asset class.
36 minutes | Jun 2, 2021
Sustainability, Action (Part 2)
During a time of unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, how should businesses approach the “new metrics of performance?” And what do these metrics mean for the future of ESG in the real estate industry? https://www.afire.org/podcast/sustainabilitycast02/ We are in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, as the pandemic, in particular, has posed unique challenges for all businesses for how their employees work, how clients behave, and how supply chains function. Geopolitical, macroeconomic shifts, among other fundamental changes in CRE, will ultimately determine the priorities of institutional investing for the years ahead. In today’s terms, business performance transcends profits and losses and incorporates a broader focus on “Corporate Purpose.” This shift from shareholder to stakeholder capitalism was asserted through the Business Roundtable’s 2019 statement on the Purpose of a Corporation affirming “the essential role corporations can play in improving our society when CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders.” How can businesses use collaboration and connectivity to thrive and adapt in the CRE industry? Sunil A. Misser, CEO of AccountAbility, talks about the importance of embedding ESG positions into mainstream business strategy, and the need for resilience in a post-COVID industry landscape.
18 minutes | May 27, 2021
Data Centers Take Center Stage
Data center investments have proven resilient in periods of economic volatility—and they’re only going to become more essential and important into the future. https://www.afire.org/podcast/data-centers/ Once viewed as a niche real estate investment, data centers have risen in popularity as the need for data storage and processing has rocketed in parallel with the amount of data consumed by individuals, businesses, and new technologies. While pandemic-related social restrictions have accelerated data usage trends, data centers have long been vital to the global economy’s reliance on connectivity. With an attractive risk/return profile and significant barriers to entry, the industry has proven itself resilient in both good and bad economies, making high-quality data centers an increasingly attractive opportunity for real estate investors. As the world grows increasingly interconnected, the demand for data requires more storage solutions and robust processing power. While in the past the primary purpose of data centers was to simply store data, today computing power and network connectivity have become the most important purpose for these facilities. Ben Wobschall, Managing Director and Portfolio Manager for Principal Real Estate Investors talks about the investment opportunities in this specialized but increasingly critical sector.
30 minutes | May 25, 2021
AFIRE Podcast #60: Sustainability, Action (Part 1)
https://www.afire.org/podcast/sustainabilitycast01/ During a time of unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, how should businesses approach the “new metrics of performance,” and how will ESG evolve in 2021? We are in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, as the pandemic, in particular, is posing unique challenges for all businesses for how their employees work, how clients behave, how supply chains function, and how to confront the “new metrics of performance.” Fundamental changes in CRE will ultimately determine the significance of institutional investing for the years ahead. Business performance, in today’s terms, transcends profits and losses and incorporates a broader focus on “Corporate Purpose.” This shift from shareholder to stakeholder capitalism was asserted through the Business Roundtable’s 2019 statement on the Purpose of a Corporation affirming “the essential role corporations can play in improving our society when CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders.” On this episode of the AFIRE Podcast—the first of a two-part conversation—Sunil A. Misser, CEO of AccountAbility talks about the importance of embedding ESG positions into mainstream business strategy, and the need for resilience in a post-COVID industry landscape. Listen now on your favorite podcast service (Apple, Google, Spotify) for the full episode.
21 minutes | May 21, 2021
Time To Check In
If history is a guide, the time to invest in hotels is when things look bleak. This appears to be one of those times. https://www.afire.org/podcast/checkincast/ Hotels and retail properties have borne much of the global pandemic’s brunt since the spring of 2020 with COVID-19 ravaging the US economy and dramatically altering consumer behaviors. And while the challenges facing the retail sector are as much about structural change as they are about cyclical weakness, the story is notably different in the hotel sector, which remains underpinned by long-term structural growth drivers. That doesn’t mean the picture for hotels has been rosy. In fact, as a result of the global pandemic, US hotels saw their largest-ever decline in demand in 2020—with revenue per available room (RevPAR) down approximately 47.5% compared to 2019.1 And even this striking statistic doesn’t tell the full story, as it wasn’t until March 2020 that the virus started to truly weigh on demand in the US. Jim O’Shaughnessy, Managing Director & Hotel Group Leader of Barings Real Estate talks about the underlying structural trends, in place long before COVID, and how they will intersect with the coming cyclical recovery—which will inevitably be uneven across the hotel sector and tied to factors such as location and property attributes.
