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"As a result of COVID, two things have struck me: 1) just how resilient multifamily is as an asset class; 2) how much innovation has actually occurred in this industry." — Mitch Fanning
After the longest shortest year of everyone's life, the Sync or Swim podcast is wrapping up our first season's 14-episode run.
In this episode, we examined the trends and ideas we uncovered in our interviews:
Mitch Fanning, VP Marketing at Rentsync
Nicolina Savelli, Content & Communication Specialist at Rentsync
What we talked about:
[0:00:16.1] Nicolina Savelli: Hello, and welcome back to Sync or Swim. It's Nicolina here, Rentsync's resident content marketer and co-producer of Sync or Swim back for a special year-end wrap-up of Season 1. And I've got Mitch Fanning here today who is our usual host, in the hot seat, to chat about the last 13 episodes of the podcast and our hopes and dreams and ideas for season two. So Mitch, welcome, it's great to be back on the mic with you.
[0:01:10.4] Mitch Fanning: Thank you that intro. It's a lot of pressure. I don't know if...
[0:01:15.1] Nicolina Savelli: We'll take a question by question, so the last time we were here, it was for our kick-off episode of Sync or Swim, and it was during the first few months of what has now been almost a year long pandemic, so I can't believe how quickly time is kind of gone. It's been the longest shortest year, I think, of everyone's life, but we've been able to put out a lot of content for multi-family professionals, so I'd like to take this opportunity to chat with you about what we've learned during this first season and from the guests and the insights, we've cultivated, I've got a few questions lined up that I'm sure you've also been thinking about throughout this podcasting journey, so are you ready for this year and wrap up, Mitch?
[0:02:00] Mitch Fanning: I'm ready. Let's kick it off.
[0:02:02] Nicolina Savelli: Okay, great. So my first question for you would be, what would you say is the biggest lesson you've learned hosting a B2B podcast in the multifamily and rental housing industry?
[0:02:15.4] Mitch Fanning: That's a great question. So, I think I've learned something from each guest, the one thing I've learned overall is just how much the industry has changed over the last five to 10 years, but more importantly how much it's actually going to be changing over the next three to five years and beyond, a couple of things I've learned, I've learned from the investors and the owners, when I say owners, I'm talking about the big pension funds that have come in that have given money to these asset management companies to manage, they've definitely become more demanding over the last five to 10 years, they're looking for more data, they're looking for more returns, so they have certain expectations because they've been investing in other asset classes. The other thing that's interesting is I've noticed that the property managers, the multi-family marketers and leasing teams as a result, have become more sophisticated, almost professionalized as a result of that, and the ones that continue to make that transition will definitely be in high demand moving forward, and I guess as a result, the real estate tech ecosystem has just evolved, obviously, it's become really complex so quickly, and operators are using that technology to not only optimize the performance of the assets themselves, but they're doing it...
[0:03:40.4] Mitch Fanning: Or trying to do it in a more efficient manner. So again, it's kind of like a perfect storm for change and obviously COVID has accelerated it. Right.
[0:03:49.2] Nicolina Savelli: Yeah, absolutely, I mean, like you've said in previous episodes, COVID forced us to do the things we should have been doing all along, and I think that's just such a huge takeaway or my personal takeaway from the season, and that's definitely true for the multi-family industry, so okay, then what would you say is the most memorable takeaway? I just led into my own question there...that you can recall from a guest this season?
[0:04:15.4] Mitch Fanning: I think the most fun I had was actually in episode 1 when we did... When we did the episode with Jason Leonard, David Koski, Michel Mottola, and Max Steinman, I think just talking about the origin story and their 10 year journey and just getting together and chatting. It was really cool. I actually also think, and I've heard this from a couple of new employees, that it's actually... I think it's been a good resource for people who have kind of onboarded to hear that, so I think that was at least the most fun I've had... Obviously, everyone's been great in terms of... interviews. But that was the most fun.
[0:04:59.4] Nicolina Savelli: Okay, great. Now, sometimes after a recording, and I'm sure I'll feel the same way after this one, you think, "Oh, I wish I asked that question," or you wish you had brought something to light that maybe came after... So do you have any regrets or missed opportunities from any of the interviews you've done so far this season?
[0:05:19.3] Mitch Fanning: I really like this question. I would say not really. And one thing that I would say first is, you and I put a lot of time into preparing for these, and I actually take a good three to five hours sometimes to prep for these things, so we definitely want to make the guest sound good. The only thing I would say that I have regrets or the missed opportunities is not doing more episodes, I think there is definitely, based on just the feedback we're getting, there is definitely a need for this type of content in this industry, and I think doing more video which I think we're going to be experimenting with more in season two, and as well as just doing more episodes.
[0:06:05.0] Nicolina Savelli: That's fair enough. So, from the conversations you have had this year, you kind of alluded to it, but maybe expand slightly on what you would say COVID has impacted the most in the multifamily industry, do you think these changes are temporary or permanent or... Somewhere in between?
