Are commercial real estate practitioners too homogenous? It's not a question with a simple yes or no answer, but the 2010 Commercial Member Profile statistics compiled by NAR Research suggests the profession could stand a little more diversity.
According to the profile, 89 percent of commercial real estate pros are Caucasian, and 74 percent are male. (It should be noted that this latter figure has actually tilted in favor of women in recent years, and more than a third of commercial sales agents are female.) Also, the average age of professionals in this area is 56 years old. Of course, there's more to diversity than mere demographic percentages and averages, but the numbers are telling.
The profile was discussed at a Commercial Real Estate Research Subcommittee meeting Wednesday afternoon during the 2010 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Expo in Washington, D.C. Subcommittee chair Doug Groppenbacher, associate broker and branch manager at RE/MAX Commercial Investment in Phoenix, argued that the commercial real estate industry needed to reach out to younger people from a wide variety of backgrounds to inject some fresh ideas and energy into the profession.
Thoughts from subcommittee members on how to do this largely centered around social media. While that's definitely important, I think they should focus more on the message than the medium. The question they need to address is: Why should young people from various walks of life want to become commercial real estate practitioners? Some of the more persuasive arguments could revolve around the financial rewards (current market notwithstanding) and the opportunity to have a big impact on their community.
What do you think? What can the commercial real estate industry do to attract some new blood? Can/should this even be addressed at this crucial time for the market?