A largely successful vaccination drive and work-from-home fatigue have changed expectations on corporations’ “return-to-office” timeframes and strategies.
The impact of Covid-19 has greatly been felt across the commercial real estate industry. Many businesses had to shut down, while others moved to working remotely. Few new businesses opened due to the uncertainty the pandemic brought. During this time, there was little need for buying or renting commercial buildings. However, as agents know, the impact of crises on real estate does not last forever.
As the world begins to return to normal, workers are going back to the office and businesses are beginning to open. The demand for commercial real estate is growing, and with this growth come new possibilities for innovation. Below, 11 members of Forbes Real Estate Council predict how the commercial real estate landscape will react to the effects of the global pandemic.
1. Increasing Demand For Multifunctional Spaces
The pandemic accelerated trends already in play such as working from home. As companies allow employees to continue to work virtually in some capacity, developers will need to ensure interior spaces include aesthetic, yet highly functional pockets conducive for work. Advanced digital capabilities, privacy and adaptability for recreational use in non-working hours will define the new home office. – Mary Cook, Mary Cook
2. Heightening Need For Sustainable Buildings
The construction and operation of buildings account for nearly 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions, so innovative real estate leaders will invest in energy-saving designs and healthier materials. With governments at every level implementing stricter sustainability regulations, projects that don’t prioritize this will lose value as they become obsolete, uninsurable and unable to be occupied. – Andy Cohen, gensler.com
3. Evolving Definitions For Real Estate
There will be a convergence of commercial and residential real estate (i.e., a modern take on timeshares), which will force us to get more specific about what commercial means. As we merge living, playing and working—along with how we own and invest—the marketplace will require iterative and inventive definitions that account for evolving ways of operating the future of living and the economic progress to which it adheres. – Alex Allison, D. Alexander
4. Prioritizing Proximity To Work And Home
More live, work and play communities are being developed. People are valuing their quality of life and time more. Proximity to work and play, especially in a walkable community, is more appealing as it minimizes travel time and expenses. – Catherine Kuo, Elite Homes | Christie’s International Real Estate
5. Converting Unused Office Spaces
With the significant decrease in demand for office space due to work-from-home and the digital economy in general coupled with the significant shortage in housing, I predict underutilized office space will be converted into condos. Kill two birds with one stone. – Nick Ron, House Buyers of America
6. Rising Real Estate Automation
AI will continue to reduce operating expenses at both the property level and the corporate level. The role of the commercial broker, appraiser and others will be reduced significantly over time. Almost everything will become automated like it did with banking, lending and other industries. – Ken McElroy, MC Companies
7. Increasing Need For Technology Solutions
Real estate is long overdue for innovation through legal tech. With the volume of business transactions in real estate, technology shall be built to centralize and automate case management, especially when it comes to foreclosures. AI can help predict foreclosure timelines based on previous cases, thus leading to more efficiency. – Saurabh Shah, InstaLend
8. Redesigning Housing Developments
Housing design (both single-family rentals and multifamily) as a result of Covid-19 and work-from-home optionality will be the greatest point of innovation in the real estate industry. Developers and owners who will use even a one-day-a-week work-from-home schedule will begin to think differently about the layout of their house. Time spent in the home will shift from the bedroom and dining rooms to an at-home office. – Paul Monsen, GSP
9. Combining Data With Relational Information
Access to real estate data, information and knowledge will continue to improve because of technology. The wisdom of combining the data, information and knowledge with the appropriate experience and relationships will always be controlled by real estate professionals. Real estate professionals should always focus on relationships above all. – Richard Lackey, City Commercial Real Estate, Inc.
10. Growing Number Of Commercial Real Estate Portals
We will start to see more portals that carry properties in much the same way as the MLS does for the residential sector. This is important for national clients and clients expanding across markets. There will be more cooperation in this space as we see the need to service both owners and prospects. – Nancy Kowalik, Nancy Kowalik Real Estate Group
11. Shifting Focus To Consumer-Centric Technology
The rise of consumer-centric technology will be a key trend for innovation as real estate owners look to provide better experiences in their spaces. Whether in multifamily or office, the end-user is a consumer with a set of expectations for the places they spend money and time. Innovations that help meet and exceed those technologies will help real estate owners stay ahead of the pack as CRE becomes more consumer-driven. – Benjamin Pleat, Cobu