[0:06:23.1] Mitch Fanning: So as a result of COVID, the two things that have struck me the most, are one, just how resilient multi-family is as an asset class, and the other thing that's really stood out for me is how much innovation has actually occurred in this industry, which over the last five, 10 years has been a bit of a laggard, but has really accelerated, and I think that'll continue to change, continue happen. And I think that's gonna be permanent, so I definitely think there's those two factors, those are the ones that at least have stood out for me.
[0:07:03.0] Nicolina Savelli: And if you had to guess, what do you think is the biggest trend in multi-family or are going to be the biggest trend in multi-family for 2021, which is kind of a big question to ask, but I think that the last year has kind of dictated maybe where we're gonna go in 2021, and this might be not just multi-family, this could be in general as well.
[0:07:40.8] Mitch Fanning: Sure. I think, I'm not sure about '21, but I have a few that I feel that will be kind of trends moving forward also before I answer that, I'm by no means an expert or guru, but I think I've had the opportunity to, in a way, stand on the shoulders of giants. When interviewing some of these people. And so this is what I've kind of gleaned from this experience, number one, I think that residential real estate or residential real estate industry specifically will continue to be disrupted by technology over the next three to five years, I think people will decide moving forward to rent as a choice, more and more, that'll become an option that they consider, and I think the migration to the secondary markets will continue. I also think that the rental marketing channels will become more competitive, putting pressure on multi-family marketers to not only generate leads but leases and show that... Show the proof there. I think as a result of that too, you're gonna have operators and multi-family marketers who actually start to over-index on tenant renewal opportunities and like reputation management, not just demand, as a result of that as a result essentially COVID.
[0:09:11.3] Mitch Fanning: So I think you're gonna see this whole resident success function come from the multifamily industry, they'll want to make... Basically, they'll want to improve on the resident experience, I think when it comes to rental marketing, in particular, I think... Again, I've said this before, but having high quality online 3D video tours is not just table stakes, not just a nice to-have, and I think that's gonna extend way beyond classes, I think you're gonna see some owner operators with Class Bs start to experiment more and more with that, and again, I said this earlier, but I think the tech stack in multifamily will continue to evolve and get more complex, and those multifamily marketers who can make that transition and understand that ecosystem will help owners drive more NOI net operating income and be in more demand, be in high demand moving forward.
[0:10:14.9] Nicolina Savelli: For sure. Now, those are all really astute trends there that I think that you nailed, I just... I kinda want to expand on the whole moving to secondary markets a little bit, because I know a lot of this season we talked about remote work with a lot of the people that we interviewed. What do you think is gonna happen in 2021 with that? Do you think that the urban metros are still gonna continue to suffer in this way, or do you think that there'll be some normalcy there or there's a vaccine rolling out, so what are your thoughts a little bit around that and how it may affect maybe construction and new builds, etcetera. In the next year or so.
[0:10:56.8] Mitch Fanning: Well, again, I'm not necessarily an expert or the expert, but what I would say is this, I mean, whenever a market bottoms out, there is a return back to that, so I think to really put this in simple terms that at least I can get my head around when rents in urban areas start to get to a certain point, you're going to have people who maybe couldn't afford to live in those areas or maybe decide that they can move up to a two or three bedroom for a cheaper... Cheaper rent rate. I think you're gonna see people return, I don't necessarily think the urban lifestyle is gonna go away forever, but I definitely think there's been this... I think people who wanted to leave the urban areas are just leaving a bit earlier than maybe they would have normally, and again, when we get to certain rent rates, when they kind of bottom out, if you will, you're gonna see people return...
[0:12:03.1] Nicolina Savelli: Right, fair enough. Okay, I didn't mean to put you on the spot, I kinda went off script there...
[0:12:09.3] Mitch Fanning: I know, I know you got me on that one.
[0:12:11.6] Nicolina Savelli: So, now you've already told me what your favorite episode this season was and why... So, I'm gonna move on to a question I really wanna know the answer to, but if you could interview anyone on the show, who would it be and why? It doesn't need to be in the multifamily space, but someone you just really, really want to speak to and maybe they'll listen to this episode somehow some way, maybe I'll send it to them...
[0:12:35.2] Mitch Fanning: Well, I think I could potentially get in trouble for this one, depending on how I answer that. You know what I would say. So I remember reading an article, I think three, four months ago, Dean Hopkins, who's the COO of Oxford Property Group in 2019, Dean was tasked to lead the digital transformation at Oxford... And again, it kind of... You sound like a broken record, but I think people who are in the industry who look outside the industry and bring in different ways of doing things, or people who are outside the industry come into this industry will be considered thought leaders moving forward, and I think Dean is exactly that he came from outside this industry and he's working at Oxford and he's kind of working through that change of moving them from basically moving them through that digital transformation... Digital transformation phase, I would say his story is a very timely one given what's going on, so if anyone's listing who knows Dean and would like to make that introduction... I would be grateful.
[0:13:50.3] Nicolina Savelli: Okay, great, so my last question of the easy questions are, what are you hoping to see for season two of Sanders, you've mentioned it a little bit, we're gonna try and bring some video in, but for listeners, what changes are you looking forward to?
[0:14:07.8] Mitch Fanning: Those are the easy questions?!
