As published in Scotsman Guide's Commercial Edition, May 2008.
Since 1999, The Real Estate Roundtable has tried to show policymakers that as real estate goes, so goes the economy. With members from throughout the commercial real estate industry and with 16 partner trade associations, the roundtable works to create a cohesive voice in Washington, D.C. Senior Vice President Chip Rodgers tells us how.
Why was The Real Estate Roundtable founded? Representation of the real estate industry [previously] was somewhat segmented in the way it was presented to policymakers in Washington, D.C. Specific segments of the industry had representation, but [nobody was] sharing the bigger picture of how real estate as a sector influenced the overall economy and contributed to the gross domestic product. We tried to fill that void.
Where do you primarily focus? Our four main issue areas are credit and capital markets; tax policy; energy and environment; and homeland security. For each area, we have a policy-advisory committee or task force that works with our partner associations and actively pursues the industry's national policy initiatives with policymakers. Also, our research committee analyzes market trends and developments that may affect the industry's policy interests.
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How do you work with members and partner associations? We focus on the issues that are common among the groups and try to bring everybody together on a lot of different levels through specific coalitions that are issue-oriented.
For example, we have a group called the Capital Consortium Group that originally was set up to help develop and cultivate the commercial-mortgage-backed-securities market. Given what's going on in the credit and capital markets today, it has taken on a renewed initiative and coordination capability. Since last summer, it has been holding regular conference calls to discuss capital-market developments, exchange policy ideas on various issues and explore ideas to address the crisis.
What priorities are you looking at currently? The central topic has been the credit crunch and trying to evolve constructive solutions to help our markets, our economy, and mortgage bankers, brokers and lenders who are trying to find the resources they need to finance transactions.
We're also working on the energy and environmental side -- the energy-efficient tax deduction [which expires at the end of this year] is something that we're pressing to extend.
What is the industry's biggest challenge this year? I think the biggest challenge is the overall health of the economy. The good thing is that the commercial market is pretty much in balance without a massive overhang of vacancy space. So if the downturn is shallow and not long-term, we can see things come back fairly quickly because we don't have to worry about the overhang of space the way we did in the early 1990s.
Ivanna C. Sukkar is an associate editor at Scotsman Guide. Reach her at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.