10 real estate trends for 2021 — new ways of thinking as businesses look to optimize their footprint

by Brianna Crandall — December 11, 2020 — Canada-based international commercial real estate services firm Avison Young recently released its 2021 Forecast, including 10 trends it anticipates influencing the commercial real estate industry in the year ahead across capital markets, office, retail and industrial, among other sectors.

Dr. Nick Axford, global head of Research for Avison Young, remarked:

While the pandemic has undoubtedly had many immediate effects, its most significant impact has been to accelerate numerous structural shifts that were well underway before any of us had heard of COVID-19. As we navigate recovery, we’re seeing a number of trends that present opportunities and new ways of thinking about how real estate can be leveraged for the benefit of our economies, communities and the environment.

Among the trends identified by Avison Young are a series of fundamental shifts in workplace perspectives as businesses look to optimize their footprints and respond to the needs of today’s multigenerational workforce to compete in the war for talent.

Trends in the Forecast that impact occupiers include how:

  • Working from home or near home impacts productivity.
  • Workplace experience will drive the culture, talent retention and innovation strategies for business.
  • The role of a flexible portfolio is a matter of necessity rather than choice.
  • The experiences of 2020 are reshaping the relationship between landlords and occupiers, with far-reaching implications for the future of real estate management.

In addition, several trends are shaping the investor landscape, including how:

  • Economic stimulus measures being considered by governments across the globe offer some interesting investor opportunities.
  • 2020 has highlighted the need for companies to focus more explicitly on risk management, including carbon reduction.
  • The most powerful statistical figure in human history, GDP (gross domestic product), may be too simplistic a yardstick for measuring success; we shouldn’t ignore economic growth, but we need metrics that encourage investment in areas that benefit society more broadly, in addition to stimulating the economy.

The 10 trends explored in the report are:

  1. (De)globalization 2.0
  2. No place like home
  3. Workplace eXperience
  4. Portfolio metamorphosis
  5. Managing expectations
  6. Hyperlocal
  7. Love thy neighborhood
  8. Risky business
  9. Building a recovery
  10. Measure for measure

Avison Young’s trends commentary was prepared based on the market knowledge and experience of Avison Young commercial real estate professionals around the world, along with additional data sources. To access the full 2021 Forecast, with a detailed look at each trend, visit the 10 Trends for 2021 webpage.

See also Avison Young’s related report, Productivity, the Workplace and COVID-19, that examines how workplaces should adapt to meet employee needs.