New white paper about diversity available for download

Diane Danielson Writes that Inclusion and Diversity will give CRE a Competitive Edge

To better understand and deal with the serious demographic challenges facing the commercial real estate industry, including an aging workforce, SVN’s COO Diane K. Danielson has written a white paper about the need for diversity and inclusion in the industry.

Numerous studies have shown that a diverse workforce provides many benefits, including improved problem-solving and better financial performance. Yet, as an industry, commercial real estate has lagged in attracting women and minorities to its ranks. Ms. Danielson’s paper delineates why diversity when coupled with inclusionary efforts offers so many competitive advantages, and provides specific ideas on how to achieve it.

“The world is changing, and commercial real estate needs to keep up if it is to remain competitive and viable. Diversity is not a ‘check the box’ human resources assignment. Companies need to take concrete steps to make their workplaces more inclusive and open to a diverse workforce.”

Diane Danielson

Diane K. Danielson, who has been COO at SVN since 2012, has spent the majority of her twenty-five year career as an advocate for women. This past April, CREW Boston recognized Ms. Danielson for her work in promoting women in the industry with its 2019 Leadership Award.


Read the press release about the white paper here.

Download “It’s Time for the Commercial Real Estate Industry to Focus on Diversity and Inclusion”  today!


5 for Friday with Diane Danielson, COO of SVN

SVN’s COO Diane Danielson, featured on this month’s Five for Friday, received the 2019 Leadership Award from CREW Boston this past Wednesday, April 24.  Diane has been COO at SVN since 2012, and leads the company’s and the industry’s efforts to be more inclusive and diverse.

Diane and her son at the 2018 World Cup in Russia

What advice would you provide to an aspiring advisor who is new to the industry?

My best advice is to “systematize,” that is, create a system that is sustainable and consistently moves you to achieving your goals. It should include structures and routines that help you achieve the fundamentals of CRE (underwriting, building a database, making calls, etc.). A long term plan would include accessing training  and coaching opportunities, and also looking into CCIM and other opportunities for accreditation.


What does the SVN Difference mean to you?

The SVN Difference is grounded in the belief that collaboration creates value for clients, colleagues and communities. The SVN Difference thrives in an environment of transparency and abundance and it’s how our SVN Advisors win business and create happy and healthy client relationships.

What learning tools (book, blog, website, etc.) would you recommend to your colleagues to further their knowledge and enhance their careers?

This year, I’m recommending The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win by Jeff Haden. Basically it’s a primer for systematization, which is the secret sauce to becoming a high achiever.

Why did you join SVN?

I had left commercial real estate for a few years, and was hesitant to come back. But the SVN® brand – the platform, the people and the philosophy — aligned with my personal values. First, SVN leverages both technology and the franchise model to empower local leadership – and in CRE, being local matters as much as being globally connected SVN balances the two for even the smallest markets. Second, the people at SVN are predisposed to collaborate to benefit our clients — at our headquarters and in our local offices. This is surprisingly unique in the CRE industry. Finally, the most compelling factor was, and still remains, the SVN brand’s dedication to inclusion and diversity. SVN is a forward-thinking firm and walks the walk when it comes to advocating for inclusion as a competitive advantage.

(Editor’s note: Diane has written a white paper on the importance of diversity and inclusion that will be published shortly.)

List a fun fact to share about yourself – something that people may not know and that they may be surprised to find out.

While I may soon have to retire my cleats for good, I’ve been playing competitive soccer for most of the past 40+ years. As an early beneficiary of Title IX (passed in 1971) I can claim that I wore #9 on the soccer field before Mia Hamm was even born. Due to a bad soccer injury in my teens, I ended temporarily switching sports and played tennis in college at Colgate University, but returned to the soccer field in my 20s and been playing ever since. The highlight of my last year was taking my son and father to a World Cup game in St. Petersburg, Russia! And, I will be rooting for our US women’s team in the World Cup this summer! Go #USWNT!

SVN advocates for diversity and inclusion, and offers career opportunities to women and men of different backgrounds.

News release: Diane Danielson to Receive Prestigious Leadership Award

Boston, MA (February 20, 2019) –SVN International Corp. (SVNIC) is honored to announce that its Chief Operating Officer Diane Danielson, has been selected to receive the 2019 Leadership Award from CREW Boston for her work in diversity and inclusion. The award recognizes Ms. Danielson’s accomplishments over the past 25 years and her contributions to CREW Boston and the commercial real estate industry as a whole. It is one of six achievement awards bestowed by the professional organization, and will be presented on April 24, 2019 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston.

Founded in 1982, and representing more than 500 members, CREW Boston is the New England chapter of CREW Network, the leading professional organization promoting the advancement of women within the commercial real estate industry. Through its annual achievement awards ceremony, the organization celebrates and recognizes the most successful women in the Boston area commercial real estate world. In addition to the Leadership Award, there are five other awards, including the Professional Service Award, the Suzanne King Public Service Award, Entrepreneur of the Year, the Esprit de Coeur Award, and the Networking Award.

Diane Danielson, COO

Diane Danielson has been the SVN® brand’s chief operating officer since joining the company in 2012. She joined SVN because their franchise platform and open collaboration empowers all Advisors, and the leadership team is dedicated to becoming the most inclusive in the industry.  Prior to joining SVNIC, Danielson worked in various capacities in commercial real estate in the Boston market. She was also the founder of the Downtown Women’s Club, a women’s business organization, which at its height had over 30 chapters in 3 countries and served as a platform to launch the first social network for businesswomen in 2007.

“I am pleased and honored to be recognized by CREW Boston, especially as it’s one of the oldest chapters of the premiere organization promoting women’s professional development within commercial real estate.” said Diane Danielson. “The commercial real estate industry remains one of the least diverse industries in the United States. Organizations like CREW Network and companies like SVN International Corp. are committed to making the industry more inclusive of women and people of color. That’s why I’m proud to be a member of both and greatly appreciate the recognition.”

This news release was published today on Globewire, and can be read online here.

CRE is at a Crossroads by Diane K. Danielson, COO, SVN International Corp.

The commercial real estate industry enters 2017 at a crossroads. Baby boomer retirement will continue and may even accelerate due to economic headwinds, potential slowdowns in infrastructure projects, and the continued influx of new technologies and CRE challenges. As a result, our industry is facing a brain drain at the same time competing industries are embroiled in a war for talent. Yet, with every challenge comes opportunity.

In 2017, the CRE industry can rise to the challenge by becoming more proactive and inclusive of untraditional CRE professionals. Whether they are millennials, women or minorities, these professionals can bring with them a variety of background experiences, new and different job skills, expanded networks of influence, and a diverse array of leadership styles. Why is this important in 2017?

1. Major infrastructure improvements take long-term planning and patience.

As a nation, we need to focus on our infrastructure; but large-scale infrastructure projects take years to plan and complete. That process can last longer than any single economic cycle or government administration, and we need CRE professionals prepared to plan for them and see them through to completion.

Aerial view of fifth avenue2. Urbanization is happening across the country.

Our cities are experiencing unprecedented population growth. To handle this increase we are seeing a rise in place making, mixed-use, and urban infill developments that promote walkability and a live-work-play dynamic. The challenge is to resolve longstanding affordable housing and transportation issues. While we are also seeing a spillover urbanization effect in key suburbs, it’s this new group of urban professionals who are influencing the demographics and ultimately the design of our cities.

3. Smart buildings are evolving into smart cities.

This is the opportunity evolving out of the first two trends. Smart cities use digital technology to improve and sustain community life. Generally, smart city projects are very large, long-term investments that can help drive social change in an urban environment. This happens through the combination and the communication of data across the Internet of Things to improve efficiencies across power grids, transportation, and health and safety. The development and adaptation of buildings to support smart cities is going to be a key component of the CRE industry for years to come.

4. Climate change is already affecting CRE.

There is not a coastal municipality or Fortune 500 company that does not have a division focused on sustainability and the effects of climate change. This is especially a concern in cities like Boston where global headquarters are relocating into urban areas already marked as flood zones. Smart cities will need to incorporate innovative infrastructure design and the means to mitigate the effects of climate change. Existing buildings will have to be adapted not only to smart technology but to sustainability.

The combination of these four trends indicates the evolution of commercial real estate as an industry. CRE professionals today and in the future will draw upon a mix of STEM and social skills in order to best serve our clients and our communities. Our industry has a unique ability to impact the growth and development of our environments. As CRE professionals, we are the de facto stewards of our communities. As they change, we must change along with them.

Diane Danielson’s latest article, CRE is at a Crossroads, is featured in the special “2017 Outlook” section of the January 2017 digital edition of National Real Estate Investor®(NREI).

Recruiting Millennials: An Interview with a Talent Acquisition Manager

Tips for Recruiting Millennials

Patrick Church - Recruiting Millennials
Patrick Church – Corsica Partners

Recently our Chief Operating Officer, Diane K. Danielson, sat down with Patrick Church, Talent Acquisition Manager for Corsica Partners to talk about recruiting Millennials and attracting them to a suburban location. Patrick works mainly with a company located in Waltham, MA called Care.com. Care.com has about 750 employees total with 250 employees at their headquarters and provides child, adult and senior, pet and home care for over 19 million members.

DKD: Care.com is HQ’d in a suburb outside of Boston, is it hard to attract Millennials to the location?

PC: It’s not hard due to the quantity of people in the immediate area and the fact that there are a number of colleges nearby. While it’s difficult to get people from the city to come out, we’ve had success recruiting local college graduates, as they know the area and may still have friends there.

DKD: What workplace benefits do Millennials ask for that older generations don’t?

PC: First, they want to know about the company culture and growth opportunities. Then they want to know about team structure. Work-life flexibility may also come up. Even though most of the jobs at Care.com are traditional 9 to 5 jobs, people want to know there’s some wiggle room when life gets in the way.

DKD: I completely agree. I’m much more efficient when I’m not stuck in traffic. We’ve heard all the stereotypes, what do you look for to find the Millennial who can succeed in business?

