Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Global Village

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Global Village

Article excerpt

A glimpse at overseas assignments for real estate managers

Opportunities exist for U.S. property managers to practice their profession around the world. These can be with domestic companies operating overseas or developers and investment firms in other countries. The prospects with U.S. companies are found among major developers, investment firms, real estate investment trusts and full-service real estate companies. Some of these assignments are for a few days or a week, others are temporary and can last as long as 18 months and some are permanent. Where are the opportunities and how are U.S. property managers compensated when they accept an assignment outside North America?

SHORT-TERM: TEACH

Many short-term assignments involve either teaching or consulting. The Institute currently offers courses throughout Europe, Asia, South and Central America. The first course the Institute offered outside North America was in Singapore in 1988 and since then, courses have been held in 15 countries outside North America. Other real estate associations have offered courses abroad for many years. The Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) Institute held its first course outside North America in Russia in 1991 and has been actively teaching courses in eight countries since 2000. Twenty percent of new CCIMs are from outside North America. The International Council of Shopping Centers not only offers courses around the world, but since the 1970s has held an annual European shopping center conference. These courses are taught by American instructors with sequential translation.

Teaching assignments are typically three to five days, but can last up to two weeks. The compensation is the same as teaching courses in the United States. Travel and hotel accommodations and reasonable out-of-pocket expenses are reimbursed.

STAY A WHILE: CONSULT

Consulting is another short-term assignment. Positions are usually with large investment or development firms in other countries curious about U.S. real estate practices or needing an analysis of a certain issue-like an evaluation of a problem property and development of a marketing plan, or an assessment of the firm's in-house property management and staff-training practices. Typically, property managers charge foreign companies the same consulting fees they charge for work in the United States. In addition to their fees, consultants often receive business-class airline tickets, hotel accommodations and reasonable out-of-pocket expenses.

"Always have the consulting agreement fully negotiated before starting the assignment," said Alan Alexander, SCSM. Alexander has taught dozens of courses overseas and provided consulting services to firms in Asia. "This can be a slow process because people in other countries want to first develop a relationship and then develop a trust with you before they give you an assignment. Also, the discussions and negotiations should be with a decision maker, and it is wise to receive a retainer and have the airline ticket pre-paid."

Many property managers take 12- to 18-month assignments to manage properties in other countries-typically with U.S.-based full-service real estate firms, real estate investment trusts or investment firms. International corporations want to occupy Class A office space, and international retailers seek the best shopping districts or malls when entering other countries. They expect the properties they occupy will be managed to the same high standards as the buildings they occupy in the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Japan, Singapore and other countries with advanced real estate industries. Property managers from Australia, Canada and the United States are prime candidates to manage Class A buildings in other countries.

Property managers may be managing large commercial buildings, portfolios of properties or property management offices. Compensation is more than what senior property managers earn in major metropolitan cities and as much as what regional managing directors for national property management firms earn in the United States. …

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