The longtime real estate leader in the state was talking about a long-ago conversation he had with Michael McGuiness, the head of the New Jersey chapter of NAIOP.
“It was five years ago,” the insider said. “I told him, ‘Just you watch, your membership is going to change. Real estate in New Jersey is changing. I bet five years from now you’ll have a turnover of 50 percent of your members.’”
The insider was talking about trends he saw developing and facts that couldn’t be denied:
The rise of new asset classes; land becoming less affordable (or even buildable); the growth of large, out-of-state corporations that could afford what was left; a rise in private companies that could handle buy-and-hold properties free of a push from Wall Street to show a quick profit.
This thought leader has proved to be prescient. And the insider was wrong about just one thing: The change wasn’t limited to just the real estate industry.
There has been a major disruption in the NJBIZ Real Estate Power List, too.
The biggest change is obvious. Now in its seventh year, we have increased the number of honorees from 50 to 75.
The switch is an acknowledgement that too many top players in the industry, often working in the shadow of icons, were being omitted merely because of space, not because of authority.
And the extra spots also allowed to us to include more of the power players who help the industry grow, but are not necessarily developers. You’ll see more brokers, more lawyers, more financiers, more asset classes (retail gets a greater look this year) and more of the people who help the industry churn.
We’ve even got room for a residential agent who is stunning in her success, despite (at 36) being a full generation (or two) behind some of the other honorees.
Which brings up the biggest point: a shift in generations.
For the past few years, more and more insiders have been suggesting it’s time to take a look at the next generation of leaders in the industry.
In some cases, these leaders are family members. The biggest switch comes at The Hampshire Cos., where Jimmy Hanson is ranked ahead of his father, Jon Hanson, for the first time.
This should not be viewed as a drop in stature for Jon Hanson, who is still very much the godfather of New Jersey real estate. (“The oracle” is how one insider described him.) But it is an acknowledgement that the well-regard Jimmy Hanson is in day-to-day control of the immensely influential operation.
There are more first-time members of the Top 10 than ever before. More diversity than ever before. And yes, more women. The industry is evolving.
After reading the list, some may say the biggest change is at the top.
In the past two power lists, the No. 1 selection has represented a major trend in the industry, rather than a hard-core, nuts-and-bolts member. This year’s No. 1 is as solid and well-respected an industry icon as anyone: Ron Ladell, the New Jersey head of Avalon Bay.
Having people such as Ladell on the list is something that will never change.