PC: I look for curiosity and their ability to communicate what they’ve done and want to do. So many great people aren’t able to fully convey that in a resume, which is why referrals work. Depending on the position, we might also look for a consistent trend or theme of interests. If it’s not consistent, I want to know the story behind the changes. I especially like candidates who have taken an interest in something and gone above and beyond to pursue it. Internships help. We give a lot of credit to someone who can explain the benefit in a job, even if it was mundane. The bottom line is that you want to hire the person who has the ability to communicate something of value.

DKD: That final point is especially true in commercial real estate! Do you see differences between the different generations in the workplace?

PC: Young people today don’t want to just put their head down to work for 40 years and collect a pension. They don’t value the mailroom to office career path. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to work hard. It means that they want a different experience. Today’s firms can offer that. It boils down to a different work style, not a different work ethic. They will still work hard, especially for something they believe in. It’s just a different expectation of how their career path will flow. Part of that expectation does include flexibility. Millennials are willing to sacrifice a little in the paycheck to do something they like or have that balance. For them, it’s about compromise and flexibility.

DKD: How prepared are college graduates for the marketplace?

PC: Not very. Our colleges are not preparing graduates for the types of jobs that are needed in an innovation economy. College students are coming out of school with 90s and 2000s era business and marketing practices. They’re missing what’s really going on in the culture and environment today. This is a gap in the structure. They are also not learning the interpersonal interactions. The better applicants are those who have the intangibles. They can see a deadline and work well with others. It’s crucial that they learn how to deal with people.

DKD: Sounds to me that internships and customer service jobs are becoming more meaningful!


Thank you to Patrick Church for a recruiter’s viewpoint. It sounds like he is seeing first hand a lot of what we’ve been researching and reading about the younger generations. In the commercial real estate industry, we need to look for:

  • Curiosity and the ability to communicate that curiosity and/or something of value.
  • Current insights and people skills that are not being taught in school (they will likely have had to pick this up during an internship).

Our companies are also going to also have to be able to lay out a clear career path and test out flexibility (not just for Millennials but for others, too). And, the bonus real estate tip: if you want to lease a suburban office campus and attract young people, make sure it’s in an area near colleges.

For more information about commercial real estate job opportunities, check out the SVN Careers page here.

[bctt tweet=”The bottom line is that you want to hire the person who has the ability to communicate something of value.” username=”svnic”]

Business Trends: Millennials Rejecting the Default

Millennials Are Rejecting the Default

… and It’s a Very Good Thing

We all know that Millennials are challenging our traditional work environments. But the big question is “why?” Why are Millennials challenging the system rather than assimilating like earlier generations? I struggled with finding an explanation other than demographics until I read a sentence written by professor Adam Grant in his recent book: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

“The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better operation exists.” – Adam Grant.

Millennials are rejecting the default and it’s disconcerting, but necessary and in my view, a very good thing. When it comes to the work environment, Generation X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation don’t just represent the default … we are the default. This might be why so many of us take this personally. Why are Millennials so eager and able to reject a default that has been in place for generations?

Two reasons: technology and societal shift.

Technology. Millennials are digital natives. They grew up with technology and view everything through a technological filter. They look at our daily lives and think “there’s got to be an app for that.” It’s ingrained in them to use technology to question, dismantle, and reconfigure processes. They are rejecting the default option in search of a better way.

Societal shift. Generation X and Baby Boomers actually know people who worked 40 hours a week for 40 years at the same company, earned that gold watch and retired at 65 to play golf in Florida. We also know of people who had pensions; who were protected by unions; and for whom a single breadwinner could support a family even while working for a minimum wage. This is the default.

But, Millennials are not part of that default. Retire at 65? Not if they are still paying off their college loans. Pensions, funded 401ks, or a home with equity for retirement? Not likely. Even if we set aside monetary limitations, people are living longer. Retiring at 65 is no longer that appealing or feasible for most. The default no longer works, and this is why Millennials are forcing us to re-examine everything about our work culture.

One example of this came out of our recent SVN Millennials Career report (How Commercial Real Estate Firms can Attract and Retain Millennials) around the topic of flexibility in the workplace. According to our survey, flexibility of hours and location for work was a top five “must have” for Millennials and in fact, more men than women cited it as an important factor when choosing companies. This is quite a switch from 5-10 years ago when flexibility was a “woman” or “parent” issue. To even mention the word back then would set you on the Mommy track.

But, what is driving this new quest for flexibility? Part of it goes back to the technology filters. If technology allows us to work wherever and whenever we want, why can’t we? If culturally no one is racing to retirement and the other default rewards don’t exist, why do we have to stick to a 9-5, 5 days per week schedule? Flexibility does not mean Millennials want to work less. In fact, most want to work more, but they also want to work smarter… and to avoid rush hour. When the default is sitting an extra 30 to 60 minutes in traffic, when you don’t actually have to… why do we?

It’s not about a different work ethic. It’s about a different work style.

That’s an important distinction to make; especially because that different work style benefits more than just Millennials. Opening up the flexibility conversation beyond women and parents is a benefit to all employees, whether it’s the single employee who doesn’t have anyone to help them drop off a car for repairs or wait for a furniture delivery; the Gen X’er dealing with aging parents; or the Baby Boomer who wants to take a brief career pause or sabbatical.

If you look around, the default no longer works for the majority of us, and this is why the Millennials’ rejection of the default is a very good thing.

Please visit our SVNICorp YouTube page to see my recent keynote to learn more about the how Millennials are challenging and changing how and where we live and work.

[bctt tweet=”If technology allows us to work wherever and whenever we want, why can’t we?”]

SVN Annual Conference 2016: Highlights From San Diego

My Top 4 Moments from the SVN Annual Conference

The 2016 SVN Annual Conference was easily the best reason to miss class. As a college student and the youngest member of the SVNIC team, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to San Diego, California for a three-day commercial real estate extravaganza: #SVN2016. The SVN Annual Conference, held in the Westin San Diego, proved to be the highlight of my entire year working at Sperry Van Ness International Corporation (so far). As you can probably tell, it was difficult for me to narrow down what I thought were the best parts of the event. While I’m sure everyone had a different set of high points, here are mine:

1. Kevin Maggiacomo’s Opening Address

Kevin Maggiacomo
Kevin Maggiacomo, SVNIC CEO & President.

SVNIC CEO & President Kevin Maggiacomo kicked off the conference talking about transparency, shared values and supporting women. As it always has, the commercial real estate industry currently lacks diversity, particularly in terms of including and promoting the interests of women – SVN aims to change this. As quoted in the Globe St. article about him, Maggiacomo says: “Having more successful women on our teams will make all of us more successful and generate exponential value and more profits.” Personally, as a college student interested in business, I was particularly interested in how hiring gender-inclusive talent as well as transparency across the organization (i.e., openly sharing fees with the entire brokerage community) can result in higher profits. As I better understood from Kevin’s opening speech, implementing a shared value strategy enables Advisors to have even more “meaningful conversations.” Kevin wants Advisors to strive to have five “real” conversations per day… every day. This is something that even us interns can try.

2. Advisor Headshot Session

SVN Annual Conference 2016 Poolside Roof Deck
The background: San Diego buildings and sunshine.

The 400+ SVN Advisors and staff from across the U.S., Canada, and Russia probably didn’t expect to have a professional photographer waiting for them at the hotel poolside – on the first full day of the conference. With the help of two extremely resourceful SVNIC assistants (yes, I was one of them), the photographer shot hundreds of new professional headshots for over 150 SVN Advisors and staff within that one day. Not only did dozens of SVN Advisors receive complimentary up-to-date professional headshots to help market themselves and their businesses – it was also an unexpected networking event. I met so many members of the SVN organization while helping them get ready for their photoshoots, and I’m happy to say I have 150 new friends.

3. Diane Danielson’s Business Trends Talk

Diane Talk – Annual Conference 2016
Diane updates the full house of SVN Advisors.

Yes, Diane Danielson is my boss, so at the risk of sounding biased, I’ll say it anyway: she nailed it. Her talk, which focused largely on Millennials (me!) was spot-on. We want flexibility in work hours and location, a clear path for advancement, a conscious capitalist mission, but we still want to work hard. It seems like Millennials are often accused of being lazy, self-absorbed, and all around not the sort of people cut out for the corporate environment that their Silent Generation, Baby Boomer, and older Generation X parents worked hard to cultivate. In her talk, Diane shattered this stereotype about my generation by emphasizing our desire for efficiency. While the business trends discussed spanned more than just Millennial issues, this part of Diane’s speech resonated most with me because as a Millennial, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Click here to see a video of the full talk.

4. Specialty Awards

Everyone likes winning awards. If you don’t, I kind of think you’re lying. What makes the SVN Specialty Awards so wonderful is that they recognize more than just good Commercial Real Estate Advisors – they recognize good people. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate. Yes, numbers don’t lie. But neither do the people – all members of the SVN organization were invited to nominate individuals for the SVN Specialty Awards. This year’s winners are a group of SVN Advisors and Managing Directors who motivate and inspire me and countless others to strive for excellence in every sense of the word. In case you were curious, here are the winners:

There you have it – my top highlights from the 2016 SVN Annual Conference. I’m sorry, professors – the experience I gained from my three days outside of class was worth its weight in California gold.

For other SVN Annual Conference news, check out the SVN Blog for additional content.

[bctt tweet=”I’m sorry, professors – the experience I gained from my three days outside of class was worth it. #SVN2016 #CRE”]


The SVN Gen Y CRE Report on Attracting Millennial Talent

The Survey Results Are In – Millennial CRE Is Our Future

In the Fall of 2015, Sperry Van Ness International Corp. (SVNIC) surveyed over 325 Millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) in the United States, Canada and South America about careers, specifically asking about commission-based jobs and what they are looking for in future employers. With the oldest members of Generation Y moving into the upper echelons of their respective fields, a discussion about Millennial real estate careers is as timely as ever.

Why You Should Care About Millennials in CRE

The commercial real estate (CRE) industry has been around since small-time businesses first opened their doors; and it will continue to be around as long as there is commerce. Yet, the industry, which was hit hard during the last recession, has an aging employee base. For a full five-year period (2008-2013), commercial real estate was not a lucrative career option for many licensed brokers, and especially not attractive to younger professionals. This means that the CRE industry needs to work harder to attract and cultivate the top talent of tomorrow, or risk an industry brain drain.

