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Welcome to the December issue of Voices on Infrastructure. This, our fourth edition, focuses on real estate. One of the world’s most interesting industries, real estate contributes significantly to global GDP; it is also the bedrock of urbanization and has created immense wealth. But it is difficult to understand. Real estate is local in character, extremely cyclical, and often characterized by information asymmetry and lack of transparency. 

At the Global Infrastructure Initiative, we seek to improve understanding of this vital sector, and also to identify and share best practices. We regularly meet real-estate professionals from around the world and ask them to pick their top five trends. Here are their most common answers. 

Customer centricity will become more important. Rather than accept a sellers’ mind-set, the best real-estate developers will put buyers at the center of everything they do.

The real work will start after the buildings are finished. “After-sales service,” in the form of curating and delivering the best living, working, and shopping experience, will become an essential capability. 

Design will become even more about function, including health, walkability, and environmental sustainability.

Technology, both digital and otherwise, will disrupt many aspects of real estate, including marketing and construction.

Many global real-estate investors will start building stronger in-house capabilities and buying operating platforms as they increase their focus on emerging markets.

Voices considers each of these themes and goes further, for example, by asking what it takes to build a new city from scratch. Our contributors take a global view, with articles dedicated to California, China, India, and the United Kingdom. I hope you find these ideas worth thinking about—and I look forward to working with you to help reimagine the future of real estate.

—Subbu Narayanswamy
Senior partner and global real estate leader, McKinsey & Company

More Articles

Article

As the global real-estate market changes, developers need to focus more on the customer experience.

Ankit Gupta, Bruce Xia, and Haimeng Zhang, McKinsey & Company

Article

Real-estate developers should accept that business as they have known it is changing. By adopting new construction technologies, they can improve delivery and affordability.

Mukund Sridhar, McKinsey & Company

Article

Careful planning and an eye on the future can help the cities that host them.

Bill Hanway, AECOM

Article

America’s biggest state needs to build 3.5 million homes by 2025. Here are some approaches that can help.

Jan Mischke and Jonathan Woetzel, McKinsey Global Institute; Shannon Peloquin and Daniel Weisfield, McKinsey & Company

Article

The traditional shopping mall is under threat. Here is how to meet the needs of digital customers.

Sangeeth Ram, McKinsey & Company

Article

Improved rail connectivity could transform development opportunities—and the entire economy—in the United Kingdom.

Sir David Higgins, High Speed Two Ltd.

Article

Palava shows a future that may work.

Abhishek Lodha, Lodha Group; Subbu Narayanswamy, McKinsey & Company

Article

Institutional investors have been cautious when it comes to real estate. There is evidence, however, that the terms of engagement are changing.

Samvit Kanoria and Hasan Muzaffar, McKinsey & Company

Article

China Vanke executive Zhang Xu describes how his real-estate company has met the challenges of overseas expansion.

Guangyu Li, McKinsey & Company; Zhang Xu, China Vanke

Article

How one Asian developer is using planning and technology to make cities work for people.

Lim Ming Yan, CapitaLand

Videos & Podcasts

Video

California needs policies that cultivate long-term economic growth and offset decades of unsustainable, economically inefficient urban sprawl. In this session, policymakers and thought leaders discuss what can be done to meet the need for higher-density, lower-cost housing near job centers.

Video

Principal Sangeeth Ram presents the main ways government and the private sector can address the global affordable housing challenge.

Sangeeth Ram, McKinsey & Company

Video

Since 2012, the Global Infrastructure Initiative (GII) has convened industry leaders to identify ways to improve the delivery of new projects and get more out of existing assets. GII’s Innovation Site Visits expose a select group of global leaders to some of the most exciting advances in infrastructure from around the world. Here’s how it works.

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