As a long-time business reporter, I've always found the best-run companies are those that carefully ponder a CEO succession plan. Not always, but usually.

A recent survey of 235 major real estate firms in the United States conducted by the Urban Land Institute and Russell Reynolds Associates indicates that the industry is ill-prepared on the CEO succession front. Eighty-nine percent of the survey respondents do not have "adequate" CEO succession plans, and about one-third said their firm could not immediately select a new CEO, if necessary.

Debra Barbanel, managing director of Russell Reynolds, a global search firm, says such plans reassure investors and employees of a firm's "ongoing and uninterrupted success."

Firms that most-ably practice succession planning are those that constantly assess and develop rising leaders from within, the report indicates. ULI Chairman Peter Rummell said the survey is a wake-up call to senior executives in the real estate industry. 

"Senior executives need to be implementing and providing the leadership programs necessary to attract, motivate and retain the best and brightest minds in real estate," he said in a statement.

Janet Moore covers commercial real estate for the Star Tribune.