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Strategy for Real Estate Companies

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January 26, 2024

For more than 55 years, RCLCO Real Estate Consulting has been the “first call” for real estate owners, developers, investors, the public sector, and non-real estate companies and organizations seeking strategic and tactical advice regarding real estate investment, planning, and development. Strategy for Real Estate Companies – the only book on the market that details strategy for those operating in the real estate industry – lays out the methods and key steps you should take to optimize your company’s structure, plan for the extreme cyclicality in the business, and in so doing, build consensus and drive performance and profitability. Chock-full of examples and case studies, helpful hints, and insider knowledge, this book is a practical guide for leaders and executives who are charged with setting the future direction of their real estate enterprise. Inside, you will discover a well-laid out process and valuable insights into the critical elements that make up a successful strategy in real estate, and a step-by-step guide to formulating and implementing a well-rounded and actionable strategic plan.

Strategy For Real Estate Companies Cover - Front Cover
Strategy For Real Estate Companies Cover - Back Cover
Charlie Hewlett Headshot - 2023

About the Author

Charlie Hewlett is a Managing Director and Partner of RCLCO Real Estate Consulting, one of the leading real estate advisory firms in the United States.  A renowned expert in the field of real estate consulting, strategic planning, litigation support and advisory services, Charlie has an exceptional track record spanning over three decades. With his extensive knowledge and expertise, Charlie has played a pivotal role in shaping the real estate industry and guiding numerous organizations towards success.

Throughout his career, Charlie has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of market dynamics, investment strategies, and real estate development trends. His ability to analyze complex real estate data and provide insightful recommendations has earned him a stellar reputation among clients and industry peers alike. His strategic guidance has been instrumental in helping RCLCO’s clients make informed decisions, optimize their businesses and portfolios, maximize returns on their real estate investments, and drive company performance.

Charlie is a frequent speaker, lecturer, and content moderator at important industry associations including the Urban Land Institute (ULI), National Multihousing Council (NMHC), National Homebuilders Association (NAHB), and the National Apartment Association (NAA).  He has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses and continuing education seminars on real estate development and strategic planning at prestigious institutions including The George Washington University, University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. He has also been featured in numerous national real estate journals and publications.

The first edition of his book Strategy for Real Estate Companies, was published in 2008.  Charlie is a graduate of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and lives with his wife Nancy in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  With his unwavering commitment to excellence and his dedication to the advancement of the real estate sector, Hewlett continues to be a driving force in shaping the future of the industry.

Contributor Bios

Adam Ducker Headshot 2023

Adam Ducker

Adam Ducker is Chief Executive Officer of RCLCO and oversees the firm’s Real Estate Economics and Management Consulting Practices. Adam is a recognized expert in strategic planning for real estate companies, investment analysis, market and financial analysis, and marketing of real estate assets. He has particular depth of expertise in high-density housing, retail/entertainment, and hotel development. A native of the New York metropolitan area, Adam received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Columbia University.

Ellen Klasson

Ellen Klasson is a Managing Director in RCLCO’s Management Consulting practice, working out of the Washington, DC office. Ellen leads executive search engagements for leadership roles at development, investment, and land use companies across all asset classes. Ellen’s consultative nature has enabled her to identify and attract talent for both traditional and nuanced roles, and her deep understanding of the business lends itself to a more analytical approach of a candidates’ viability. Working for nearly twenty years in the real estate industry has allowed Ellen to forge long-lasting relationships with and earn the trust of both clients and candidates.

Ellen Klasson Headshot - 2023
Adam Ostler Headshot - 2023

Adam Ostler

Adam Ostler is a Principal based out of the RCLCO Los Angeles office. Adam has five years of experience in real estate and has consulted on a broad spectrum of commercial and residential properties in various markets across the United States. Adam serves across all RCLCO’s practice groups with a focus on strategy and operations management consulting and strategic planning.

Eric Willett

Eric Willett is the Managing Director of RCLCO’s management consulting practice. Eric works with a wide variety of market-leading firms throughout the real estate industry to craft and execute organizational strategy, portfolio transformation, and corporate growth initiatives. Eric brings extensive experience in strategic planning and organizational improvement to projects that interface with client teams at all points in the development lifecycle. His collaboration with executive teams has resulted in transformational strategies for real estate companies across all industry sectors and a range of global markets.

Eric Willett Headshot - 2023

Praise for RCLCO & Charlie Hewlett

If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there. Having a clear-cut strategy with alignment from our team guides everything we do. RCLCO was an invaluable partner as we frankly assessed where we were and mapped out where we wanted to go. Working with RCLCO was a joy and I’d highly recommend them to anyone who wants a fantastic thought partner in strategy and planning.”

– Mark Decker, Jr., Proterra Investment Partners, Former CEO, Centerspace (NYSE: CSR)

“I participated in a strategic planning exercise forty years ago, as an employee. The facilitator of that planning exercise was RCLCO. Fast forward to me being a business owner and president of a real estate organization. I knew in order to plan company growth and succession that we needed to conduct a strategic planning process. The only company I would consider for this important job was RCLCO. Charlie Hewlett and Adam Ostler were invaluable partners in that process.

