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Authored by: Jenn Quader, President and CEO

I’m attending the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Spring Meeting this week. Admittedly it’s from my Airbnb, as I got hit with a bug and I firmly believe in respecting others by not sharing known germs.

The benefit of that has been the ability to sit and watch each session virtually and really focus on the tone and meaning being conveyed.

This is a high-level conference with really smart people and insights being shared.

After day two, below are my takeaways:

    • Debt is taking a pause, however flows are healthy: capital is still moving into the CRE market. Debt, however, is stalling as the Fed makes its rapid moves. It’ll be a frustrating few months as many will have to re-think their capital stacks, but that will pass in about 12 months and markets will remain resilient.
    • CRE is in the limelight: Public perception and understanding of the critical role commercial spaces play in our lives has risen sharply in the 2020s. This widens the impact our industry can have.
    • The Mobile Generation (Millennials and Gen Z): This major (and powerful) cohort value two things first and foremost: internet access and the ability to pick up and move. This makes location less important and experience more important in nearly all product types.
    • Conversion is the name of the game: Space throughout the country is being marketed for potential conversion to product that meets rising demand, particularly multifamily and modern industrial…and life science – see below.
    • Life science/biotech takes the cake: One quote I found insightful: “anything that can be converted to life science right now is hugely valuable.” With most activity currently centered in Boston, San Diego, and San Francisco, this trend is gaining speed and capital support quickly.
    • Pricing is high, yet demand is higher: There continues to be much discussion around multifamily and industrial pricing. One example was a public pension fund that reported it had already met its annual allocation to industrial because of valuations. The panel’s opinion was “they’ll probably increase allocations.” Why? Because the investment fundamentals are there in the current market. There is simply not enough supply to outweigh demand, and demand is not slowing.
    • Housing: We need so much of it. ULI is working to advance all facets of housing investment and production, from affordable and workforce housing to traditional multifamily, single-family rentals (with a focus on ground-up rather than acquisitions), urban infill/small-scale development, etc.
    • Climate is everything: This is commercial real estate’s chance to make a real difference in the world.

I think my favorite 70 seconds of the conference thus far was a closing remark make by Amy Price, Managing Partner, Co-Head of US at BentallGreenOak, in a General Session. I’ve included a short screen capture here (and requested ULI’s permission!):

Video courtesy of Urban Land Institute 

This is everything in our industry right now.

A short synopsis for those that don’t click through: There are huge global issues at play, and our industry is aligned with the opportunity to be part of the solution. From climate change to equity in housing and beyond, this is commercial real estate’s moment to be motivators and changemakers in a major way.

This is why I’m personally so passionate about this industry, and it’s why I see a future where commercial real estate communications is at the top of smart young diverse talent’s career target list.

The ability to work in an industry with such a real connection to purposeful work is, frankly, amazing. I hope many smart young people will read this and Google “commercial real estate careers” to find out more.