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Goodbye MIPIM, Hello London

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My MIPIM 2011 is over, and I am back in the office. So, how was it?

As ever, there was the mix of seminars, networking, events and meeting people – some new, some from the past. Visitor numbers were up 6%, and there was an array of stands from lots of cities with buildings planned dotted all over them. The UK was the country of honour this year, although from what I saw this seemed to be read as the Republic of London not the UK.

There seemed to be a realism around, that the market/lending environment has stabilised and it will stay at the current level for sometime – I tend to agree with this. Lenders were talking about lending on cashflow, so not the speculative lending of the past, but back to focusing on where the money will be coming from to pay the loans/bills. Not rocket science.

The seminars were very good, I attended one regarding real estate as an asset class going forward. It was far more bullish than I expected. The economist had a very good grasp of many economies, and was making a clear distinction between economies that were reliant on natural resources rather than industries. To this point, he felt that Russia should not be grouped with the other BRIC countries (Brazil,  India and China). His reason was that Russia was very reliant on natural resources, and this benefit was not shared for the greater good of the country therefore not building long term benefit.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, attended on Tuesday, and spoke at various events during the day. He certainly has his own style, but I think it is fair to say nobody who heard him could leave without thinking there are some great investment opportunities in London and that the city is busy growing with many areas of regeneration, including The Royal Docks, Earls Court and Kings Cross. Of course, the Olympics was a key part of the London message, and the fact that the development is on time and on budget is a strong selling point for London. In fact, the Mayor suggested the Olympics could take place this year!

I often found myself taking about the Private Rented Sector (PRS), and as MIPIM is predominately a commercial property event I found the usual pushback on why back in the UK more institutions do not invest in it. I still find these arguments astounding. I am on the panel for the IPD residential index results next Wednesday, and this will provide another opportunity to push the case for greater investment in the PRS – just look at he UK demographics!

Finally, social media was a topic that was discussed quite a lot. There are some using it, however they are a minority. The depth of scepticism surprised me – wake up property industry! And, finally, finally, the other area that needs addressing is service within the property industry, especially if we are to engage more with the tenants / occupiers of the buildings in the UK, an area social media can help so much with.