Eye of the beholder: Tapping into the art of CRE photography

Commercial real estate (CRE) comes alive with compelling photography, and this has never been truer than in this age where most prospective tenants and clients begin and end their search for property online.

Of course, there are some things a great photo can’t do: it can’t negotiate rates, or check leases, and it certainly doesn’t have the connections that a broker has. Thankfully, they are not competing. In CRE, a great photograph (several actually) and a great broker are a killer combo.

Here’s how to get the best visuals of your listings:

  1. Work with the professionals: If you are selling your own home, you might – we repeat, MIGHT – just get away with taking your own pictures. For a serious CRE listing, however, you need seriously great photographs that can capture a sense of place and project the potential of a site.
  • Collaborate with creative: A CRE broker may want to identify a small pool of tried-and-trusted photographers and freelancers who they can turn to as listings come up. Then they know the quality they can expect, and the photographers know the kind of photos a broker is after. Look for photographers specializing in real estate and architectural photography specifically; they come with a wealth of insight and tricks up their sleeves.

Also on this point, one must give clear briefs to the photographer, especially if there is a particular market or prospective client they want the photos to appeal to – such as startups or ‘blue chips’, niche or volume audiences, and so on.

  • Look local (and timing is critical): Knowing the area – its rhythms and moods – can mitigate some of the challenges an outsider might be faced with when capturing an office space or retail park. A local photographer can advise on what time is best for the lighting you need and want, which is one of the most critical decisions that you will make before a shoot.

A golden reflection, deep color saturation, or the sparkling backdrop of a city at night can all make the difference between a photo that shouts out to a viewer and a site that looks lifeless and cold.

  • Landscape, landscape, landscape… except when not: Almost exclusively, the landscape orientation lends itself best to CRE photography, and it is the most versatile for listings online and the types of standard content management systems many listing sites use.

There are, however, a handful of excellent reasons to break from this, such as drawing attention to an architectural feature or making a splash with printed peripherals. This “standard” operating procedure is shifting, especially as more listings are being viewed on mobile sites and apps (more directly below) in square and portrait form.

  • Tech-led: Fancy a 3D rendering or a sweeping drone shot? These kinds of photography are becoming cheaper and more accessible every day, and a professional CRE photographer will likely offer these extras or be able to recommend another service provider. Not every listing needs this, so be discerning.

Got a photography tip to share with your colleagues or an example of great real estate photography, from your listings or archives? Share this article, with your photography tip, and be sure to tag us on social media!

CRE trend: Home is where the work is

“Work from home” is the first major trend highlighted in the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021 – produced by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and professional services network, PwC.

This “trends and forecast publication” is now in its 42nd edition and is highly regarded in real estate and commercial real estate (CRE) spaces. The latest edition provides “an outlook on real estate investment and development trends, real estate finance and capital markets, property sectors, metropolitan areas, and other real estate issues”, focusing on the United States and Canada.

Go home

The trends in the report are not necessarily ranked, but “working from home” (WFH) opens the first chapter of the report, titled Dealing with Certain Uncertainties, which attempts “to start the process of discerning the trends that Covid-19 has instigated and their long-term potential”.

It continues: “One of the most oft-mentioned themes that we heard [during research for the report] was that Covid-19 did not create new trends but accelerated those that were already underway”.

And stay there

The report goes on to say that this trend’s sticking power was boosted by its early successes. “The WFH experiment has gone better than most managers and employees had expected, since new teleconference tools and advanced information technology systems have allowed for effective communication and collaboration (so far),” it reads.

Looking to the future, the report says that over 90% of the Emerging Trends survey respondents agreed that even after the Covid-19 crisis has abated “more companies will choose to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time.”

This experience of WFH has also spurred experimentation in work models from companies, with several announcing either a permanent move to remote work or increased flexibility for their workers.

“History suggests that offices will remain the dominant location for most white-collar employment, but the pandemic has taught us that there is a definite new variation now in the mix,” it concludes.

What’s Happening in the 5G World in 2021

The 5G revolution is unfolding before our very eyes – but if you don’t look closely, you’ll miss it.

5G, or fifth-generation of cellular technology, has been promising lightning fast speeds and incredible bandwidths since its initial announcement in 2019.

However, it was still a far-off reality at the time. 5G’s intensity requires a substantial technological infrastructure to actually deliver on those wow-factor promises. At the time, the network lacked the foundation for 5G to become the national standard of connectivity.

Since then, leaders in tech and communications have been working ardently to build the network to host 5G – and they’re not doing it alone.

Commercial real estate plays a significant role in preparing for the full-bodied launch of 5G. Being at the forefront of the commercial scene, CRE’s network of buildings will be primary homes to 5G tools and apps. This is creating a substantial link between this new technology and commercial real estate.

