Since its creation in 1990, the Real Estate Investment Advisory Council (REIAC) has provided principals and senior executives at some of the nation's top real estate investment and advisory firms a forum for education and the sharing of ideas. Founded in Los Angeles, the national nonprofit organization has a roster of more than 700 transaction-oriented senior investment professionals who are involved in equity transactions, asset management and debt origination. In addition to offering its members networking opportunities, the firm also maintains an ongoing mission of public service to the community by sponsoring events and contributing financially to charitable causes.

In 1994, REIAC formed a Southeast regional chapter based in Atlanta led and founded by Jerry Monash, president of Lancet Realty Advisors Inc., an acquisition, underwriting and due diligence firm. Since then, regional chapters in Boston, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco have been created. Now, the group plans to double its size in the Southeast and increase the national membership to more than 1,000. Recently, NREI talked with Monash, a 24-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry, about the evolution of REIAC and its future.

NREI: What is REIAC's purpose and how is it different from other professional trade associations? What are your membership requirements?

Monash: The underlying philosophy of REIAC is that the candid sharing of insights and experiences builds foundations for more prudent investing, allowing its members to better serve their financial intermediary, private investor and pension fund clients. REIAC is differentiated from other industry trade groups by its senior level of participation, its focus on the transaction side of the business, and its membership of principals.

The group's membership roster reads like a ‘Who's Who of Commercial Real Estate,’ with senior executives representing most of the country's major owners, REITs, developers, pension funds and their advisors, life insurance companies, banks and large individual investors. The Southeast regional chapter has an active membership of more than 100. Membership is granted by invitation only to those executives who act as, or for, principal owners and developers of investment-grade real estate.

NREI: In the current market, in which real estate fundamentals remain soft in many property sectors but investment activity is high, what issues do your members face?

Monash: Clearly, cap rate compression can be attributed to the large amount of capital flowing into real estate, due mostly to a lack of attractive alternatives. As the performance of other investment classes rebounds, might current high prices of investment properties reach a high-water mark, indicative of another bubble? And might investor capital then refocus on other investment classes at the expense of real estate?

NREI: According to the REIAC philosophy, the sharing of insights and experiences builds foundations for more prudent investing, healthier competition and a more stable investment environment. How do you define "a stable investment environment"?

Monash: One of REIAC's founding principles is to foster the development of a more, well-informed universe of transaction-oriented professionals. Through our educational programs, REIAC members are provided with actual details of real-life challenges encountered by our presenters during their careers. These discussions often lead to the sharing of insights and lively debate, encouraging the creation of positive outcomes and win-win solutions. As everyone who has been through several cycles knows, the best way to prepare for the future is to understand the past. As a result, the more informed and conversant our membership becomes, the more stable the overall transaction environment becomes.