Last week, Global Policy Advisor Sharon Gorrell and Vice-Chair of the Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council, Vicky Sampah joined Janet Branton, senior vice president of Global and Commercial Services for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and Judith Hermanson of IHC Global, a non-profit housing coalition started in part by the NAR, for a three-day session put on by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
It is called the Chicago Forum on Global Cities. Each year, the forum brings together global leaders in business, education, civics and the arts for an integrated, cross-sector dialogue on the power and limitations of global cities to shape the world’s future.
This session drew public sector and private industry professionals, along with academics and non-profit groups to come together and learn from leaders and experts from different countries on a variety of subjects affecting cities. Topics such as urban planning, housing supply, data/technology, immigration and migration, diversity, energy and sustainability and a plethora of other topics affecting urban areas and world-class cities throughout the globe were all addressed.
Sampah stated, “It is important for us REALTORS® to understand the global trends since some of these issues cross over and affect our markets and what our urban areas may be contemplating in the future.”
As an example, the concept of “walkability” came up at a session on Livable Cities. The mayor of Melbourne, Australia, Robert Doyle was sharing that streetscapes need to look good in order to draw people to them rather than use their car. He stated at the session, “Cities can’t just be walkable, they have to be enjoyable to walk through.” This falls into the experience economy trend that effects everything we do from drinking coffee to buying groceries.
Chicago’s own Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave the opening comments and stressed the importance of local communities taking part in global conversations. The session ended with Chicago Council on Global Affairs President Ivo Daalder stating that cities need to start getting more involved in higher level policy discussions since nation-states make policy decisions that local communities have to implement and in many cases, pay for.
Forums like these are great opportunities to network with global decision makers and industry colleagues. They also are a great place to collect and build resources that help the members of the Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council be better partners in global real estate transactions and trusted advisors for their international clients in both the commercial and residential sectors.
Depending on your generation, you may have a different idea of where the trend towards community style living concepts comes from. Many baby boomers remember growing up with Grandma in the upstairs apartment or multiple generations living and working the family farm. Millennials and Gen-Xers may look to their college days of dorms, frats and sororities. Co-living is also familiar for those in need, either financially or due to a disability. No matter where you may have experienced this type of lifestyle, it is now coming back in a new and chic way.
While sharing an apartment certainly isn’t anything new, having it developed specifically to accommodate this lifestyle is. REALTOR® Aaron Galvin, Managing Broker and Owner of Luxury Living Chicago Realty, and Noah Gottlieb, Principal of Property Markets Group, are part of the next wave of co-living. Gottlieb is the developer of “L – Logan Square” where Galvin is the leasing agent. This building offers a community lifestyle in addition to an affordable entryway into higher cost areas of the city. The building offers amenities customarily found in luxury style buildings. However, if you are willing to rent a bedroom in a three-unit apartment with others, then this concept is for you. The building is also considered a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) so it has 60 parking spaces for 120 units in its garage but it has a home for bicycles and you can walk to the “L”. On your way, you can grab a coffee or cereal from the lobby area that is also part of the package.
The co-living concept of this building includes socially programmed amenities like an open-air deck area that actually includes a refurbished “L” car where you can hang out with friends and neighbors. Galvin and Gottlieb both say this is a not just an apartment, it is a lifestyle experience. The popularity of this concept is evident in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Oakland and cities where they already have several similar concepts from converted single family homes to multi-family options. Property Markets Group is also in the process of developing over 3,500 units in Denver, New York, and Miami. The next Chicago project for Galvin and Gottlieb will be located in University Village and target graduate students and young professionals associated with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) and the Illinois Medical District. Eventually they plan to implement nationally a “membership” wherein you always have a place to workout or hang out when in other cities across the country that have a building under their corporate umbrella.
The sharing economy includes real estate, says Galvin, and they wanted to come up with a creative solution to address the demand of today’s consumers. While millennials would be attracted to the concept, it would work for anyone willing to be part of a “shared cultural and living experience at a tremendous value.” Most luxury style buildings near transportation are out of reach for many, Gottlieb says, so “the relative affordability for the amenities offered simply can’t be matched in the marketplace.”
