Markets are roiling thanks to Covid-19, with no sign of the turbulence halting in 2021. If you own an office building, coworking space or hotel chain—well, best of luck. But if you’re trying to sell your home, now may be the best of times. To take stock of these messy times, Forbes spoke with Eric Anton, a broker at Marcus & Millichap in New York City.
Here are the year’s best products, most intriguing people and most innovative firms from the realm of real estate.
Best Product: Urgent care centers in major cities
These centers have become hugely important in helping test for Covid-19, and in the process have become hugely valuable as well. “These tenants are expanding and offering new and more complex services,” Anton says.
Most Intriguing Newcomer: Neighbor
A member of this year’s 30 Under 30 list for consumer technology, this startup lets people rent out space in their homes as makeshift storage facilities. The company, based in Lehi, Utah, has raised $12.7 million to date.
Disruptive Innovator: Camber Creek
This venture capital firm is helping fuel the property-tech boom as a bevy of startups seek to bring real estate into the modern era. Camber Creek’s investments include Latch, which makes “smart” locks for apartments, and VTS, a leasing and asset management software platform.
Outstanding Firm: National Association of Real Estate Brokers
NAREB’s stated mission is to ensure that “predominantly African-American and other minority communities are treated fairly as land use and urban planning policies are developed.” In a year that further shed light on racial injustice across the U.S., the organization’s work was more important than ever.
Annus Horribilis: Knotel
A WeWork rival, this New York City-based firm has struggled to prove its longevity. The layoffs keep coming, rent has gone unpaid, and the company is shrinking its footprint. Many other flexible office startups are suffering a similar fate.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Forbes Forecast: Continued rough seas
“There will be tremendous distress in 2021,” Anton says. But, he adds, “there will be excellent buying opportunities.” If the pandemic ebbs by the summer, some retail and hospitality activity may return, although things will start slow. There’s no saying whether office culture will snap back to its old form, or whether work-from-home is here to stay at least in part.
And drumroll, please …
The Forbes Person Of The Year In Real Estate: Brian Chesky
The CEO and cofounder of Airbnb helped take his company public in December, and already its stock has doubled. The business took a huge hit because of the pandemic but seems to be rounding a corner, and investors evidently believe in its staying power.