The Millennial Commercial Real Estate Career Study conducted by SVNIC (“The SVN® Study”) attempts to answer how an industry led by a majority of white males, many of whom began their careers before the Internet was open to commerce, can attract diverse young men and women. In commercial real estate offices run by Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, the Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are often operating under a completely different paradigm. It’s not just about the technology, but how their access to the world through that technology has changed expectations of what is desirable in a work environment. Millennials are still as ambitious as any generation that came before, but to capture the attention of the best and the brightest, commercial real estate companies need to make a few changes.

Interested? There’s More…

SVNIC COO Diane Danielson summarized the survey findings in this brand new report. Download the entire Millennial CRE Report E-book here.

[bctt tweet=”The CRE industry needs to work harder to attract top talent or risk an industry brain drain.”]

Project REAP Promotes Diversity in the CRE Industry

Diane Danielson REAP advertisement
@DianeDanielson appears in Project REAP ad. Photo courtesy of @ReidBennettCCIM

Project REAP (Real Estate Associates Program) provides underrepresented minorities with access to the commercial real estate industry through classes and connections to sponsor firms and supporters. Each year, several of our SVN® Advisors and Experts participate as instructors and even recruit Project REAP talent. When Project REAP President and Executive Director, Gregg McCort asked if I could say a few words about why we support the program for an ad campaign, it was simple. Diversity is good business.

“The Sperry Van Ness (SVN) organization has always taken an innovative approach to separate itself in the brokerage business. As COO, I knew that repeating past hiring practices would not serve us in the future where our clients would demand greater multicultural representation. Sperry Van Ness International Corp. (SVNIC) supports REAP because it gives us access to diverse talent that more fully represents our prospective clients. More than promoting diversity and inclusion, REAP introduces our brand to accomplished professionals who can solve problems, create opportunities and open new doors. Investigate the benefits REAP can bring to your company. Because great talent leads to greater success.”

Diane Danielson, COO, Sperry Van Ness International Corp.

[bctt tweet=”SVN supports REAP because it gives us access to diverse talent that more fully represents prospective clients. @dianedanielson of @SVNIC #CRE” via=”no”]

I caught up with Gregg earlier this week for a brief interview. As a longtime supporter of Project REAP, the SVN organization stands to benefit from learning more about the initiative.

Gregg Mccort Project REAP
Gregg McCort, President and Executive Director of REAP.

1. What is Project REAP?  

REAP is a talent delivery system that links accomplished professionals who just happen to be minorities to the commercial real estate industry.

2. Why do you feel the Commercial Real Estate Industry needs programs like Project REAP?

Same as any other industry—the necessity to tap into talent resources that are outside the normal conduits of procurement. A broadening of the search yielding more productive results.

  3. Has the program attained the desired results?  

Very qualified success. For students and companies willing to dig deeper, to make the connection, to truly explore the possibilities of a CRE careers, yes. In terms of creating a significant change in the workforce profile of CRE, no. That is a longer term effort that will eventually require a sea of change in  thinking within the industry.

4. When and where are your 2016 programs taking place?  

New York and Atlanta in the spring; Dallas-Ft. Worth, Washington and Chicago in the fall.

5. SVN has been a corporate partner with Project REAP, but what can SVN Advisors and other members of the commercial real estate community do to support Project REAP?  

Promotion—of both the entity and the cause.  Increased awareness through the efforts of our supporters/sponsors can go a long way in helping REAP gain more traction and accomplish greater things.

Click here to learn more about REAP on their website.

The New Generation of Conscious Capitalism in CRE

Diane Danielson on Conscious Capitalism & Real Estate

Towards the end of 2015 Diane Danielson, COO of SVNIC, co-led a live interactive talk for NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association to fill in for SVNIC’s CEO, Kevin Maggiacomo while he was on paternity leave. For this event, called “CEO Insight: Conscious Capitalism in Commercial Real Estate,” Danielson teamed up with Joy Hou, Co-Founder and CEO of MREN to conduct a structured open discussion about what motivates individuals, particularly Millennials, to jump into the commercial real estate industry.

Diane Danielson, SVNIC COO on Conscious Capitalism
Follow Diane Danielson on Twitter at @DianeDanielson.

First off, what isconscious capitalism” anyway? Conscious capitalism is the basis of your bottom line, as opposed to CSR — “Corporate Social Responsibility,” which is more of a program. What differentiates conscious capitalism is the “3 P’s:” planet, people, and profit. At SVN, this translates to a specific focus on diversity of all types: ethnic, gender, generational, and so on. From a business standpoint, this approach opens us up to new markets and to new employees who can offer fresh and valuable skills and opinions.

As Danielson and Hou pointed out, members of Generation Y (“Millennials”) have come to expect companies to practice conscious capitalism. In SVN’s Millennials Commercial Real Estate Survey, (results to be released later this month) 75% of the Millennial men and women who responded indicated that conscious capitalism is an important factor when considering where to work. Luckily, this value that Millennials place on conscious capitalism has the potential to work as an advantage for the commercial real estate industry. Danielson explains: “Real estate is uniquely positioned to work with communities,” especially those in need. Projects like eco-friendly “green” buildings can solve a lot of problems within communities. The conscious capitalist approach is about “people first” — building not just for profit, but to better the lives of the people in the community. Emphasizing this side of commercial real estate could be one solution to the “brain gap” problem: with senior leaders in the field approaching retirement, the commercial real estate industry will likely face an employment crisis, Danielson explained. “Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to capture these Millennials, to capture diversity.”

Conscious Capitalism in the Millennial Workplace

Conscious capitalism is just one of the many workplace preferences that will become increasingly important as the oldest Millennials, who are now 35, move into leadership roles. According to Danielson and Hou, in the next 10 years, Millennials will be in control of the money, and as the SVN Millennials CRE Survey preliminary results indicate, the vast majority of them consider “purpose” when making investment decisions. Clearly, there’s a social element at play. Our SVN CRE Survey further revealed that the traits Millennials value most highly in an employer are collaboration and flexibility in work location and hours. Younger adults don’t necessarily want to just work from home, but it’s not always convenient to go into the office. They want flexibility, which today’s technology can easily facilitate, even in the CRE industry.

With the increasing demand for highly skilled workers in the notoriously lucrative technology industry, what can our industry do to compete for the “brains” to fill the looming talent “gap”? As Hou emphasized, when looking for new Millennial hires, employers should try to convince them that what they do has purpose. This means taking away that corporate mentality of “I say, you do,” which most Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are accustomed to. Instead, the Millennial mentality is about “How do we work together?” In the dawn of the Age of Millennials, collaboration is key, and as Danielson said,”when you change your mindset, you see opportunities.”

Listen to the full audio recording of “CEO Insight: Conscious Capitalism in Commercial Real Estate” here.

To learn more about real-life examples of companies that practice conscious capitalism, check out the book Firms of Endearment here.

[bctt tweet=””When you change your mindset, you see opportunities.””]

8 Problem-Solving Tips for Leaders from The Martian

Leaders on Earth and Mars: To Infinity and Beyond?

If you have read the book The Martian by Andy Weir or seen the Matt Damon movie version, you can’t help but wonder, “Would I be able to survive alone on Mars?” Fortunately most of us won’t be stranded on a planet forced to solve problems that have life or death consequences. But, as leaders, we face a number of seemingly insurmountable problems that need solving on a daily basis. Here are eight tips that can help us all become better problem-solvers – and leaders – at work.

1. Reframe the problem

The bigger the problem; the greater the anxiety. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when juggling many problems at the same time. The first step is to stop thinking about them as problems. Instead, reframe them as challenges. This entails more than simply substituting the word, but seeking out the challenges within your problem. (Warning: SPOILER ALERT ahead).

In The Martian, Mark Watney, the main character, was traveling in a solar-powered vehicle across mars when he ran into a massive dust storm. This was an enormous problem. The dust blocked the sun he needed to power his vehicle. Instead of focusing on the problem, i.e. the dust storm, he found the challenge: he needed his solar panels to receive more light from Mars’ sun. By focusing on how he could get more solar energy, he eventually found a way to navigate out of and around the storm.

2. Break the big problems down into manageable steps.

Along the way to solving any big problem, there are always smaller steps. While it helps to understand and communicate the desired end result, focus on the first step. Steps are smaller and less anxiety provoking. For Watney on Mars, there was a point when he needed to find a way to get from one small airlock back to the main one. That was the big problem. But before he could even think about that, he needed to buy some time. The first step was to fix his Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit to preserve his air. If he focused on the bigger problem and not the more immediate first step, he would never have made it.

3. Surround yourself with experts.

While Watney had a lot of time and problem solving by himself on Mars, whenever he had communications with Earth, he took their advice … at least most of the time. There were occasions when he went with his gut because as he noted, he was now the world’s expert at surviving on Mars. Regardless of your expertise, the best teams contain diverse experts who not only know their expertise but also their limitations. See 7 Signs Your Team is Functioning at Top Capacity for tips on how to build a team that works well together.

4. Science the sh*t out of it.

This is the most famous line in the movie (although it does not appear in the book!) and it applies to even us non-scientific types. The scientific method works by testing, observing and measuring; in other words, actual facts. Lay out a plan that helps you test and observe the possibilities. Facts are not as subjective; they help extract the emotion so you can handle the pressure and make the right decision.

5. Learn from failures.

If you are sciencing the sh*t out of the problem, that means you will be having one little failure after another. [bctt tweet=”Don’t dwell on failure. Reframe the failures as learning events.”]

6. Know when to switch to plan B

Any leader can come up with a Plan A and even articulate the plan to the entire team. A good leader will also have a Plan B in mind. A great leader will know when to abandon Plan A and switch to Plan B. This is never easy because a lot of time, money and resources may have gone into Plan A. Stakeholders may be personally invested in Plan A and leaders are only human and can get attached to their own plans. But if you are learning from failure and sciencing the sh*t out of it, it will be easier to identify when it is time to switch, plus you will have the data to stand behind your decision.

7. Be an optimist.

If you are stuck alone … on Mars … you need to be an optimist. The same goes for leaders, even when they don’t know the answers. If leaders are not optimists about their own businesses, then who else is going to be? Read more on 5 Reasons Why Optimists Make Better Leaders.

