On February 2nd and 3rd ULI held its annual Europe Conference in Paris, France. The ULI Europe Conference brings together over 600 decision makers from all sectors of the real estate industry, including institutional investors, funders, developers, advisers, planners, architects and city leaders. The conference provides the perfect forum for attendees to gain new insights into the latest real estate trends, as well as make new connections and strengthen existing relationships. The 2016 program delved into economic, geo-political and urban development issues with particular focus on density, disruptive technologies and global capital markets. Members have asked… “Is this conference similar to the ULI Fall Meeting which takes place in North America?” So we reached out to ULI Orange County/Inland Empire member Robert Miranda, Vice President with Moss Adams Capital LLC, who was in attendance to ask him to share with us his experience and some highlights from this year’s conference.
ULI: What inspired or motivated you to decide to attend the ULI Europe conference?
RM: Real estate is a local business, but capital is increasingly global. Investors follow opportunities. I was keen on understanding where the opportunities are today for outbound capital as well as meeting with folks in Europe looking for inbound opportunities stateside.
ULI: How did it differ from other ULI Fall Meeting’s you’ve attended?
RM: The format at ULI Europe is more intimate than in the U.S., which means that it’s much easier to approach people and strike up an ad hoc conversation.
ULI: Was there a keynote address that you particularly liked or gained insight from?
RM: Sir Richard Rogers gave an interesting presentation on the positive impact that density may have on climate change, as he compared Barcelona to Atlanta two cities of roughly 5.5 million people.
ULI: What was your favorite session and why?
RM: The European Capital Markets session was exciting and most applicable to cross-border investments. I found it interesting that non-performing loan workouts have yet to fully materialize in Europe. The true opportunistic plays may still be had in southern Europe or in pan European non-bank lending.
ULI: Did you feel that there was an overarching “theme” at the conference?
RM: European real estate investment is increasingly becoming institutionalized, and there are numerous investment opportunities for those who do their due diligence at both the country and sector levels and artfully select specific strategies (i.e. debt, value, opportunistic). Macro themes are out.
ULI: Were there future trends discussed that we have not heard or discussed about stateside? Were the trends the same?
RM: From a planning and design perspective, Europeans tend to embrace density, mixed-uses and public transport more openly than in the United States. As the global secular trend towards urbanization continues, real estate developers need to carefully think through what formats are most conducive to innovation, commerce and community.
ULI: Did you find attending the conference was beneficial to you professionally? Personally? Why?
RM: Having lived in Europe in 2009 and 2010, I immensely enjoyed returning to see how the real estate markets have changed and how foreign capital (especially outbound from the U.S.) has been deployed and what new opportunities are emerging in niche areas such as multifamily, student housing and self-storage. I also enjoyed reconnecting with various folks and establishing new relationships.