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BBC’s Former Head Of Corporate Real Estate Says The Office Isn’t Dead – But It’s Not Going Back To Normal – Forbes

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Complexity is the defining business and leadership challenge of our time. But it has never felt more urgent than this moment, with the coronavirus upending life and business as we know it. For the next few weeks, we’ll be talking to leaders about what it takes to lead through the most complex and confounding problems, and about Brody Moments (from Jaws’ Police Chief Brody and his famous line “you’re going to need a bigger boat”) related to the coronavirus.

Today we talk with corporate real estate veteran Chris Kane, author of the forthcoming book Where is My Office? Reimagining the Workplace for the 21st Century (December 2020). Kane was the Vice President of International Corporate Real Estate for The Walt Disney Company, before acting as Head of Corporate Real Estate at the BBC, where he was responsible for the creation of MediaCityUK in Salford, oversaw the £1bn development of Broadcasting House, and masterminding the foundations for a new creative quarter in White City, London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a founding member and director of Six Ideas, a global consultancy focused on workplace development and innovation. 

David and David: Can you give us an example and context about a specific Brody Moment from your past?

Chris: Early in my time as BBC’s Head of Corporate Real Estate, I had a Brody Moment when Mark Thompson, BBC’s Director-General, said to me: “I’m not going to spend all this money on real estate unless I can get a lot more value out of it. I want to use it as a catalyst for changing the organization and moving it from analog to digital.” That made me realize that this wasn’t just about buildings – it was about something much bigger.  My role was to reimagine real estate, turn property into a strategic asset, link it with the brand, and align it with the company’s vision and mission. 

It was clear to me that I didn’t have the right team to make the necessary changes. I had a couple of hundred people in-house and another 1500-2000 outsourced people who were all competent real estate folk and very traditional. They knew how to build a decent building, how to do a real estate deal, and how to do facility management, but they weren’t the right group for what was ahead. So we got out of a 30-year PFI (private finance initiative) contract in year four, restructured the entire real estate team, brought in new people, and ran a change program within a change program. We did all that while dealing with a property marketplace that didn’t really care about what we needed. 

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David and David: What are the Brody Moments that you’ve seen people experiencing over the course of the pandemic when it comes to their offices and workplaces? 

Chris: The pandemic has disrupted both the corporate real estate sector and the traditional managerial mindset that absenteeism means a lack of productivity. I wrote my book expecting it would be a slow burn to get the sector to change, but Covid-19 has changed the ballgame and the stadium. Prior to the pandemic, managing real estate was about driving efficiency with very little thought to effectiveness. Now, leaders are thinking very differently about the purpose of the office, and  they’re realizing they have choices beyond this building or that one. Many other permutations are available, and that has enormous implications for the sector.

The pandemic has accelerated the shift from a fixed to a fluid use of workspace.  Now people are saying we can work anywhere, anytime and anyhow, and they’re seeing that this can be a competitive advantage – harmonizing workforce and workplace – in terms of talent attraction, health and wellbeing. And whether people are having a good experience working this way, or bad, they are being forced out of their traditional ideas about work. They’re also being fuelled by fear. Employees are afraid to go back to work when there’s still a risk that they might catch this horrible disease and die, and employers and members of boards are afraid to demand that people come back into an office environment because they are potentially exposed to litigation if somebody gets sick and dies.

David and David: What do you see moving forward for offices and office buildings, and the supply side of the sector? 

Chris: About 18 months ago, WeWork let the genie out of the bottle by helping consumers of real estate realize they have a much bigger choice than just buying a building, leasing or subleasing. There was already a hidden paradigm shift taking place pre-Covid, with smart people in the real estate sector thinking about how the big corporations are evolving, and recognizing that the sector has to adapt – and then Covid came along and changed the game. For the supply side, this is existential because everything is driven by having a 5, 10, or 20 year lease, and now “Oh my God, this nice little earner is disappearing in front of my eyes.”  

There are many who hope that everything will go back to normal, but that’s not going to happen. When it comes to office towers, the smarter ones will deal with large scale vacancy and gain a competitive advantage by quickly adopting a different model, where (for example) one-third of the space is traditional office use, one-third is flex use, and one-third is something else entirely. And whereas building management has always been passive, sitting there and collecting rent, now they’re going to have to work at it. The office sector is going to have to learn to operate more like the hotel sector, with more focus on the consumer and the brand, more competition and more flexibility. 

So while I think it’s premature to declare the death of the office, I can see the “Uberization” of corporate real estate ahead. They need to think very differently, understand the needs and journey of the customer, and be much more fleet of foot when it comes to how they operate. “Space as a service” will be an enormous shift, and the sector will have to quickly reshape the entire model to move away from an investor mindset to a service provider mindset – as opposed to sitting there, arms folded like the 180-pound gorilla, saying it’s $100 per foot, take it or leave it. Those days are over.

