Spring means many things to many people—but for anyone involved in the tri-state area's residential real estate industry, The Cooperator's 21st Annual Co-op & Condo Expo—to be held this year on Tuesday, April 29th on three floors of the Hilton New York—is as much a part of the season as budding trees and warmer temperatures.
Bigger and Better Each Year
This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Expo, and since its launch more than two decades ago, the event has been bigger, better, and more diverse with each passing year. When the Expo first appeared on the scene back in 1987, it featured only 12 booths—this year, there will be nearly 300. The first Expo offered four short seminars—this year, attendees will again be able to choose between half a dozen, conducted by distinguished panels of industry experts.
Attendees have flocked to the Expo in larger and larger numbers as the years have passed as well. Well over 3,000 guests are expected this year's event, including managing agents, board members (current, former, and aspiring), shareholders, unit owners, building staff members, and other real estate professionals.
The 2008 Expo will again occupy three floors of the Hilton New York at 1335 Avenue of the Americas at 53rd Street with booths, seminars, and demonstrations all day long.
Interacting with Professionals
The one thing among many that brings both exhibitors and guests back to The Cooperator'sCo-op & Condo Expo year after year is the chance to interact and network with co-op and condo board members, more suburban association members, residents, vendors and service providers from across diverse industries and disciplines.
"Yale Robbins, Inc. purchased The Cooperator and the Expo in 1999, and we've used the years since to make the event a prime destination for real estate professionals of all types," says Henry Robbins, executive vice president of Yale Robbins Inc., The Cooperator'sparent company and producer of the Expo. "The event is a resource for anyone involved in co-op and condo living who's seeking resources and valuable networking opportunities. Having hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees in one place is an invaluable opportunity for everyone involved."
Robbins goes on to say that as the needs and expectations of the co-op and condo market have evolved, so has the Expo. As technology has become indispensable to both managers and residents, the Expo has been host to more technology-based telecommunications, security, HVAC, and maintenance exhibitors, and as we've headed into less-certain economic waters, lenders and financial institutions with creative new mortgage and financing products have made themselves available.
"The bottom line is that we will continue to showcase new products and services and bring valuable resources to the people who run co-ops and condominiums," says Robbins.
It's All in What You Know
The 2008 Expo has another wide array of educational offerings for participants, including six free seminars sponsored by established industry professionals and covering the kinds of topics that boards, managers, and building residents are most eager to discuss. These seminars are perhaps one of the day's most popular features, and routinely attract standing-room-only audiences, so it's a good idea to arrive and claim a seat a few minutes before your chosen seminar is scheduled to start.
This year, Meridian Capital Group will present "Understanding the Current Mortgage Market," a seminar aimed at helping building administrators make sense of the big changes rocking the mortgage market in 2007-08. Boards may feel overwhelmed when trying to make the best financial decisions for their communities, and this seminar will help demystify the current mortgage picture, and give attendees tools and information to help them navigate today's challenging financial landscape.
New seminar sponsor Angus Energy will present "Strategies for Controlling Energy Costs in an Uncertain Market." Energy costs have skyrocketed in the last eight years, and many board/management teams have struggled with balancing their community's energy usage with increased fuel costs. This seminar will provide your building with concrete, real-world strategies for controlling annual energy costs. Issues such as purchasing choices, price volatility, weather fluctuation, and managing your energy costs—regardless of price and weather—will be covered in depth, with time for questions and answers.
The law firm of Stark & Stark will be back again this year hosting "Avoiding Litigation in a Complex World." In our litigious society, avoiding lawsuits before they start is vital to a building's financial well-being. At this seminar, panelists will discuss strategies for co-ops, condos and HOAs to avoid litigation. Issues on the table include both legal and practical strategies for collecting unpaid maintenance fees and assessments without legal intervention, alternative dispute resolution for conflicts among shareholders, owners, neighbors, boards and others, and strategies for dealing with difficult and objectionable resident conduct.
Verizon also returns in 2008 with "Get Connected: Tips for Wiring Multifamily Buildings." In our wired world, fast, user-friendly connectivity is no longer a luxury—it's a necessity. Verizon's panel of experts will present information on how to get the most out of your building's current telecommunications capabilities, plus tips on upgrades and improvements that can add both service and value. They will also present an overview of establishing a multifamily dwelling unit (MDU) program and how boards and managers can take advantage of today's new technologies.
This year, new sponsor architect Douglas J. Lister will present "Managing Capital Improvement Projects." Major capital improvement projects are a significant expenditure for all older buildings—and planning for them is one of your board/management team's most important jobs. How do you know when to start budgeting for a new roof, or a boiler replacement? What criteria is used to evaluate the importance of capital improvement projects for a building? How is a long-term capital budget developed? How do boards make sure they are getting "good" bids on projects? What is the board's role during a project?And what are the best ways to control cost, schedule and maintain quality? This seminar will answer all those questions, plus some you might never have thought to ask.
Rounding out the day's educational programming will be "Secrets to a Productive Board/Management Relationship." The relationship between a building's board and its managing agent is sometimes challenging—but in order for a building community to run smoothly and efficiently, that relationship must be cultivated and maintained. In this session, you'll learn ways to maximize the relationship between board and manager by improving communication, reducing and managing conflict, and increasing productivity.
But Wait—There's More!
Along with all the booths and informative seminars, this year's Expo will include valuable raffle drawings throughout the day. Just put your name and contact information on the raffle ticket inside your welcome bag and drop it off at The Cooperator's booth (#1820) or the Yale Robbins, Inc. booth (#2603). Random drawings throughout the day will announce the winners of a host of door prizes, including ipods, TV's, gift certificates and more. One lucky winner will take the grand prize of $1,000 towards your monthly maintenance.
Drawings will be held for various other prizes donated by vendors the day of the Expo. You must be present to claim the $1,000 grand prize, so pace yourself and make a day of it!
In addition to new seminars and exhibitors, this year marks the return of the Co-op & Condo Bookstore, stocked with reference books, guides, and other materials full of useful information for attendees to take home and apply to their own buildings—including The Cooperator's 2008 Official Directory of Co-op & Condo Services.
The ever-popular free advice booths will be returning as well, staffed throughout the day by legal and financial professionals ready to answer your questions, off the clock and on the house. For guests needing nourishment or access to e-mail, be sure to drop by the conveniently-located food court and cyber café.
How to Get Involved
If you're interested in joining over 4,000 metro area visitors to the Expo for a day of information, education, and networking, you can pre-register right now at www.coopexpo.com, or call and register by phone at 212-613-3260. Admission is free, but pre-registration will get you into the Expo quicker on the day of the show.
The 2008 Co-op & Condo Expo is quite simply the biggest, most in-depth event of its kind in the region. If you're a board member, a property manager, or just a building resident interested in helping out and improving how your building community is run, stop by the show and take advantage of all it has to offer.
Hannah Fons is an associate editor of The Cooperator.