In this week’s episode of Deconstructed: The Future of CRE, we speak with Steve Fitzmaurice, Vice President of HUNT Property Solutions based in Buffalo, New York.

We learn all about Steve’s experience running a property solutions company, his thoughts on commercial real estate technology, the challenges brought on by Covid-19, and so much more.

HUNT Property Solutions

HUNT Property Solutions provides facility resource services across all parts of commercial property management. These areas include building maintenance, energy savings initiatives, capital projects, and construction consultation.

The business has built a respected reputation for providing reliable and high-quality building services. HUNT Property Solutions is proud to deliver efficient and integrated solutions for tenants at fair prices. 

Their in-class systems, technology, and personnel help their clients focus and improve on core operations and maintenance activities. Typically, clients range from commercial offices and industrial warehouses to those in the healthcare, historical, and education sectors.

The Challenges Brought on by Covid-19

The episode begins with Steve speaking about the challenges the last year has had on the company in regards to Covid-19.

Steve explains that they felt like they were under pressure as a business because suddenly they became everybody’s ‘Covid consultant.’ It seemed all of their different accounts were looking for HUNT Property Solutions to tell them how to prepare their facilities for Covid-19.

He notes that this quiet time in the industry has been used to cement their spot in the marketplace and deliver some revitalization in the buildings so that the brand remains competitive. 

Steve realizes that there will be fewer people working in offices now, so companies will require less office space. Because of this, HUNT Property Solutions aims to prepare and be ready for this change.

The City of Buffalo

We also learn more about the city of Buffalo in New York State and how it has become revitalized over the last 15-20 years. 

Steve explains that Buffalo is an interesting city that doesn’t seem to have big booms and busts. The city is relatively dependent on the government to make changes. However, there were certain things the public knew could be so much better if they took care of them themselves.

Something the public came forth on was the waterfront revitalization. What’s now the Buffalo River was originally the Buffalo Creek, and it was dredged to a depth of 26 feet to allow lake freighters to come and drop their grain, or whatever goods they are transporting. Before Buffalo Creek’s revitalization, it was just an industrial waterfront.

We learn that the waterfront has significantly reenergized the city, and it makes a significant impact on the number of people wanting to move there.

Commercial Real Estate Technology

Steve also gives his perspective on technology and the commercial real estate industry. He admits that he is cautious when using commercial real estate technology because you need to seek technologies that work for specific buildings.

He gives the Brisbane Building as an example as it is 125 years old. As an old building, it’s essential to find the right technologies to work for a building of that age.

Making Units Safe From Covid-19

A highlight of the conversation is how HUNT Property Solutions has made units safe for tenants following the pandemic. Steve also discusses the importance of communication and building solid foundations with tenants.

Steve believes it’s essential to let your tenants know what’s going on with their building. Much of what real estate companies do is behind the scenes and many people do not understand or recognize all the work done to reach a certain point. Steve thinks it’s essential to share with tenants what you’re doing as a company, how you’re working on their behalf, and how you’re running the building efficiently.

During Covid-19, Steve shares that he was transparent with a lot of the steps they took as a business to keep the building safer for tenants. It was essential to ensure that tenants had a face-to-face talk to feel more comfortable returning to the office, which seemed to be much appreciated.

Steve and his team spent a significant amount of time and energy cleaning the building with disinfectants. This seemed like the best move initially, but as a society, we soon learned that most of the virus is transmitted by air. It appeared there was too much focus on cleaning surfaces as the chances of contracting Covid-19 from touching something are extremely low.

The team soon realized they should concentrate on airborne virus particles. HUNT Property Solutions began advising tenants on what’s going on around the building infrastructure projects. They talked about the energy management system and energy improvements that were being made to the building. There are many simple moves and practices that can make a significant difference in the amount of energy consumed by the establishment.

Steve notes the challenge of explaining some of the changes to tenants, such as mentioning variable air volume boxes and variable frequency drives, as many people don’t understand the terms. However, he believes that people appreciate the transparency and time you take to explain these things, and that if you don’t let people know the action you’re taking on their behalf, you’re making a big mistake.

Entering the World of Real Estate

The episode wraps up with Steve giving his advice to young people hoping to enter the world of real estate. That is, to be open-minded, make an effort to understand the local market, and keep a bigger perspective.

It’s essential to note what’s currently happening in real estate to know what works and what does not. At the same time, it is vital to keep an open mind.

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