June 19, 2024

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Simply Consistent

Laurie Baker, named COO at Camden, is the first woman to take a C-suite position at the company

When Laurie Baker joined Camden Property Trust in 1999, most apartment complexes didn’t have a website. With out centralized data, substantial condominium landlords tediously named on-web site staff for updates on occupancy or leasing at their attributes. Possible citizens relied on term-of-mouth or print ads to master about new initiatives.

But Baker joined the Houston-based national apartment developer just as the world-wide-web was revolutionizing the field. Baker helped to oversee Camden’s embrace of technologies, together with rolling out 1 of the industry’s very first web-centered residence administration systems and just one of the to start with online profits management units that authorized the enterprise to handle its countrywide portfolio a lot more successfully.

In excess of the past two many years, Baker participated in nonetheless a further wave of technological alter spurred by the pandemic. The have to have for social distancing forced the sector to immediately obtain means to implement virtual tours, virtual leasing and keyless entry into communities. Though these improvements had been underway ahead of 2020, Baker stated, but the pandemic accelerated them.

“It grew to become pretty much an vital that we adapt right away in get to keep on functioning our business,” Baker explained. Now lots of of these pandemic-inspired upgrades are below to remain — and the field is bound for even more automation, Baker claimed.

Baker was lately named main functioning officer at Camden Residence Have confidence in, the initial female to take C-suite position at the corporation. As COO, Baker reported she will continue to drive Camden toward technological innovation as she oversees asset and profits administration for the overall portfolio 176 homes and 60,000 condominium units nationally.

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A Houston indigenous, Baker is the greatest-ranking lady at the organization, which has 1,700 staff members, like 499 in Houston. As 2022 chair of the Diversity, Fairness and Inclusion Committee for the trade team the Nationwide Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), Baker is also in a prominent management part in the industry’s attempts to make improvements to illustration of women of all ages and men and women of colour.

Baker just lately sat down with the Houston Chronicle to examine how the condominium sector is continuing to adapt publish-pandemic. The interview is edited for size and clarity..

Q: The professional serious estate field is nonetheless dominated by white adult men, although it is switching slowly. What are marketplace leaders doing to boost illustration of girls and folks of coloration and why is this do the job however essential?

A: I used to stroll into genuine estate situations, and it was a sea of adult males. There are a ton a lot more females these days and we we’re building wonderful progress. At Camden, I have never ever felt like we didn’t already support the progress of women of all ages. Now I’m on the Camden’s (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee) that we shaped formally two a long time in the past to get a lot more participation throughout the business. At NMHC, they are creating diversity a concentrate. They are sharing most effective techniques. They’re making toolkits.. There are persons (at genuine estate businesses) that really don’t have the means like Camden to hire a DEI director or have a human resources division or have people today that every working day are recruiting persons at popular historically black colleges.

(Range) is not as just an initiative, it is really an critical for our business enterprise. A large amount of investors are building it a requirement that you to have a DEI approach. So, if you want to go on to get money from investors, pension money and international cash, you much better be equipped to make your figures (all-around variety goals).

Q: What are some of the significant know-how improvements Camden manufactured through the pandemic that you believe will adhere all over?

A: Just one of the crucial items we were being carrying out pre-pandemic was Chirp (now known as CommunityConnect Intelligent), our program that permits individuals to employ a mobile phone application as a doorway lock and to get into our communities from the entrance door, the amenity areas, the pool place and into their units all with just one app.

The beauty of Chirp is that it isn’t just managed at a assets level, but our contact middle could take care of it throughout the overall portfolio. So, if we had to shut all the amenities areas at as soon as (we could do this remotely) instead of bodily obtaining to go and lock all those people doors. Now when somebody phone calls our call centre, (if they want a self-guided tour) we can mail them a permission through the app for 30 moment or 15 minutes. Kristy Simonette, senior vice president over strategic solutions, and myself had been seriously included in incubating this. We want we could have been absolutely rolled out when the pandemic hit. Now its’ mounted in 95 percent of our properties.

Q: Camden has benefitted from improved migration to the Sunbelt through the pandemic, because so significantly of your portfolio is in the area. How extensive do you feel these migration tendencies will continue on?

A: Who is aware if it’ll be at the exact same stages that we have found in the previous few of a long time, but I never see the migration tendencies switching substantially. You’re viewing corporations move to Phoenix from California, you happen to be looking at Northeast businesses migrate to Florida. That’s not to say the huge metropolitan areas are not likely to continue to have a great deal of people today that get pleasure from the way of living of San Francisco or New York Metropolis. But I consider for the reason that of the capability for folks to operate remotely, people do not have to go to these metropolitan areas in order to come across a career. Men and women go to the Sunbelt for a ton of factors. One particular is hotter weather, and a different is in many of the Sunbelt states and metropolitan areas, it’s simple to do business.

Q: Are there any marketplaces exactly where you see Camden deepening its investments or growing into and how does like Houston in shape into that? I know you a short while ago entered Nashville.

A: The markets we are in right now, we strategy to remain in those markets. We have constantly explained that we want to have excellent geographic diversity. For Houston, we offered two belongings (in the fourth quarter 2021). The system is for us to get underway this year on our condominium venture in The Woodlands (the 188-unit Camden Woodmill Creek).

Q: How is Houston’s apartment current market undertaking compared to other markets in your portfolio, which his virtually entirely in the Sunbelt but also incorporates houses in southern California and Washington?

A: Houston kind of received strike with a double whammy we experienced the energy troubles and then we went into to COVID. But all round Camden’s exact same-retail store house revenue growth is projected to be 7.75 percent to 9.75 % for our entire portfolio for 2022.

There are individuals now doing work from home who probably do not want a roommate any more since it’s extremely difficult to have your conference calls. So, we feel that there will be an unbundling (of households, which will improve demand for apartments.) We nonetheless have a pretty huge inhabitants of millennials who have a propensity to rent, which bodes nicely for the multifamily business. So even if you happen to be in a market which is been a small softer, like a Houston or D.C., you’re however heading to see actually very good progress. We feel that Houston will continue on to be a potent market — you may possibly see little additional strength in Florida and Phoenix or Austin where by you will find a great deal a lot more migration and careers remaining designed- but we’re prolonged on Houston.

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