8. Keep your sense of humor.

In The Martian (book version) the astronauts’ psychologist opined that of all the astronauts to be left behind on that mission, Watney had the highest chance of survival, not due to his expertise as a botanist and engineer, but due to his sense of humor. In 2010, the New York Times covered research that connected humor to creative problem solving. As a leader, you don’t have to be funny. Trust me, if your team is under pressure, almost any chance to laugh off nervous energy is welcome. Humor is bonding. And it opens the door for the much funnier members of the team to chime in.

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Do you think you have what it takes to be a leader in the commercial real estate industry? Visit the SVN Careers page here.

5 Tips to Perfect the Fast Pitch by Diane Danielson

Tips for Pitching the #SVNDifference

Last month I had an opportunity to speak at #DisruptCRE, which featured a number of commercial real estate technology companies seeking to “disrupt” the industry. One of the sessions included a fast-pitch session so that companies like Sperry Van Ness International Corporation as well as venture capitalists seeking to invest could learn about a company in 45 seconds or less.

Now, 45 seconds sounds like a very short time, but it’s still enough to convey a wealth of information. Out of the 20 presentations we saw, a couple of them stood out, not necessarily because their apps and technology were relevant to SVN, in fact most of them were not, but they had perfected their fast-pitch presentations.*

As Commercial Real Estate Advisors, we aren’t pitching new business tools to clients, but we are pitching our services and systems and often within short timeframes. In any presentation, we have only the first few seconds to make a good impression and explain the #SVNDifference. In fact, we want to see how our own Advisors do their version of a fast pitch in our #SVNDifference video contest (Click here for details; entries due by November 24, 2015).

[bctt tweet=”45 seconds sounds like a very short time, but it’s still enough to convey a wealth of information through your pitch #CRE”]

Here are a few helpful hints for delivering your pitch to clients in 45 seconds or less:

  1. Analogies work. If you are trying to introduce something new and different, then you need to give people a baseline. This is why Hollywood pitches always start out as it’s “Jaws meets Twister” or “Harry meets Sally online.”

SVN Advisor Tip: Be able to describe how you can organize greater demand for a property in words and/or analogies that your clients will understand.

  1. Tell stories. If you want people to remember you, your service, or your product, tell a story about it. Here are six rules for great storytelling. And, yes, a good presenter can tell an entire story within 45 seconds.

SVN Advisor Tip: Is there a story that demonstrates how your firm has used our Open Sales Call to create greater demand and/or to sell a property faster?

  1. Differentiate from the competition. Use your stories to illustrate how your service differs from the competition.

SVN Advisor Tip: This is why you need to perfect your #SVNDifference pitch!

  1. Be able to pitch without PowerPoint or props. In 45 seconds, your verbal description needs to stand on its own, no matter the product or service.

SVN Advisor Tip: Listen to the pitches on the Open Sales Call. Make notes on which ones are the most effective.

  1. Align with their values. What does your client value? Are they tied to the local community? What is their company culture or priorities?

SVN Advisor Tip: At SVN we value collaboration, local expertise, and transparent fees to drive demand. Identify clients who do the same, and the easier it will be to make your pitch.

One final reason to really nail the fast pitch is that even if the person making the decision is excited for your service, implementation is another story. For your client to make a change, they often have to convince a lot of other people to go along with them, some of who may be reluctant. You need to help them duplicate your fast pitch internally and that’s where the tips above can help.

Looking forward to seeing some versions of our Advisors’ 45-second pitches in our #SVNDifference Video Contest!

*Just in case you were wondering, there was not a bad pitch in the whole set at DisruptCRE, but the top 45-second pitches of the day were by Raisal, Building Conversation, and CrowdComfort. Great job to those companies and all the others who presented last week.

SVN COO Among Women of Influence in Real Estate

Diane Danielson Earns a Spot in Real Estate Forum’s Women of Influence Issue

Diane Danielson, Chief Operating Officer of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation was recently named one of Real Estate Forum magazine’s 2015 Women of Influence. In their July/August 2015 issue, Real Estate Forum highlighted 51 of the commercial real estate industry’s most distinguished and successful women, chosen from a pool of more than 350 highly qualified nominees.

Women of InfluenceOne purpose of the magazine’s list was to recognize the positive effects that a diversified management team can have on a business. As Real Estate Forum author Kristian Seemeyer points out, “In commercial real estate, women have long busted down the doors of the ‘Old Boys’ Club’ and are quickly filling up top decision-making positions. It may take some more time to achieve full parity, but this year’s roster of powerful female CRE professionals are proof positive that women are thriving in the business, and are paving the way for generations to come.”

Like many of the influential women featured in the Real Estate Forum article, Diane did not always work in commercial real estate. She started out as an environmental attorney in Boston before transitioning into various different roles within the local CRE sphere, including sales, marketing, and business development. Then, in 2003 she briefly left the CRE industry to launch her own company, the first online social network for businesswomen in the U.S. This experience in the tech field influenced Diane’s return to the CRE industry, when in 2012 she joined Sperry Van Ness International Corporation as the Chief Platform Officer. In this role, Diane was able to draw from both her CRE and tech backgrounds in order to design the company’s technology and sales platforms. She was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2013.

Diane influences the CRE industry on a daily basis by serving as a thought leader in our community. From her SVN blog posts to her social media tweets, Diane continuously offers valuable advice and insights as a woman who didn’t need an invitation to the “Old Boys’ Club” in order to succeed in CRE.

For more information on women in commercial real estate, download our report here.

SVN Women Minorities


[bctt tweet=”In commercial real estate, women have long busted down the doors of the ‘Old Boys’ Club’ and are quickly filling up top decision-making positions.”]



Game-Changing Trends in Retail Distribution

Each year, at our Sperry Van Ness® (SVN) National Conference, I talk to our commercial real estate advisors and business owners about game-changing trends. Game-changers occur when people are doing things (working, playing, living) differently than they used to just a few years ago. This year, I compiled them under 4 categories: Communication, Design, Collaboration and Distribution.

Trends in Distribution

The following video features the third portion of my 2015 talk on trends. Watch the video and read the takeaways below.

Main Takeaways in Distribution Trends

Retail establishments will need:

1. “Omnichannel” sales, meaning in person, online and even retailer to retailer distribution.

2. Customized delivery options, including the ability to pay different prices for different rates of delivery (same day, next day, 2-days or more); and pick up in store.

3. Smart fulfillment centers that may even have robots performing most of the work, located near to large population areas.

Most people think of Amazon as a store, but it is truly a distributor of products and their innovations in this area are extraordinary. While it may be a long time before drones will have the flight clearance to deliver our packages from the nearest smart fulfillment center, Amazon is experimenting with actual stores, same day delivery in urban areas, Amazon Prime which rewards loyal customers; and even a new slow delivery option where they give you eBook credits. It will probably not be long before we can order a product via our phones and pick up in the store, and if we haven’t paid online, we can go to a retail location and a robot will bring us our product which we will pay for by a few taps of on our smartwatch.

At Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, we are watching these trends to see how they affect the commercial real estate industry. Our goal is to capitalize on these trends so that our advisors are using the most powerful tools to the benefit of their clients.

To view the full speech please visit our YouTube page.

Game-Changing Trends in Design and Collaboration

Each year, at our Sperry Van Ness® (SVN) National Conference, I talk to our commercial real estate advisors and business owners about game-changing trends. Game-changers occur when people are doing things (working, playing, living) differently than they used to just a few years ago. This year, we have four categories: Communication, Design, Collaboration and Distribution.

Trends in Design and Collaboration

The following video features the second portion of my 2015 talk on trends. Watch the video and read the takeaways below.

Main Takeaways in Design Trends:

1. Mobile first, mobile only. Tech engineers are no longer adapting desktop software for tablets and smartphones. Instead they are designing straight to mobile.

2. Different devices require different design elements. Desktop software can accommodate a longer attention span than something designed for a tablet, phone or watch.

3. Cybersecurity will be a key element and consideration of every new design.

4. The mass adoption of mobile technology has opened the door for innovators to bypass existing infrastructure. Uber, Airbnb, Bitcoin and Apple Pay are examples of innovative businesses that circumvented traditional infrastructure.

Mobile technology has massively altered design. Engineers are designing for shorter and shorter attention spans and developing systems that don’t rely on existing infrastructure. In underdeveloped countries, the combination of mobile adoption and lack of existing infrastructure, i.e. phone lines and banking systems, has sped up mass adoption of new business models. In developed countries, however, we are seeing slower adoption of alternative currencies (Bitcoin, Apple Pay) and lawsuits levied against new business models (Uber, Airbnb). The key for new technology to achieve mass adoption and acceptance is: access, affordability and accountability. As discussed in the video, the aforementioned Bitcoin, Apple Pay, Uber, and Airbnb are caught in the accountability stage for now.

The expansion of technology also comes with new risks. As we move towards the Internet of Things where our watches communicate with our thermostats (see Nest) as well as our banks, security will continue to become a bigger and bigger issue. New technologies will therefore be required to incorporate security protocols into all design elements.

Main Takeaways in Collaboration Trends:

1. One form of collaboration is crowdsourcing. In the commercial real estate industry we are seeing the crowdsourcing of investment funds (Fundrise, Realty Mogul) and in the case of Comstak, the crowdsourcing of lease data.

2. At SVN, we have been leaders in collaboration and here are two examples:

a. Crowdsourcing of knowledge. Our service and product councils bring together experts around specific asset classes and services, who partner on transactions and share knowledge both online, on calls and in person at our national conferences.

b. Crowdsourcing of demand. The SVN National Sales Call, where our advisors feature new properties they are marketing, is revolutionary in allowing participation by outside brokers, clients and potential clients. This is due to our founding principle that no one advisor, local firm or national company knows all the potential buyers for a property. Only when you drive up demand by exposure to the entire marketplace does a client achieve the best value for their property.

At Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, we are watching these trends to see how they affect the commercial real estate industry. Our goal is to capitalize on these trends so that our advisors are using the most powerful tools to the benefit of their clients.

To view the full speech please visit our YouTube page.

7 Signs Your Team is Functioning at Top Capacity

As COO of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, my job is to make sure everyone in our company is working efficiently, effectively and creatively to exceed expectations and delight our franchisees. As businesses like ours expand around the globe, we’re all working longer hours and tackling more projects; yet sometimes the most productive thing a company can do is put down the work and have some fun.  The following article outlines a really fun way to check in with your commercial real estate  team to see if they are operating at top capacity.

