The corona crisis has proven to be an accelerator for a number of disruptive trends. What real estate trends are we predicting? What changes can you expect in 2021?
After an unpredictable year, Immowi dares to predict some important trends. These will define the real estate market in 2021. Some trend movements, such as the growth of tourism, the hospitality industry and migration, came to a temporary halt, but for most developments, the coronavirus is mainly an accelerator.
Real estate trend 1: Focus on health
Now that the first vaccinations have been carried out, the impact of the coronavirus will hopefully be reduced. But the focus on health remains and could be the real estate trend of 2021. Research shows that Belgians have started to exercise more; we walk through parks more often than before.
We now know what the impact of long-term working from home is on employees. We now know how important it is to exercise a lot, to breathe healthy air. And we now know even better how important it is to live, shop and work in comfortable, safe and above all healthy buildings. Real estate therefore plays a crucial role in the (mental) health of citizens. The commercial property market is largely responsible for these healthy buildings and will take on even more responsibility in 2021.
Real estate trend 2: Hybrid work
With the biggest home-working experiment in history under its belt, 2021 will be the year of the hybrid office. Just as we have become used to on-demand hotels, sushi, shared cars and bicycles, the office will increasingly become a place where employees go when it suits them. Or where the office fulfils specific needs for him or her. For some, that may be a place to give a presentation, for others a space to brainstorm with the team. Yet another is looking for a quiet place to work or certain equipment that he or she does not have at home.
In any case, this hybrid working has an impact on the entire real estate market and will be an important real estate trend for 2021. In the first place, it means a changing view of living. More and more often at home means that residents will demand more space and more comfort.
Living-as-a-service, with all kinds of facilities on demand, is also becoming increasingly popular among young city dwellers. Especially since many cities are doing away with rented accommodation, students and yuppies will more often move to these kinds of trendy sharing concepts with communal (work) spaces. But the biggest impact, of course, is on office space.
Real estate trend 3: Shopping streets
Due to corona, vacancy rates increased and many shopping areas were in need of transformation. The growth of e-commerce only increased in corona time. In some places, the corona crisis is therefore being seized as a momentum to transform shopping areas on a large scale into future-proof residential shopping areas and even work areas.
Living in the shopping street plays a major role in all renewal plans and is another real estate trend to consider. After all, it solves several problems, from housing shortage to vacancy. For several reasons, this is not easy. But it seems certain that work will be done by 2021.
Real estate trend 4: The return of small local shops
No holidays to faraway places, no international conferences, no weekends in Paris or New York. But even the daily drive to the office was no longer an option for many employees. The result was that many suddenly spent a lot of time in their own neighbourhoods. Local bakers and butchers knew this. They saw their sales increase by dozens of percent in the past year.
Besides the proximity, the social aspect also played a role. A chat at the baker’s or butcher’s is appreciated again. Moreover, it makes many people feel good to give the local entrepreneur a helping hand. The support for local entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry was also heart-warming last year.
Will this remain the case when we are all allowed ‘outside’ again? There is a good chance that many Belgians will not throw the preference for the local entrepreneur overboard just like that when the borders open again. Shopping is about experience, and local entrepreneurs offer that experience with their authenticity.
This is bad news for the large, anonymous retail chains. They will focus more and more on e-commerce. After all, the oldest generation has also embraced online shopping en masse. But that daily chat at the baker’s or the cup of coffee at the bookshop, that is here to stay and should be recognised as a real estate trend for 2021 .
Real estate trend 5: Holidays in your own country
Before corona, Belgians were among the most travel-hungry people in the world. But in addition to the home-working experiment, Belgium underwent another experiment last year: going on holiday in their own country. This renaissance of Belgium as a holiday destination will do many smart investors in holiday homes, catering and boat and bike rental business no harm.
Real estate trend 6: Suburbanisation
With expats staying away, urbanisation has come to an abrupt end. At least, so it seems. Because if you look closer, you will see that the trend of urbanisation had already turned into a trend of suburbanisation in recent years. This has nothing to do with leaving the city, but with the scarce space in the city. Especially now that many Belgians are more dependent on their own homes, suburbia beckons.
One view of this development is that the cities are emptying out. But the other view is that the Belgian urban area is being expanded with spatial, green living areas that are close to all the urban amenities. With the exception of a few people who really do swap the city for the countryside, the modern Belgian wants both the peace, greenery and space of the countryside and the amenities of the city. Another real estate trend to keep in mind.
Real estate trend 7: Wood
Wood is hot, because wood is circular. More and more real estate developments are focusing on timber construction. In 2021 and the years thereafter, Belgians will increasingly discover wooden buildings with lots of greenery among all the bricks and concrete. Who would ever have thought that of the oldest building material in the world?
In the 1990s, cutting down wood was about the biggest crime in the sustainable world. Nowadays, wood is embraced on a massive scale. And the real estate world will notice this in 2021. The big question, of course, is whether this real estate trend will last.