Technological, social, and economic challenges of the future will change the way people live, work, and shop. These changes can significantly impact today’s climate, not just in residential, but in the commercial real estate sector as well and its portion of the value chain. The ultimate question is who will profit and who will lose money in the future world of commercial real estate. 

What can we expect?

The present evolution of technologies towards digitization and automation will cause massive changes within the industry. The job profiles that exist today will change, along with the clients’ demands on how the job is executed. There will be an increase of redundant low-skilled, blue-collar workers while, white-collar jobs will be more driven by data, performed remotely, which will impact the need for office spaces, as well as functional office design and furnishings. These developments promise to reshape the commercial real estate environment. 

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The future is mobile

With autonomous cars just around the corner, we can expect major changes to the ways cities are built and developed. Property managers will have to evaluate how they use space. The decreased need for parking spaces both on and off the street will free up large areas for development. In some cities, landlords are converting parking space into commercial real estate, taking advantage of the premium location and street-level access. The new space requirements will include re-configured parking solutions for driverless cars and warehouses for automated loading machines. 

Tenant health and wellness

As global environmental concerns are gaining momentum, people are more concerned about the impact of commercial spaces on their health and wellness. A global 2016 survey by Deloitte that targeted the Millennial population showed that young professionals consider employee well-being as one of the most important qualities of a workplace. To meet these demands, companies are considering how to improve the health and well-being of their commercial tenants and residents. The overall prediction is that commercial properties that don’t meet the needs of modern tenants won’t see modern tenants. The survey analysis recommends that real estate companies should include tenants in decision-making, so they can better understand design elements that cater to health and wellness. 

Rise of smart energy products

With the UN predictions that the world population will reach 9.7 billion in 2050, over 66% will live and work in cities. As a consequence, commercial places will have to become increasingly urbanized with unprecedented integration of smart technologies, drones, autonomous vehicles, and automated services. The modern urban architecture will rely heavily on smart energy products like industrial lighting solutions shown here, as well as on data and technology to make life more comfortable. As a result, the cost of both commercial and residential real estate is expected to rise in those districts.

3D printing

We won’t have to wait long before builders are able to print entire floors with immense time savings. In China and Dubai, there are already low-rise commercial properties being developed with 3D printing, and the builders are reporting construction time reduced by 70% and cost by 80%. With its huge implications for construction, 3D printing is both a threat to traditional warehousing, as less space will be required, but also an opportunity for retailers to respond on-demand. 

Event-driven shopping

The rapid increase of online shopping will further reduce demand for retail real estate assets, with more demand for just-in-time logistics. Amazon is already experimenting with drone delivery service, claiming it’s much safer and faster than going through couriers or postal service. This way, logistics centers could be located at the periphery, freeing more space in the city center. Upper-end high street miles will still exist, primarily through the leisure PR function, but smaller retail businesses in decentralized regions will suffer the heaviest blow. To meet the demands of new customers and build interest, shopping malls will need to resort to more event-driven concepts that emphasize on experience rather than shopping. 

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Fading relevance of real estate brokers

As individual market players in the real estate arena, real estate brokers will become increasingly redundant due to market transparency policies and automated rental negotiations between owners and lessees. Real estate transactions will be based on technologies like blockchain, which eliminates the need for the middle-man. On the other hand, the government won’t miss an opportunity to benefit from new developments through new tax models, such as a tax for automation. Part of this income will be much needed for mitigating social problems due to increased unemployment, which is a result of automated processes. Although the future banks will certainly take advantage of the high degree of debt financing for real estate projects, crowdfunding platforms will take their share as strong competitors to traditional banking. 

The word ‘smart’ has changed slightly in meaning over the last decade, as new technologies granted us even more features that help us manage our lives. The increasing automation of running the business will bring profound changes in the commercial real estate sector, that go far beyond smart buildings and shared workspaces.

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