Recently we had an operations summit in Atlanta. After a long day of meetings, my team took an evening off and spent it trying to find our way out of a “challenge room.” What was clear throughout this team-building activity was that we have a group of professionals who were not only smart but also high-functioning and very fun (even when locked in close quarters).

Faberge Egg
Our “Challenge Room” prize … a fake Faberge Egg. But the real prize was the teamwork that helped us beat the clock.

A challenge room is a new trend where you actually pay to be locked in a room where you have to work together to unlock Da Vinci Code type clues in order to accomplish a mission (ours was to find a Faberge egg) and then find your way out of the room within one hour. As a spoiler alert, we completed our task and escaped with 4 minutes to spare.

While I won’t go into details, because that would spoil the fun, it was clear that our team functions in a manner of which I couldn’t be more proud, and that I have confidence carries over with them into every workplace challenge.

This experience spotlighted the 7 things you need to have a finely-tuned, high-functioning team.

  1. A clearly articulated common goal.You need every single member of your team invested in and enthusiastic about your project. But they also need to understand the end goal and the bigger picture. In our challenge room, this was literally laid out for us; but if you are leading a team, you need to do the same.
  2. An overall strategic plan.As soon as we got in the room, one of our team members announced that when we hit 30 minutes, we would use our first “lifeline.” (We had a walkie-talkie where you could ask for hints.) We all agreed and that person temporarily became the project leader. She spoke up definitively with a strategic plan that made sense and didn’t wait for me or anyone else to take charge.
  3. Empowered team members ready to take leadership as needed.Throughout any project or challenge, whether it’s growing a company, or trying to find an object in a challenge room, different skills are required at different times. Some team members may excel at deciphering riddles, while others are better at running calculations in their head. Our team seamlessly passed the leadership torch from person to person as we moved through the challenge.
  4. No weak links. With the right team you can divide and conquer and never have to second-guess anyone or spend time micromanaging. At the start of our challenge, we quickly divided up the room and thoroughly searched our areas. With no weak links, no one was second-guessing anyone else. We may have doubled back over someone’s territory, but only to approach it from a different angle. Because we trusted everyone to handle their part of the challenge, morale stayed high and no one wasted valuable time and energy.
  5. Time management skills.With a literal clock ticking down in a challenge room, there is no time to waste and everyone has to be conscious of the deadline. On any project, wasted employee or management time is unproductive and costly to the entire organization. Team members who can’t manage their time wisely become weak links.
  6. No fear of asking for help.Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a function of time management and understanding that others might have different talents and experiences. It’s also a sign that I should remember my reading glasses so I don’t have to yell for help whenever I couldn’t read the numbers on some of the locks.
  7. A sense of humor. People like to work with fun people. In today’s corporate environments, there is constant pressure. A team that laughs together, bonds together. I can assure you that our challenge room team will be laughing about inside jokes from that challenge room task for years to come.

Diane Danielson is the COO of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, a commercial real estate franchisor headquartered in Boston, MA with over 190 offices covering 500 commercial real estate markets. Find out how you can be part of our team by clicking here.

Social Media Debate: Why It Does/Doesn't Matter in CRE

In the spirit of one of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation’s (SVNIC) main ideals, collaboration, its Chief Operations Officer, Diane Danielson, and Vice President of Organizational Development, Solomon Poretsky, team up for a healthy debate on social media. They were both asked, “In the world of commercial real estate why does, or doesn’t, social media matter?” Below you will find their arguments. (Queue the bell ring because these two know how to put up a fight.)

Social Media Doesn’t Matter – Solomon Poretsky

Solomon Poretsky - Vice President, Organizational DevelopmentLet’s start this with a two question quiz:

How many listing agreements have been signed via Twitter?

  1. 10
  2. 1,000
  3. 100,000
  4. None. You can’t sign a listing agreement with a tweet.

How many properties have changed hands through a LinkedIn status update?

  1. 10
  2. 1,000
  3. 100,000
  4. None. You generally can’t sell property without a deed transfer.

If you answered D to both, you’re right. You also know why social media doesn’t matter. But, keep reading, anyways.

Commercial real estate brokers need both marketing and sales activities to drive their businesses forward. The work that you do to MARKET yourself makes it easier to convert prospects into clients and put them into your SALES funnel.

Think about prospecting by telephone. If you don’t have anything good to talk about and the people in your database don’t know who you area, prospecting can be successful, but it’s usually hard to do. On the other hand, if people know you and have all sorts of things to discuss with you, prospecting is not only easy but also pleasant. That’s what marketing can do for you, and social media is a marketing tool.

However, the problem with marketing is that, by itself, it won’t create sales. Even if you have an excellent social media campaign and it gets people to start calling you, you will still have to convert them into clients. So, you still need sales activity to drive your commercial real estate business.

To understand why social media doesn’t matter, picture two dart players. One is blindfolded, knows roughly where the dart board is, and has lots of darts to throw. The second is an expert dart player – a tournament winner, in fact – but has no darts and doesn’t feel like playing. Which do you think is more likely to hit a bull’s eye? The first one might not be very good, but at least she’s going to try, and the odds are that she’ll eventually hit one. The second one, on the other hand, is guaranteed to not hit a bull’s eye since he isn’t even trying.

The second dart player is a lot like a commercial real estate Advisor or broker with an excellent marketing campaign who sits back and waits for the phone to ring. Lots of Twitter followers or Facebook Likes might look good, but social media isn’t where business gets done. The first dart player, on the other hand, is like a broker that keeps showing up. Sure, she might not be that polished, and she might be working harder than she needs to, but at least she’s closing deals. Ultimately, if you aren’t doing what you know is required to drive sales, social media won’t help you.

By the way, the best option? Be great at sales and at marketing, including social media. If you’re talking to people aggressively, and they know who you are thanks to both traditional marketing and a strong social presence, you’re more likely to not only succeed, but succeed with less effort.

Social Media Matters – Diane Danielson

Diane DanielsonSocial media matters in commercial real estate in much the same way email and telephones matter. It’s a form of communication. Whether you use it or not, doesn’t stop others from doing so, which means you might be left out of some of the conversation. This may matter more or less, depending on where you are in your career.


Whether social media matters or not is a sliding scale. For those who are younger or newer to the business, it’s a great way to build credibility.  If you start writing market updates and sharing them through social media, you will define yourself as an expert in your market or specialty.

For anyone more senior, you might already have that reputation with your existing networks, but doing the same could expand your expertise to newer networks; especially those decision-makers who are closer to 30 years old than 50 years old.  Shunning social media can make one appear out of touch to a growing segment of potential clients.

Finally, LinkedIn is the ultimate B2B platform with 300 million participants on it already; it’s the ultimate who’s who and a shortcut to get to almost everyone.  In many cases, your LinkedIn profile may not be just the first impression a client might have, but the only impression. At the very least, all brokers and advisors need to have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile.


In today’s world, I assume that anyone who contacts me would have at the least, knowledge of anything on my LinkedIn profile.  I also expect that any commercial real estate Advisor or broker would be tracking their clients and markets via Twitter, as well as LinkedIn. Twitter can be a good resource for market information and not just from CRE individuals. Really knowing a market means knowing the local businesses and politics and Twitter is a valuable tool for following local press, planning boards, businesses, etc.  If you are not on Twitter, you could be missing real time information that could be valuable to your clients.


While there will always be the stories about deals being made strictly due to social media, this is unlikely to be the norm.  However, could it be the factor that gives a commercial real estate Advisor an edge? Of course, and who wants to be that Advisor who didn’t give him or herself that edge over the competition?  This is one of the reasons,  Sperry Van Ness® Advisors put their featured properties on our Monday Morning Sales Call, which is then pushed out through social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+) as well as featured in slide format on SlideShare and in video format on YouTube.

At Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, our Advisors don’t give just themselves an edge, they provide that same edge to their clients. And, that’s our secret to repeat business.

So, does social media matter in commercial real estate? It depends on whether you are the type of exemplary Advisor who appreciates the value of having an edge on the competition.

To find out more about careers at a Sperry Van Ness® office, visit our career center. If you are interested in learning more about owning your own Sperry Van Ness® franchise, click here.

Sperry Van Ness® CREW Network Spotlight

Sperry Van Ness International Corp. is a proud supporter of CREW Network, the premiere network for women in commercial real estate.  In an earlier blog post we included a great group photo of all the CREW members at our 2014 SVN national conference, where some of these high-achieving CREW Members were also SVN award recipients.  Below is more information about the various CREW Network members in our organization. They are CREW Past Presidents, CREW Committee Members, innovators, leaders, collaborators and known in their markets for their achievements and contributions.

If you are interested in finding out about CREW Network or about Sperry Van Ness franchise opportunities, please contact Karen.hurd@SVN.com.

Catherine House, CCIM
Catherine House, CCIM

Catherine House, CCIM     
Sperry Van Ness / SV Advisors (San Francisco, CA)

  • Catherine is the Sperry Van Ness® National Co-Chair for the Medical Office Product Council.
  • In 2010, San Francisco Business Times named her one of the “Most Influential Women in Business in the Bay Area.” She is a past CREW SF President.
  • At Sperry Van Ness she is one of the top-producing brokers, ranked in the top 10% of over 1,000 brokers nationally in 2013.


Karlin Conklin
Managing Director
Sperry Van Ness / Bluestone & Hockley (Portland, OR)

  • Karlin is a managing Principal Broker in Oregon and Washington. She oversees their office’s brokerage activities and is responsible for its marketing, recruiting, and training efforts.
  • Prior to joining Sperry Van Ness/Bluestone & Hockley, Karlin raised $234 million in acquisition equity and directed a team that closed 5,800 multifamily units.
  • On the brokerage side, Karlin led the company’s multi-state brokerage efforts, which included commercial real estate, REO, and note sales.


Mary Ridberg
Director of Leasing
Sperry Van Ness, LLC (Phoenix, AZ)

    • Mary has experience in retail tenant representation, trade area feasibility, brand development, public relations, media relations, and marketing consulting.
    • She has organized a Retail Networking Group with members from the most active retail brokerage teams in the Phoenix market.
    • Mary serves in the business mentorship program at A.S.U. and is a host at the college of business events.


