Apartmentalize – the National Apartment Association (NAA) annual education conference. A chance to rekindle friendships with 10,000 of my American friends and embrace the positivity and experience that is multifamily USA.
Yes, that is not a misprint there are 10,000 people at the conference. They took over 28 hotels, the closed the Gas Lamp district for their Thursday night party, and I mean closed. The streets, the bars, the shops; all closed from 4am on Thursday to set up until 6am Friday when it was all packed away. There were bands, food, drinks, entertainment and a spirit of joy and welcome that was a delight to experience.
The major factor in USA multifamily at present is affordable housing and there are national changes that are causing real problems. The NAA have led with fellow associations to try to assist and ensure the most vulnerable are housed and looked after. The speakers included Mike Rowe who has a show called Dirty Jobs which is exactly what it sounds like and also Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) legendary hero of New York Yankees and now has a multifamily corporation and 15,000 unit portfolio.
Stand out speaker for me though was Shabnam Mogharabi of Soulpancake. AMAZING! All they espouse is joy and positivity. Not a dirty word and certainly preferable to negativity and miserable. It was founded by Rainn Wilson (you may know him from the American version of The Office) and if you haven’t come across Soulpancake I would highly recommend you check it out.
The exposition had the usual cars to give away and all manner of competitions from the suppliers. With over 600 suppliers exhibiting it is like entering Ideal Home Show and certainly the step counters tick over at a good lick as the carpet is worn down over the 2 day run. The suppliers dollars make the event possible and their generosity is amazing to see. They have their own parties from hiring the USS Midway through to the Baseball stadium and a concert from Kelly Clarkson! No venue was spared in the town and the number of bands flown in (some a lot better than others!) is to be seen.
Having founded the UKAA and proud for it to be the first overseas affiliate to the NAA; on behalf of the NAA I am now looking to an International Apartment Association and planning the delivery to launch into our neighbouring European countries. This gives an exciting dimension as the globalisation of organisations and capital moves from Country to Country and Continent to Continent. The housing demands and the trend to rental is a wave spreading Country to Country. Of course, mainland Europe has long seen the benefits of renting their homes and not tying up capital and the burden of mortgages.
As I head into Heathrow I am excited and energised by the positivity of the last week and the service and experiences America offers. Now to translate the trends and perspectives to the UK and Ireland markets.
Roger Southam, Multifamily Innovator & Advisor