The Counselors of Real Estate hosts one of my favorite annual press announcements. CRE is a 1,000 “by invitation” membership organization comprised of industry veterans representing investors, financiers, developers, corporate real estate professionals, appraisers, consultants, attorneys, brokers, and other industry professionals.

They produce an annual Top 10 list created from a poll of its members that is always interesting and thought-provoking. I wrote about their list last year and the year before.

It has become a tradition for The Counselors of Real Estate to release its Top 10 list at the National Association of Real Estate Editor’s annual spring conference. This year’s 2020-21 Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate was originally scheduled for NAREE’s in-person meeting the last week of June.

But like all 2020 conference since April, the NAREE conference was postponed, so The CRE scheduled a virtual reveal of this year’s report. What was most striking was for the first time, the number one item that will affect real estate in 2020-2021 could alter all of the other nine items on the CRE list.

Here is their list, which you can read all about online here:

1. COVID-19
2. Economic Renewal
3. Capital Market Risk
4. Public & Private Indebtedness
5. Affordable Housing
6. Flow of People
7. Space Utilization
8. Technology & Workflow
9. Infrastructure
10. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

That’s right, the number one item that will impact real estate greater than all others is COVID-19. While that probably doesn’t surprise anyone, it’s almost overwhelming to realize that the impact of COVID-19 could radically change this entire list.

What happens if a vaccine is available by year’s end?

What happens if a new treatment debut in the late fall, dramatically reducing the severity of the disease and diminishing its death rate? Or what if the opposite happens?

The answer from Michel Couillard, CRE, 2020 global chair of The Counselors of Real Estate, is everything on this could change. He said, “The 2020-21 Top 10 Issues are highly interrelated and are an attempt to overlay this new world onto an already changing real estate environment.”

As you read through The CRE’s rationale for the Top 10, you can’t help but think about the coronavirus and how it still could change the outcomes of ALL of these things: Economic Renewal, Capital Market Risk, Public & Private Indebtedness, Affordable Housing, Flow of People, Space Utilization, Technology & Workflow, Infrastructure, and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).

Because we still don’t know what is going to happen, one thing is already certain. The impact of COVID-19 will go down in the annuals of real estate history as one of the most profound game changers ever.

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