Judy Jones
Judy Jones

Judy Jones
Senior Advisor
Sperry Van Ness, LLC (Phoenix, AZ)

      • Judy specializes in the sale of retail land, freestanding buildings and shopping centers in the Phoenix Metropolitan area of Maricopa County, Arizona.
      • She has been active in commercial/investment real estate for more than 20 years as an investor and broker.
      • Judy has completed more than 400 transactions totally in excess of one billion dollars.


Maria Agon McCarthy, CCIM
Senior Advisor
Sperry Van Ness / South Commercial Real Estate Advisors (Miami, FL)

      • Maria brings over 18 years of experience in commercial real estate brokerage and corporate real estate, with extensive knowledge of both leasing and sales.
      • Prior to joining SVN South, she worked as the Senior Vice President for Citigroup where she managed a portfolio of 215 office and retail buildings, representing 4.6 million square feet throughout the US and Caribbean.
      • Mary has been recognized as a “Top Broker” and received numerous awards for revenue production.


Shari A. Tucker-Gasser
Shari Tucker-Gasser

Shari Tucker-Gasser
Sperry Van Ness, LLC (Phoenix, AZ)

      • Shari A. Tucker-Gasser is the National Council Chair of Multi-Tenant Retail for Sperry Van Ness International and  Real Estate Forum named Shari ‘Women of Influence’ among top ‘Women of Influence’ in the commercial real estate industry for 2013.
      • Shari specializes in the acquisitions, disposition and leasing of multi-tenant retail properties throughout the Phoenix Metro, Arizona market.
      • With over fifteen years of commercial real estate experience, Shari has completed well over $2 billion dollars in retail sales transactions.


Diana Peterson

Diana Peterson
Sperry Van Ness / AuctionWorks (Chicago, IL)

      • Diana has more than 19 years of experience in law, real estate brokerage and auctions.
      • Recognized by the Chicago Association of Realtors as one of the top 5 producing realtors, having closed more than $130 million in residential sales and negotiated more than 500,000 square feet of commercial lease and sale transactions.
      • Known for her exceptional negotiation and legal skills, honed during years of practice as an attorney, Diana will be leading the Chicago AuctionWorks team.


Debby Skeans
Deborah Skeans

Deborah Skeans
CCIM, MAI, Senior Advisor/Co-Owner
Sperry Van Ness / Imperial Realty (Allentown, PA / Lehigh Valley)

      • Debby specializes in the sale of land and commercial property valued at over $350+ million and helps clients build value, strong CRE portfolios.
      • Licensed to sell at 19 and as a broker at 22, she has nearly 40 years working and investing in new construction, commercial appraisal, sales and consulting.
      • Career highlights: 470 acres of prime interchange land sold to St. Luke’s Hospital for $38.6 million in two transactions over the past five years; personally responsible for the disposition of 3,000+ acres (over 50 parcels) to various buyers for a wide variety of users; consultation regarding disposition of a key New York City property for redevelopment (transaction closed for over $200 million).


Laurie Ramirez
Laurie Ramirez

Laurie Ramirez
Sperry Van Ness Chicago Commercial (Chicago, IL)

      • Laurie has 5 experience years in the CRE industry and specializes in the sales and leasing and tenant representation  of retail property in the Chicago Market
      • She is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR), Commercial Real Estate Executive Women (CREW) and the Chicago Association of Realtors.
      • Laurie is a relationship-focused CRE professional focused on creating value for her clients.  She is also involved in the committees, Commercial Forum and the Chicago Association of Realtors Government Affairs Committee.


Krista Berger
Krista Berger

Krista Berger
Senior Advisor
Sperry Van Ness / Finest City Commercial (San Diego, CA)

      • Krista has 6 years of CRE industry experience and has listed and sold properties valuing in excess of $20 million.
      • She specializes in the sale of commercial properties, including in multifamily, mobile home parks and land development.
      • In the past few years, Krista has been an integral part of the special assets team. With multiple financial institutions throughout the nation, she facilitated the site assessments and analysis of properties with most resulting in the list and sale of the asset.


Rita Meehan
Rita Meehan

Rita Meehan
Sperry Van Ness / SV Advisors (San Francisco, CA)

      • Rita has 17+ years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, specializing in the sale of investment properties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
      • She has closed more than $1.7 billion in commercial real estate assets comprised of over 6 million square feet of property.
      • Rita was recognized as a Top Individual Broker in 2008 and listed as a CoStar Power Broker in 2007 & 2008.


Barbara Brown
Senior Advisor
Sperry Van Ness / Commercial Real Estate Advisors (Charlotte, NC)

      • Barbara has been active in commercial real estate since 1986, with extensive knowledge and expertise in office/medical sales, leasing, retail and warehouse.
      • She was a founding member of the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW).
      • Received the Commercial Board’s “Multi-Million Dollar Club” award for 10 consecutive years and in 1999, she was the recipient of its President’s Award.


Karen Hurd
Karen Hurd

Karen Hurd
Vice President, National Franchise Sales & Development
Sperry Van Ness International Corporation (Irvine, CA and Boston, MA)

      • Karen has over 18 years of experience in commercial real estate and financial services, and has been actively involved in sales transactions (across all asset classes) totaling in excess of $550 million.
      • She specializes in Section 1031 Tax Deferred Exchanges for Institutional, Corporate and Private Capital Markets and Real Estate limited partnerships and syndications.
      • Deal Connector and Networking Guru who identifies new business opportunities for the Sperry Van Ness® organization, and contributes to brand development and growth nationally playing key role in managing the continued expansion of franchise ownership.


Diane Danielson
Diane Danielson

Diane Danielson
Chief Operating Officer
Sperry Van Ness International Corporation (Irvine, CA and Boston, MA)

      • Diane serves is Chief Operating Officer at SVN and oversees all operations of SVNIC.  Diane is responsible for overall planning and executing strategic growth initiatives for franchise development and the rollout of technological platforms to optimize SVN services globally.
      • She is a former attorney, accomplished speaker, published author, and widely recognized online marketing expert.  She launched the first Social Network for businesswomen in the US in 2006.
      • In 2013, Diane was named to the 40 over 40 Women to Watch list published in Forbes.com.


*All Sperry Van Ness offices are independently owned and operated.

5 Trends That Will Affect Everyone's Business

The following is a write-up of the speech given by Diane Danielson, COO, of Sperry Van Ness International Corp. at the 2014 Sperry Van Ness National Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

1. There are lots of different kinds of smart … and you probably have them all in your office.

For the first time in history we have up to four generations all working in a single office. This means that we have four completely different frames of reference for every issue, project and solution. When harnessed in the right way, this can yield truly innovative results; but it can also mean a lot of miscommunication in the short-term.

The chart below can help put the situation into proper perspective. The first thing you should notice is that the number of Millennials (also known as Gen Y) dwarfs the Generation X’ers, and eclipses the Boomers. So, if my fellow Gen X’ers (a/k/a the “Sandwich Generation” because we are often taking care of our parents and kids at the same time) ever felt ignored and outnumbered, you weren’t imagining things.

1925-1945* Silent Generation 50 million** Neil Armstrong
1946-1964 Baby Boomers 76 million Jobs/Gates (PCs)
1965-1979 Generation X 41 million Page/Brin (Internet)
1980-2000 Millennial (Gen Y) 80 million Zuckerberg (Mobile)

*Generational breakdowns follow the Pew Internet Research Project’s breakdowns.
**Exact numbers are hotly debated but within +/- 5 million.

How do you increase the productivity of an intergenerational office? By understanding the basis for the different viewpoints. For example, consider how the four generations were introduced to the computer.

  • The Silent Generation experienced the era where computers were something NASA used to put men like Neil Armstrong on the moon.  They were scientific tools used by governments and research universities to further discovery and explore new worlds.
  • It wasn’t until Baby Boomers Steve Jobs and Bill Gates came along, that computers became personal for use at the office and at home.  For both the Silent Generation and the Boomers, the computer was a powerful machine that could process enormous amounts of data.
  • Gen X’ers Sergey Brin and Larry Page, founders of Google, and Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, were the ones who helped usher in the Internet as our “go to” research tool. For their generation, the computer became the gateway to user generated content and endless information.
  • Finally, Mark Zuckerberg and his Millennial cohorts transformed the internet into a communication source that we could take with us wherever we go.

Four different viewpoints, yet they reflect cumulative knowledge that complements and builds upon each other.

Many of us will have at a minimum 2 or 3 of the above generations in our offices. A team or company culture that respects, learns from, and is able to manage the different viewpoints and knowledge base will ultimately be the most productive.

2. Millennial life choices will affect us all.

As noted in the above chart, there are 80 milllion Millennials. Like any generation, they have their  unique traits. The only difference  is that even if only 1/3rd of Millennials do “something,” that is equal to nearly 60% of Generation X, in other words a majority. We can’t afford to not pay attention. In particular, here are a few major trends that we are seeing from Millennials with far reaching effects on businesses.

Millennials are in no rush to learn to drive.

This might seem strange for those of us who couldn’t wait to get behind that wheel at age 16. For many of us, a driver’s license meant freedom. But for this generation, it’s not as compelling. Below are a few of the reasons:

  • They are broke. Recession, unemployment, and student loans make owning a car out of reach for many in this generation.
  • Their overprotective parents drive them everywhere.
  • They can Facetime, xBox, Snapchat and Instagram with friends without having to leave their home: their freedom is the Internet.
  • They can experience the thrill of driving through virtual reality video games.

How does this affect businesses? This could be a tough situation for car manufacturers and dealers as well as the businesses dependent on them like commercial real estate. Not only will they sell less cars, they will need less cars on their lot. Unless they put a Starbucks in their showroom, they’ll be getting less foot traffic and test drivers. Even when this generation gets around to buying cars, they will do everything short of smelling the leather online through virtual show rooms. (Although, that can likely be accomplished too, as there is now a new alarm clock bacon app for iPhones.)

Millennials are living at home longer and delaying marriage

The rise of the stay at home Millennial is similarly driven by the economy and the burden of student debts. Add to this the fact that more Millennials are attending college than any generation before, and they are understandably delaying marriage and the natural progression of having kids and moving to the suburbs.

