This summer saw the 11th edition of INREV’s Annual Young Professionals Conference, held in Budapest between 5 and 6 July. The event was attended by 168 of the European non- listed real estate industry’s next generation, who were clearly hungry to learn and ambitious to succeed in the business.
Technology and data were key themes throughout, with keynotes, panels and insightful discussions on this all- important topic, delivered by some of the most cutting-edge thought leaders in the industry.
Iryna Pylypchuk, Fidelity International and Peter Hayes, PGIM Real Estate moderated the conference, which highlighted a great deal of evidence of how the industry might now change. With real estate’s end users increasingly demanding technological solutions, the industry needs to look beyond resilience and actively embrace these changes.
NEW POLITICAL CHALLENGES MAR AN ALREADY FRAGILE LANDSCAPE
Philip Coggan, Bartleby columnist of the Economist, opened his keynote speech rather gloomily. He set the tone by suggesting that the economy is not as strong as it was, investors are becoming less optimistic, old political problems have revived and new ones are appearing. He did however predict that Europe will muddle through the challenges ahead, albeit with a few nasty moments along the way.
But it was not all doom and gloom. Gustaf Lilliehöök, Partner at NREP proposed that there are huge opportunities for the real estate industry to provide solutions that better address customers’ needs and enrich people’s lives, in turn creating value for investors. The old investment mentality of ’buy cheap, sell dear’ needs to be quickly replaced with a more product-focussed approach, in order to ride the waves of adversity. Technology, sustainability and profitability will now be the key drivers of change in real estate, forcing stakeholders to do better in the face of the disruptive landscape ahead.
DIGGING DEEPER THAN PROFIT
Building upon Lilliehöök’s insights, Dan Hughes, Co-Founder of LIQUID Real Estate Innovation and Founder of Alpha Property Insights delivered a thought-provoking vision of how tech is set to transform the industry and become the catalyst for a shift in focus from occupier to customer. He signposted a journey through technology, emphasising four key themes and realities that companies should embrace:
- Technological developments that are enabling a stronger response to occupiers’ needs
- Blurred sectors, for example the rise of shared office space
- The acceleration of change in the sector – technology is impacting this
- Technology is enabling the industry to better achieve value
FROM BLEAK TO SLEEK
Day one of the conference closed on a high, with a presentation that stressed the prominent role of the real estate industry. Hans de Jong, CEO, Brink Groep set out his vision of how the industry can shape the cities of the future by offering viable solutions to meet their challenges at a macro level. The industry can tap into themes such as collaborative urbanism with concerted actions linked to culture and art, educational involvement with the notion of the city as a campus, and multi-city partnerships such as the evolving example of the Dutch Randstad. His key takeaways included:
- Instead of quick wins, strive for a long term contribution to the economy
- City planning is like gaming: creative optimisation and bending the rules are key
- City labs are vital for finding out the unknown
Day two kicked off with Benjamin Perez-Ellischewitz, Regional Director – Head of Capital Markets Hungry at JLL, sharing local knowledge on investment trends in the CEE markets.The programme then continued off-site with two property tours in the city, complementing his insights perfectly.
One group were taken by the Tippin Corporation to visit Exchange Palace, a grand Beaux Arts building that was once the Budapest Stock Exchange and which they now own. The Tippin Corporation, whose philosophy is ‘architecture is useful art’, is set to redevelop the monumental masterpiece into first class retail and office space.
Technology, sustainability and profitability will now be the key drivers of change in real estate
The second group were given a presentation and tour of the Corvin District, organised by JLL, which showcased the city’s largest ongoing development scheme that is transforming a once challenging neighbourhood into one of the most desired locations in the city. The tour combined open and covered shopping, entertainment, leisure, sport and eating facilities