March 2, 2012

Four on Friday: Lori Kilberg Addresses the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants


The commercial real estate sector is in the midst of a halting recovery, and women are making halting advancements in the commercial real estate industry. Those were the themes of Hartman Simons partner Lori E. Kilberg’s remarks to the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants earlier this week. Below are four of the interesting points she made in her presentation.

Not Reaching the Top. While women are making strides in the commercial real estate industry, they are not consistently being promoted to what Kilberg referred to as the “C Suite,” meaning executive positions such as CEO, CFO and COO. “That’s one of the real problems,” said Kilberg, who is the immediate past president of the Atlanta chapter of CREW Network, a national organization dedicated to the advancement of women in commercial real estate. She also is currently on the organization’s Board of Directors.

“We’re getting stuck at the level below [the C Suite],” she said. “It’s hard to understand how slowly things have changed.”

The Persistent Wage Gap. While the gap between what women in commercial real estate make and what their male colleagues make is narrowing, it’s still there, Kilberg reported.

According to a 2010 CREW study, women aged 35 and older in commercial real estate make about 75 percent as much as their male counterparts. The news is slightly better for younger women: those between the ages of 25 and 34 make roughly 89 percent as much as their male colleagues.

Slowly Getting Better. Citing several commercial real estate forecasts, Kilberg said 2012 should be a year of improvement for all of the commercial real estate property types. The multifamily sector is poised for the strongest performance in the year ahead, followed by the industrial, office and retail markets, she noted.

At Hartman Simons, “we’re finally seeing a big uptick in [commercial real estate] activity across the board,” Kilberg said. But overall, the industry is “making its way very slowly to recovery.”

The Office Sector: Go Intown and Buy Your Own. While the office sector continues to struggle in many areas of the country, properties in central business districts are generally performing better than their counterparts in the suburbs, Kilberg said, in part because the smaller companies and start-ups that generally lease suburban space have yet to experience renewed job growth.

Kilberg also said Hartman Simons is seeing an increasing number of users buy their office buildings. She noted that Hartman Simons did so several years ago.

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