by Eric B. Lewis, MAI, FRICS
President, Valuation & Advisory Americas
We’re recognizing the individuals within our Valuation & Advisory (V&A) group who have hit major anniversary milestones this year, by asking these veterans a few questions. After having been with the firm for 20 years or more, it’s interesting to hear about their experience, tenure, and what keeps them going. I had the chance to talk with George Rago, who has worked in the New York market for the last 20 years…
You’ve now been with the firm 20 years and focus on the coordination of large portfolio assignments. What changes within the appraisal industry and/or your market have you seen since you began your career? Where do you think it is heading?
Technology has been the single biggest change in the appraisal industry. The process we undertake to perform our due diligence, research comparable sales & rentals, bid on assignments, communicate via email, project our cash flows via Argus, Excel or other software, compose our reports, etc. has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. The timing required for delivery of our reports by clients has also been largely condensed and fees have decreased. In addition, many of our reports are not only reviewed by our client but their loan participants, JV partners, etc.
I believe, going forward, our business will become even more automated than what we are experiencing today enabling us to provide better quality reports and respond to the quick turnaround times required in today’s and tomorrow’s environment.
How did you get your start in commercial real estate/why did you choose to go into the appraisal profession?
I started as a residential appraiser at the Seaman’s Bank for Savings in 1973, valuing homes in the New York metropolitan area. In 1976 I moved to The Chase Manhattan Bank to get exposure to commercial real estate valuation and to obtain my MAI. Getting into the appraisal profession was luck, as I didn’t even know the appraisal profession existed until I interviewed for the job at the Savings Bank.
What is it about Cushman & Wakefield that has helped you reach this anniversary/keep you here?
The excellent reputation of Cushman & Wakefield in the marketplace as well as the individuals I have worked with over the years who hold quality and integrity as an important part of doing business.
What was the most unusual assignment you’ve ever had or what has been the most memorable/your favorite?
The most memorable assignment I have worked on was an 800 +/- property supermarket portfolio that also contained a fuel center component which required going concern values.
When you’re not out appraising an asset or writing a report, what do you like to do?
Going to live concerts — mainly blues, jazz and classic rock, watching and/or going to New York Yankees baseball games, playing golf and tennis, reading mystery novels, traveling, and spending time with my daughters.
Cushman & Wakefield has been a leader in the New York Tri-State Region since the company’s founding in New York City in 1917. Today our regional presence includes 14 offices throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, with more than 450 brokers and sales professionals, and more than 1,300 total employees. In 2016 we completed more than 2,000 lease transactions and nearly 700 sale transactions. We managed 175 projects, engaged in nearly 5,000 valuation assignments, and managed more than 71 million square feet of property, making us the region’s top property manager.
Eric Lewis is the President, Valuation & Advisory Americas. In this role, Eric is responsible for the overall operations of the Americas V&A group, which spans 600 professionals across 6 core services, 17 practice groups, and 70 offices. He drives the primary business objectives and activities for V&A in the Americas, including our aggressive growth and technology initiatives. In 2017, the group appraised more than 50,640 properties valued at over $1.29 trillion USD.