ANAHEIM-Real estate experts who gathered for the 17th annual Southern California Real Estate Conference yesterday expressed concern over a lack of young leaders within the industry. As the population ages and the Baby Boomers retire, many companies, according to panelists, are realizing that they have not found a significant amount of young talent to turn the business over to.

“As an industry, we’re relatively poor in training and establishing a platform for people to enter the industry,” said William Flaherty, senior vice president of Maguire Properties, during the Industry Leaders Talk panel. “This has been offset a bit by the community colleges and universities aggressively improving their real estate programs, but much more still needs to be done.”

Chris Hite, president of Coreland Cos., agreed, adding that he feels the upcoming generation can bring a slew of talents that will be needed for future real estate managers. “No longer does a real estate manager need to just be proficient in the operation of real estate, they now need accounting skills, they need to be Wall Street-oriented, they need to be able to manage people,” he said. “There is a shortage of very talented, young managers in the community. We’re not doing a good job of training and getting the message out.”

Kevin Baldridge, a fellow panelist and senior vice president of operations for the Irvine Co., said one way companies can target the younger generations is through advertising on not only real estate-based web sites, but on social networks that are geared toward the college and post-college crowd.

“We advertise on My Space, You Tube, so the Generation Y’ers can see us,” he says.Young professionals were also on the minds of the panel because they believed that companies, in order to lure the younger crowd into renting or buying, will need to start communicating with them on their turf: cyberspace.

“You have to enter their realm of communication,” Baldridge said. “First and foremost we’re a sales and service organization, so we need to communicate on their terms. For instance, all [housing] communities need Wifi. They also need managers who they can communicate with 24 hours a day.”

Other topics that were discussed at the conference, which was sponsored by IREM OC (the Institute of Real Estate Management) and featured a race car theme, included the human side of mergers, acquisitions and consolidations and changing a property’s function to make it green friendly.

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