By Michael Polaski
Three prominent Washington, DC real estate family pairs representing The Bozzuto Group, The Shooshan Company, Western Development Corporation and Fundrise came together for a panel discussion entitled “Generations – All in the Family?” at the annual Urban Land Institute (ULI) Washington Real Estate Trends Conference held on April 3, 2014. Moderators Robin Mosle, Vice President for Retail at The JBG Companies, and Alison Mosle Williams, Project Manager for The Bozzuto Group, led the generational discussion of how the transition between generations affects their companies and products.
The “elder” generation of the panel, represented by Tom Bozzuto, John Shooshan and Herb Miller all expressed how running their business with integrity is something they wanted to pass to the younger generation as they continue to lead in the coming years. Herb said he stressed the importance of keeping up with changes in technology in the Real Estate industry to his son Ben, who is the co-founder of the real estate crowd-funding site Fundrise. Herb also sees a socialization pattern change with the new generation, and how this will affect how cites are developed. John sees an increase in the communication capability of the younger generation, and Tom sees an increased energy and enthusiasm.
The “younger” generation comprised of Toby Bozzuto, Kelly Shooshan and Ben Miller all have embraced technology and social media in the real estate industry (although some still prefer a pen and paper over an ipad). Kelly stated how there is “always something new with social media” and how it is almost too much to analyze. Toby hopes to create a better user experience with social media; something that he feels real estate lacks. He shares his father’s belief in “quality, highly-designed projects”, but feels like the younger generation may be more in tune with the key demographic renters. Ben talked about the older generation’s denial that they are now how their parents used to be, and how he hopes in 10 years the panel is discussing how “social capital” changed the real estate industry.
The discussion ended with a speed round of questions that showed generational differences in using voice mail (or not using voice mail) as well as thoughts on “place-making”. The Bozzuto’s were the only pair that believed micro units were a fad; maybe they know something we don’t know, and they are just keeping it in the family for now.