The Legacy of the Covid Pandemic on the Real Estate Sector

11/03/2021

Real estate development over the past decade has centred around a few core ideas: building communities through open, interactive spaces and shared experiences.  

It has been more than a year into the Covid pandemic and many of these concepts already appear outdated. With social distancing measures in place, these communal and interactive spaces have lost some of their appeal.  

Real estate trends are constantly evolving, and it seems that the new buzzwords being circulated are privacy, virtual, distanced, and self.  

The need for personal space 

One of the lasting legacies of the pandemic for the real estate sector is the importance of personal space – be it at work, home or even in public spaces. Customers are increasingly demanding functional, rather than aesthetically pleasing spaces.  

All of these considerations, clubbed with the effects of the pandemic and the increased need for personal space, make the planning for, and designing of, real estate products exceedingly important — not only as a business investment, but also as a contributor to the health and well-being of people.  

Growth of e-commerce 

Another trend that has emerged from the pandemic is the growth of e-commerce. The rise of e-commerce could very well be detrimental for brick-and-mortar establishments and could cause retailers to concentrate on consolidating to only prime locations. In the short term, this shift is expected to add pressure on all retail properties. However, in the long-term top-tier retail properties stand to benefit from the decline of less desirable retail locations.  

The pandemic has led to a large-scale experiment in working from home, which may have a lasting impact on traditional ideas of office space. The need for more space, due to social distancing requirements, has made renting office space more expensive for businesses. This — coupled with improvements in work-from-home technology — could render office spaces entirely obsolete or introduce drastic changes to traditional office models.  

New global design paradigms 

In the real estate space, staying relevant, responsive, and “conscious” doesn’t come cheap. This relentless mechanism of “staying cognizant” and on top of real estate trends is bound to set in motion new global design paradigms that will inevitably drag everyone else along. The top-down vision of real-estate over the past year has had a trickle-down effect on how we design, the materials we use, how we travel and communicate with each other in public and private areas, and what “space” can be and do for years to come.  

Take, for example, the announcement by Saudi Crown Prince HH Mohammad Bin Salman. In January, he revealed the launch of a new revolutionary zero carbon city dubbed “The Line”. The planned city aims to have 1 million people reside in  a “zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions” city built around nature. The ambitious project is proof that modern-day crises such as pollution, traffic and human congestion, must eventually be addressed, and we must adapt quickly to stay relevant. 

Adapting to crises 

The true legacy of the pandemic will be defined by how each sector adapts to such challenges. For the real estate industry, I have laid out some of the key shifts that have happened over the past year, as well as my predictions of how industries will adapt to meet changing consumer demands. 

The truth of the matter is that change is constant, and we cannot expect that success will last forever. In fact, if we are always winning, there is a very real danger of becoming complacent. When businesses become complacent, they fail to innovate, improve and stay relevant. The pandemic was a rude awakening for us all and many companies suffered — but the true metric of success is how we adapt and evolve.

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