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How Property Managers Stay Informed — And Calm — In Unprecedented Times


Quarantine has not been easy on any real estate professionals, but real estate managers are dealing with an especially heavy burden, fielding a barrage of requests and questions, facing a highly competitive market for new residents and tenants and implementing new health protocols.

“It’s really a 24/7 job,” said Cheryl Gray, head of special projects at QuadReal Property Group and the 2020 president of the Institute of Real Estate Management. “They’re working to keep tenants, residents and staff safe and healthy, along with trying to keep their businesses viable. They’re also dealing with the same pressures at home as everyone else when it comes to child care, education and working remotely.”

Gray said that as the only industry association for real estate managers in every asset class, IREM has a responsibility not only to give its members strategies and solutions for tackling the realities of the coronavirus pandemic, but also to make sure real estate managers feel seen, heard and mentally equipped for a job that has never been busier.

To that end, IREM has launched its first-ever Virtual IREM Summit, which will take place on Oct. 15 and 16. While the summit, which will be based around the theme "Inspire," will offer networking opportunities and educational sessions about trends in the world of commercial real estate, the lineup also includes interactive experiences where attendees can simply let go and have fun, as well as keynote speeches on overcoming adversity, reinvention and the power of recovery in leadership.

“It’s been a taxing year on real estate managers, and we know many are starting to feel burned out,” Gray said. “This conference is one way to inspire real estate managers, really help them see that while things are tough, there’s also a lot of opportunity.

Sharing Solutions

Real estate managers need to stay informed on today’s most pressing issues and how to overcome them. The pandemic has made the work of real estate management more difficult: tenants and residents expect more in terms of safety precautions, cleaning and internet service, but responding to communications is more difficult than ever.

To keep attendees up to date, the Virtual IREM Summit will feature sessions on the most pressing building challenges, including smart buildings, leveraging big datathe role of AI in real estate management and how to furnish tenants with digital wellness amenities


“While real estate managers are used to working in a dynamic environment, this year has certainly tested their flexibility, creativity and problem-solving skills,” Gray said. “In the past, leveraging this kind of technology was a ‘nice-to-have’ for tenants and residents, but is going to be more commonplace as we move forward.”

Some of the sessions at IREM's summit are geared toward helping attendees make sense of the current outlook for the real estate market. The event's opening keynote features Spencer Levy, chairman of Americas research for CBRE, on the financial future for each asset class. On the second day, a panel of experts will weigh in on the political world and its implications for real estate

Mental Recovery 

A large part of the mission of Inspire, according to IREM Conference Advisory Board Chair Velda Simpson, is to connect real estate managers at a time when they may feel isolated and overworked.

IREM decided very early in the planning process to host its first-ever virtual conference to make sure that the largest possible number of real estate professionals could attend. Simpson said she anticipates that more IREM members and real estate managers outside of IREM than ever before will be able to be represented at the conference.

“Using a virtual platform lets us stay connected with our members and industry partners despite this pandemic,” Simpson said. “We will still provide the same great education, expert roundtables, discussion and networking opportunities.”

While networking will always lead to an exchange of professional ideas and information, discussions this year will likely also be a time for attendees to share their personal struggles and ensure that they feel heard, Gray said. Several of the keynote sessions will touch on the importance of mental health, including a presentation from Sara Ross on the importance of mental recharging and a closing keynote from author Ben Nemtin on making the impossible possible.

Attendees can also choose from a number of interactive sessions — from Q&As with noted authors to wine tastings to a mixology lesson — where they can simply sit back and unwind. 

“We wanted to create an event that addresses the current environment and the challenges real estate managers are facing while inspiring them to look to the future and what’s possible,” Gray said. “Our theme for the Virtual IREM Summit, Inspire, resonates with me because IREM and our members inspire me every day.”

Inspire 2020, IREM’s Virtual Summit, will take place on Oct. 15 and 16. Read through the agenda and register here for the event.

This feature was produced in collaboration between the Bisnow Branded Content Studio and IREM. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.