The real estate market is constantly changing and if anything, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the pace of change and resulted in a number of trends coming to the fore that were just beginning to emerge before the crisis. One example of this is a shift in emphasis in the non-essential retail trade, which was already under pressure. It has become clear that to make the right allocation decisions, the top decision-makers at global pension funds and insurance companies now need the best possible information.
Ultimately, the questions that preoccupy many market players are issues such as what impact the new normal will have on investments in all areas of world after the Covid-19 pandemic. Another question we are often asked is in what ways we expect the industry to recover, in both the short and long term. Yet another revolves around the impact we expect the pandemic to have on core and non-core office assets in prime European cities like Dublin, London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Do we believe the trend towards urbanisation is about to come to an end – so will the next big thing be de-urbanisation? How long will shopping centres, retail outlets and restaurants be under pressure? Will logistics and the residential sector be largely unaffected by what is happening? What factors should be taken into account when planning a diversified European logistics portfolio?
Of course, in many respects we are in the same boat as all researchers in that we don’t have a crystal ball. Nonetheless, we place great emphasis on providing our customers, colleagues and business partners with the most realistic picture possible of developments – and ensuring that our investment research highlights the trends we expect for the future. This is also why we constantly screen a whole host of economic and social indicators, monitoring employment market statistics, consumer confidence, government stimulus programmes in the leading economies, investment and leasing trends, travel and hotel bookings, rent collection data and much more.
In the same way that we adopt a broad outlook within our business, we also ensure that we don’t just rely on single sources or methods for our research. To fine-tune our assessments, we continually underpin our top-down view with additional information and the input of experts ‘on the ground’ in different locations. For example, we remain in constant dialogue with our local offices worldwide. By striking a healthy balance between top-down views and bottom-up evaluations, we believe that our assessments are more reliable.