26 minutes | May 20, 2021
The pandemic has heavily impacted the hospitality sector, but a growing wave of non-traditional investors has shown heightened interest in getting a piece of the evolving industry. https://www.afire.org/podcast/franchisingcast/ While certainly not approachable to every kind of entrepreneur, hotel franchising can be a great way to diversify a portfolio and bolster income. With the lodging industry ready to move forward, third-party management and franchising agreements have come to the forefront of impacting global investor interest, with hotel owners demanding increased flexibility, deeper focus on operations, and more control of their assets. Gilda Perez-Alvarado, Global CEO of JLL Hotels and Hospitality, talks about the expected demand for hospitality and what's going to happen next for the hotels and reopening continues in the US.
34 minutes | May 18, 2021
Creating a Better Normal
As cities in the US adapt to a new normal, city leaders, planners, developers, and investors have a new challenge: to define the "new normal" of the built environment. And though it stands unique among American cities, Washington, DC could have answers for our collective urban futures. https://www.afire.org/podcast/betternormal/ On this episode of the AFIRE Podcast, John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development for Washington, DC, talks about how the district is not only working to embrace a new normal, but also implementing innovative solutions as a means to create a better normal. Racial equity and affordable housing are top-of-mind, alongside promoting and preserving density in the city's business districts and workplaces, including reimagined retail experiences and use of public space. What are the obstacles that DC is facing in particular, and what are lessons other cities can learn from DC's ideas and experiments? According to Falcicchio, collaboration between all city stakeholders—including residents, business and restaurant owners, building managers and owners, investors—is the key to the future of US cities.
18 minutes | May 11, 2021
Housing For Goldilocks: Single-family Trends
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the advantages of single-family living. It appears to have accelerated an existing trend of migration to less dense, more affordable areas. https://www.afire.org/podcast/goldilockscast/ The US housing market began 2020 with favorable demographics-driven housing demand, balanced new supply, healthy home appreciation, and responsible mortgage lending. However, the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic led to the worst economic disruption in history, with more than 22 million lost jobs between February and April 2020. In response, the US government approved nearly US$3 trillion in fiscal stimulus while the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to zero and rolled out an unprecedented scale of support to restart the financial system. Combined, government responses to the COVID-19 crisis helped to stabilize the economy and the housing market has emerged as a bright spot in the recovery. However, the resilience of the housing market can be explained by structural factors that persisted before and during the economic crisis. Robert Sun, leader of Product Development and Corporate Strategy at GTIS Partners—a leading real assets private equity firm in the Americas, investing in the US and Brazil—discusses these structural factors, and what's next for housing in the US.
21 minutes | May 10, 2021
Greening a Generation
Just as the pandemic has accelerated changes in culture, it has underscored the symbiosis between the built environment and the natural world. What's the key to "greening" the next generation of commercial real estate? https://www.afire.org/podcast/sustainability-in-cre/ As industry professionals move back to the office, the dynamics of the "new normal" are kicking into high gear, including a renewed corporate focus on ESG strategies, actions, and intentions. Financial decisions can't be divorced from the key principles of environment, social, and governance (ESG) standards that are increasingly central to investment decisions for commercial real estate. Brad Dockser, CEO of Green Generation—a firm that operates globally at the intersection of energy, real estate, capital markets, and technology—discusses how real estate leaders and investors can achieve a low-carbon future—and why the future is now.
