Webinar Focuses on Real Estate in COVID-19 World

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Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News


Steven Soclof of commercial real estate private investment firm, Matrix Equities, LLC in Cleveland, used his expertise to moderate a July 22 webinar hosted by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland in Beachwood.

Chair of the Federation’s real estate affinity group, Soclof opened the event, “Real Estate During the Pandemic: Perspectives from the Frontlines,” by noting more than 140 people had logged on to watch, including Jewish Federation of Cleveland President Erika Rudin-Luria.

“I am thrilled that so many of you have joined us for this evening’s webinar,” Soclof said.

The first speaker was Federation board chair J. David Heller who addressed the Federation’s impact on the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The community’s done just an absolutely incredible job of stepping up; our donors, our volunteers, our professional staff at the agencies, our professional staff at the Federation really has not missed a beat in trying to take care of our community during these unprecedented times,” Heller said. “While our doors may have been closed, our delivery of services remained open and I can’t thank the community enough for all that they’ve done.”

An array of different perspectives was represented throughout the webinar. Some of Cleveland’s leading real estate professionals representing apartments, commercial, industrial, investment, residential, office and legal insights each took two minutes to present.

Topics included: Real Estate During a Pandemic: Threat or Opportunity?; Temporary or Permanent Changes: What is the “New Normal?”; Location, Location, Location: Given the Growing Realities of Our New Virtual World, Does Physical Location Even Matter Anymore?; Urban vs. Suburban: Who is Winning This Tug of War?; and Rosh Hashanah 2020: What Will the New Year Bring?

Addressing whether physical location matters in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, David Kornbluth, president, Channing Realty Advisors, LLC, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic (has) accelerated societal changes that would otherwise have taken years or decades to fully take hold.”

“The way goods and services are delivered to consumers and the way we conduct business has changed virtually every night. But we’re still social beings who need and want to gather, make new connections and friendships and want to build collaborative work teams.”

Adam Gimbel, principal, Allegro Real Estate Brokers & Advisors, discussed “the future of the office” and whether changes related to the pandemic are temporary or permanent.

“While we do not profess to have a crystal ball, we do anticipate that there will be a number of companies that will shift the way they utilize real estate,” Gimbel said. “Those shifts will vary on a macro level by industry and on a micro level by job functions.”

Gimbel noted employees have been productive working remotely, especially by utilizing technology such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

“But we believe the office won’t and can’t go away completely,” Gimbel said. “While there are advantages to work from home such as flexibility and efficiency, there are a number of significant disadvantages with a work from home strategy.”

Gimbel said disadvantages include lack of spontaneity, creativity and collaboration in a workplace and an inability to foster a sense of community and identity. He also said it is harder to effectively on-board and train employees, “which will ultimately lead to an inability to grow a company.”

Other speakers included: Dan Brenner, senior vice president & deputy general counsel, The NRP Group, LLC; Dan Burkons, senior managing director, Marcus & Millichap; Joseph Greenberg, general partner, CG Real Estate Capital; Aaron Gross, partner, Gross Residential; Susan Frankel, president, Susan Frankel & Associates; Randy Ruttenberg, principal, Fairmount Properties; Scott Simon, president, North Pointe Realty; Coby Socher, partner, The Socher Team, Partner Keller Williams Greater Metropolitan; Jeffrey Soclof, president, Emmco Realty Group; and Mark Vogel, senior managing director, Berkadia.

“This was really an incredible presentation and a wonderful panel,” Soclof said. “Thank you to all of our panelists for sharing your insight with us tonight and thank you to the audience for joining us.”

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