IREM Special Report: Leaders’ Insights on Managing Change

The talent hunt, technology and preparing for leaner times top the agenda.

San Diego—The role of the property manager in a time of rapid change is a pressing issue for the profession, and the Institute of Real Estate Management’s recent fall conference highlighted efforts to tackle those concerns. During the event in San Diego late last month, IREM’s top elected leaders offered perspectives on the emerging and perennial challenges facing the real estate management profession.

Michael Lanning, left, IREM's 2017 president, and Christopher Mellen, the organization's 2016 leader.

Michael Lanning, left, IREM’s 2017 president, and Christopher Mellen, the organization’s 2016 leader.

Although most observers believe that the next economic contraction is likely several years away, a possible change in fortunes for the economy are at the top of the list for Christopher Mellen, IREM’s 2016 president and the vice president of Braintree, Mass.-based Simon Cos. Mellen pointed out that property managers’ place on the front lines of the industry is particularly apparent when hard times hit. “I think that we need to be cognizant of that, and prepare ourselves and our properties,” he said. “Real estate managers are in even more demand when the economy starts going down.”

Also at the top of IREM’s list is the influence of the digital world on the property manager’s role. “Real estate managers today have to be adaptable to changes in the workplace and in the properties they manage,” said Michael Lanning, who formally took office as IREM’s 2017 president during the event. Lanning, the senior vice president and market leader for Cushman & Wakefield’s Kansas City, Mo., office, cited the increasing financial responsibilities that property managers are expected to take on.

The veteran executives also cited such perennial issues as educating potential property managers on the the rewards of a real estate profession that is often too little understood. That mission is also tied to IREM’s bid to bring younger professionals into the organization’s volunteer leadership. Next year, its  efforts will range from college campus recruitment to recruiting Millennials for the Certified Public Manager designation and connecting those young professionals with mentors.

IREM’s fall conference itself illustrated the spread of best practices beyond U.S. borders. About one tenth of the 800 professionals in attendance at the conference traveled from outside the U.S. Lanning cited Japan as an example of where membership is growing especially quickly. All told, membership is on track to exceed 20,000 by the end of the year. IREM will revamp its meeting schedule in 2017 to feature four regional events that will be held in New York City, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Costa Mesa, Calif.