The Business of Property

Focus is the mantra for busy business leaders, and it is a worthy mantra. It is also a reminder for us to ‘stay in our lane’, to focus on service for our clients, and not to get distracted by new, potentially-unrealisable opportunities  – or not to get distracted by what Winston Churchill referred to as “barking dogs” (sideline commentators and critics). It sounds like sensible advice and a route to greater efficiencies, but what are we missing out on by staying in our respective lanes? 

Without being nostalgic, the business of property  – from design and development, right through to delivery, deal flow or management – was alway quite a broad one. Business plans were written in pencil rather than ink, because there was an understanding that there was no one certain way to get to where the business needed to go. This is why networking was always considered powerful for this industry, you never quite knew where the next opportunity would come from. Has the industry changed so much? I am not sure that it has. The tools and technologies have changed, but the entrepreneurial spirit and alchemy of people coming together to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts remain. 

Industry events group BisNow published an article about this recently, announcing that: ‘The Digital Revolution Is Creating New Real Estate Sectors. Here’s How To Profit’. It was a throwback to how some many industry greats got started decades ago, an instinct for opportunity. The BisNow article featured a “broader trend upending commercial real estate”, that is, the worldwide digital revolution which is driving new property opportunities including, a new Netflix film studio in London, a hunt for hundreds of locations to park takeaway food delivery scooters and e-bikes, and JLL launching a global short-term apartment rental business. No property businesses are set up to cater to these emerging demands as they are, frankly, new. Digital trends are changing how people consume and interact with the built environment – there are no experts in this space, only people presented with new opportunities. At this stage, it is impossible to know what will grow into sustainable industry sectors and what are simply ad hoc or passing needs. Will new entities be set up to cater to these new trends or, like the JLL example above, will established players need to find some of their early-days grit, innovation and instinct for opportunity.  This is so much more than an extension of the shift in retail trends online, it is an example of how online behaviours (which are even more pronounced since the outbreak of Covid-19) are actually reshaping the built environment. New types of real estate include food delivery hubs; dark kitchens, bicycle lockers; stand-alone, automated, drive-through coffee docks; and so much more. 

In a similar vein, columnist Paul McNeive offered another throwback insight this week when he wrote about how: ‘Introducing new business can be an excellent way to increase income’. He was writing to agency owners and industry businesses reminding them that the whole area of introductions or paid referrals can significantly boost the income of the business. This is not something that is talked about too often anymore, however, many property businesses can attribute their early starts to successful introductions and referrals. How has this strategy fallen from the industry’s collective radar? In practice, it is about something much more valuable than commission or referral fees, this introduction/referral approach has long been the foundation of trusted relationships. And irrespective of the tools or technologies, property has and always will be about trusted relationships.

 Ian Lawlor
086 3625482

Managing Director 
Lotus Investment Group