23 minutes | May 4, 2021
Recasting Risk and Return
The investment community can have an active role in an equitable economic recovery—but it will require the necessary discomfort of recasting the traditional risk/return framework. https://www.afire.org/podcast/recastingriskandreturn/ Recessions typically put a hard stop to development. Shrinking economic activity, loss of jobs, and uncertainty about the recovery make it more challenging for developers and lenders to greenlight projects. But this pandemic-induced recession is different, because the supply/demand balance heading into it was not too out-of-sync with economic realities, and the amount of leverage in the ecosystem was not too onerous. More importantly, the pandemic and the uneven K-shaped recovery have magnified and laid bare some deeply ingrained systemic deficits in housing, healthcare, education, retail, and other services for minority and other disadvantaged communities. Robert Jue, Jerome Nichols, and Shubra Jha of Standard Real Estate Investments discuss how inclusive development that lifts up overlooked communities is sustainable, equitable, and profitable—not just by the metrics of traditional financial results but, more importantly, by creating true social impact. This podcast is based on the article “Recasting Risk and Return” from Summit Journal. Read and download the article here: https://www.afire.org/summit/recastingriskandreturn/
19 minutes | Apr 30, 2021
AFIRE Podcast #53: Leveraging Control
https://www.afire.org/podcast/leveragingcontrolrclco/ Though leverage is an important part of capital funding, it’s important to ask LPs if (and how) they should take control of their real estate leverage. Leverage is widely used in real estate as an important part of the capital funding, and real estate and leverage have gone hand-in-hand since mortgages originated in England in the Middle Ages. When used wisely, it can enhance returns and provide other portfolio benefits. Institutional investors manage real estate leverage in a variety of ways, but typically utilize relatively low levels of leverage for low-risk investments and higher levels of leverage for higher risk investments. In general, this has worked out in terms of overall returns, but may not be the most efficient strategy. In this episode of the AFIRE Podcast, RCLCO Fund Advisors’ Director of Strategy and Research William Maher and Managing Director Ben Maslan discuss how institutional investors should continue to use moderate levels of leverage on a portfolio-wide basis but also explore ways to minimize the cost and maximize the flexibility of real estate leverage. In particular, overall fund-level leverage can offer investors lower interest rates while not encumbering specific properties held in their portfolios. This podcast is based on the article “Confronting the Myth” from Summit Journal.
33 minutes | Apr 28, 2021
Racial Equity and Real Estate
https://www.afire.org/podcast/confrontingthemythcast/ The events of the past year have driven businesses to confront racial inequity, but some still shy away from the challenging language needed to make real, restorative, and economic progress. . . . so what should leaders in the real estate industry do to meet the moment? Corporate social responsibility (CSR), diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives, and ESG reporting are part of the solution, but don’t always inspire change from the top down. What can the past tell us about the present to provide the framework for individuals and organizations to foster a more equitable future? In this episode of the AFIRE Podcast, Shumeca Pickett, Founder and Principal of Alfred Dewitt Ard, a social impact consultancy, talks about race, equity, White supremacy, and challenging but necessary language needed to create meaningful change. Listen now on your favorite podcast service (Apple, Google, Spotify) for the full episode.
24 minutes | Apr 19, 2021
UX Meets Commercial Real Estate
https://www.afire.org/podcast/uxandcre In the post-COVID built environment, understanding building users at all levels will be critical to asset and investment performance. But how exactly is the “user” changing, and what does that evolution mean for investors? As employers return to office, amenities will matter. But as a result of the pandemic, the “value” of everything from shared space, outdoor access, eating, and vertical transportation means something radically different. How is the definition of these services and the overall building-user experience changing, and what role to owners, managers, and investors have in meeting these expectations? And what will happen when they can’t? In this episode of the AFIRE Podcast, Ed Wagoner, CIO, JLL Digital talks about how proptech, “user experience design,” and building usage has changed throughout the pandemic, and what investors will need to do to overcome the challenges of a rapidly evolving built environment. Listen now on your favorite podcast service (Apple, Google, Spotify) for the full episode.
23 minutes | Apr 14, 2021
Post-Crisis Cities: Part 2 (w/ Richard Florida)
www.afire.org/podcast/postcrisiscities/ As the cities cautiously re-open into the late phase of the pandemic, writer and urbanist Richard Florida believes that metros have a unique opportunity to reimagine and redefine what a “central business district” will look like in the new normal. Community is key. In this two-part AFIRE Podcast (the FIFTIETH EPISODE of the podcast!) host and AFIRE CEO Gunnar Branson sits down with Richard Florida, urbanist, author, and professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, to discuss the the crisis cities were facing before the pandemic, how the crisis accelerated evolving trends in work and lifestyle habits, and the opportunity cities have right now to reimagine what live-work-play means in their communities. As a prolific economist and researcher in global urban trends, Richard Florida has helped investors better understand how cities have changed and evolved, particularly through his work in The Rise of the Creative Class (2002) and The New Urban Crisis (2017). In this podcast, Florida calls on investors to embrace change as work habits, families, and use of the built environment adapts to life after the pandemic.
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