– Jim Lemming, President, Partners in Building

Strategic planning is crucial to the success of our organization. Not having a set of goals and a strategy on how to achieve those would be like captaining a rudderless ship. The excitement and energy of the entire leadership team during the strategic planning process carried over into the implementation of the plan. We have been using RCLCO for three decades now to facilitate our strategic planning. They truly understand the real estate business, at all of its various levels, and add an outsider’s perspective that challenges our thinking. With RCLCO we have gotten to places that we would have likely never gotten to without them.  In our most recent strategic planning initiative, Charlie and the RCLCO Team took a group of 14 type A personalities and molded and massaged the meetings so that all fully participated and more importantly got everyone to think out of the box. At times, processes like this can be like trying to herd cats but these guys are real pros and save time, which is $$, and push everyone to really think strategically about what to do versus just thinking how to do something. We will use them again when we next update our strategic plan.

– Bill Macdonald, CEO, Mill Creek Residential Trust (MCR)

“It is so easy to get mired in the day-to-day activities of running a company that time for big-picture thinking is often overlooked. However, to move a company forward one must slow down and periodically think about long-term strategy. It would be nearly impossible to go through a strategic planning process without an outside facilitator to keep the process on track and offer a “seen that” perspective. That is where the whole RCLCO team comes in to make sure that your company is committed to a timeline with a start point and end point in mind. RCLCO offers the perspective of hundreds of real estate companies that they have worked with over the years.  I enthusiastically recommend RCLCO as a great partner for your strategic journey.

– Rick Purdue, President, Rosewood Property Company

“It is critical to have a strategic plan that is updated every 4 to 6 years to guide your annual business tactics in order to achieve your long-term objectives. Goals related to growth, profitability, efficiency, capital, platform resources, and talent management should be defined. The foundation of the plan is our culture and purpose. By having a thoughtful strategic plan, Bell has created a sustainable scalable company that fosters a special culture and team as well as continues to outperform during a full cycle, through the ups and the downs. The RCLCO team was critical to helping guide our journey by assessing our core competencies, market opportunities, and aspirations as well as creating a path for continued innovation, evolution, and success.  Working with RCLCO has been AMAZING! In fact, we are getting ready to do it again this summer! With their guidance, we will create a thoughtful, deliberate plan that is evolutionary, not revolutionary, and helps to keep us focused, disciplined and aligned so that we may outperform over a full cycle and be ready to make adjustments during inflection points.”

– Lili Dunn, CEO and President, Bell Partners

“RCLCO has unrivaled product and market knowledge that can help you select promising strategies. Beyond that, their insights in organization dynamics can help you build a culture that ensures successful execution of your plans, and becomes self-replicating through leadership changes allowing the creation of enterprise value greater than the sum of the mere assets that you own.

– Karl Polen, Retired Former CIO of the Arizona State Retirement System, EVP of the Pivotal Group and CFO of Robson Communities

“I am often asked about attributes of growth or success that we have experienced, and I almost always respond with the following perspective. We could be the best at what we do with the best people and the best culture, but if what we do is not accurately focused on the right secular trends we will not succeed. Some things are obvious—demographics, ecommerce, housing crisis, workforce flexibility—and developing strategies and capabilities to capitalize on these trends is the most important thing we can do. Working with RCLCO enhanced my ability to focus on the long game, on where we should be many years from now without constraint as to where we are today. To look carefully at our platform, our people, our competitive strengths and apply these against where the world is likely to be in the future. To better articulate this across our organization, to engage our people in this discussion, and to become part of the changes necessary to achieve a future state attractive to the people that work here. I was introduced to Gadi five years ago, and had previously met Charlie working on a market research project where his knowledge and expertise was palpable. Together they have helped me work through constraints in my thinking to unlock opportunity across our organization. They have become valued advisors, including me in their broader business engagement, establishing new relationships, and providing me with ongoing intellectual content and ideas. They have become good friends and I am grateful for their presence in my life.”

– Michael Levy, CEO, Crow Holdings

“RCLCO is the gold standard when it comes to strategic planning for real estate companies. While it’s not easy to take the magic they provide in person and translate it into a book, they have done a remarkable job. Strategy for Real Estate Companies is a must read for anyone about to participate in the creation or refreshment of a strategic plan.”

– Robert Slater, Former EVP AvalonBay, COO Bell Partners, Draper and Kramer Board Member

“Charlie literally wrote the book on strategic planning for real estate companies! This book helped put us on the path to reach our strategic goals. I’m grateful to the entire RCLCO organization for their wisdom and guidance. This is a must read for anyone aspiring to build a real estate company.”

– Eric Barvin, Founder, Chairman, and CEO, The Barvin Group

“RCLCO is the proven subject matter expert in this critical role of strategic master planning. Their land uses, pricing and pace when analyzed with their comprehensive economic model provides the land developer with the ultimate tool to assist/guide the development.”

Tim Welbes, President, The Woodlands Development Company

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