Top Takeaways From the 2022 National Real Estate Women’s Forum
May 26, 2022
The National Real Estate Women’s Forum (“REWF”) is an annual commercial real estate industry gathering that brings together women in leadership roles as well as up-and-coming executives. Focused on key business trends, challenges, and opportunities, the speaker faculty is composed solely of women. EisnerAmper was represented at the event by professionals from EA RESIG, LLC (“EA RESIG”), a fund administrator that supports real estate private equity funds at all lifecycle stages. Directors Georgetta Brown and Linh Nguyen joined Vice Presidents Debra Schoenberg and Kassandra Todd to hear from peers and share their experiences being women in real estate.
Brown attended panels focused on national real estate and finance, multifamily investments, and apartment development and operations. Topics such as the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental, social, and governance (ESG), corporate social responsibility (CSR), the great resignation, and other emerging trends were addressed from a real estate perspective as well as in terms of their specific impact on women in the sector. “It was inspiring to hear the strides that are being made in the industry for women in leadership, equity, diversity and inclusion; work-life balance; mentoring; and recruitment and advancement,” she said, “all while identifying the work that still needs to be done in these areas.”
Two sessions,“Office Investment, Development & Leasing” and “Trends in Workplace Design, Strategy & Tenants Experience,” presented different perspectives on and benefits of building a new ground up development versus owning and managing already existing buildings. Speakers outlined how additional amenities, expectations and requirements from tenants changed pre- and post-COVID. Nguyen remarked, “True to the times, many discussions were focused around how the pandemic has impacted the way we work and our overall lifestyle. The requirements necessary to create a comfortable and safe environment for employees to feel encouraged to return to the office continue to evolve.” The impact of changing expectations will continue to shape the office market for years to come.
The national trends day of the forum was of particular interest to attendees, as this included timely discussions on deal flow, current challenges of managing positions and investment strategies, and ESG. Schoenberg saw the conference as an opportunity to take a break from crunching numbers and explore the forces at work in the broader sector. “As a woman in real estate, it was exciting to hear different perspectives from other women in the field who brought their unique experiences and backgrounds working with leading real estate organizations.”
The panelists not only shared the positives about their current projects but also discussed some of the challenges and uncertainties that they are facing, or foresee, including matters such as the upcoming 421A (NYC property tax exemption) expiration, Local Law 97 (carbon emission limits for large NYC commercial buildings) compliance, and ongoing 485-w (the Affordable Neighborhoods for New Yorkers tax incentive) negotiations.
It cannot be overstated how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the workforce in general, and the real estate sector. A comeback, however, is well underway. Todd noted that hearing directly from the people working on the frontlines of the changing market was exceptional. The New York real estate market panels shared a positive outlook. “Speakers were happy to confirm that New York has made a strong comeback with more people moving into New York in 2021 than 2019, and rents at an all-time high at this point in 2022.” In addition, discussions on the way current social, political, and economic conditions are shifting building design and development provided insights on various players in the real estate space. Attendees were also inspired and encouraged hearing about the progress some companies are making with their diversity, equity, and inclusion and ESG efforts to help address some of the troubling societal issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
The REWF brought vital discussions to the fore, addressing myriad developing topics in the real estate sector, and more specifically in New York City, as seen through prism of women in the industry. There are many opportunities and challenges ahead, but the talented leaders represented at this conference will have both well in hand moving forward.