Each year, the release of Emerging Trends in Real Estate® represents a singular event for ULI as a global thought leader on trends in the real estate industry. This year, interest in the report has been stronger than ever, as the industry continues on a course of recovery. Events held in North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region to discuss the report’s findings have drawn nearly 12,000 people—ULI members and nonmembers alike—since the 2015 cycle kicked off with the release of the U.S. and Canada version of Emerging Trends at the 2014 ULI Fall Meeting in New York City.
A joint project with global professional services firm PwC, Emerging Trends is one of the Institute’s core research offerings, discussing prospects for investment and development across property types and major cities as well as drawing connections between capital markets and larger trends in employment, demographics, and technology.
With the 2015 report marking the 36th year of publication, Emerging Trends serves as a major focal point for ULI’s district and national council network, kicking off a year’s worth of programming, social and professional interaction, and networking among members. Since October, 37 district councils in North America, seven European national councils, and nine Asia Pacific national councils have held events devoted to discussing the report’s findings and their implications for local economies and markets.
While Emerging Trends events vary from council to council, the programming includes a representative from ULI’s U.S. headquarters, Europe office, or Asia Pacific office who discusses global and national trends found in the report; panels of local real estate and capital markets professionals typically follow with a robust discussion of local and regional capital flows and economic trends.
“The Emerging Trends event is very interesting for members because it addresses the German market more specifically than does the European report [as a whole],” says ULI Germany chair Jürgen Fenk, managing director at Landesbank Hessen/Thüringen (Helaba). “Therefore, it plays an important role in sustaining members.”
In North America, several district council Trends events attracted sizable crowds and a strong showing by local sponsors. ULI Northwest in Seattle and ULI Philadelphia drew 500-plus attendees to their events while those hosted by ULI Toronto, ULI Chicago, ULI Michigan, and ULI Boston drew more than 300 people.
Emerging Trends forums are often the biggest events of the year for district councils, serving as a recruiting and retention tool for new and lapsed members. “Trends gives us the opportunity to showcase the power of the organization,” says Carlos Febres-Mazzei, senior vice president at CBRE/New England and cochair of ULI Boston’s 2015 Trends in Real Estate Forum. “We often see people join or rejoin ULI after the event. It’s a phenomenal recruiting tool for us.”
Amachie Ackah, founder of Clay Cove Capital and cochair of ULI Philadelphia’s capital markets council, says his council’s Real Estate Forecast 2015 sold out in November, as it does every year. Held at the grand Union League of Philadelphia, it is considered a marquee event and a recruitment tool for ULI Philadelphia as well as a forum for the local real estate community to take stock of their region.
“As a market that is not New York City or Washington, D.C., we try to use the information on national trends to understand the best practices in different markets that have been successful,” Ackah says. “The transformations of these cities hold lessons for Philadelphia, where we haven’t quite reached our full potential in terms of job creation and leveraging our incredible assets.”
Partnerships with like-minded organizations allow ULI to reach new audiences for Emerging Trends and broaden awareness of the Institute’s mission, priorities, and body of work. For example, over 600 real estate professionals attended a presentation on the U.S. and Canada version of Emerging Trends at the 15th Annual Alabama Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) Conference & Expo in January. Barclays Bank in New York and the American Institute of CPAs Real Estate Conference in Dallas also held special forums on the report.
The report’s findings are based upon surveys of and in-depth interviews with ULI members who have gained significant experience as real estate developers, owners and investors, investment managers and advisers, lenders, and service providers. This year, the pool of survey respondents for the U.S. and Canada version of Emerging Trends grew by 35 percent over last year, mainly due to strong outreach to members by district council staff. Since 2013, the number of in-depth interviews has grown steadily as well. For the 2015 report, respondents were asked to rate their own markets, and their answers were given a numerical score. These scores were compared with the national perspective on the city’s ranking presented in the report’s “Markets to Watch” section.
Anita Kramer, senior vice president of the ULI Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate, emphasizes that the insights and intellectual contributions from ULI members serve as the report’s backbone, allowing senior-level leaders to give back to the entire membership.
“Emerging Trends draws on the collective wisdom of senior ULI members,” Kramer says. “It serves as one of the guideposts for the following year that helps our members with business decisions. It helps them stay abreast of where the industry is going.”