David and David: And what about the consumers of office spaces, employers and employees?

Chris: For employers and employees, we’ve been stuck in a very traditional bipolar debate between office and home, whereas there’s lots of choice and it’s not just about physical space. Work is moving from being process work performed in an office, to knowledge work, which can be done in a whole raft of settings. There will always be the need for an office, for people who need to congregate, socialize, and meet, but now, for the first time ever, everyone is asking big questions like: Will Monday to Friday, 9-5 survive? What’s the purpose of the office? How much footprint do I need? Am I going to need leases or service contracts? 

David and David: Any other advice you can offer? Parting words?

Chris: We’re all focused on dealing with the short-term consequences of Covid-19, but we also have to be mindful about the medium and long-term implications. Pre-pandemic, we were facing a climate change challenge and that hasn’t gone away. We are guardians of the built environment and custodians of this earth for the generations that follow us, and we need to think about whatever adjustments we make in the light of both short-term and long-term needs. That means getting much more serious about the corporate social responsibility agenda and using our buildings in smarter ways, so we leave a legacy we can be proud of.

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Calgary real estate sales improve despite ongoing pandemic – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
Calgary realtor Shaukat Hayat had his busiest summer ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the pandemic people realize the value of a property, value of a house while they were staying inside,” said Hayat, who has been in the industry since 2006. 

Hayat said homes in the $300,000 to $500,000 price range are the ones moving, with homes selling within 30 to 45 days. 

“Whoever is going out, they are a very determined buyer, and whoever has listed the property, very determined seller,” said Hayat.

“Summer 2019 and summer 2020, there is an increase in the price and increase in the number of the units sold all over the city.”

Hayat points to a number of factors, including inventory levels and low interest rates on monthly mortgage payments.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says sales started to pick up toward the end of June, but were soft in April, May and June. 

CMHC released its latest Housing Market Assessment on Monday, looking at the health of the market during the second quarter of 2020.

“We had a huge economic shock in labor markets, in the oil markets which Calgary is a centre of,” said Michael Mak, senior analyst, economics with CMHC. 

“This shock basically gave consumers a level of uncertainty and both sellers and buyers didn’t really have a certain outlook on the future. It may be that they decided to wait and see how the government responded how the pandemic responded before making any sales or buys.”

April to June 2020, Mak said approximately 3,400 homes sold in Calgary, compared to 5,200 during the same time period in 2019.

“The MLS average price was $423,311, in the second quarter of 2020, down four per cent from the same period in 2019,” reads the report. 

Mak said the report also found there is increased supply in new homes being built in the city compared to demand. 

Final sales numbers for the summer aren’t available yet, but Mak says sales are slightly higher and prices are about 10 per cent higher also.

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Don’t be a stranger! Sooke real estate agent won’t shy away from your questions – Sooke News Mirror

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When you’re buying your first house, you’re likely to have a thousand questions. You may even ask the same questions more than once. The same goes for selling — whether it’s your first sale or your fifth, you’ll likely ask the same questions over and over.

Most real estate agents can answer your questions the first time you ask, but it takes a special kind of ‘people person’ to treat you with genuine compassion the fourth time you ask.

“I want my clients to feel comfortable reaching out to me for anything, even if they’ve asked me before,” says Paula Wensley, a real estate agent with Macdonald Realty Ltd. “My goal is to reduce stress for my clients so they don’t lose sleep — they’ll probably lose sleep anyway, but I can do my best to make the process easier.”

Find the right fit

Paula is relatively new to Sooke but she’s no stranger to southern Vancouver Island, having lived in many Island communities over the years. That local knowledge comes in handy when helping clients find their forever-home.

“I’ve had some amazing experiences with clients who weren’t happy with where they lived, but didn’t know where to move,” she says.

They’d describe their personalities, lifestyles and goals, and ask Paula ‘Where can you see us? What community would suit us?’ Using her knowledge of local communities and her talents for connecting with clients, she’d make a recommendation.

“One client reached out a year after they’d moved in just to say thanks. She said ‘we wouldn’t have found this community without you.’ It’s amazing to have that kind of impact.”

3rd generation in real estate

Paula comes from a family of real estate agents including her grandpa, dad, uncles and cousins, so she draws from a wealth of experience beyond her years. Before real estate she worked as a property manager and commercial sales assistant, so she’s seen the industry from all sides.

“I try to offer a fresh approach — I’m up to date on new negotiating techniques and other strategies,” she says.

Paula finds she connects well with clients who prefer a bit more time and attention to their individual needs. If you have a unique situation or just want a little extra help with your listing, Paula will give you her full attention.

