We’ve come a long way, baby, but we still have a long way to go!
Wow, 40 years is a long time and the commercial property market has come a long way. We’re now a legitimate asset class. We have lots and lots of people following our industry, and we have more journals and other publications focused on us. We have robust equity and debt markets to facilitate investments, and more and more professionals are being trained to better understand how these complex investments work. There are large numbers of students in our classroom and lots of people are realising it’s a lot more fun to work with a real asset, to kick the tyres and not necessarily just watch a stock price move.
Forty years ago, we began to look more seriously at real estate as an investment class and now we have enormous amounts of cash focused on our industry. I’ve been in this field for almost the entire time. I took my first real estate class in 1983. At times the market seems to have grown up very, very slowly, but at points it feels like it has passed by in the blink of an eye. So many things have changed over these past four decades and they continue to change rapidly –particularly these past few years, as technology has advanced and proptech has become the new darling of venture capital and alternative investments, the focus of so many of our institutional funds. But there are still some things that are very slow to change.
These Covid times have created a lot of tension and stress in people’s lives. As usual, property is right in the middle of the conversation. As Ely once said, “Under all is land” and as we try to return to ‘normal’, we are facing a strong debate as to what is best for our urban centres, our businesses and our employees. The current debate on work from home (WFH) or what I like to call butts in seats, is raging. I cannot help but notice the diversity of the voices asking/demanding flexibility vs the relatively homogenous set of voices on the other side. The predominant gender in our sector is male and the predominant race white. There is limited diversity in the higher ranks of our profession and in the ranks of our leaders. Having been one of the first female real estate academics with children, I’m in full support of companies embracing WFH and hybrid modes to provide flexibility so employees can better balance their lives.