This concept is also gaining popularity globally as well. Cities like Paris, London, Tokyo, Bali, and Berlin all have co-living buildings under development. The cachet overseas is motivating foreign investors to find demand opportunities in Chicago as well. REALTOR® Bill Caton, CIPS, Principal of Caton Commercial Real Estate Group, recently returned from the MIPIM Real Estate Conference in Cannes, France where he met Evan Kasper, Co-founder and Managing Director of Berlin based Medici Living Group (MLG), the largest co-living provider in Europe. Kasper is leading MLG’s expansion of its upscale brand, Quarters, into the United States. MLG works with developers to implement their model in existing, in process, or planning stage multifamily buildings. Kasper says there is a mismatch between the supply of luxury housing products and the demand of young professionals. Caton along with son and business partner REALTOR® Steve Caton and Senior Broker, REALTOR® Andy Velkme, CIPS, who are all representing MLG agree with Kasper’s assessment.
Young professionals are more adventurous and “experience-focused” than ever before, says Velkme, and they are looking for ways to simplify and expedite the burdensome facets of life. Moving to a world-class city, finding a nice place to live, buying furniture and meeting new friends takes time, energy and money. The Quarters concept uses technology and market expertise to solve the dilemma by satisfying all those needs quickly. MLG also appreciates the benefit of the membership model in leasing.
“This concept is not just about sharing expenses with roommates, and simplifying the rental process,” says Steve Caton, “it is a revolutionary transformation for the traditionally ridged asset class of real estate. Residents are looked at more like members, and they have access to move around the world in three clicks online, creating more mobility for a younger workforce.”
The co-working area is another amenity included with some developments. The concept has been popular with the start-up community that often shares ideas as well as living spaces. While this seems more of a trend for millennials, the senior community has been enjoying a similar lifestyle model for a while. Earlier concepts such as Del Webb® or The Villages® in Florida offer “community” as part of their appeal. While these offer separate single family homes, shared home concepts and apartments are gaining popularity in order for seniors to be able to age-in-place. As communities update their comprehensive land-use plans and zoning ordinances, the Illinois REALTORS® has put together a senior housing toolkit for municipalities to help find solutions to satisfy these growing demands.
It seems that there isn’t one factor that has created this resurgence and nuance to some of our former lifestyles. Minimalism is gaining popularity and land is scarce in many urban areas, so the desire for community and affordability of amenities consumers couldn’t otherwise enjoy are all factors that seem to be feeding into the growing demand.
Illinois REALTORS® commercial members are busy in Washington, DC at the NAR Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo alongside their residential colleagues.
Illinois REALTOR® Global Business Council Chair Alex Ruggieri, CCIM led the NAR Commercial Real Estate Forum where items such as the MIPIM conference in Cannes, France next March and the Swanepoel Commercial Alert Report were presented. CAR member and NAR Commercial Liaison Deena Zimmerman shared her thoughts on an emerging commercial real estate trend called “experiential retail” where shopping now has become more than just a transaction, it is an experience.
NICAR leaders Mark Goodwin and Christopher Schramko attended the forum and then headed to Capitol Hill to meet with U.S. Reps. Randy Hultgren and Mike Quigley. Their expertise on 1031 exchanges, depreciation and infrastructure was an added value to the conversation.
Illinois REALTORS® Treasurer Dan Wagner also was on hand at the meeting with Senator Dick Durbin to explain the 1031 exchange and its importance to real estate and the U.S. economy.
Illinois REALTORS® Vicky Silvano and Nancy Suvarnamani are asking legislators on Capitol Hill to support the rights of property owners and real estate professionals this week on behalf of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA).
They are in Washington, D.C., during the NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings & Expo.
While NAR is working hard on the home mortgage interest deduction, the 1031 exchange, flood insurance and government sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform issues, AREAA is on the Hill discussing student loan impacts on mortgage lending, language barriers, reform for the uniform loan application and credit scoring. Together, these two organizations are carrying the message that homeownership and access to capital and cultural barriers to homeownership are both important issues that members of Congress need to be aware of as they make decisions on matters of policy.
U.S. Rep. Judy Chu of California’s 27th District was a speaker at the AREAA Policy Town Hall and stated that “the real estate industry is so important and a favorite for her to meet with since they are most in tune with their communities.” Chu will see the first-hand impact of the collective efforts of both groups.
In some cases, Suvarnamani and Silvano are facilitating conversations that need to take place on these important issues. Suvarnamani, the NAR Federal Political Coordinator to U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, is visiting the senator to discuss the AREAA issues and then participating in the Illinois REALTORS® town hall meeting for Duckworth and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.