Brookfield Properties - Forest City

A CRE makes better business decisions with accessible, accurate data in itamlink

A critical challenge

Founded in 1920 and based in Cleveland, Ohio, Brookfield Properties - Forest City’s diverse portfolio includes hundreds of premier properties spread throughout the United States. “Real estate tax is one of the largest operating expenses for investment real estate,” says Richard Morehouse (Rich), Real Estate Tax Manager for Forest City. “It not only makes an impact on operating costs for us, but also for tenants and other third parties.”

In 2010, they faced challenges caused by:

  • Inadequate software and systems for management of property tax data
  • Inability to centralize access for staff members to tax and assessment information, reports and approvals
  • Difficulty building reliable, repeatable data points to deliver key benchmark figures to make better investment and appeals decisions

Inefficient processes were taking their toll. One full-time staff member was spending over 50% of their time dealing with inadequate software and time-comsuming activities to track and manage property tax data, appeals and financial reporting. This caused a ripple effect, disrupting additional staff members, and pulling them away from other critical functions.

Rich was tasked with finding a way to manage property tax in an efficient, cost-effective way that enables good business decisions, while reducing overhead expenses and staff time spent on day-to-day processes.

Two primary goals

Forest City’s tax department manages assessment appeals across numerous states and must ensure visibility to property managers, tenants and third-party partners. In addition, they “need to provide accurate real estate tax data and information to the company,” states Rich. “Decision makers both inside and outside the company make decisions based on the information my group provides, whether it’s a projection, appeal status, or a tax bill.”

Faster, more efficient data integrity

itamlink has an “intuitive data structure,” says Rich. “Consequently, it is faster and more efficient than other options.”

“In addition, it’s design has helped maintain data integrity. There is no cross-contamination of values changing; tax records don’t get contaminated by information changes because barriers are set up to keep data integrity intact.”

After converting to itamlink, Forest City quickly realized that it “fits the way we work.” Implementation was much easier than expected. “We thought Rethink’s estimated transition time frame was impossible. I was amazed how easy the transition was.”

Increased business intelligence

Because itamlink is “easy to follow and has logic...all those problems, issues and wasted time went away.” Staff effort to manage property tax has been reduced, and they can now spend more time on strategic activities that build business.

As a result, Forest City has built business intelligence into their processes, enabling “stronger business decisions more efficiently.”

Bottom line: “We are better off and more confident in what we are dealing with every day by using itamlink.”

itamlink’s key ingredients

Rich found that with itamlink, Forest City could:

  • Identify potential appeals for savings while delivering expedited results and accountability
  • Automate bill processing, tracking and payments, reducing and eliminating penalties
  • Provide visibility to all critical personnel for approvals and reporting

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