Real estate people’s glasses are always half full, optimism in the face of uncertainty is their trait.
So, the annual MIPIM conference in Cannes, which kicks off today, has long been a favourite for the sector, as the sun, the sea, the glamorous location and the fabulous food and drink always offset any negativity back home.
Last year’s MIPIM came shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; this year’s on the back of soaring inflation, an energy crisis and interest rate rises. Yet, the mood in Cannes last year was defiant and this year’s is quite upbeat. Real estate investors are good at shrugging off disappointment and spotting opportunities. With the retail sector still looking decidedly shaky and offices still adapting to the post-Covid, WFH revolution, investors are putting a more positive spin on logistics, saying the massive demand-supply imbalance of the last few years has tempered but is still there. And there are opportunities in the undersupplied residential markets, investing in debt and also in repositioning outdated, “brown” offices into sustainable, tenant-friendly, “green” ones.
This year’s conference theme is sustainability, with a “Road to Zero” area aiming to accelerate the transformation of the built environment towards a more sustainable model. There are plenty of cynics who see real estate investors committing to everything but achieving nothing and the fact that most of the 23,000 MIPIM participants are not helping the road to zero, by flying to Nice.
But, although change is slow, it is definitely improving. Commitments to net zero are now the norm and there really are some big investors introducing proper recycling or reuse of materials and more sustainable building materials, such as wood rather than concrete.
MIPIM is an anachronism for some but it holds so much appeal to real estate’s Cannes-do attitude.
– James Whitmore, Director