The COVID-19 pandemic is now a truly global phenomenon with 2.6 billion people (a third
of the world’s population) now living under some sort of lockdown quarantine. The short-
term human and economic impact is undeniable as people stay home, offices and shops
close, and production stalls. Once the risk to human life has reduced and steps are taken
back toward a fully productive economy, it is worth spending some time envisaging what
this ‘new normal’ might look like. China is offering us some visibility on what this might
be.

The level of uncertainty in the economy is currently at an all-time high with the trajectory
of the recovery difficult to forecast. Although there has been no global joined-up policy
response, individual countries have taken major steps to try to cushion their people and
economies through this difficult period. We look to the economic outlook and policy
steps, but would advise against putting too much weight on a specific-point forecast until
the future pathway becomes clearer.

In the real estate sector, we can see that the pandemic has accelerated some trends
already in evidence, whereas other trends may reverse. For example, demand for online
shopping has increased and will likely continue, while the ongoing trend for the
densification of work and living space is now under scrutiny. Across sectors these trends
differ and have varied implications for real estate demand. We examine each sector to see
what their future characteristics may look like.

For our clients we continue to monitor the rapidly evolving situation and have
compiled an assessment of the longer-term structural changes that may come out of
the pandemic, as well as an economic update and some thoughts on what our ‘new
normal’ might be.

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