For more visit: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/03/07/millennials-in-adulthood/

When these non-driving Millennials eventually move out, they are relocating to urban areas where they don’t need cars because they have public transportation or car and ride-sharing services like Zipcar and Lyft. This is why we will see suburban areas attempting to emulate the benefits of city living, and of all the suburbs, it will be the “urban ring” areas that will experience the most stability.

In the short-term, before the Millennials all move out, we will see a rise in “adaptive” housing, where home improvements are not made for resale but so extended families can live together. Currently 22% of households have more than two adult generations living in them, a level not seen since the end of World War II.

You can read more on how demographic trends are affecting housing in Leigh Gallagher’s The End of the Suburbs.

3. Not Open, but Adaptive Office Space

Let’s put an end to the open versus closed office floor plans debate. It’s not one or the other; it’s both.  The space that will work for most companies is going to have to be adaptive. However, it’s doesn’t adapt to a position, or an individual.  Office space needs to adapt to the workflow.  At different parts of the day, individuals could be working on teams, need a whiteboard, require quiet or private space or simply a change of venue.  Today’s workspaces need to be fluid and allow for transitions and flexibility, especially with a multi-generational workforce.

4. We Live and Work in a Multiplex 

Remember the days when our desks were clean and the computer off to the side? Now our desks are littered with screens. Here’s a screenshot of my home office desk on a recent weekend. The only screen that is missing is my iPhone, which I had to use to take the photo.  Why so many screens? Different devices have different uses. While my iPad mostly gets used for binge watching my favorite shows when working on weekends, I also use it to Facetime or Skype with my son or colleagues.

It seems I’m not alone. A recent survey by Facebook for Business found:

  • 60% of online adults in the US use 2+ devices/day
  • 25% use 3 devices
  • >40% of online adults start an activity on one device only to finish it on another.

We did our own survey of Sperry Van Ness® advisors at our National Conference and found that 80% of our advisors use 3 or more devices in a single day.

Now we are adding wearable technology like Google Glass as an additional screen. It’s likely our fully developed adult brains will not be able to adapt well to the multi-tasking required by life in a multiplex, but it’s possible that future generations’ brains will evolve in a way that they will be better able to process multiple feeds and the flow of information from device to device.

5. Quantitative v. Qualitative

We now live in a society where we measure everything.  Why? Because what gets measured gets done. Take the Fitbit story.  FitBit is a bracelet that tracks everything from steps taken in a day to optimal sleep patterns. Fitbit uses technology and your network to keep you accountable and promote optimal behavior.  The FitBit philosophy is simple:

  • Every day steps add up to impact.
  • Stay connected, stay motivated.
  • Make health a habit one day at a time.

This FitBit philosophy is something we can all take with us into our businesses  You simply determine what you need to measure in order to produce the outcomes you want … and stick with it.  In other words, it’s the same philosophy as Moneyball. Find the stats that matter most and you can turn the right team, no matter what generation, into winners.

Diane Danielson & Karen Hurd attend CREW Network Convention 2013

Diane Danielson, Chief Platform Officer, and Karen Hurd, National Sales Director, represented Sperry Van Ness at the annual CREW Network Convention & Marketplace October 9–12 in Dallas. Along with more than 1,000 real estate firms from across the country, attendees came together to shape the future of the industry and focused on this year’s theme–“The Power of Perspective.”

Below we’ve interviewed Karen Hurd about her experience at the conference and her top takeaways.

SVNIC: Karen, why is it important to attend The CREW Conference?
Karen: CREW Network is one of the CRE industry’s premier business networking organizations dedicated to advancing the achievements of women in commercial real estate. Personally, for me, the annual CREW Network Convention is a great opportunity to network, exchange ideas, refer deals, gain knowledge, hear from top industry professionals and collaborate with over 1000 CRE women and key decision makers from all over the country.

SVNIC: Share your best takeaway from the event for our advisor team.
Karen: My greatest takeaway from the convention is “The Power of Perspective” and how it shapes and impacts your life and your career as well as your future in commercial real estate. Always remember that perception creates reality. Take a look at my personal objectives that we post on the CREW 2013 Network Convention website.

Other great takeaways–get involved in a committee and building relationships in your local CREW Chapter. You may be surprised how easy it can be to find new business opportunities.

SVNIC: What was your favorite session?
Karen: That’s a tough one! There were so many great sessions at CREW. The Marketplace Opening Night Reception is always my favorite because of the energy and buzz that fills the room–you can see and hear about deals in the works and the strong desire to do business. The Impact Awards Dinner this year was especially outstanding as it touched home to me. I had the privilege to see fellow Boston NEWIRE members recognized for their Economic and Community Involvement for their roles in revitalizing the Dudley Square project in Roxbury, MA. It has been one of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s top priorities in recent years and is now well underway. Outstanding!

SVNIC: Who was your favorite presenter and why?
Karen: Barbara Corcoran for sure. She has a great story to tell. I do appreciate her candor and honesty. She is driven, shares great life lessons and her business savvy and work ethic is inspiring to me.

Diane Danielson and Karen Hurd attend the 2013 CREW Network Convention & Marketplace
Diane and Karen pictured with members of NEWiRE Boston, who also attended the conference

Diane and Karen pictured with members NEWiRE Boston, who also attended the conference

SVNIC: How did the Sperry Van Ness booth fare?
Karen: Exceptionally well. As SVN looks to grow in new markets in 2014, having a presence in the Marketplace was huge for us. With over 500 visitors to our booth alone and back-to-back appointments, the SVN Difference became known and we definitely “got the word out”. We were also searching for CREW Members to consider joining an existing SVN team or consider establishing their own franchise in a market where we do not have a presence. There were many CRE Brokers and Property Managers asking us a lot of questions! It was also great to hear about stories of collaboration with SVN Advisors in the field. One woman had recently done over a $10+ million deal with one of our advisors out of Salem, OR as a result of attending the Portland Oregon Regional Conference.

SVNIC: The theme of this year’s conference was–“The Power of Perspective?” What does this mean and how can we apply it to everyday CRE?
Karen: When you claim your power to perceive, you realize you have the ability to shape your life. Knowing how you want to be perceived is key to all your relationships and how you will communicate with others in your personal as well as professional life. When you have an intention, you can make decisions that will drive you closer to achieving that goal. What is your intention? You should always know the answer to this.

How you communicate with others and how you are perceived by others will impact business decisions. This can be a game changer for us all in all of our CRE careers. Always be mindful of what the person sitting across from is hearing from you and what their perception is. You have the power to create perception!


*All Sperry Van Ness offices are independently owned and operated.

CRE Tech Talk Denver

More than 40 advisors from across the nation attended our “Tech Talk Denver” on Thursday evening, October 24. The event preceded the 2013 CCIM Live Conference.  Diane Danielson, CPO, Bo Barron, CCIM and Karen Hurd, Sales Director spoke about how the SVNIC team leverages the latest technology for profitability. They touched upon the importance of establishing an online presence and credibility using social media. Advisors from the following states were represented: CO, KY, MD, AZ, CA, OR, IL, GA and MA. Great insights, food and drink were had by all. Many thanks to those who attended.

CRE Tech Talk Denver

Sperry Van Ness was also a sponsor of the CCIM conference. See our Facebook page for photos by clicking here.


*All Sperry Van Ness offices are independently owned and operated.

SVNIC Exhibiting at the 2013 CREW Convention & Marketplace

The 2013 annual CREW Network Convention & Marketplace will be held October 9-12 at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, Tx. This 3-day event offers industry professionals access to top speakers, educational sessions, leadership training and industry exhibitors.

Sperry Van Ness International Corporation will be an exhibitor at the marketplace event at this year’s convention. This event is dedicated to networking, doing business, and sharing innovative ideas. In attendance from SVNIC will be Diane Danielson and Karen Hurd.

CREW Invite


















*All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.

Smart social media moves for commercial real estate professionals by Diane Danielson

Diane Danielson
Diane Danielson, Chief Platform Officer at Sperry Van Ness International Corporation

Diane Danielson, Chief Platform Officer at Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, recently shared her top (and smartest) social media tips for commercial real estate professionals in a guest blog post on GlobeSt.com (the website dedicated to all things real estate).

Diane recommends several smart social media moves, among them:

1. Use Twitter like a pro and search for relevant hashtags like #CRE and other industry terms.

2. Create customized lists of people so you can make sure to read their tweets and add that stream to a Twitter client such as Hootsuite.

3. Make the most of LinkedIn’s beefed up company pages by following important companies in your area (including your competitors).

Read Diane’s smart social media insights in the Globest.com article here.

*All Sperry Van Ness offices are independently owned and operated.

You can’t ignore demographics when it comes to real estate

The End of the Suburbs Book Cover(2)Everyone knows we have a changing demographic: aging Boomers, unemployed Generation Y/Millennials, and the much smaller-in-size Generation X sandwiched between elder care and child care (often both at the same time). But how is this affecting real estate? Pretty drastically. Recently, commercial real estate bloggers have been writing a lot about how younger generations will affect the actual sales process, including rants about how technology and demographics are changing the industry. I’ve even written on how mobile technology is a factor.

Yet, these are only tips of the same iceberg; at least according to the new book by Leigh Gallagher, The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving. How Americans live and where they live will  greatly affect commercial real estate in the next few decades. In The End of the Suburbs, Gallagher gathers some of the most recent statistics and studies on the changing residential landscape. Here are just a few items to ponder.