“I don’t see myself in sales, I see it as a service. It’s not just a conveyor belt of clients.”

Follow Paula Wensley on Facebook for her latest insights on the tight real estate market, and visit paulawensley.com to browse current listings from Mill Bay to Sidney to Sooke. Get in touch by calling 250-388-5882 or at pwensley@macrealty.com.

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Real Estate Transactions: Exclusive Use Servitudes Deemed Invalid – Real Estate and Construction – Canada – Mondaq News Alerts

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To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.

While exclusive use clauses remain common in leases, they can no
longer be drafted in the form of servitude agreements in
transactions.

In April 2020, in the case of Société
immobilière Duguay Inc.
v. 547264 Ontario
Limited
1, the Court of Appeal of Quebec
ruled in favour of dismissing a Superior Court
judgment2, thereby granting an application for
declaratory judgment and striking off “exclusive
use
” clauses drafted in the form of servitude agreements
restricting the types of business that could be carried out on a
property. As a result, this case puts an end, in commercial
transactions, to the use of servitude agreements to protect certain
exclusive businesses or commercial uses from third parties in a
given location.

Exclusive use clauses have long been included in leasing
agreements, such as those in shopping centers, to define the
permitted uses of the leased property and prohibit or limit one
tenant from carrying on the same type of business or
principal use” as another tenant. The bottom
line is to protect the market within a property and ensure the
commercial success of all tenants. The Civil Code of Quebec
(C.C.Q.) does not currently define or regulate such clauses
directly; these are usually the result of negotiations between the
landlord and the tenants. Exclusive use clauses have also been used
in commercial real estate transactions, in the form of servitude
agreements. Under Quebec civil law, Article 1177 C.C.Q. defines a
servitude as “a charge imposed on an immovable, the
servient land, in favour of another immovable, the dominant land,
belonging to a different owner
.”

The Duguay matter is the most recent case in which the
Quebec courts had to determine whether exclusive use agreements in
commercial real estate transactions were valid in civil law. In
this case, the Respondents owned a shopping centre and various
contiguous or nearby lots, which they leased for commercial
purposes. In 1998 and 2000, the Respondents sold two of those lots
to a third party for the purpose of opening a clothing store. The
notarized deed of sale included a servitude agreement stipulating
that the buildings of the shopping centre owned by the Respondents
could not be used to carry on business activities that would
compete with those of the buyer (i.e. a family clothing store),
while the properties acquired by the buyer could not, for their
part, be used for the principal business activities then taking
place at the Respondents’ shopping centre and on the
neighbouring lots they owned (i.e. a grocery store, drugstore,
movie theatre and department store). In 2012, the two properties
were sold by the initial buyer to the Appellant, with the new deed
of sale providing that both properties remain subject to the
exclusive use servitudes set out in 1998 and 2000. Following this
subsequent sale, the Appellant asked the Superior Court to declare
that the “servitude agreement” was not enforceable and to
order its striking out on the grounds that it did not constitute
servitudes, but rather, personal obligations.

The Court of Appeal found that, since the purpose that the
Respondents claimed to be pursuing through these exclusive use
agreements, namely to promote the commercial diversity of their
shopping centre, served largely to ensure that the businesses in
the shopping centre they owned were not subject to commercial
competition, they could not be construed as constituting valid
servitudes under the C.C.Q. The Court of Appeal found that the
rights flowing from these agreements do not relate to the
Respondents’ real estate property, but rather to the
Respondents’ financial and commercial interests.

As a result, although the exclusive use servitude agreements
could be deemed creative in commercial real estate transactions,
the Court of Appeal of Quebec ruled in favour of the Appellant,
finding that such agreements restricting commercial use do not
constitute valid servitudes, as they do not encumber the dominant
land as required by Article 1177 C.C.Q., but only apply to the
servient land. According to the Court of Appeal, these stipulations
must be characterized as personal obligations binding on the first
buyer and the Respondent but not the Appellant as the subsequent
buyer. Moreover, the Court of Appeal found that the Respondents had
not demonstrated that the Appellant agreed to undertake these
agreements as personal obligations when purchasing the
properties.

Footnotes

1 Société immobilière Duguay inc. v.
547264 Ontario Limited, 2020 QCCA 571

2 Société immobilière Duguay inc. v.
547264 Ontario Limited, 2018 QCCS 2099 (CanLII)

Originally published by August-September 2020 issue of
Canadian Lawyer InHouse magazine

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

POPULAR ARTICLES ON: Real Estate and Construction from Canada

Construction Dispute Resolution In Ontario

Miller Thomson LLP

The Canadian Construction Documents Committee (“CCDC”) forms of contract provide for a dispute resolution process that is generally contained in Part 8 of the contract.

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