For those of us working in the real estate sector October starts with pretzels, schnitzels and beer. Europe’s largest real estate conference, Expo Real, takes place in Munich over three days at the beginning of October the day after the end of Oktoberfest.
With more than 44,000 attendees, it is twice the size of MIPIM, the other real estate conference, which takes place every March in Cannes. While MIPIM is a slightly laid back, boozy and social gathering, Expo Real is work, work, work. From early in the morning to early evening, attendees traipse around the huge, dizzying exhibition halls of Munich’s Messe.
It can be tough going, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who has said it’s not worth it. In fact, I bumped into an old acquaintance, the CEO of a large real estate investment manager, who has always gone to MIPIM but was making his debut at Expo. He said from now he would cancel MIPIM and only come to Expo.
This year’s Expo reflected the boom in the European property sector. Although Germans dominate the stands and the attendees, the UK accounted for the biggest increase in exhibitors, with a rise from 16 to 47.
While change is something that normally happens at snail’s pace in real estate, this year’s Expo was noticeable for two unusual things – the number of panel discussions and exhibitor events revolving around the need for affordable housing in European cities and proptech, the phrase encompassing the growing number of companies involved in providing tech solutions for real estate. There was a dedicated proptech area, dubbed “tech alley”, that was always packed.
The most encouraging aspect of the visit for us Brits, bogged down with Brexit, the death of bricks-and-mortar retail and depressed real estate share prices, was seeing so much enthusiasm and optimism and opportunities.