The key word for 2018 will be innovation. Or rather, it will be a particularly topical form of innovation that is digitalization: a phenomenon that already influenced the property market in 2017 and will continue to do so over the next five years. And Italy, paradoxically, is in an ideal position to ride this trend: the competitive disadvantage accumulated in the past will prove to be an advantage in terms of greater growth margins than in other European countries such as France, Germany and Spain, where at investment level a lot has already been done. This is another reasons why we are seeing a growing interest on the part of foreign investors for our market.
"ITALY IS CONSIDERED A KEY COUNTRY IN THE EUROPEAN ARENA WITH GREAT POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH: BECAUSE IT HAS HIGH LEVELS OF CONSUMPTION AND AVAILABLE INCOME BUT A LOW PENETRATION OF E-COMMERCE."
Digitalization will affect three crucial real estate sectors. First and foremost, logistics, a segment growing strongly that will see a consolidation of this trend in the next few years. There is a lot to be done on this front and the challenges are many but Italy is considered a key country in the European arena and one with great potential given that, compared to the European average, it has high levels of consumption and available income but has a low penetration of e-commerce, thus a huge potential for growth!
Secondly, there is the subject of shopping malls, which with the advent of online sales will have to rethink their business models to give consumers a good reason to buy from them on their premises rather than buying when sitting comfortably on their sofa at home with their tablet or smartphone. The difficulties will undoubtedly be greater for “secondary” malls but, in any case, for the whole sector one thing is quite clear: a change of layout is needed to increase entertainment models and distinguish malls from online sales, which today account for less than 10% of sales, but which will certainly increase their weighting in the years to come.
The third and last area “infected” by digitalization will be the office sector, where there will be an increasing drive towards new ways of working, leveraging on smart working and new technologies. In this case too, the road is mapped out and we will see growing activity: international companies are trying to make workplaces more comfortable and to use spaces in a more efficient way.
In this scenario CBRE always strives to be in the forefront. In Italy today we have a team of nearly 1000 people servicing our clients, both owners and tenants, throughout the country for all their needs. We are by far the number one company in the sector and thanks to our international profile and to our 360° range of services we are able to have a privileged and effective dialogue with both local and international players wishing to invest in our country. After all, Italy has always been viewed as an interesting target: for real estate, 2017 was a record year with a total transaction volume that reached 11.4 billion, up 20% on the previous year and, above all, higher than the levels prior to the crisis of 2007. However, compared to a decade ago, the equity used in transactions is much more substantial and has reached 50% versus the 20% of the past. A sign that the system is more robust and this is partly why we are expecting 2018 to be another year in line with 2017.
"2017 WAS A RECORD YEAR FOR REAL ESTATE: WE RETURNED TO THE LEVELS SEEN PRIOR TO THE 2007 CRISIS BUT COMPARED TO THEN THE SYSTEM IS MORE ROBUST BECAUSE THE EQUITY USED IN TRANSACTIONS HAS RISEN FROM 20% TO 50%"