The FORT Podcast: Bobby Fijan – Partner @ Form Developers – The Mad Scientist of Floorplans and Complex MF Development

Bobby has been involved in startup companies for nearly his entire career. He left graduate school to start his previous company, Cross Properties, with 3 other partners in the basement of a seminary in 2011. He’s worn every hat in real estate from finance, capital markets, fundraising, leasing, late-night maintenance, and semi-professional architect. At Cross, he was the Partner in charge of the Development and Design team and was responsible for every project from an empty lot to stabilized building. In 2019, he left day-to-day operations at Cross to co-found Tailorbird, a construction technology company, and Form Developers.

On this episode, Chris and Bobby break down the science behind floor plans and how Bobby looks at apartment development as products that need perfecting. They discuss value add, efficiencies in the industry, the concept of pre-furnished apartments, how Bobby has built his persona as a floor plan consultant on Twitter, and much more. Enjoy!

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(02:51) – Bobby’s Career in Real Estate

(05:02) – How did you make floorplans your niche?

(08:43) – What’s the main reason floorplans are afterthoughts in the development process?

(10:42) – What would make a great 650 Sqft unit and what makes a terrible one?

(15:05) – Are there parts of a floorplan that adds value every time and parts that don’t in the data you’ve seen?

(18:28) – What would a second use for a bedroom be?

(19:36) – Thoughts on Balconies

(20:28) – What makes a 2 bedroom more or less valuable?

(22:32) – How do preferences change between demos of empty-nesters and millennials?

(23:37) – Bobby’s Disdain For Value Add

(26:47) – Creating Metrics That People Aren’t Measuring Right Now

(29:35) – Are you met with resistance when trying to present this way of thinking?

(32:12) – What would be the opposite view of yours?

(33:39) – “Apartments Should Be Designed Furnished”

(42:10) – Is there any data to suggest people would rent longer in a pre-furnished scenario?

(42:39) – What’s your favorite feature in a small apartment?

(43:18) – Thoughts on Efficiencies in Apartments

(45:38) – Thoughts on Micro-Units

(47:37) – What are key things you think about when you take over an existing structure?

(51:15) – Are there resources developers can utilize early on when it comes to easily design floor plans?

(56:18) – What is a complex deal and what have you done to gravitate towards them?

(59:10) – What are common things that the average developer overlooks when reviewing rules & regulations and dealing with surrounding communities?

(1:06:05) – What do the majority of your reuse deals look like?

(1:06:45) – Is it fair to say there are more adaptive reuse projects in the Northeast?

(1:08:52) – Does anything come to mind of things you’ve been able to pull off that most developers wouldn’t have seen?

(1:14:32) – When you enter a new area, do you bring on local consultants to help you create relationships in the city, or do you have a specific approach?

(1:20:05) – Do you have a favorite floorplan you’ve ever seen? And what’s the worst one you’ve ever seen?

(1:24:06) – What’s your favorite development?

(1:25:12) – How can people find you?

Episode Summary

Bobby Fijan, a seasoned real estate expert, offers a comprehensive exploration into the world of real estate investment and management. The dialogue initiates with Fijan addressing the prevalent misconception regarding apartment renovations, emphasizing the critical need for a data-backed, analytical approach to material and color upgrades. He expresses skepticism towards the financial prudence of such renovations, urging a more thoughtful, analytical approach to these endeavors.

The conversation seamlessly transitions to the implications of over-upgrading apartments. Fijan highlights a growing industry trend of excessive renovations, shedding light on its potential to adversely impact housing availability and affordability. His insights offer a cautious perspective, underscoring the significance of considering the long-term market effects of renovation trends.

Delving into the metrics for effective property investment evaluation, Fijan shares his extensive knowledge on multifaceted property assessment. Beyond mere financial considerations, he emphasizes the importance of assessing location, community impact, and other vital factors. His approach ensures a well-rounded evaluation, contributing to informed, strategic investment decisions.

Fijan’s advocacy for sustainable and responsible investing resonates strongly throughout the conversation. He champions the integration of societal and environmental considerations into investment decisions, promoting a balanced, responsible approach to real estate investment. This perspective accentuates the role of real estate investments in fostering community development and environmental sustainability.

Navigating the dialogue to the realm of challenges, Fijan offers a pragmatic view on overcoming the complexities inherent in real estate investments. His experience-rich insights provide listeners with tangible strategies and solutions, ensuring effective navigation through the multifaceted world of real estate, contributing to the sustained growth and success of investment ventures.

Emphasizing adaptability, Fijan underscores the imperative for real estate investors to remain informed and responsive to the dynamic landscape of market trends, regulatory shifts, and economic changes. His insights reinforce the need for adaptive, agile investment strategies, ensuring alignment with evolving market dynamics and ensuring investment resilience and relevance.

The podcast further explores the impact of technological integration in real estate. Fijan highlights the transformative role of technology in enhancing property management, investment analysis, and decision-making processes. His discussion illuminates the myriad benefits of technology, showcasing its potential to augment efficiency, precision, and profitability in real estate operations.

As the conversation progresses towards future trends, Fijan provides a foresight-rich exploration into emerging markets and innovative real estate trends. His discussion offers a panoramic view of the evolving real estate sector, equipping listeners with a comprehensive understanding of potential future opportunities and challenges.

Emphasizing the power of networking and collaborations, Fijan highlights the immense benefits of industry partnerships and alliances in real estate. His insights underscore the role of collaborative efforts in enhancing opportunities, fostering robust growth, and ensuring the comprehensive success of real estate ventures.


The FORT is produced by Johnny Peterson & Straight Up Podcasts     

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