[0:14:09.6] Nicolina Savelli: Those are the easy ones ya, We're gonna get into some tough ones later.
[0:14:13.2] Mitch Fanning: Okay, wow. Wow, okay. Well, you know what, I'll make this... I'll make this simple, more episodes, more client appearances, and I'm not sure if I can say this yet, but more Nick, some more you... I think... I think we... We've talked about this and we're gonna be finalizing the plans in January, but I think we're on... The listeners are gonna be hearing more of you in months to come... We'll just leave it at that.
[0:14:44.2] Nicolina Savelli: "Good luck, guys." No, I'm personally looking forward to season two, I think it's gonna be a huge learning curve for everyone, but a lot of cool insights and tactics and takeaways, I think I'll be put on the table for this season too, and we've already got a great lineup of guests coming, so I can't wait for... what's in store.
[0:15:06] Nicolina Savelli: So, now that we've made it through the easy questions, I'm gonna take a cue for Mitch Fanning's podcast playbook, we all know by now that you're the king of rapid-fire questions, so this time I've come prepared with my own... Are you ready for your own rapid fire round of questions Mitch...
[0:15:24:0] Mitch Fanning: No, no. Not I'm not… I'm Ready? I'm ready. Let's do it.
[0:15:28.9] Nicolina Savelli: Here we go. So number one? What fortune would you want to get from a fortune cookie going into 2021? So
0:15:38.3 Mitch Fanning: The way I'd answer this, I don't know if it would be a fortune in a fortune copy, but the first thing that came to mind that I think would make a good fortune I is actually the quote that's sitting above me right now, and that's hard choices easy life. Easy choices. Hard life.
[0:15:57.2] Nicolina Savelli: Okay, good one, I like it. Number two, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
[0:16:03.9] Mitch Fanning: That's an easy one. It would be Hawaii specifically, Kawaii. And that's where I got married.
[0:16:09.6] Nicolina Savelli: Okay, very nice. I've never been to Hawaii, but I've heard incredible things. And hopefully, my fortune for 2021 would be we could all travel again, but we'll see about that. If you were famous, what would you be famous for?
[0:16:27.4] Mitch Fanning: Probably my analogies or my Mitchisms. I don't know. I think the team... Would the team agree with that? I don't know.
[0:16:37.1] Nicolina Savelli: I think so, I think we should just have a book for your Mitchisms, introduce all our new employees here, Mitchism, for you to think about, and the descriptions and... Yeah, well, I'd say that that's an accurate statement. For sure. Okay, number four. What word would you add to the dictionary if you could... And what would it mean? Speaking of machismo.
[0:17:02.7] Mitch Fanning: I would say Rentsyncer. So that's Rent, S-Y-N-C-E-R, and that is a citizen of Rentsync.
[0:17:15.3] Nicolina Savelli: I like it, I like it. Okay, number five. How do you define happiness?
[0:17:23.0] Mitch Fanning: Having coffee with my wife. That's an easy...
[0:17:26.4] Nicolina Savelli: That's wonderful. Okay, number six. What are you most proud of?
[0:17:31.4] Mitch Fanning: I would say seeing the people around me improve, I would also say this is just the dad in me, teaching my daughter the value of investing early.
[0:17:41.9] Nicolina Savelli: Very good. Okay, cool. Yeah. Number seven. What do you consider your biggest failure?
[0:17:49.9] Mitch Fanning: I've had a lot of them, so that was a hard one to sell down one thing, I don't know if it's a failure, but one thing I always kind of joke with my wife with is, I graduated in 2000, I don't know if that's dating me, but I graduated in 2000, NBC timeframe. And I drove back to... I probably drove back to Toronto instead of actually going to California, and so the one thing I always think about is if I would have actually drove south to San Francisco in the year 2000... What an interesting decade. That was in Silicon Valley from 2000 to 2010, and I was very close. And I didn't drive south, I drove east and also to the real estate, obviously was really cheap back then too, so I'd have probably gotten a good deal on the house, so... I digress. I digress, I
[0:18:44.7] Nicolina Savelli: Not a failure, but definitely a wishful thinking could of, would have, should have, but I'm sure everything worked out the way I was supposed to...Number eight, last question, if you could trade lives with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
[0:19:04.5] Mitch Fanning: That's an easy one, my dog Barley, because he's pampered by my wife and he doesn't have a care in the world, and I always say if I could come back, I would come back as Barley.
[0:19:18.0] Nicolina Savelli: That's awesome. Alright, Mitch, that, thank you for those thoughtful responses, and thank you for taking the time to join me for our year end wrap up today. If anything, it's been fun, I think it's also been super informative and helpful too, so before we go... Any final words?
[0:19:36.5] Mitch Fanning: Yeah, before we sign off, I just would like to thank you, Nicolina, for all the work you've done, including getting this show off the ground, and so thank you and have a happy holidays. And as far as the listeners, the next episode will be shipped, I think January 19th will be the next recording, so we'll be getting a lot of that off the ground in early January, but... Yeah, I guess I wish everyone a happy holiday.
[0:20:04.2] Nicolina Savelli: Alright, awesome, thank you. And happy holidays, everyone. And keep swimming.
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