Back in this hemisphere, legislation is also on the mind of Sharon Hart-Fanelli, CPM, RPA, an account manager at Cushman & Wakefield, AMO, in
Manhattan, for whom she oversees just north of two million square feet of
assets for New York Life. Interestingly, the concern isn’t over one or two specific local code changes as much as the need to keep constant watch over the
legislative landscape for surprise changes.
“I’ll give you a perfect example,” says the president-elect of the IREM Greater New York Chapter. “Lighting is key to energy reduction. Years ago, most
buildings just kept the lights on at all times because they didn’t have staff to
move through all the offices clicking off the lights. It was a huge energy drain.”
Sensors came in and shortly after followed local building codes to dictate
use of wattage per square foot. That example, she says, is indicative of a challenge that building managers always need to face, namely to stay on top of
codes in the interest of their clients and occupants.
Cushman & Wakefield, she says, is “almost always ahead of the curve on
that, particularly since we work with bigger investment landlords. But all
property managers just have to be aware of potential changes.”
While that’s an ongoing challenge, Hart-Fanelli says that it’s particularly
critical now in an era when technology advances at an ever-quickening pace.
It’s all that a property manager can do, she says, to keep up.
Of course, embracing tech and the rapid pace of change is a choice you
can’t ignore. “I choose to be invigorated by the possibilities of technology
such as AI,” she says. “But none of us really has a choice. We’re creatures of
habit, and it’s easy to resist change. As our clientele and occupants become
more tech savvy, it’s our responsibility to be ahead of that curve.
“But technology is changing so quickly that by the time we have something
implemented, there’s bound to be something new and better,” she says. “We
want to be open to implement that. We’re always pushing our engineers to
give us the latest and greatest.”
But therein lies the rub of hitching your techno-horse to a fleeting trend,
especially considering the amount of venture capital that’s being thrown at
real estate-related tech these days (an estimated $5.7 billion in 2017, and
still counting). “If we’re looking at a new technology, we’re also looking at
other companies offering a comparative technology so we know there’s mar-
ket redundancy,” Hart-Fanelli says. “We also look to work with vendors that
THE CHALLENGE IS TO BE COGNIZANT OF ALL THE DIFFERENT AGREEMENTS
THAT ARE IN PLACE AND WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT.
—GEORGES RENAUD, CPM
have a proven track record and are large
enough to put in an alternative solution
if need be.”
Interestingly, she adds that tech to her
is a sort of double-edged sword. While on
one hand, it is a challenge to keep up, it
is also a driver of office-market activity,
and hence, her optimism for 2019.
Georges Renaud, CPM, agrees. An
executive VP for Coldwell Banker Com-
mercial in Montreal, Renaud is also
president of the IREM Quebec Chapter.
He says he has “great optimism,” as we
swing into 2019. But the advancement of
technology is a concern he shares, along
with the increasing sophistication of both
tenants and asset management clientele.
This will put greater demands on the in-
dustry, requiring more “accredited man-
agers and operations staff.”
Tenants today have a whole list of new
demands, he says, “and they’re much
more aware of building systems, sustain-
ability and preferred amenities. And if
you don’t have the proper answers, they
move onto the next building.”
“There was always the demand for
amenities,” adds Hart-Fanelli, although
she agrees with Renaud that it has
ramped up in recent years, driven, they
both believe, by an increasingly youthful
occupancy. “There was always a call for
conference rooms and food services and
copy centers,” she says. “But there’s also
been an increasing demand for concierge
services, for the dry cleaning and the