Creating a better future for real estate

Amidst the major investments, acquisitions and new developments that occupy the real estate news cycle, the global perspective on our industry has traditionally been contained within the corporate world, defined by rental income, profit margins, share prices, dividends and so on.

However, even before Covid-19 forced us to rethink our role as both individuals and businesses in wider society, the notions of social impact and social value were gradually becoming a core part of real estate business’ objectives; a transition in collective mindset which, like many things, has been accelerated by Covid and will no doubt continue to grow in significance long after the virus is defeated (See Revo’s new Social Value Framework).

To provide a recent example, Covid-19 prompted a radical and instant nationwide response from real estate businesses to the extreme cases of homelessness in England. Rough sleepers and those staying in communal shelters were promptly moved into safe places days later which prevented them from contracting the virus and certainly saved lives.

Further, this week, Property Week brought to our attention the crowdfunding platform that Beam has launched in partnership with London landlords, helping homeless people crowd fund for rent deposits.

While we often see headlines that present landlords as tight fisted and unsympathetic, amazing initiatives such as these remind us that most people are inherently good and we should do our best to treat each other with respect and understanding. The pandemic has affected us all – and in real estate, we need to grasp this opportunity of shared experience to create an even stronger community with a more powerful drive to do good.

CBRE statistics state that: “The government has pledged to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027. The Rough Sleeping Strategy and the recent Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 are welcome steps in the right direction.”

The fact that the immediate action to rehome rough sleepers in the time that the government did proves that it was always possible, and simply needed the current circumstances to catalyse action. This then leaves one to question what will happen once everything is back to ‘normal’. Will the real estate sector stand by and allow the homeless or rough sleepers to fend for themselves once again, or is it finally time to realise that more can and should be done to create a better future of the less fortunate?

You might say Covid has pressed the reset button on the way we do business, which doesn’t come around too often in a lifetime. Creating a ‘better future’ should be a primary concern for any and all  businesses as we navigate these uncertain times and, as a fundamentally human sector, real estate is well-placed to take the lead.

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