How to guess what lies ahead for real estate when the only constant is change

By Polly Warrack

This year’s annual Profile Start-the-Year Lunch with EG editor, Damian Wild marked the tenth anniversary of Damian predicting the future for the year ahead for real estate.

Looking back on the last ten years and the sheer level of changes that it has brought, anyone would be hard pressed to begin to guess what the next ten years will bring. That being said, looking back at the last few weeks of Brexit chaos is confusing enough, and Damian has predicted that it would be easier to predict the events of the next ten years than it would the next ten months when it comes to the property sector.

We are firmly in the grounds of the only constant being change.

‘Ongoing uncertainty’ must be one of the more over-used phrases of trading updates and results statements over the last 36 months, and our day-to-day lives are constantly being disrupted by security breaches at banks, once prominent retail chains falling into trouble and changing reputations as the #MeToo movement brings to light past behaviour and makes us ask more and better questions of those in power. Greggs has even done a vegan sausage roll for crying out loud.

So, if the only constant is change, then it can be hard to know which big changes are headed for the buzzword graveyard and will be obsolete come EXPO Real, and which are the pivot points that will shape the industry as we know it. To this end, I’ve shared Damian’s key takeaways of what will be the significant changes in real estate in 2019.

  • Changing investment models Will we be crowdfunding assets on our local high street? Probably not, but the emergence of the IPSX is significant. Looking ahead, different thinking and different models will be applied.
  • Data and Technology Data and technology are constantly evolving, something that we are all aware of from our personal technology habits. However, next year there will be a significantly more profound impact on how we use and occupy space.
  • Globalisation As regional locations emerge more and more onto the global platform as hotspots for investment, the new wave of globalisation will be about how they can combine this with how they operate at a local level.
  • Talent and diversity Real estate hasn’t always had the best reputation for diversity and this is a topic that my former chief executive Gerry Hughes has written on exceptionally well. However, Damian believes that meaningful changes will continue to emerge and the root causes of diversity issues are being taken seriously.
  • Environmental concerns The real estate sector is responsible for something like 40 per cent of energy consumption and a third of all carbon output. As a society it would seem that we are all far more minded of our personal responsibility towards sustainability and the planet, and regulation in the real estate sector may be set to follow.