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RealCast: Post-pandemic capital, impact investment, Ocado expansion, office contraction

Nicol Dynes, Dan Innes, Paul Strohm and Richard Betts

In the spotlight this week:

After around a year of the pandemic, five-day online conference REALX.Global Trends 2021 discussed in detail a number of the resulting market trends and changes we can expect, post-pandemic.

Capital flows may start to accelerate as the vaccine programmes roll out and investors can travel again, but as the conference heard, economic stimulus could be the growth differentiator. Thus far it has been countries with strong demand from domestic investors that have done best.

Impact investing, another conference topic, has an obvious home in the real estate sector and, like investment in senior housing, can provide investment resilience because it does not correlate with trends.

In highlighting seven key trends keynote speaker Sean Culey also suggested that in the same way that elevators revolutionised real estate by facilitating taller buildings, autonomous cars and 5G will widen our horizontal perspective.

Beyond the conference, UK online grocery retailer Ocado’s expansion during the pandemic goes from strength to strength and it is in the market for more fulfilment centres; Hammerson, has submitted plans to redevelop the former Debenhams store at Highcross shopping centre in Leicester into 300 new homes for rent; British airways is reviewing its office needs with a 50% shrinkage of its Waterside headquarters possible; but Google has announced a $7billion expansion of its network of offices and plans to hire 10,000 more staff.

Meanwhile, a study of CEE office workers’ attitudes on behalf of Skanska found muted enthusiasm for working from home; a CBRE investors’ intentions survey revealed that investors are expecting only a slight decrease in the demand for offices this year; and interest in life sciences property flourishes, with investment manager AEW among the latest to invest with a major acquisition in Medicon Valley, Denmark.

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