It was a very good year...

Last week, my cousin, Noel Forma of Ameriprise Financial (shameless plug), called to chat about the latest NeuerSpace post and told me that he was writing his year-end client letter in which he recaps the year.  I thought it was a great idea to take a look back at 2011 and also a look ahead to 2012.  This post will be the year in review and in the next post, later this week, I will share with you my goals for the coming year. As I reflect on 2011 and try to summarize the year, the song Frank Sinatra made famous (originally recorded by The Kingston Trio) comes to mind, It Was A Very Good Year.  That said, none of the verses start with, "When I was 37...".  However, here are some real estate trends and personal highlights from 2011. 

Current Real Estate Trends

- It seems that corporate scrutiny is at an all-time high.  This increased scrutiny causes each real estate transaction to drag through several layers of approvals many times, costing the tenant money.  Some of the ripple effects of the lengthy process include not being able to take advantage of immediate opportunities for savings and transactions taking more time to complete, tying up resources that could be focused on other projects.  Landlords also face similar problems as lenders want approval rights that they didn't seek in the past.  Entrepreneurial landlords who can make quick decisions have an extreme advantage.

- Corporations are trying to become more dense in their occupancy of space, many with a target of less than 200 square feet per person.  This will place a heavy burden on building systems and cause tenants to seek creative solutions to parking issues in suburban locations.  This trend is good news for furniture vendors and urban environments with mass transportation and bad news for suburban office buildings with light parking ratios.

- There is a "flight to quality" happening throughout New Jersey.  Tenants are taking advantage of lower rental rates and higher concession packages to move in to top-tier buildings in better locations.  MetroPark has achieved almost 500,000 sf of positive absorption in 2011 as a result of this trend and a record number of build-to-suit transactions were signed this year as well.  I predict this trend will continue in to 2012 as tenants want to solidify long-term plans before the market begins to rise.

Personal Highlights

- By far and away, the best thing that happened to me in 2011 was the birth of my daughter, Dylan.  While she was a fussy baby for the first three months, she has now settled in as the perfect complement to her older siblings who both adore her. 

- As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving Blog, making the move to CBRE in February was a huge decision.  We have been very lucky that the transition was smooth and that the team here was amazingly helpful in getting us on board, teaching us the platform, and making sure our clients didn't miss a beat.  The feedback from our clients has all been very positive which is the best news of all.

- I was able to get involved or more involved with some great charities this year.  Early in the year, I was added to the board of Jeremy's Heroes (named for Jeremy Glick, a hero on United Flight 93 on 9/11) and we had a great time planning the 10th Anniversary Gala which raised over $100,000.  Special thanks to Southside Johnny & The Poor Fools who made their debut appearance for us.  I also continued to work with the NephCure Foundation, fighting a rare kidney disease which afflicts my young cousin, Matthew Levine.

Also this year, I was introduced to Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports through the work that he does with Family Services of Westchester.  Brandon is an amazingly charitable person and a great role model.  This past weekend, he hosted an event to benefit Mariano Rivera's Foundation where I was able to meet Mariano.  Definitely a highlight!

- Speaking of Mariano, I was at Yankee Stadium to witness both Derek Jeter's 3000th hit and Mariano's record breaking save.  Remarkable performances by two athletes that I have grown up with over the last 15+ years.

So overall, it was a great year and I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store!

JN