Seven trends that will transform real estate

Trends and changes that have been bubbling under for a while will come to the surface in 2021 and transform our lives, according to business transformation expert Sean Culey.

1. Hybrid working is here to stay

Hybrid Working will become the norm as companies downsize, opting for smaller and more cost-effective offices. Headquarters will become spaces to mix, with more amenities and more spacious environments that will allow for social distancing.

This will have an impact on residential, as people will move out of inner cities to more affordable locations where they can have an extra room for a home office.

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2. Omnichannel becomes the new norm

The e-commerce trend will keep on growing as people continue to work from home and retail spaces will adapt by becoming multi-purpose hubs for collections and returns.

“The market was $4.28 trillion last year and it’s expected to reach $4.89 trillion in 2021,” says Culey. “High streets will have to change, but it’s a great opportunity for them to become pedestrianised and offer more of an experience rather than just shopping.”

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3. March of the machines

The third trend is the rise of machines and automation. “2020 was the year of experimentation, 2021 will be the year of adoption of large-scale automation in logistics,” predicts Culey. “Real estate providers will have to include automation in the space.”

The use of robots and drones will drive down the cost of last-mile delivery, the most expensive part of the process, he says.

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4. Autonomous vehicles: the game changers 

“They’ve been talked about for a while, but now autonomous vehicles are getting on to the road. Rather than cars, we’re looking at shared transportation, like minibuses in cities.” Research has highlighted an 84% reduction in fatal accidents, proving that autonomous vehicles are exponentially safer than human drivers.

“Elevators were the first autonomous vehicles, revolutionising real estate by opening up vertical space. Autonomous vehicles will do the same horizontally, allowing people to move further out.”

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5. Electric vehicles become mainstream

Electric vehicles are set to become mainstream, thanks to a combination of carrot and stick, with incentives to use them but also taxation and regulations penalising diesel and petrol cars and often barring them from city centres.

“The demand is growing because there’s been a real mindshift on EVs, which have become cool,” says Culey. “Investments in all real estate sectors need to take into account renewable power and provide EV charging points.”

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6. 5G networks power up

The sixth trend is 5G. Its roll out was slowed last year but it will happen this year, and it must because there is a need for constant, uninterrupted connection and more data storage. With more efficient power and faster download times, “your autonomous vehicle could become your mobile office”, says Culey.

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7. Growth of data centres

Following on from the rise of 5G networks, the seventh trend is the growth in data centres, as data storage capabilities need to expand hugely. Power storage will be as important as power generation, and cyber security will be a big issue.

“Providers will have to supply the spaces but also the connectivity and sustainable power supply, which will be included in standard contracts,” Culey says. “Hyper data centres and data centre parks will become a thing, with solar panels and wind turbines on site, as Amazon is already doing in Italy.”

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