The National Real Estate Women’s Forum (“REWF”) is an annual gathering of the commercial real estate industry that brings together women leaders and emerging leaders. The panel of speakers will focus on key business trends, challenges and opportunities and will be composed entirely of women. EisnerAmper was represented at the event by professionals from EA RESIG, LLC (“EA RESIG”), a fund manager that supports real estate private equity funds through all phases of the life cycle. Directors Georgetta Brown and Linh Nguyen joined Vice Presidents Debra Schoenberg and Kassandra Todd to hear from peers and share their experiences as women in real estate.
Brown has participated in panels focused on national real estate and finance, multifamily investment, and housing 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 both from a real estate perspective and in relation to the issues of their specific Impact on women in this sector. “It was inspiring to hear the advances being made in the areas of leadership, equity, diversity and inclusion for women in the industry; work-life balance; Maintenance; and recruitment and promotion,” she said, “while identifying the work that still needs to be done in those areas.”
Two sessions, ‘Office Investment, Development and Leasing’ and ‘Trends in Workplace Design, Strategy and Tenant Experience’, presented different perspectives and benefits of building a new basic development versus owning and managing existing buildings. The speakers outlined how additional amenities, tenant expectations and needs have changed before and after COVID. Nguyen noted, “True to the times, a lot of discussion has revolved around how the pandemic has impacted the way we work and our overall lifestyle. The requirements necessary to create a comfortable and safe environment in which employees feel encouraged to return to the office are evolving.” The impact of changing expectations will continue to shape the office market for years to come.
The Forum’s National Trend Day was of particular interest to attendees as it included topical discussions on deal flow, current challenges in managing positions and investment strategies, and ESG. Schoenberg saw the conference as an opportunity to take a break from number crunching 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 to work with leading real estate companies.”
In addition to sharing the positive aspects of their current projects, the panellists discussed some of the challenges and uncertainties they face or anticipate, including matters such as the upcoming expiration of 421A (NYC property tax exemption), Local Law 97 (carbon emission limits). for large commercial buildings in NYC) and ongoing negotiations for 485-w (the Affordable Neighborhood Tax Incentive for New Yorkers).
It cannot be overstated how much the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the workforce in general and the real estate sector. However, a comeback is in full swing. Todd commented that it was exceptional to hear directly from the people working on the front lines of the changing marketplace. The New York real estate market panels shared a positive outlook. “Speakers were pleased to confirm that New York has made a strong comeback, with more people moving to New York in 2021 than in 2019 and rents hitting an all-time high at this point in 2022.” Additionally, discussions on how the current social, Political and economic conditions that are changing building planning and development, insights into different players in the real estate sector. Attendees were also inspired and encouraged to hear about the strides some companies are making with their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and ESG efforts to address some of the troubling societal issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The REWF brought important discussions to the forefront and addressed myriad evolving issues in the real estate sector and specifically in New York City, seen through the prism of women in the industry. There are many opportunities and challenges ahead, but the talented leaders represented at this conference will have a good handle on both to move forward.