Nervous Energy

It would be remiss not to begin this column in the aftermath of Cannes 2019 without commenting on my own personal views from MIPIM.

Glorious sunshine for the three days I was in Cannes masked what is generally a pretty nervous real estate industry. Whether the nervousness is around politics, pricing, the ticking cyclical clock, debt levels or all of the above, nervousness prevails.

However, just because you are nervous does not stop you doing things, in fact quite the opposite. On the Thursday of MIPIM we completed on the sale of Devonshire Quarter on behalf of Madison for £95 million. It is often said you must be slightly unnerved to have the courage of your conviction and there are certainly deals to be done.

This is coupled with a period of consolidation we are seeing across the industry. JLL’s recent acquisition of HFF served to confirm this, and there are no doubt other mergers on the way. Add to this corporate manoeuvring the launch of two new property companies, the old adage of nothing stays still rings true.

Now this can certainly be noted on a weekly basis in the PropTech space, a phrase we are all now so familiar with. The pace of change in the industry is happening at such speed, not only is the chalk disappearing on the synonymous pinstripe suit, the suit is rapidly departing the property world altogether. At MIPIM, CBRE launched its European Tech and Innovation campaign and I must pay testament to the exceptionally diverse range of Prop Tech we now offer our clients, customers and colleagues, it really is quite impressive and is transforming real estate for investors and occupiers alike.

Additionally, we are seeing greater pace of change in D&I. There were noticeably more women than in previous years at MIPIM this year and CBRE’s Amanda Clack launched a booked together with RICS on promoting and managing D&I in the industry. Whilst there is still lots to be done, change is certainly happening.

We are seeing similar pace of change in the rapidly evolving UK residential market too. The obvious shift from build to sell to build to rent is gathering momentum on a weekly basis as the millennial outlook combined with rising stamp duty increasingly force the change and pattern of demand. This has seen a marked shift in investor sentiment, and global investors from around the world are seeking opportunities in this space.

I really do hope that with a sector embracing change as much as residential is, we finally accept and adopt multifamily and swallow any PRS pride left out there – this is a globally recognised institutional asset class and the industry should adopt the language going forward.  

The wall of capital is there for residential and all asset classes, MIPIM certainly showed us that. We are seeing more Asian investors than ever before, the Middle East is very prominent, North Americans are back with a bang and the Germans are ready to pounce on opportunity when it arises. So while there is evidence of trepidation, the greatest response is a wall of capital ready to take advantage.

By Chris Brett, Head of International Capital Markets, CBRE.