Each quarter, our Valuation & Advisory (V&A) group will recognize the individuals within their team who have hit major anniversary milestones. These veterans, who have been with the firm for 20 years or more will answer a few questions about their experience and tenure and be featured on our blog. We want to thank them for all they have done and their continued dedication Cushman & Wakefield. Eric B. Lewis, MAI, FRICS is an Executive Managing Director and as the Practice Leader for Hospitality & Gaming, is the first in this series.
You’ve now been with the firm 25 years and focus on hospitality. What changes within the appraisal industry and/or the New York market have you seen since you began your career? Where do you think it is heading?
Like virtually every other service-based industry, our business has been transformed by the availability of data, which has in turn, led to two significant developments. First, the speed at which CRE markets and transactions move has changed drastically. Our turnaround times are now routinely half what they were just 15 years ago. And second, the importance of true analysis and interpretation of the data, coupled with market knowledge. When anyone can access most of the same data we can with a few key-strokes, our analysis of, and insights regarding that data become that much more important to the client. While that has always been our true value-add, it is even more so true today. I can only begin to picture what may happen going forward. While I think we may be a ways off from drones handling property inspections, I can see with improved technology in the hands of appraisers and other CRE professionals, transaction times compressing even further. For example, if an appraiser were able to essentially write portions of the report while in the field and that information could be communicated to the client in real-time, delivery of the final product could be cut down, ultimately benefitting our customers. Specifically in my area of expertise, it’s been fascinating to see the way hotels have moved from a fringe player to a mainstay of institutional investors.
How did you get your start in commercial real estate/why did you choose to go into the appraisal profession?
I started out as a public accountant with (to date myself) Arthur Young – one of the former Big Eight Accounting firms. After getting my CPA, I decided I didn’t have enough personality to be an auditor so I got into appraisal! All kidding aside, real estate has always held my interest – the way it evolves and interacts with humanity, the fact that any one piece of property has so many facets – development, construction, finance, design, marketing, competition – makes the analysis of each property unique.
What is it about Cushman & Wakefield that has helped you reach this anniversary/keep you here?
It begins and ends with the people – both clients and co-workers. I’ve been very fortunate to work with folks, throughout my 25 years with the firm, whom I consider close friends. When you spend as much or more time with your clients and fellow employees as you do your family, having a group which supports and challenges you while at the same time putting a smile on your face, makes the days, and years, go by a lot faster.
What was the most unusual assignment you’ve ever had or what has been the most memorable/your favorite?
I consider myself very lucky to work in New York City, arguably the most dynamic real estate market on the planet, and without question, the most sought-after by investors. It is truly the cutting edge of the CRE industry. That said, it is a big world out there and anytime my work takes me to someplace new, I gain additional insight and perspective as to how this planet of ours fits together. I find working in the global emerging markets to be the most interesting. Despite the short-term economic ebb and flow, they are growing at a tremendous pace overall and watching them develop, both physically and economically, within their varying governmental, social and economic frameworks, is fascinating stuff.
How do you plan to spend your next 25 years at Cushman & Wakefield?
Coming up with answers to the questions posed to me on my 50th anniversary! In all seriousness though, the recent merger which has effectively brought together four great firms; C&W, DTZ, Cassidy Turley, and Massey Knakal, presents the new Cushman & Wakefield with a wealth of opportunity via what is now our truly global reach. It’s terribly cliché to say that the world is getting smaller, but that is the truth and Cushman & Wakefield is perfectly positioned to assist our clients as cross-border capital flows continue to increase and the complexity of markets continues to ratchet up, while also more effectively serving our clients in local markets with the help of a more robust platform. Continuing to pull that global/local platform together is what keeps me eager to get to work each day.
When you’re not out appraising an asset or writing a report, what do you like to do?
Traveling with family and friends, skiing, cooking, and eating.
For more on our Hospitality & Gaming group, click here.
Cushman & Wakefield is a leading advisor to the hospitality industry and offers our clients a deep understanding of the complexities as both an operating business and a real estate investment. Under Eric’s direction, our dedicated team nearly 30 professionals appraised over 1,480 properties in 2016.