The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of senior housing, skilled nursing, home health and hospice care. To see this year’s future leaders, visit Future Leaders online.
Zach Rigby, director, capital markets for Jones Lang LaSalle, has been named a 2020 Future Leader by Senior Housing News parent company Aging Media Network.
To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors, and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.
Rigby sat down with Senior News to talk about his career trajectory and the ways the industry is evolving due to market and regulatory forces and the COVID-19 pandemic.
What drew you to real estate?
Commercial real estate was in my upbringing. My grandfather has been in commercial real estate for his entire career. My dad is also in the commercial real estate industry. It also just so happens I was an active member in the real estate program at The University of Texas. So, it was an easy choice, to be honest. I’ve always had a passion for architecture and buildings, being able to see it touch it feel it, was an attractive attribute for me.
Senior housing is a unique commercial real estate product type. What piqued your interest?
I started my career at HFF as an analyst. (Note: JLL acquired HFF in March 2019, in a $2 billion deal.) I was on the multifamily team at the time — that included traditional apartments, student housing, and senior housing. As I started learning more about each individual space, the niche nature of the [senior housing] space was different. It was not necessarily the “popular choice” among the other analysts but, to me, it was the most intriguing.
It was more unique: the way that it’s real estate-based, having the actual physical plant, but also the operations behind it. Now it’s sort of a combination between multifamily product and a hotel. But there is a key component there that neither hotel nor apartments have — the care of the residents and having the opportunity to see the joy on the residents’ faces on a property tour to me was something that you just didn’t get elsewhere. Speaking to our clientele and having the ability to not only earn an honest living, but also invoke change and make a difference in other peoples’ lives was truly special.
How has the industry changed from when you first entered?
It was more of an unknown from an institutional capital perspective. Since I’ve entered the space, it has become a widely regarded asset class. A light has been shined on it, and the need to have senior housing in a portfolio has become stronger. The demand is there. It’s been really fascinating to see the attention that it’s getting from the investor pool, and the way that these facilities have evolved. Some of the higher end facilities look like a Ritz Carlton.
If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of senior living, what would it be?
There is a need to provide a product that appeals to the middle class as only a small portion of the population can afford the higher-end product.
That being said, there is a push towards finding a solution for this in the market. Technology and the intuitiveness of the space will help curb some of those costs that have not been addressed yet. It’s an exciting opportunity.
What do you foresee as being different about the industry looking ahead to 2021?
There’s always an emphasis on protecting the resident, but that has been extremely heightened with everything that’s been going on in our world. It has given operators a chance to hit the reset button, to go back to the drawing board and implement even more proactive measures to protect the residents.
I don’t foresee those heightened protocols going away, nor do I think they should. If my mom or my dad was in one of these facilities, I want to make sure they’re as safe as they have been in the past, but I think now there’s even a greater sense of safety and security for the resident base.
In a word, how would you describe the future of senior housing?
What are your future goals?
I want to help the senior housing industry continue to grow and make sure that, as an individual who deeply cares for the space, I continue to maintain a positive influence on it by putting the residents’ interests first and being a good partner for the clients of the JLL Seniors Housing Team.
To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit the Future Leaders homepage.