Last year was a challenging year for most businesses, including the multi-family real estate industry. One way industry leaders navigated the storm of the pandemic-related shut-down was to share ideas with one another. CARROLL, a leading east-coast real estate investment firm founded by CEO M. Patrick Carroll, hosted a round table webinar in May 2020 that featured four industry titans sharing their experiences and what they learned as the pandemic dramatically changed the way they did business.
Included in the webinar were Michael Patrick Carroll, the founder of CARROLL; Robert LaChapelle, the Regional Managing Director for CBRE's Debt & Structured Finance Group in Atlanta, Georgia; Kris Mikkelsen, the Managing Partner and COO of Atlanta-based investment firm of Walker and Dunlop; and Blake Okland, Vice Chairman, Head of Multifamily Investment Sales for Newmark. During this webinar, entrepreneur and innovator M. Patrick Carroll shed light on leadership and investment during evolving times.
How were you able to pivot after the pandemic?
M Patrick Carroll: I think learning how to communicate effectively without being able to meet with people in person was the greatest challenge. We wanted to encourage our employees right away and let them know that everything was going to be alright, but that was difficult with everyone working from home. Our industry has largely been one of face-to-face deals. That all changed abruptly and we had to find ways to facilitate meetings without airplanes and conference rooms.
What's the biggest change you've seen over the last few months?
M Patrick Carroll: I think not being able to get out and talk to people, and do deals has been really hard. However, we think it's the way we've been able to communicate that we are a solution provider to our investors and to our rentors has been instrumental in keeping us afloat during the shutdown.
We've also invested a lot in communications technology. If you're not versed on this technology, if you're not putting new content out regularly, you're lagging behind.
What trends do you see in the multifamily industry coming out of the pandemic?
M Patrick Carroll: I see a couple of things. First, I think there will be a migration from high-rent locations like Silicon Valley and San Francisco to places with lower taxes and lower rents as more and more companies embrace the work-at-home model. I see places like Arizona, Boise and Salt Lake City gaining traction and workers look for cheaper places to live.
Secondly, and many would disagree with me on this, I see opportunity in New York City. Yes, it's one of the most high-priced cities in the world, but there's something about the city that draws people. I didn't get it until I moved here, but it's the dream of people from all over the world to live in New York City. On the house side, I see an opportunity in renovating the older housing stock here. You really have two extremes, the ultra fancy (and expensive) and the 30 to 40-year old buildings that haven't been updated in decades.
Lastly, I see a move to more affordable housing, no matter where people are based in the country. I think consumers are looking towards a more minimalist home environment rather than the 'joy of accumulation' of their parents' generation.
What do you see as the new mix between rehab and new development in the multifamily industry?
M Patrick Carroll: I don't really care whether the property we're investing in is an older or a new property as long as the rent roll looks good. I want to see tenants from a variety of industries and a variety of employers on the roll. You don't want everyone working for the same company. We even get involved with local employers and keep tabs on how their businesses are doing and what we can do to help. It's kind of a 'trust, but verify' situation.
What did you tell your team to get them through the pandemic?
M Patrick Carroll: I won't lie; the middle of March, 2020 was kind of scary. However, I stressed optimism to my people. It's the American way. When I talk with people from Europe, it's really obvious that we Americans are more hopeful and optimistic. I think if you wake up with a positive attitude every day, that's your advantage, because your competitors probably aren't doing that.
I also stressed compassion. We want to be a solution provider to those we work with. And, excellence. We want to lead by example.
Carroll ended the webinar by stressing that he feels the best way forward is to adapt and be proactive. "You can take any bad situation and fix it." Well said.
About M. Patrick Carroll
M. Patrick Carroll is an entrepreneur, real estate innovator and the founder of CARROLL, a leading real estate investment firm. Carroll started his professional journey at age 21, shortly after moving to Atlanta, by purchasing--and flipping--a classic fixer-upper. He used that experience to fund the development--and subsequent sale--of a 150-unit housing development. That deal led to his purchasing three property management companies with a total of 20,000 multi-family units. He was hooked on real estate, and the rest is history.
Today, with more than 20 years experience in the real estate business, M Patrick Carroll is proud to lead one of the top, privately-owned real estate groups in the United States. He's also proud that he is self-taught and has succeeded in spite of (or because of) never having attended college. "I don't fit the bill of a typical CEO," Carroll says. "I want to show the next generation of entrepreneurs that you do not have to do things the traditional route to achieve your dreams."
M Patrick Carroll now makes his home in New York City. In addition to his role with CARROLL, leader M. Patrick Carroll sits on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa, the Jesuit High School Foundation and the Forbes Real Estate Council.
CARROLL is a major real estate investment firm. The company has managed more than $5 billion dollars worth of assets, owning more than 30,000 residential and commercial properties along the east coast. Founded in 2004, CARROLL has grown from a small, regional firm, to a major player in the US real estate market, with properties in seven states.