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What’s Likely To Drive Real Estate in 2021? Here’s What Industry Mavens Think.

Emerging Trends Report Shows Reordering of Concerns

By Rohit Diwadkar CoStar News February 19, 2021 | 11:55 A.M.

Each year, accounting and consulting giant PwC teams with the Urban Land Institute to query hundreds of real estate specialists for their thoughts on the issues likely to drive the industry in the coming year.

This year's "Emerging Trends in Real Estate" survey shows some sharp shifts in views, perhaps no surprise following a year when a global pandemic upended property markets. In fact, industry players put epidemics far down the list of concerns at the start of 2020. Now, such health crises register as the No. 1 sociopolitical issue facing the industry.

In 2020, the issue of climate change was a no-show in the list of important social-political concerns. This year, after an active season of wildfires, hurricanes and other weather-related phenomena, the experts rated global warming and sustainability as a top 10 concern. One wonders where it might rank today, after winter storms descended on much of the country and disrupted water and electrical service in Texas.

As vaccines roll out, and the industry focuses on recovery, many experts expect construction costs and the availability of labor to be big issues — similar to 2020. But new this year is mention of property taxes and state and local regulations, possibly as authorities grapple with the cost and fallout of the health crisis. The experts no longer consider housing costs and availability to be a major issue, but they do expect tenant leasing and retention to be worth watching.

Putting people back to work should be a top issue in the coming year, industry leaders say. So will concerns over economic growth as the world tries to recover from the health crisis, followed by tax issues likely related to how governments go about paying for the trillions of dollars in stimulus and aid delivered during the pandemic.

The experts also expect to see the industry continue to be transformed by technology. Cybersecurity, big data and super fast 5G wireless networks are likely to be big trends, according to the survey. Coworking slips down the list.

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