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CHICAGO-As properties lose value around the world, the Institute for Real Estate Management is reminding owners that professional care of buildings will make a strong difference in what sells and what doesn’t in today’s down economy. The organization, formed 75 years ago, has been slowly growing around the globe, and enjoying success as companies in emerging countries realize the need for effective property management, with members now signed on in nearly 30 countries.

Pamela Monroe, the organization president, said in a statement recently that high-credentialed managers usually have the experience needed to inject value back into distressed properties by protecting income streams, controlling expenses, positioning for best return-on-investment and best-price achievement. “Simply stated, they know how to salvage, maintain, reshape and remarket what is expected to be an enormous pool of troubled real estate assets.”

Industry leaders agree. Rick Chichester, US president of Colliers International, tells GlobeSt.com that good managers are needed more than ever, because, in this economic downturn, the industry will be turning more toward basic fundamentals to evaluate properties. “Owners are going to have to rely on property management more than ever, to really focus on managing property that will benefit the tenants,” he says.

The organization has been moving global in the past few years. Since 2004, the international rate of the organization’s Commercial Property Manager credential, has comprised more than 20% of the group’s CPM approvals. Robert Toothaker, chairman of the Real Estate Management Corp. and CB Richard Ellis South Bend, tells GlobeSt.com that the movement has really helped the organization grow to more than 18,000 individual members and 500 corporate members. Toothaker was the 2007 IREM president. “The international market has seen our training, education and certification, and has recognized that they need top quality people,” he says.

The level of interest varies by country, Toothaker says. Russia has been on board since the 1990s, and has grown heavily in the past decade. Eastern European nations are also showing strong interest, including Poland. “There’s refurbished product in the Eastern Bloc countries where owners, not used to property ownership, they’re used to the state taking care of everything. Now they have a sudden recognition that they need someone to manage this stuff, someone who can handle preventative maintenance and stuff that’s second nature to us here.” He said he was at the MIPIM conference in Cannes, France when two Europeans made a strong beeline for the IREM booth. “These two fellows from Romania had Googled real estate management, and every time our name came up. They wanted the education, and wanted it right away.”

Asia has also seen strong requirements for management training, Toothaker says. “Korea has taken off like gangbusters. We also have offerings going on in China, where there’s just tremendous amount of real estate. These fledgling democratic markets, the individual ownership of real estate is new, and their need is enormous. Here a large PUD project is, say, 2,000 units; while there a normal project is in the 20,000 to 30,000 units. You have projects that are the size of small towns, and they’re never-ending. You pass one, then get to another, and another, and another…”

He says the Middle East, such as the strong cities as Dubai, is still too young to realize its need for property management. “All the buildings in Dubai are new, and new buildings really take care of themselves for a while. After seven to 10 years, things are going to start to need repair, and they’ll realize the need for good management.”

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