Ed Fritsch, former president and CEO of Highwoods Properties, Inc . (NYSE: HIW), 2016 Nareit Chair, and recipient of Nareit’s 2023 Edward H. Linde Industry Leadership Award, participated in a video interview during Nareit’s REITworld: 2023 Annual Conference held Nov. 14-16 in Los Angeles.
Nareit presents its Industry Leadership Award annually to a REIT executive who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the growth and betterment of the industry.
Fritsch noted that REIT management teams are “cycle tested” to withstand a range of difficult external operating conditions. “REITs have the wherewithal to push through those things.” He also noted that for him, “a flight to quality is synonymous with a flight to REITs.”
As to why the REIT approach to real estate remains such a viable option today, Fritsch pointed to the ability for companies to access public equity and private debt, as well as to have an unencumbered asset pool. “It’s just a strong vehicle with which to develop and manage real estate.”
Looking ahead, as the REIT industry continues to evolve, Fritsch said some developments to watch include the nation’s debt level, as well as migration trends. He also pointed to the importance of replacing urban crime with urban vitality, and said he hopes that work from home shifts back to “work together, where people can learn a culture, collaborate, and do better things as a team collectively.”