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Six International Real Estate Trends for 2016

What’s hot and what’s not? Take a look at our global property trend watch for the year…



Imagine having a show house that’s open 24/7 and buyers from across the country – make that the globe – can walk through it at their leisure. A pretty pipe dream? Not anymore. The advent of 3-D technology means anyone anywhere can now “walk through” a property at any time of day.

In the US, real estate agents have been using this technology for about a year already. The Altman Brothers, who specialise in luxury real estate in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, are fans. “We’re definitely winning more listings with this technology. Our prospective clients are absolutely stunned!” enthuses Josh Altman. “It provides the most realistic sense of actually walking through a property online, and is the ideal platform to attract busy and out-of-town buyers. We see this becoming an essential part of every property listing in the near future.”

The value isn’t mere speculation. Redfin in the US reported towards the end of last year that listings using their Redfin 3D Walkthrough tour “sell an average of 10 days faster and for $5,100 more than comparable homes”. And US rental giant stated in a recent release that since they’ve started using 3-D tours on property listings they’ve had 4,8m tour views, and site users spend triple the time engaging with those property listings that offer a 3-D tour.

The good news is that this tech has hit South African shores. “We use that same exciting blend of cutting-edge camera technology and advanced software to scan existing spaces to create a seamless, immersive and fun experience,” explains Erika Bornman of 3Dscann South Africa.

Bornman believes the development is exciting because this complete 3-D representation of a space is future-proof. Everyone’s talking about the rapid rise of virtual reality (VR), and with 3Dscann’s models you’ll be ready to go when VR gets hot in South Africa too. “We’ve already converted some of our models, and anyone with a VR headset can walk through them. It’s like being in your own video game, except you’re navigating real-world spaces.”



There’s more to the millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2004) than an obsession with smartphones and a mind-set of working to live. And it’s important to understand this age group because they are having major effects on today’s real estate market, according to the Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research 2015.

Many millennials have postponed home ownership in favour of renting, but as they enter their peak home-buying years (25-45 years old), a reluctance to enter the housing market could change. This cohort’s sheer size globally (they’re the biggest generation in US history) could lead to a surge in home sales. Add to that the fact that job creation favours millennials, their economic opportunities are strong, and they will start families, which increases the desire to settle down. Move over, baby boomers – there’s a new economic force in town.



According to the PwC Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2016 report, the office property sector offers a direct insight into how technology disruption, generational transfer and workflow reorganisation can impact real estate. The researchers say space per worker has been steadily declining, but it hasn’t been just a drive to cut costs. New office-space design should be attractive to the workers companies hope to attract.

American sustainable building consultancy Paladino says 69% of millennials (there they are again) believe attendance at the office on a regular basis is unnecessary. They want flexibility and to use technology instead. With more employees taking their work to common spaces – to coffee shops or co-working spaces – property managers have to change their thinking about offices. Millennials also want to take their work outdoors, so properties with outdoor common areas are going to be more popular with this group. Providing patios and seating areas will really set office and residential properties apart.



In places where economists and real estate analysts predict that home prices will level off in early 2016, agents should focus on consistent selling throughout the year instead of sporadically landing that big deal. Agents focused on the needs of their clients over big commissions should have the highest earnings by the end of the year.

With comparative shopping, demographics and other data about a potential neighbourhood just a click away, agents should also put honesty first – any false data can be easily discovered with Google and a few mouse clicks or taps of a finger.



For years the search has been about how to provide enough parking. That trend is changing now to how do you profitably repurpose the parking you have? According to the PwC Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2016 report, tenants who once required a set number of parking spaces per employee, are reducing their demand as workers expand their use of alternative commuting methods. Mass transit, bicycles, ride sharing, and walking are becoming more popular ways to get to and from work.

This changed spatial planning and new shared mobility means building owners will need to incorporate sustainability and find alternative ways to generate revenue from resources currently devoted to parking. “Already the City of Johannesburg is urging developers to reduce parking bays in retail centres and offices,” says Lisa Seftel, executive director of the City of Johannesburg’s transport department. “We’re saying build three bays per 100 instead of six. Or create parking structures in buildings that in time could be repurposed for retail/other purposes when quality public transport is available in that area.”


Words: Jessie Walker and Catherine Davis


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