The general public has a poor perception of the property industry (27% favourability, according to a British Property Federation/Populus survey) and the government is not prioritising us.
Do you ever get the impression you’re talking but no one is listening?
It’s not through a lack of effort – we’ve just got an engagement issue. There is a lot of social good in the industry – just look at the many ways we’re helping the NHS during this coronavirus crisis – but it gets drowned out by everyone shouting about how good their individual product or service is.
I went to Bristol recently and saw brilliant examples of collaboration in our industry. Like any major city in the UK, Bristol has a homelessness problem. A young person sleeps on a friend’s sofa yesterday, in an overcrowded homeless shelter today and in a shop doorway tomorrow. This could be different and we all have a role to play. Imagine this person has a secure roof over their head and stable long-term accommodation at a truly affordable rate. This will give them the confidence to get a better job, develop relationships and potentially even buy a place of their own.
This will be possible because several real estate businesses have come together to provide their services for free and deliver East Street Mews – restoring and repurposing a derelict property that has been empty for several years to provide 11 low-rent apartments that the homeless youth can afford. Construction is well under way and the first residents are expected in the next 12 months: an impressive example of collaboration and creating positive social outcomes.
Bristol was also the first UK city to declare a climate emergency. I met the impressive mayor, Marvin Rees, who told me about their plans to be carbon neutral by 2030. From increasing the energy efficiency of buildings to reducing waste during construction, real estate has a huge role to play in this.
I also joined the mayor in speaking to an audience of more than 300 people from different industries at an International Women’s Day event. We discussed how business can make a more equal world. It’s interesting how people want to listen when you have something positive to say.
As an industry, we need to get better at articulating the social benefit we provide. That’s why I support the BPF’s Redefining Real Estate campaign to ensure we deliver net positive outcomes, judging our efforts not only on profit but also on social value.
It is also why JLL has rolled out a new purpose: to shape the future of real estate for a better world.
Finally, it is important we champion those who have made a positive contribution. I’ll go first.
Listed are the partners involved in the East Street Mews project. Thanks for all the free hard work: Abacus Waste; All Signs & Design; Allium; Avon Combined Electrical Services; Bristol City Council; Cabot Industrial Doors; Carbon Consult; Cook Brown Building Control; Creation Design; Cubex; Currie & Brown; Developing Health & Independence; ETM Recycling; Gleeds; GVA; Hydrock; JLL; Lancer Scott; LandAid; Mark Foster; Paul Groom Photography; Simmons & Simmons; Solum Surveying; Spirit Public Relations; TFT Consultants; The Bush Consultancy; Willmott Dixon; and 1,625 independent people.
Guy Grainger is EMEA chief executive of JLL