CRE pros need to keep their eyes on 5G’s progress. Here’s what we need to be watching in the 5G space for the new year:

Tracking 2020’s Progress

2020 was expected to be the year that 5G took off. This prediction only came true to a certain degree. In 2020, 5G has been slowly rolling out. The transition from 4G to 5G is proving to be a slower process than initially expected.

4G LTE remains the bulk processor for mobile network connections. Meanwhile, 5G’s infrastructure is gradually being built. Today, the primary goal of cellular companies is focused on development. Setting up, perfecting the tools, and working on facilitating a seamless transition remains top of mind for 5G in 2020.

The jump to 5G is immense. When 5G becomes the standard, running at its full potential, the world will see the tech boost we’ve all been waiting for.

What’s To Come in 2021

Announcements have already been made that 5G will be coming into tangible effect in the new year. Apple has already claimed that 60% of its new phones will be running on 5G in 2021. AT&T is also planning to scale its 5G network in the new year.

When this happens, the world’s latent tech capacity will finally be able to come into play. Right now, we have many technologies, such as smart cities and IoT buildings, that aren’t yet at their fullest potentials. 5G will provide the necessary power and speed to give the world a demonstration of the heights of modern tech.

In 2021, 5G will continue to be more active in the mainstream. By the time we’re approaching 2022, it’s possible that we’ll be on the precipice of a full 5G activation.

Impacts on the Commercial Space

In the coming years, expect PropTech to erupt across all sectors. Commercial real estate will be at the forefront of 5G’s transition – and professionals in this industry need to be ready to carry the weight. As we prepare to welcome 2021, now is a good time to strengthen the tech infrastructures of commercial portfolios.

A Charles Dickens Classic

By Alec J. Pacella, for Properties Magazine December 2020

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit through yet another online Zoom meeting. But this one was a little different, as it featured the entertaining and thought-provoking ideas of Dr. Ted Jones. Many people in Cleveland real estate circles simply know him by “Dr. Ted” and his in-person economic forecast typically draws hundreds each year.

For the complete article, http://digital.propertiesmag.com/publication/?m=15890&i=686668&p=36&ver=html5

Affordable Housing REIT Shining Light on Emerging Sector

2020 has been a tough financial year.

On a global scale, the coronavirus pandemic set off a major disruption within industries all around the world. In the United States, these economic stressors were felt across the board. Unemployment rose, the economy entered its first period of decline after years of growth, and households suddenly saw significant changes in income.

In response to the changing financial circumstances, government officials and industries alike are looking for solutions to today’s economic turbulence. Using rent forgiveness policies as an example, it’s clear to see that many of these solutions involve the commercial real estate scene.

However, CRE is also carrying its own weight. The multifamily sector has been eyeing affordable housing developments as a necessity amid today’s economic crisis. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are pushing this movement forward – and it’s helping brighten the outlook for both CRE and its tenants.

Here’s what affordable housing REITs mean for CRE investors, property owners, and developers:

Commercial Real Estate Seeks Stability

Right now, everything is about resilience.

Commercial real estate is finally regaining its balance after a treacherous year. Even though the outlook has improved, uncertainty still looms on the radar. The coming months into the new year may hold more surprises – something that the industry is more open to consider after learning the hard lessons of COVID.

Fostering resilience, flexibility, and stability is the primary goal for commercial real estate professionals. Everyone is looking for ways to pivot in case of an emergency, stay afloat even in the worst of times, and future-proof their movements for added safety.

The Promise of Affordable Housing

While seeking a resilient strategy to stay strong during market turbulence, multifamily has caught the eyes of many CRE professionals. Investors and developers are switching lanes to dip their toes into the multifamily sector.

During the worst of the pandemic, the apartment sector was one of the best performing commercial markets. This is due to the necessity of housing – people could skip out on shopping or going to the office, but they needed somewhere to live.

These crisis-minded commercial real estate professionals are zooming in on the affordable side of multifamily for added security. Instead of ultra-luxe, high-priced communities, affordable projects are holding all of the promise.

Right now, affordable housing is being viewed as one of CRE’s strongest and most resilient investment categories. It shouldn’t be a surprise that everyone in the business is eager to get involved.

The Promise of Affordable Housing REITs

Affordable housing REITs are quickly becoming the golden child of today’s commercial real estate scene. Even prior to the pandemic’s disruptions, affordable housing and opportunity zones were at the forefront of CRE development. After what the industry faced in 2020, the focus on affordable housing is continually intensifying.

Aspire Real Estate Investors has recently kicked off the first affordable housing REIT, shaping an acquisition pipeline hovering $1.1 billion. This REIT is publicly-held, and it’s becoming a staple of today’s CRE investment arena. Moving forward, expect to see major developments to affordable housing in the United States.