To Remain Relevant IREM Must Have International Presence

Pam Monroe (pictured) is the president of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) as well as Community Realty Management Inc.’s senior vice president. She has overseen properties throughout the Southeast, in Texas, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the Virgin Islands. She has managed all types of multifamily housing—including conventional properties, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) housing, senior housing, condominiums and corporate portfolios.In 2003 Monroe was named “CPM of the Year” for IREM’s South Jersey Chapter No. 101. She is currently in Korea, where she is attending IREM’s six-year old chapter. Monroe talks to MHN Online News Editor Anuradha Kher about IREM’s international chapters, why they are important and the lessons learned about property management from other countries.MHN: How many international chapters does IREM have? Monroe: IREM has 10 international chapters—five in Canada and five outside of North America. They are: Poland, Russia, Brazil, Japan and South Korea and they were established in that order. The Poland and Russia chapters were IREM’s first chapters outside the US, formed in 1999 as a result of a program funded by USAID to introduce professional real estate practices to the formerly Communist countries. The South Korea chapter was formed in 2004. The largest and fastest-growing chapter outside of North America is the Korea chapter, which now has 200 members, including 12 real estate managers who received their CPM designation in Seoul this week. Professional third-party property management is still relatively new in Korea, and IREM’s entrance into this market has aligned with the emerging awareness of the profession and the growing importance of management to the investment process.MHN: What’s the most exotic locale?Monroe: “Exotic” can mean different things to different people. To some Red Square in Moscow would be considered the most exotic, while to others the huge city of Sao Paulo in Brazil would capture this title. IREM has chapters in both.In addition to the countries where chapters have formed, IREM also has delivered education in other venues. Most recently, for example, in Johannesburg, South Africa—50 South African real estate practitioners matriculated through the entire CPM program in Johannesburg during the second half of 2008. This program was funded by IRPF (International Real Property Foundation) and a South African governmental agency.In 2008 IREM launched its program in Shanghai, China, through Weston Real Estate Management Institute. This program launch followed a year of preparation—translating course materials, promoting the CPM designation, and explaining the credential to the marketplace. As this program continues into 2009, we anticipate that IREM will add nearly 30 new CPMs from China—and that many more will follow.MHN: Why does IREM believe in having a global presence?Monroe: If you believe that the world is flat, as Thomas Friedman declared in his book by that title, then it follows that an organization that desires to remain relevant must take a global perspective. IREM has adopted this perspective. This is reinforced by the number of real estate companies that are multinational—firms such as CB Richard Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield, Jones Lang LaSalle and NAI Global, among others.IREM’s education activity and membership growth reflect this global vision. In 2004, 15 percent of IREM’s course enrollments came from the international program; in 2008, that percentage climbed to nearly 30 percent. And while only 12 percent of IREM’s current CPM members are international, 32 percent of its new CPMs in 2008 came from outside the U.S. Without doubt, the potential for growth outside the U.S. is greater than within.MHN: How does property management (of multifamily properties) differ from country to country and why? Examples of rental vs. for sale ratio and impact on management?Monroe: One of the most obvious differences between multifamily ownership and management in the U.S. versus many other countries is the preponderance of condominium properties in the rest of the world. In Poland, for example, where IREM has a chapter, nearly 90 percent of the population owns a home. This high rate of home ownership, coupled with greater population density and urbanization, results in a large number of condominium-owned apartments. This is equally true in South America. In Chile, where through a partner organization, IREM has taught property management and condominium management, these are essentially the same thing, as nearly all buildings (including commercial properties) are condominiums. Turning to Asia, there are differences in the scope of responsibilities traditionally associated with property management. For example in Japan, in the past, it was not common practice for managers of multifamily rental properties to handle the marketing and leasing of units. Real estate brokers took care of this function. This is starting to change, and as a result, property managers in Japan are being called on to develop core competencies in multifamily marketing and leasing.However, there are certain core competencies that apply universally—and there are certain business practices can be shared for the betterment of the profession worldwide. This week in Seoul, I visited the office of Yong Nam Kim, CPM, who is president and CEO of Global Property Management Corp. Five years ago Kim earned his CPM and started his management company. Since then, it has grown into one of the larger management companies that specializes in small and medium-size properties and now has 100 properties under management. The bookshelf in his office was filled with IREM textbooks, and he told us that he uses IREM FIRST. MHN: What are the lessons learned from international chapters that can be applied in the U.S.? What role does green play: energy-efficiency, recycling, low VOC paint, etc.?Monroe: It is generally acknowledged that property management is a people business and a relationship business. In Asian markets, relationships are of utmost importance, and consequently business practices reinforce the establishment and maintenance of sound business relationships with clients. In visiting properties and discussing management practices with colleagues around the world, IREM has been introduced to new technologies in building operations and innovative ways to attract and service multifamily residents. In this regard, there is little doubt that the green movement and a concern for managing energy costs were much quicker to take hold in many other countries before the U.S. At the same time, similar to the US, much of the focus of the green movement elsewhere has been more on commercial properties than multifamily properties. MHN: What are IREM’s “can’t miss” international conferences and why?Monroe: IREM participates in several international real estate expositions. One of them is MIPIM, which takes place each March in Cannes, France. Another is ExpoReal in Munich in October, which brings together real estate investors and dealmakers from throughout the world, and predominantly Western Europe. IREM also has participated in ProEstate in St. Petersburg, Russia, a relative newcomer on the international real estate exposition landscape.IREM also participates in conferences through partner organizations. In May, for example, IREM will participate in the annual general meeting of the Real Estate Institute of Canada, which this year will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia. And in June, IREM leaders will travel to Moscow to participate in the Annual Congress of the Russian Guild of Realtors.The National Association of Realtors annual convention also has emerged as an international convention, when more than 1,000 attendees are international delegates from around the world. As an affiliate of NAR, IREM utilizes the NAR convention as a forum to connect with the global marketplace.