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IREM, the Industry, Builds on Success

December 21, 2018 | John Salustri

That’s IREM President Don Wilkerson’s outlook for the new year, as he explains in his most recent column for NREI. Describing himself as a “glass-half-full kind of guy,” he writes that he balks at predictions of major economic corrections.

“Now, just to be clear,” he writes, “no one is predicting doom or gloom, but given the length of the current upcycle, the second longest in our history (the 10 years leading up to the tech-bust of 2000 heads that list), the published reports I have read simply seem incredulous that it could continue. As a result, every blip on the radar becomes the sign of a correction.”

He goes on to enumerate three major reasons why he finds no cause for concern:

“First of all, from my perspective both as a property management practitioner and as president of the Institute or Real Estate Management, I am engaged in an industry that is virtually recession-proof.  In fact, an argument can be made that in down times, keen property management—management that is attuned to the value enhancement of properties in the strategic interest of our ownership clientele—becomes even more critical.

“Second, there is no real bellwether of alarm, other than the possible activity of interest rates, any indirect bearing on the economy that could come from current global trade battles, or some other international surprise.”

Quoting the 2019 edition of Emerging Trends in Real Estate, Wilkerson zeroes in on the word plateau. “ ‘Coming off a peak’ seems to be a theme,” he quotes. One contributor to the report acknowledged, “We are adjusting a little bit right now.”

In the IREM president’s view, “the underlying issues that made the last downturn so much fun are not in play this time, issues such as the subprime time bomb, a freewheeling ‘anything-pencils’ lending mentality and an exuberant stock market. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. The stock market today is volatile to say the least and could cause some pain down the road if it continues for too long. But the best bet now is for a soft landing.”

His third reason for optimism is simple: experience, and what he calls “the frank realization that if all of the most dire predictions come true, we’ve been there, done that. For any seasoned pro who outlasted the so-called Great Recession of a decade ago, a correction of the size pundits predict is small potatoes. Bring it on.”

IREM itself, he writes, is looking with anticipation at another growth year, “building on programs designed to deliver on the promise made when we rebranded just a year ago. We are particularly excited about expanding our global reach through growing relationships in Asia, South Africa and Russia, relationships that not only expand our sphere of influence but, more important, also expand the networking opportunities for this very tight community of professionals.

“We continue to actively promote the industry to a younger and more diverse audience of potential CPM candidates through our ramped-up educational efforts—in person and online--and a more active outreach program at the college level. We are at a critical juncture, not only in property management, but in the real estate industry as a whole and--as I have stated before in this space--such outreach is critical to our survival, not only in terms of age, but equally in terms of the changing demographic of the communities we serve. Stagnation is not an option.”

Wilkerson sees 2019 of a year to build on a promise made when the institute rebranded—to serve as the champion of the property management community. “Delivering on that promise is a progression,” he writes, “and 2019 will be a continuation of the groundwork we have already laid down.

“We’re excited about the prospects the new year offers,” he concludes. “Our sleeves are already rolled up. The work continues.”

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