By Sarah Trefethen
There may be no way to know what the future holds for property values, environmental stability, or the global economy, but the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors wants members of the real estate community to come forward with their best guesses.
The 145-year-old organization recently hosted a roundtable discussion for a group of 20 local real estate professionals at the Union League Club in Manhattan.
The event, part of a series the group is hosting across the country, was more reminiscent of an advanced level college seminar than a traditional professional networking event. M. Gordon Brown, a Chicago-based surveyor and academic, led the proceedings, which included a power point presentation and period of small-group discussion.
Real estate is cyclical, but Brown compared the boom-bust pattern that lead to the recent financial crisis to global warming, with market-crashing bubble bursts happening with greater frequency around the world.
RICS’s Foresight Project, of which the panel events are one component, is an attempt to address market instability with “anticipatory prudence,” Brown said.
Sally Gordon, who is in charge of risk analysis at BlackRock, Thomas M. Justin of The Weitzman Group, and Peter Kozel, chief economist at Colliers International, headlined the event.
The discussion ranged from the current state of the New York market to the role of federal and local regulation and the challenges of discouraging an investor eager to put their money to work from taking on a dangerous level of risk.
In small groups, participants were asked to discuss how the real estate community could react in a number of long-term global economic scenarios, including the possibility that globalization will lead to a bright new era of international communication and transparency, and also the possibility of global economic decline.
Ultimately, Brown said, the organization would like the profession to think more about best practices and ethics.
“How we enforce ethics is enormously important, but also learning what ethics are,” he said.
The first roundtable was held in Chicago, and the New York event will be followed by one in L.A.. Comments from all of the panels will be compiled into a single report and presented at the RICS summit in Toronto in May.