News from the Chicago Chapter

Insight From IREM 2021 Advocacy Impact Day Offers Guidelines for the Year Ahead

Posted by [email protected] on 03/23/2021 1:32 pm  

On March 9, IREM hosted the Advocacy Impact Day, a virtual event that featured presentations on the economy and impact of the pandemic on commercial real estate, along with guidance on organizing meetings with members of Congress and their staff.

IREM Chicago President-Elect Colleen Needham, CPM®, CAM®, ARM® participated and shared these thoughts. 


  1. What were the key takeaways from the event?
  • Meeting with your local legislators throughout the year on key Bills that effect our industry is important in order to drive momentum towards a vote that can provide a significant change towards how we conduct business.
  • Instructions to IREM members on how to schedule meetings and the issues to discuss as members of IREM. This year there are three legislative bills IREM is focusing on: Safe Banking, COVID Relief and 1031 Exchange.

  1. Were there any relevant comments from the two keynote speakers?
  • Todd Buchholz, the economist, spoke about the third stimulus package and how that will spark people to purchase goods and services, driving a positive economic outlook. He did not believe this development would create a long term solution and had insight into inflation. If inflation clearly pierces the 2% mark, that could raise short-term interest rates, increasing the rates on borrowing money for homeowners and business; the result would cause the economy to fall into a true recession. 

  • This in turn would lead to a 20% drop in the stock market. Buchholtz did not believe the economy is at a crucial point yet, but the situation needs to be watched closely.  He also brought to light different business categories such as Uber drivers, Airbnb rentals, and other types of business where employees are contractors or deemed Giggers of the organization. 

  • Thomas Songer, the epidemiologist, spoke on the significance of wearing masks and social distancing -- even with the vaccination now being administered. People who are vaccinated could still possibly contract COVID-19. Once more knowledge is gained in the overall population, the goal is to reduce transmission of COVID and to keep up the mitigation process by washing hands and sanitization; this practice will help stop spread of the illness.  Pre-existing patients’ response and how to raise immunity also is a significant issue. The vaccine is working quite well within segments of the population and to increase immunity, we all should eat healthy, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest. 

  1. From a property management professional's perspective, what are the biggest challenges ahead for the industry?

    Some of the challenges will be keeping occupancy high while ensuring receipt of rent payments. We are dealing with a lot of fraud right now, and managers are working with different technologies to reduce those committing fraud from accessing apartments.

    In 2021 many properties nationwide will see an uptick in bad debt; this is due to rental in arrears (nonpayment), and the impact will vary nationally based on laws in place. This stemmed from tenants who lost their job or were furloughed but did not qualify for unemployment, and those who just chose to use the pandemic as a reason to not pay rent. Resident functions will continue to be viewed differently and with reduced attendance. Service requirements have already been changing where quicker responses are required and even minor repairs have been escalated due to resident demands.  
  1. Finally, the spring meeting in Washington has been an in-person event over the years. How did you benefit from the virtual event?

    This was completely different from than the Capitol Hill Fly-In, where participants meet with legislators and their administration right away. We did not have that opportunity earlier this month, but the virtual event captured a larger audience to demonstrate how to reach out to governing parties and what initiatives IREM values that we have chosen to advocate for this year. Having keynote speakers was a welcomed addition to this event. The keynote speakers brought their expertise to the table and allowed for a varied synopsis of not only the economy, but how we should address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic going forward in the new environment.