Looking ahead to the CRE Frisco meeting

Getting away to see what other folks are doing and thinking in different locales is informative


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As I sit to write this, I've just spent an hour booking flights, hotel rooms and rental cars for an ultimate destination of San Francisco for the fall Counselors of Real Estate meeting. Now, for us frugal New Englanders, traveling west can be an ordeal (and expensive!). The best solution is to make the trip a “twofer,” or in this case, a “threefer.”

Ending up in San Francisco for a three-day national meeting is exciting and well worthwhile, mixing with the best and brightest of one's peers. But San Francisco is 650 miles south of Portland, Ore., a city I’m looking forward to exploring Portland on foot (and light rail).

Once I find myself in Portland, I have to ask myself how far is Bandon Dunes (the Pinehurst of the Northwest)? The answer is 5-1/2 hours driving, due west. So I back up my start date to allow for a few days on the Oregon coast. Then a motor trip south along the “left coast” to terminate in San Francisco. There are rumors that there are some spectacular wineries along this route. I couldn't say for sure, but I will be in the investigative mode and will report later in the fall.

On the agenda

So, with the forbearance of my co-workers, this “business trip” will morph into a mini-vacation (it is a great country!). But for every benefit there is a cost, and in this case the cost is the CRE meeting – 2½ to 3 days of energizing meetings, presentations and one-on-one conversations. This is what I look forward to twice per year.

The meeting will start on Sunday with a boat tour of San Francisco. The View From The Sea, a four-hour excursion around San Francisco, narrated by a local expert able to address new construction and development as well as the history of this remarkable bay.

Monday morning will be a presentation and panel discussion “Outlook for the Economic Real Estate Market,” which will be followed by “How Do You Know When it Will Succeed? Real Estate Analytics, Investments and Beyond.” Next will come “Reaching for Yield – The High Risk of Investments.” Then, “Money Never Sleeps - The Velocity and Volatility of Capital Placement in Real Estate.” And, if that is not enough for one day, we close with “Cyber (In)Security and Cyber Terrorism -- Lessons to be Learned.”

The next day will start with a presentation by Gary Palmer, manager, risk analytics and monitoring for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, followed by Business Issues Forums (capital markets, public/private partnerships, sustainability and trends and outlooks in real estate). Then, “Capitalization Rates - When History Repeats Itself” and “The Housing Continuum - Emerging Housing Types/New Ways of Living in the World.” After lunch, to “Frack or Not to Frack -- That is the Issue.” I am really looking forward to this session.

You can see why I get energized for these meetings. We labor in our own vineyard much of the year, but getting away to see what other folks are doing and thinking in different locales is informative. But as much as I inquire of others what they are doing and what they see in their prognostications, they are just as eager to hear what is going on in New England, and that is my role -- to report on the real estate sectors in New England.

I will undoubtedly report on what I heard and learned in San Francisco as we hunker down here for the Thanksgiving season.

Bill Norton, president of Norton Asset Management, Manchester, is a Counselor of Real Estate (CRE) and a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS). He can be reached at wbn@nortonnewengland.com.

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