Posted in:

Real Estate Entrepreneur M. Patrick Carroll on How to Thrive in a Downturn Economy

Tampa’s M. Patrick Carroll has important advice for those looking to be financially successful during an economic downturn. In a recent video presentation, entrepreneur Michael Patrick Carroll, Founder of the namesake CARROLL real estate holding company, shared his insights on how to identify profitable opportunities during a challenging economic market.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of great financial uncertainty and worry, both about health and the economy, M. Partick Carroll sees it as an ideal time to look for new pathways to profits.

“My takeaway is it’s presenting a lot of opportunities every time the world changes, especially changes rapidly,” M.Patrick Carroll said in a recent video. “It presents good opportunities for people that are paying attention … that say, ‘Okay, I’m going to jump at that opportunity’ or ‘I’m going to pivot here and play this new reality.’”

Changes Coming In How People Work

Patrick Carroll believes that there are monumental changes coming in how, and where, people work. The rise of virtual work is likely to mean a continuation of working remotely for many companies.

That shift requires a change in the kinds of technology needed to be successful. Companies are going to need to invest in different types of technology to keep employees working remotely connected and productive.

In addition, employees of all types are going to rely more on technology to complete their work and to blend the professional and personal lives that will grow more intertwined. For businesses, that means an ever-increasing reliance on technology.

“You have to know the technology business. You have to have technical skills … or you’d better surround yourself with a lot of people that do because that’s the way the world’s going,” M. Patrick Carroll reported.

For industry leader Michael Patrick Carroll, there is a tidal shift coming to industries that may never recover from the pandemic and economic downturn. “Entire industries have been changed, I think, forever,” he said.

Retail is one such industry and M. Patrick Carroll believes shopping malls are likely to continue their decline. The hospitality industry, including hotels and airlines, is also likely going to face continued trouble. With those downturns, however, come major opportunities.

“The problem to solve is what to do with all these hotels, what to do with all these shopping centers,” Michael Patrick Carroll said. “Somebody is going to figure that out and make a lot of money off of it. So, that’s an opportunity that I would be looking at.”

On the other side, Carroll believes the pandemic will bring a heightened increase in focus on healthcare. Specifically, he believes there will be a need for more apps, products, and services that allow for taking better care of ourselves and monitoring our health conditions.

“I think the way people think about healthcare has got to change after this. I mean, COVID-19 coming on out of nowhere shocked me,” M. Patrick Carroll confessed. “I’ve really had to rethink the fact that I travel all the time, the fact that I’m around a lot of people all the time. How do I protect myself? How do I stay healthy?”

Leveraging Opportunities at Any Point in Your Career

Leader M. Patrick Carroll believes there is an opportunity at every level. The perspective may be different given where you are in your career. However, it’s essential that you take a hard look at what you do and how your business has reacted to the pandemic.

For entrepreneurs, Michael Patrick Carroll believes the opportunity is solving one of the emerging needs that these significant industrial shifts will provide. For example, Carroll believes that there will be a considerable opportunity for companies that can convert all that empty retail and hotel space into viable new uses that can attract stable tenants going forward.

Other employees should look very closely at the companies they work for and how they have reacted to the pandemic. Is the company growing? Did it make smart decisions during the crisis? “Take a hard look at what the leadership of your company’s doing,” Carroll suggested. If your company has resisted adapting, that’s a problem, he said. “The people who resist change are left taking what basically everybody else doesn’t want,” M. Patrick Carroll reported. “And that’s just the truth.”

There is one sector that has impressed well-seasoned mogul M. Patrick Carroll during the pandemic.

“If you look at the real winners in this,” he said, “it’s the technology companies that have turned on a dime that been able to pivot and say, ‘Okay, here’s where the world was. Now, here’s where the world is. Let’s turn our business model.’”

Learning from Lessons of Downturns Past

As a self-made mogul, M. Patrick Carroll has seen downturns before and this experience is providing him a blueprint for where to go next.

In fact, Michael Patrick Carroll got his start during the great recession in the early 200s. At the time, he was a self-described “small-time developer” who had been developing townhouses and single-family homes. He purchased a large student housing development in 2007, just as the recession was starting.

“That time really stuck in my mind. It really showed me how bad things can get,” he said. “Having seen that and been through that, it really taught me to be more cautious. It also really showed me how, in the aftermath of a financial downturn, how much you can grow and relatively speaking, how limited the playing field is.”

As a motivated self-starter, M. Patrick Carroll began aggressively buying apartments, in part due to a realization that many people whose houses were foreclosed upon would look to rent apartments instead of buying another home.

Today, Carroll is looking at a similar business strategy. His eponymous company now owns more than 30,000 apartments throughout the Sunbelt – Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

“These markets have done really well coming out of a downturn and through quarantine because they were the first to open back up. They are known to be business-friendly and the rents we charge are extremely favorable compared to, say, in New York City. So you have all these positive tailwinds going.”

Looking forward, M. Patrick Carroll believes there is going to be another spike in demand for rental housing. Part of that spike will be driven by businesses that shift operations out of large, Northeastern cities that are more expensive than in places where he does business. Experienced real estate investor M. Patrick Carroll is pursuing an aggressive acquisition strategy in these markets.

Carroll has seen first-hand that the shift to at-home work is real and likely to remain. During the pandemic, 60 percent of its apartment unit residents are working from home compared to 25 percent prior.

“We’re going to bet on future growth because we collectively think this is the place where we want to be. We think jobs are going to grow in these markets. We think the economies are going to do well,” he said.

Carroll is also challenging his employees to think differently about what these new tenant populations will want and need, especially when it comes to technology.

Carroll believes there will be a need for more technologically savvy properties, with amenities such as improved wireless service, built-in Wi-Fi, common spaces (including shared workspaces, with common business services such as copier machines, fax machines, basic office supplies, and private conference rooms), and in-wall USB ports. Smaller units for those who are used to urban living and do not have the inclination to maintain larger homes and properties will also be prevalent.

“What other need is out there? What else can we do? What other service could we potentially provide?” Carroll noted. Many of these technological advancements will allow real estate owners, apartment operators, and landlords to work more efficiently. By adopting some new technologies into the real estate business, Michael Patrick Carroll said, those businesses can scale quickly.

Carroll plans to make more investments in in-home technology companies that are making repeatable tasks easier. He notes that during the quarantine phases of the pandemic, his properties switched to virtual leasing technologies. It’s an example of technology that may have a long-term place in real estate.

“That’s an interesting technology,” he said. Anything – AI or artificial intelligence — that makes routine jobs easier or replaces them, that’s a great technology.”

Relying on Employees

Patrick Carroll has always made it a point to hire employees with the same drive and ambition that he has brought to his business ventures. He wants others to seize the opportunities he sees.

“This is really your time to step up and shine. As a company, we are going to take the bull by the horns. We’re going to grow,” he said. He wants his employees to leverage the opportunities and thrive during and right after an economic downturn.

“This is a great time for you. Instead of telling yourself how bad it is, get excited. These are brand new opportunities for everyone to take advantage of and make the best of it,” Carroll said. “Get dressed up, be positive, comb your hair and take advantage of these opportunities. You know, there’s going to be winners and losers. You decide if you want to be a winner.”