Forrest Stuart MacCormack

A year ago this month, we elected a new president, a man with little experience in the ways of Washington, D.C. But as a nation, we invested trust in his character and hoped that he would help turn around a country scarred by economic turmoil, mounting job losses, and two ongoing wars. A year later, the political pundits are debating whether Barack Obama has lived up to the promises that he made on the campaign trail. Is he delivering on the faith we put in him? I don’t yet know, and I think it’s too soon to tell.

In the real estate sector, a similar investment of trust has been made—in the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. After heading into receivership, the entire housing sector has warily watched as these two giant backers of loans begin to navigate their new realities and deliver alternative products to the CMBS and traditional financing vehicles the industry once used. And so far, companies have begun to take advantage of those offerings, slowly putting trust in these behemoth government machines.

And in multifamily, on the ground level, each of you put trust in your customers and residents, your banks and your partners. Yes, you act wisely and prepare for the worst-case scenario, but at the end of the day, you trust that rents will be paid, construction materials will be delivered, deals will see the finish line, and banks will work with you to manage your loans.

It’s that kind of 360-degree trust that I truly believe leads to greatness. This month, we feature the winners of the 2009 Multifamily Executive Awards (see page 23), which recognize achievements across a dozen project categories, as well as in the areas of community service, marketing, and technology. If you look at each project, you’ll find that no two are alike. Each has its own story, its own challenges. Some required creative public/private partnerships. Others entailed complicated financing platforms. In the case of one project, The Preserve, the groundbreaking alone signaled a leap forward for a blighted, ravaged city and community. Ultimately, the finished product has transformed a neighborhood destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. It’s one of the many reasons The Preserve in New Orleans, developed by The Domain Cos., was selected to win this year’s MFE Editors’ Choice Award.

There is one common element across all of these winning projects and initiatives: trust. Building a business relationship that works is much like building a personal one. It requires not only hard work and dedication but a common goal, and, ultimately, faith in the other party—that your partner is as invested and committed to the relationship as you are. It’s hard to find, but when you do, the outcome can be mind-blowing.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about trust. It’s an important little virtue—in business, in life, in love. And once it’s broken, it’s hard to recover from that. But I like to think that people, in general, have a trusting nature. This month’s award-winning projects prove just that. At the end of the day, collaboration and mutual trust can lead to creative, amazing executions and results. And in light of all of the bankruptcies, corporate scams, and Bernie Madoff-style schemes these days, that’s a pretty rare and amazing thing to find.

I once heard someone say, “Without trust, there is nothing.” I’m glad the multifamily sector hasn’t lost its faith yet.