After a tumultuous 2020, property’s leading figures share their hopes and expectations for 2021 as the year gets off to a rocky start with yet another lockdown. 

Cristina García-Peri

Cristina Garcia-Peri

Partner, Azora Capital

I believe the next 12 to 18 months will offer some of the best windows of opportunity for investing across real estate. We will see unique assets come to the market in the hardest-hit sectors and few buyers with the experience and the conviction to be able to underwrite them. I also expect that corporations, needing to raise liquidity, will dispose of real estate, opening up unexpected opportunities for great sale-and-leaseback transactions.

Azora strongly believes that leisure spending and patterns will come back strongly, albeit with some changes in behaviour that were already surfacing but have been accelerated.

And at the other end of the spectrum, we also expect a stronger appetite for resilient assets, namely rented residential in all its forms, becoming even more tightly priced but still offering attractive risk-return profiles.

Enrico Sanna

Enrico Sanna

CEO and co-founder, Fora

With the vaccine being rolled out this month, we are looking forward to a gradual return to normality and I’m confident that 2021 will be the rebound year.

While uncertainty has permeated almost every sector, we have also seen an acceleration of many workplace trends already taking root prior to Covid. This has put an emphasis on the need for companies to adapt and change, and flexibility will be central to this.

A major area of transformation has been how and where people work. Working from home was a necessity for most of last year, but it is not the long-term solution. For companies to thrive, employees need to return to the workplace safely, coming together to drive collaboration, culture and creativity.

Concurrently, landlords and operators must increase engagement with their customers, delivering a standard of product that exceeds what has been done in the past.

Employees and their respective organisations will mandate a workspace that offers an exceptional experience but also demonstrates a clear commitment to sustainability and social welfare. The wellness of our shared workforces is more important than ever, both mentally and physically.

Abigail Dean

Abigail Dean

Global head of sustainability, Nuveen Real Estate

The pandemic has highlighted issues of societal inequality and the role real estate plays in this. The automation of work, rising isolation and changes to urbanisation have all come to the fore as trends having a great impact on the way we live and work.

Although many real estate firms have made good commitments and strong starts to their ESG journeys, the past year has shown that as an industry, we should also focus on how to create a positive impact on society and my hope for 2021 is that the industry makes this a focus. By placing more emphasis on the social aspects of ESG, the industry can help improve the overall health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities that we work within.

Rob Bower

Managing partner, Montagu Evans

This year will be a milestone one for Montagu Evans as we celebrate our 100-year anniversary in new headquarters with clients, friends and everyone in the partnership. We demonstrated the impact of our new brand in 2020, keeping people and places at the heart of our business through a tough year for everyone.

Now we’re looking ahead with a focus on the next generation – from graduates to young entrepreneurs – extending our commitment to legacy, partnership and people. The challenges facing high streets and retail will be on many of our agendas in 2021, looking creatively at how to unlock value and rethink how we design towns and cities in the next 10-plus years.

Public and private partnerships will be even more important and we’re seeing some great examples coming through already from our teams. I’m never far from my roots in valuation either, and am convinced of the need to rethink this aspect of the market – from speed of response and sector-based judgements to more on social value. It’s time for change.

Steve Coulson

Steve Coulson

CEO, Kitt

While the classic nine-to-five work routine might be no more, 2021 will see new office hybrids appear. Previously only seen on a smaller scale, this could become the norm as companies look to create a culture that allows some to be in the office while others stay at home.

We saw this happen towards the end of 2020, with desk density dropping 20% as many requested fewer desks across more square footage. A good office just isn’t good enough anymore; it needs to be worth leaving home for. While most companies have altered their space to comply with new safety and social distancing measures, companies need to create an office space that reflects their culture and core values, blurring the lines between home and office.

To stay ahead, landlords must shake up their offering to meet these new expectations, showing spaces as a blank canvas, and partnering with a managed office operator who can showcase and deliver the highest standards as we all aim to help people back into towns and cities across the country.

Continue to part 27 here

Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope