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How Businesses Can Lead A Corporate Real Estate Revolution – 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 past few months, we’ve been talking to leaders about what it takes to lead through the most complex and confounding problems, including the pandemic. Today we have a second conversation with corporate real estate veteran Chris Kane, author of Where is My Office? Reimagining the Workplace for the 21st Century. 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. 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David Benjamin and David Komlos: In your book, you say that the commercial real estate sector is “set in its outdated ways and firmly resistant to change” and that “winter is coming” for the sector. Have you seen any signs that winter is now here and the resistance is breaking?

Chris Kane: Despite the future of offices and office work being catapulted into the mainstream as a result of Covid-19, the corporate real estate sector still struggles to see the link between people and place because as a landlord, it’s very, very difficult to unwind decades of good times. 

The office sector is synonymous with mass standardization, huge value accretion, windfall profits, and ‘easy bucks’, and the industry is fighting to defend that status quo. They’re telling themselves this is just a market downturn similar to the global financial crisis and everybody will come back to their offices. The truth is that the problems are much more structural. I agree that people will come back to the office, but not as intensely as before. 

When the history books are written about this period, it will be seen as a pivotal time in humankind and its evolution. But landlords are hoping that this is all going to go away and we’ll get back to normal at some point in the not too distant future.

David Benjamin and David Komlos: In addition to Covid-19, what other factors will fuel what you call a “workplace revolution” going forward? 

Kane: One factor is the shift from consolidation to networked and distributed work. In the future, you’ll still have the big city center office buildings in downtown Toronto and in Manhattan but they will be used very differently. We may even have hit ‘peak office’. We may have sufficient office stock so that, like tending a garden, we need to repurpose or replace the stuff that’s not fit for purpose, rather than adding more. The reality is that even pre-Covid, most office occupiers only used 50% of their capacity, and it took the pandemic to force businesses to ask what is the purpose of their offices?

Another factor is that demand is going to be very different in the years ahead, and that will force the real estate industry to figure out who its customers really are and to start talking to them to better understand their needs. 

Policymakers will also play a role in driving change. Some cities are looking to use the shift that’s underway as an opportunity to drive their sustainability agenda. In Paris, for example, the mayor has worked with Carlos Moreno, an urban planner, to introduce the concept of a 15-minute city, where you live, work, and play all within one neighborhood. 

David Benjamin and David Komlos: How will the commercial real estate industry need to adapt?

Kane: The sector thinks it’s delivering an asset, but its consumers want a tool to enable their business. The disconnect is partially because the sector and its end consumers have never had a direct relationship; everybody is talking through intermediaries. That’s going to have to change. 

With respect to the shift from fixed to fluid use of space, WeWork let the genie out of the bottle by showing companies that there’s choice. Whereas 90-95% of our office space has always been bought, leased, or sub-leased, over the next three to five years, that number is going to drop to about 50%, and the other half will rely on other on-demand models (like work from home, “third places” and distributed co-working facilities). 

The digital age has enabled people to work anywhere, anyhow, anytime. Some companies won’t ever go back to forcing people into two-hour commutes. That doesn’t mean they’ll get rid of office space completely, because there is still a social interaction richness to an office environment. Leaders will certainly have to adjust their thinking to include many other options as well. 

We’re in for an interesting time, and the real estate industry hasn’t yet faced up to the disruption that’s underway. 

Benjamin and Komlos: Going forward, what will it take for the sector to wake up to its need for transformation, if not a global pandemic?

Kane: The transformation the sector needs to go through is really complex, and I’ve learned that navigating complexity requires doing the difficult work of engaging people and seeking out a variety of perspectives. The challenges now are too big for one sector or one individual to take on. However, a lot of people in my sector have a vested interest in the status quo, so they don’t want to do that work and don’t understand why it’s important. I think the first thing to do is for real estate providers to start building a relationship with their customers and start talking about this stuff directly. We need big, powerful organizations to recognize that they have choices beyond just buying or leasing a building, and to demand change. 

We can’t rely on people in property-related roles to make those demands because they have a strong emotional connection with commercial real estate that makes them reluctant to rock the boat. Business leaders, HR Directors, managers, and so on – they’re the ones who may have to lead the way into the necessary conversations.

Benjamin and Komlos: Any other advice you can offer? Parting words?

Kane: The real estate sector can actually make more money if they get smarter about all of this. It comes down to shifting the focus from buildings to people, recognizing that it’s not either/or between the office and the home, and breaking down silos so we can really think about this holistically. The industry needs to offer a blended range of options – core, flex, on-demand, and work from home.  All underpinned by a space as a service model with a sustainability focus,  rather than just renting space.

It’s time to do away with the medieval concept of landlord and tenant; it’s time for a remodel.

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Home sales hit record in 2020 despite pandemic – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in December hit an all-time record for the month to end what was also a record year.

It says December sales were up 47.2 per cent compared with December 2019, the largest year-over-year gain in monthly sales in 11 years.

Sales for the month were also up 7.2 per cent compared with November.

For 2020 as a whole, CREA says some 551,392 homes were sold, up 12.6 per cent from 2019, and a new annual record.

The actual national average home price was a record $607,280 in December, up 17.1 per cent from the final month of 2019.

CREA says excluding Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the most active and expensive markets, lowers the national average price by almost $130,000.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021.

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Who knew a health crisis would spur on a Vancouver real estate boom? – News 1130

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Prices are up, and buyers are bidding. As the option of remote work continues, the demand for property is also continuing to rise.

One of the country’s leading brokerages says there is a real estate boom in Vancouver, and while low interest rates and pent-up demand are factors, the pandemic has helped fuel it.

Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper says the aggregate price of a Greater Vancouver home last quarter rose more than seven per cent to a little over $1.1 million.

RELATED ARTICLE: Vancouver office vacancy rates spike amid COVID-19, but well below national average

New data from Royal LePage finds more than half of Canada’s largest real estate markets have seen double-digit price growth over the last few months.

The brokerage says multiple offers have again become common and almost every detached home is attracting competitive bids.

Soper says 2020 was the strangest year of his career and that the term “recovery” is an understatement. He adds that, looking at fourth quarter results, he can state without hyperbole that the health crisis has triggered a real estate boom.

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Top Real Estate News of the Week: January 11 to 15 – Toronto Storeys

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Another week in Toronto has come to a close and, from January 11 to 13, real estate stories continued to take our desktops by storm. In fact, you may have struggled to keep up with it all!


And, let’s be real: everything — *gestures vaguely* — is a lot right now, so there’s a fair chance you don’t want to spend your weekend doom-scrolling, trying to catch up on all the latest news about what’s up, what’s down, and what’s not budging. In fact, we wouldn’t recommend it. (Who thought the change of the calendar year meant anything at all, really?)

To make your day a little easier, we’ve gathered up this week’s top articles and assembled them below. Consider this place your Toronto real estate news digest, where you can get the picture before you go outside to get some (socially distanced) fresh air.

With that, we’ll get right to it. Here are your top “storeys” for the week:

1. What Ford’s New COVID Measures Mean for the Ontario Construction Industry

As Ontario grapples with surging daily COVID-19 case numbers that are now threatening to swamp hospitals, Premier Ford announced new public-health measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, which includes new restrictions to the construction industry. The measures include a stay-at-home order, in connection with a province-wide state of emergency declaration.

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2. Ford Government Approves Temporary Ban of Residential Evictions

With stay-at-home orders in place, the Ontario government has approved an emergency order that temporarily pauses the enforcement of residential evictions. This marks the second time in less than a year that the province has paused residential evictions. The government made the announcement Thursday morning, two days after Premier Ford declared the province was entering its second state of emergency as Ontario grapples with surging daily case numbers that are now threatening to swamp hospitals.

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3. Canadians Believe More in the Housing Market Than the Overall Economy

Is this optimism? Despite the negative implications COVID-19 has had on nearly every business sector, it appears the pandemic hasn’t had an (lasting) effect on the the real estate industry. According to RBC’s latest edition of its Home Buying Sentiment Poll, Canadians still believe in the strength of the housing market — despite growing concerns of the overall economy.

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4. Average Rent Prices in Downtown Toronto Are Now Less Than the GTA Average

“Never thought I would see this,” Realosophy Realty President John Pasalis wrote on Twitter. His words are paired with a visual, which shows that right now, downtown rents are priced lower than those across the city at large, as well as across the GTA. The core’s average rent price is $2,132, under Toronto as a whole at $2,152, and the GTA’s current $2,227 average.

But there’s more to rent prices than their at-a-glance averages.

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5. Average 1-Bedroom Rent in Toronto Has Dropped Over 20% Year-Over-Year

In a similar vein to the above article, this week, Padmapper released its January national rent report, analyzing hundreds of thousands of listings last month to examine median rent prices across the 24 largest cities in the country. And where the country’s largest city is concerned? One-bedroom rents fell nearly 4% month-over-month, while rents are down over 20% year-over-year.

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6. Who Gets the House? ‘Divorce Month’ Prompts Real Estate Questions

In news that’s both a bummer and important to know, the first month of the year is often known as ‘Divorce Month’ — pandemic or not. And COVID, along with all the increased time it’s forced people to remain together under one roof, has likely only added to the number of people now seeking separation from their partners. And while the initial decision to part ways is the first of a long list of decisions that must be made, what to do with a shared property is most often also hanging out at the top of that list.

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7. Canadian Housing Market Already On Pace to Have Record Year in 2021: RBC

On Wednesday, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue released a new report looking at the current state of the country’s housing market, which Hogue believes is on pace to set more records amid the current unprecedented public health and economic challenges. The report begins with this sentiment: “in the end, the rollercoaster that was 2020 left Canada’s housing market more or less where it started the year: full of bidding wars, escalating prices and exasperated buyers unable to find a home they can afford.”

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8. A Sprawling Winter Light Exhibit is Coming to Toronto’s Waterfront

Need some fresh air? We feel you. Starting this Friday, two new outdoor light exhibits will open to the public as part of Harbourfront Centre and The Waterfront BIA’s outdoor winter celebration of arts & culture: Site Alive | Winter Editionwhich will transform the 10-acre waterfront campus into a unique, immersive world of sensory experience.

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