One of my favorite aspects of working in real estate is how it universally elicits personal and emotional reactions wherever I am. If someone is passionate about real estate, they tend to be really passionate about it. The opportunity to share, in person, with other real estate people around the world, has given me a truly unique point of view and is one of my favorite parts of my role. Since our organization is a network of local real estate brokerages in over 70 countries, I have had the opportunity to learn how real estate people everywhere have a lot more commonalities than we do differences. The best part of those commonalities is the amazing interest, willingness and eagerness to connect, network and share.
Recently I spent a week in Athens, Greece where we hosted 160 real estate professionals from 27 countries for a Global Symposium. During that time, I was consistently impressed by this group of confident, outgoing, passionate givers who were lifted by the same goals of helping people build families, find investments or pick up the pieces of their lives after a difficult time. Real estate people are people who have a heart of contribution. Location doesn’t change that.
We had brokers from Singapore to Sarasota, from Saint Moritz to Manila bonding over everything from what is driving their local real estate markets from inventory challenges and increased competition to the impact of tax reform and the unintended consequences of political moments such as Brexit and the upheaval in Hong Kong. Politics, climate change and economic unrest brought people together, as they generously shared their solutions and best practices.
It was especially thrilling to learn about so many bright spots in the global real estate market. One that was particularly obvious was our host city itself, Athens. The optimism from the Greek people was palpable as they begin to emerge from their economic crisis. The positive outlook in front of them is exciting.
Athens is also getting a boost from significant investment dollars into the redevelopment of the old, abandoned airport. This is a project that has had many stops and starts over the years and just recently was approved to move forward as a mixed-use luxury development, along with the approval of the building of high-rises. In a city that restricts building height so as to not impede the view of the Parthenon, that is a big deal. While in Athens, I had the chance to visit several properties, one historic with an extensive renovation in the city, and two beach properties priced from $5 million to $32 million that were truly world-class. It is apparent that the real estate investment opportunities in Greece are real and exciting.
There are other bright spots in the European real estate market too, including long-time luxury enclaves like Paris, where investment is coming in from as far as Silicon Valley. In fact, today, owning a flat in Paris remains a rite of passage for the affluent, and an indication that one “has arrived.”
At the same time, today’s luxury buyer remains driven by a lifestyle purchase, as evidenced by the health and demand in Italy’s high-end second-home markets like Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, which truly attract the Glitterati of the EU, and the strength of the market in Megève, a ski resort village in the Alps of southeastern France, which has had a strong year due to a season of ample snow. Buyers making purchases driven by the way they want to live are also a driver in Greece, a fact clearly demonstrated by our Athens broker who in addition to selling homes is also in the business of selling yachts.
The resort markets in Portugal are looking up as well, good news after the country had a difficult few years. The beach destinations, such as the Algarve, attract wealthy buyers from the UK and Northern European counties and, when combined with the golden visa program, which attracts buyers from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, has meant a much-needed economic influx.
In today’s global marketplace, developing a world view is more important than ever. Leveraging the collective knowledge of like-minded professionals, whether at an event like ours, other real estate industry conferences or staying up to speed through forums and discussion with real estate experts is an easy and extremely rewarding experience. It can help you develop your world view, be better armed with solutions and tactics from the experience of others and gain more power to adapt your business every day. Quite simply, it makes us all stronger.