  1. Due to the employment situation, one out of three Millennials are living at home through their late 20s. This means they are not getting married, buying new cars, or having kids in their 20s: all basic life steps that lead to purchasing homes in suburbia sooner rather than later.
  2. What’s attractive to Millennials – when they can finally afford to move out – is to get out of suburbia and into cities, or suburban settings that mimic what cities have to offer: shopping, entertainment and restaurants, all within walking distance or on public transportation.
  3. Millennials are a generation unenthused about life in a car. After being chauffeured everywhere their whole life, many are not looking for a future with a 2-car garage, let alone a 3-car one.
  4. In the most recent recession, Detroit notwithstanding, suburban properties lost 40% of their value, whereas urban properties lost only 20%. This is a reversal of earlier real estate bubbles.
  5. There is a trend towards “New Urbanism” and classic town centers where there are sidewalks, front porches and apartments mixed in with single-family homes and commercial enterprises.  What’s falling out of favor is the large sprawling suburb where the schools, stores, play dates, and community resources are all at least a 20-minute drive away.
  6. Towns that received Federal and/or State funding 20 years ago to put in far-reaching town services like water, sewer and roads to expand further and further out, do not get funding for their upkeep. Without commercial enterprises in town, they can’t support it with the tax base.
  7. People are starting to factor in the price of gas to the far-reaching suburbs, leading to further discounting of prices to accommodate.
  8. The big mystery is what will the aging Boomers do. Will they stay in their homes? Buy into assisted living in their suburb? Head South or to a more urban setting? Will they be able to even find buyers for their homes if they do decide to leave?

If those are the trends and things to watch in residential real estate, what does that mean for commercial real estate? Perhaps that’s something to think about on your next commute home to the ‘burbs.

Diane K. Danielson is the Chief Platform Officer of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation.


*All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.

Diane Danielson named to Forbes Forty Women over Forty to Watch List

Diane Danielson, Chief Platform Officer.
Diane Danielson, Chief Platform Officer, Sperry Van Ness International Corporation

Diane Danielson, Chief Platform Officer, Sperry Van Ness International Corporation (SVNIC) has been named to the inaugural Forbes Forty Women over Forty to Watch list. This list recognizes the achievement of women around the world, working in various industries, who are upending the perception that 40 is past your prime.

In the commercial real estate industry, where women are few, Diane Danielson has taken on the second-in-command post at SVNIC. As CPO, Danielson oversees operations and is the company’s national brand evangelist. She leads the planning and execution of strategic initiatives to expand the franchise network, optimize services and develop innovative technology and communication platforms for our franchisee. Danielson believes that franchising is a way for women, minorities and younger generations to own their own business and change the face of the commercial real estate industry.

To view the press release in its entirety, click here.

To view the complete list of recipients, click here.


*All Sperry Van Ness offices are independently owned and operated.

Top Trends in Secondary CRE Markets

Diane Danielson Sperry Van Ness
Diane Danielson, Chief Platform Officer, Sperry Van Ness International Corp.

Earlier this month we released our Top Trends and Markets to Watch in 2013 Report. Our goal with this publication is to look at trends beyond the largest commercial real estate markets like NYC, Boston, SF, LA and Washington DC. Many of those markets have been in recovery mode, and as a result, future opportunities will likely reside in some often-overlooked markets.

Of course, not every secondary and tertiary market is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel just yet, but if you read through our 2013 Markets to Watch Report, you’ll be able to identify certain factors that could lead to CRE opportunities with upside. Below is a quick overview of a few of the trends we are seeing.

Large-scale infrastructure projects

In 2015, the widening of the Panama Canal will be complete, allowing larger ships to pass through its locks. This has set off a race to dredge ports along the Eastern seaboard.  Industrial properties in areas around ports able to receive these larger ships like Miami, New York/New Jersey, Jacksonville and Charleston and Savannah stand to benefit.

Energy-related growth

Newly discovered gas reserves and recent advancements in drilling and extraction technology have paved the way for significant economic growth and investment opportunity in places like Louisiana, Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Demographic shifts

With an aging Boomer population moving into retirement, and generation Y (the Boomer’s kids) facing an extended period of adolescence and underemployment, we are going to see a shift in attitudes about housing. Even if they could take over their parent’s McMansions, they might not want to be in that market.  Gen Y (or Millennials as they are also known) are more environmentally conscious and value-oriented.

This is a generation that is attracted to mixed-used developments along transportation lines (not all of them can afford cars when they have the weight of student loans) and nearby retail and entertainment. In big cities like Boston, they are attracted to 300-sf mini-units, with zipcar parking and shared communal space.  However, not all can afford big city prices. This presents a good opportunity for those secondary markets with emerging high-tech communities.

With lower costs of living, and lower barriers of entry for new high-tech companies (many of the companies developing apps don’t need to be right in Silicon Valley anymore to attract talent), markets like Austin, Texas; and Florida’s new tech corridor  (from Orlando to Tampa) stand to benefit.

These are only a few of the trends that we cover in our 2013 report that may be affecting your local Apartment, Office, Industrial or Retail markets.

Review or download the Sperry Van Ness® Top Trends and Markets to Watch in 2013.

Read more on the 2013 Markets to Watch Report at National Real Estate Investor.

By Diane K. Danielson, Chief Platform Officer, Sperry Van Ness International Corporation.

All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.

Mobile Technology – Why having the Internet in your pocket changes how we use space.

We all know mobile is a huge trend this year, but I believe that we need to break it down further to really understand its reach. Earlier this month, I wrote about how mobile technology has changed how we perceive time. This week, I’m focused on how it changes our use of space.

In real estate, whether it’s residential or commercial, we are selling space and location and mobile technology has changed that forever.

You can now work anywhere. Companies like Sperry Van Ness International Corp. are storing their data and accessing software in the cloud. This means our employees and Advisors can work from wherever they want.  This change affects the traditional definition of “office space.” One example of the new era of office space is the Boston Innovation District (@IDBoston). This new district is a true testament to their “Live Play Work” slogan, with innovation centers where entrepreneurs can come together and smaller housing units with shared workspaces right in the building.  We’ve also recently seen the launch of Marriott’s workspace on demand program (powered by LiquidSpace) where a traditional hotelier is now providing short-term office space.

You can now live smaller. When you downsize your desktop computer to a laptop or tablet, do you really need a desk?  If you carry your books around on a Kindle, what would you do with a bookshelf? What if your iPad is your TV?  We used to need hundreds of square feet to hold all our stuff, but the next generation is able to fit all their possessions in the back of a Zipcar. And, who needs a parking space if you can share a car? This is why the Boston Innovation District is testing out micro-units with housing as small as 300 sf.

You can now share space across industries. While this has been a trend for dying industries, it may be a way to revive a few. In retail, with the ease of purchasing books, music and games on mobile devices, bookstores are trying to stay in business by adding cafés; and GameStop and others are pursuing kiosks, pop-ups and sub-leases within other stores. The Boston Globe, mired in another struggling industry, has even opened up it’s extra space to entrepreneurs. While some might see this as a depressing last ditch save, others might see the opportunity in the cross-pollination of ideas. What true entrepreneur would be able to resist telling their landlord how they might improve their service?

How do we address these changes in the commercial real estate industry? We can do the following:

  1. Help tenants and owners incorporate flexibility and adaptability into their space planning. Whether it’s for growth, remote workers, or in the worst case, downsizing, the more we can incorporate flexibility and adaptability into their space planning, the better service we are providing. It’s likely that tenant reps may end up doing a bit of space matchmaking in order to make a deal work.
  2. Update traditional space calculations. Does that law firm really need that many square feet per attorney when you cut out the library? Is one conference room enough? Or can you create more shared spaces? How we calculate and use space is changing. There is a need for more “we space” and less “my space.”
  3. Look for office opportunities within residential settings and vice versa. As the Boston Innovation District demonstrates, people want to blend where they work with where they live now that mobile technology allows them to do so. In urban planning, the key will be to prevent financial districts or under-developed areas from becoming ghost towns. Washington DC did this with a stadium.  In that case, they built it and the people, and businesses, did come.
  4. Analyze your own true space needs. Has your ability to access the web from anywhere changed how you work? Are there adjustments in your space needs or in how you use your space that could either lower operating expenses or increase productivity? You might be surprised to find how much your mobility has changed how you work and use your current space.

Has mobile technology changed how you operate your business? Please comment below, I’d like to know.

Diane K. Danielson is the Chief Platform Officer of Sperry Van Ness International Corp. Follow her on Twitter at @DianeDanielson.


*All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.


Mobile Technology’s Effect on Time and Business

Diane Danielson, Chief Platform Officer, Sperry Van Ness International Corp.

It’s unanimous that “mobile” is a top trend in 2013. But, it really needs to be broken down to examine how greatly it affects business. One aspect that mobile has changed tremendously in the past year is our perception of time.

  • How often do we talk with colleagues and immediately have to “look something up” to solve a debate. What did we do without Google at our fingertips?
  • When we download a season of our favorite TV show onto a mobile device, or watch via Hulu, we generally have no idea what night of the week it might be on. Gone are the days when we flocked to NBC’s Must See TV Thursday Night Lineup on Thursday night.
  • We see and read the news as it happens. No more waiting for a 6:00 pm news broadcast or the morning paper.

But, how does this time shift affect your business? It means that delivering services and information the same way you did in 2008 won’t work in a world where time has new, or no, meaning. It means we all need to adjust how we deliver services to meet the demands of the mobile world.

One example of a company that understands the new shift in how we perceive time is Comcast. They were one of the pioneers of using Twitter as instant customer service. Have an issue with Comcast? Tweet about it. Or better yet, tweet @comcastcares directly and their online twitter team will respond faster than you would ever get off hold on the phone!

In addition to Twitter, Comcast made another change. Remember the 4-hour window of wait time for service? Seems outrageous in an era of mobile technology and real-time communication, especially when drivers can be tracked by GPS. This is why Comcast dropped it to 2-hours with a guarantee to be within the window or you receive a $20 credit.

In commercial real estate, time as we know it is similarly collapsing. With new CRE tools like www.42Floors.com, clients (in certain markets) don’t have to wait to view a building. They can see photographs, street views, and maps from their computer (or tablet).  Through www.teneightapp.com, brokers and clients can rate buildings in real time.

There are also productivity tools like www.dropbox.com that make real-time data-sharing easy (and free). My latest find is www.slideshark.com, which allows you to view powerpoint shows on iPads and iPhones. Check out www.cre-apps.com or www.CREvine.com’s tool section for more.

At Sperry Van Ness International Corp., we have cloud-based systems for communication, marketing, CRM and project management so that our Advisors can deliver information to clients quickly and instantaneously.

How are you working in the new “time-less” era? Have you changed how you deliver services to clients? Are there new tools that help you shift time? Chime in below, we’d love to know.

Diane Danielson is the Chief Platform Officer of Sperry Van Ness International Corp.


*All Sperry Van Ness® offices are independently owned and operated.