Perceptions of the Property Industry

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Perceptions of the Property Industry

Last week Innesco’s founder & MD, Dan Innes, took part in a round table event, organised by Urban Ovation, discussing the ‘perceptions of the Property Industry.’ The Property industry creates the places that people live, work and play. It takes great risks to invest, build and transform communities. Yet unfortunately this is not how the industry is perceived by the public, the media and government.

Much of the population view real estate as far too opaque and siloed, with the harshest critics viewing the industry as a string of transactions linked together by cocktail parties. This perception is occasionally deserved but more frequently it’s borne out of misunderstanding of the industry and a failure of the industry to communicate change. Since the turn of the millennium, modernisation and digitisation has changed the industry beyond recognition – gone are the days of 20-year leases, instead decisions are dictated by data.

Despite this misunderstanding, it’s important to acknowledge the industry has made a fair number of mistakes to contribute to its reputation – negotiating and then opting out of the 1986 Financial Services Act is just one example. However, a large part of its negative image is the industry’s failure to communicate effectively. This was underlined during the pandemic, when other sectors such as hospitality and travel were in the news regularly, but there was very little mention of real estate – the fact that landlords suspended rents during the pandemic is still not fully appreciated by wider audiences.

The pandemic highlighted that the sector needs more data points, transparency, and a stronger, more cohesive voice to secure the trust of the public, media, and government. The existing industry representative bodies often act alone – instead they need to work together to create one cohesive voice to represent the industry’s interests.

However, the lack of communication is just one problem. Aside from this, it’s evident that the property industry needs a rebrand. Currently the industry is labelled as consumptive, but it must flush out insider trading and start to prioritise its ethical behaviour and broader purpose – the value it creates for communities and places – and deliver on it.

Real Estate’s operating model continues to be challenged relentlessly and despite the constant difficulties and expense the industry should embrace further change. The stakes certainly merit the effort.

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