Jeffrey DeBoer and James Whelan

Jeffrey DeBoer and James Whelan.


Jeffrey DeBoer and James Whelan

President and CEO of the Real Estate Roundtable; president at the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)

Last year's rank: 87

Jeffrey DeBoer and James Whelan
By May 9, 2024 5:22 PM

There’s never a wrong time to have someone in your corner. The specifics vary by market, but the commercial real estate industry as a whole benefits from policies that lower or eliminate obstacles to operation and investment, like certain taxes and interest rates induced by inflation. (Duh.) 

Representing 150 firms and 18 national trade associations, Jeffrey DeBoer helps the folks in Washington, D.C., see how issues like the difficult commercial real estate financing environment threaten the national banking system and economic activity. 

“Helping federal regulators understand the whiplash of very quickly moving from the historically long period of artificially low interest rates to a much higher interest rate environment,” said DeBoer, “was critical to the flexibility they ultimately provided to banks to modify or extend a great deal of the roughly $1 trillion in maturing commercial real estate loans.”

Stress remains. But, he added: “A systemic crisis for the banking industry and real estate markets seems to have been averted.”

Work from home, a bane of cities, is another top-of-mind issue. “Governments should lead by example to encourage their office workers to limit telework,” DeBoer said. His efforts have encouraged mandating greater in-person attendance by federal office workers, something achieved at most state and local levels. So far the rollout has not been as successful as the plan. The crusade continues.

The Real Estate Board of New York’s James Whelan delivers results for the myriad property firms interested in New York City, showing the state and city governments how things such as new development incentives benefit more than just REBNY members. Last year, he also worked to combat the thousands of unlicensed cannabis shops operating in the city, highlighting the need for consequences.  

And after a few years of policy bungles for CRE, one could argue that REBNY notched what looks like a major success in the $237 billion New York state budget deal agreed upon in late April. The deal will bring the real estate industry major things it wants, including easing the path for office-to-residential conversions, increasing development density on residential lots, and even tax incentives for projects that stalled after the 421a tax abatement disappeared two years ago.

Moreover, congestion pricing, which REBNY has long favored, is coming to fruition this summer in Manhattan.

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