The New Trends

After writing last month about innovation as I reflected on the achievements of CPE’s Most Influential People in Real Estate, I flew out to the Urban Land Institute’s Spring Meeting in San Diego, where “Innovate” was the overriding theme. Coincidence? Perhaps, but these days creativity is paramount as the commercial real estate industry explores new ways to address large-scale challenges.

A few themes stand out among those discussed during the ULI conference and outlined by Counselors of Real Estate chairman Howard Gelbtuch at the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ conference in early June. Leading trends include the Echo Boomers’ influence on housing, as evidenced in the new breed of housing known as micro units; the demand for healthcare and seniors housing; and the Internet’s impact on brick-and-mortar retail sales and distribution, with speed to market a major priority.

Meanwhile, climate change is increasingly shaping the debate over where and how assets should be built. And unpredictable events, whether natural or manmade, appear on every list of top concerns and drive discussions about security and other topics.

Capital is flowing freely around the globe, and as investors and lenders eagerly seek out crossborder opportunities, they are focusing on a new asset class: the single-family rental property. Once the purview of individual owners, this niche appears likely to spawn a series of REITs. And while technology reduces the size of workstations, it is also sparking innovations demanded by that highly influential group of office users, the Echo Boomers.

Technological innovation also netted top honors in the newest category of CPE’s Distinguished Achievement Awards. CBRE Group Inc. and Sprint Real Estate won the Most Innovative Corporate Strategy award for their joint Innovation Council, which uses Sprint mobile technology to deliver CBRE real estate services. Their first product: a mobile app that improves the speed and accuracy of property management data analysis. Creativity took other forms among this year’s winners, as well, including the Federal Housing Administration’s first funding of cooperative housing, two development projects designed to benefit their cities as much as their tenants, and a property sale to a tenant with unique access to financing.

Meanwhile, we are proud to have brought home some prizes of our own. At this year’s NAREE Real Estate Journalism Competition, CPE won a Silver award for Best Web Site Solely Devoted to Residential, Commercial or Financial Real Estate and/or Home Design. And “The Best and Worst Cities for Investment,” a special report in the September 2012 issue, earned honorable mention for Best Trade Magazine Report on the Commercial Real Estate Industry. The judges lauded as a “comprehensive Web site (that) tells you more than you ever thought you knew about commercial real estate … in a crisp and engaging format.” We redesigned it in July 2012, but continue to consider new features to further enhance your experience. As always, we welcome your suggestions.

Suzann D. Silverman