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9 real-estate predictions for 2024, according to young industry leaders

Business Insider

By Dan Latu, Alcynna Lloyd, Jordan Pandy, James Rodriguez, and Zoe Rosenberg

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

An image of a city on a platter.
Real estate's up-and-coming crop of talent foresee innovation and uncertainty for the vast sector in 2024.

  • Business Insider unveiled its annual list of young talent reshaping the real-estate industry.
  • We asked a few of them what they think will happen in their corners of real estate in 2024.
  • From an election-induced pause in leasing to an embrace of making denser neighborhoods, here's what they foresee.

Real estate was a reliable source of banter and speculation in 2023, as mortgage rates rose and fell, commercial leasing continued its uneven recovery, and prospective homebuyers contended with a dearth of properties on the market.

The new year will bring more of the same, according to Business Insider's fourth annual cohort of up-and-coming talent in commercial and residential real estate.

On a more local scale, folks in Miami will continue to grapple with unaffordable real estate, and Austin, Texas, will see a resurgence of homebuyers.

At the same time, the presidential election will drive a pause in leasing in the life-sciences industry, as companies wait to see who lands in the White House.

But there are bright spots, too: We'll see new prop tech put to the test and an embrace of creating denser neighborhoods to build more housing.

Here are the predictions from the rising stars:

An industry will pause leasing to see who lands in the White House

A headshot of Kathryn Lawn
Kathryn Lawn Cushman & Wakefield

Kathryn Lawn, an executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, said she expects leasing in the life-sciences industry she specialized in to slow down in 2024, as companies wait to see who will be in the White House.

"I don't know how that's going to impact things, but it tends to slow things down a little bit," Lawn, 35, said.

Many of the companies that Lawn places in commercial spaces rely on government funding. Without knowing who will be president, and what their administration's priorities will be, Lawn said her industry is in limbo.

Once there's clarity on if funding will come, and where from, she expects leasing activity to resume.

"I think we'll still be getting things done, but I think it will still be a slow year," she said. "Survive to '25 is what everybody keeps saying."

A wave of prop-tech innovation is on the horizon

A woman smiles in front of a black background.
Katharine Lau Stuf Storage

Katharine Lau, the cofounder and CEO of self-storage company Stuf Storage, is hopeful that 2024 will usher in a wave of innovation — after commercial real-estate owners "figure out what financing is going to look like."

Lau's business model relies on agreements with commercial landlords for underutilized space in their properties. Stuf Storage turns those spaces into automated self storage on a revenue-share basis with the landlord.

It's been a tough few years in the commercial real-estate industry, with soaring interest rates and occupancy struggling to regain its pre-pandemic foothold. But Lau is optimistic.

"People are scared and don't know if they're going to own this building in six to 12 months, or what's going to happen to their equity," she said. "So I think when a number of owners and lenders figure it out on big projects, it will be an example for the rest of the industry. Then you'll see a lot more prop-tech activity, a lot more innovation open up."

She said she expects to see more products that automate and improve customer experience, and expects generative AI and other smart technologies to overtake manual tasks that have required large workforces.

Sporting and wellness real estate will thrive

A man smiles in front of framed black and white photos.
William Cahill Aventuur

William Cahill, the 30-year-old associate director at man-made surf-park developer Aventuur, sees big things ahead for sporting and wellness real estate.

The emerging category, which includes everything from hospitality ventures for yoga retreats to, well, man-made surf parks, got a boost during the pandemic.

"The industry as a whole, it's really progressing beyond infancy," Cahill said. A report from Technavio released in June estimates that the wellness real-estate market in the US will grow by $575.9 billion by 2027.

"Our competitors, if they do well, that's good for us," he said, motioning to other US-based surf-park ventures like Waco Surf, Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch, and Skudin Surf at American Dream.

"It proves a thesis and it really starts to convert it from being a novelty asset into an established asset," he said. "And I certainly see that coming in 2024."

Upzoning will prevail

A man in front of a geometric screen.
Ben Bear Courtesy of Ben Bear

Ben Bear is hopeful that 2024 will continue to usher in acceptance of creating denser neighborhoods through zoning.

This practice, called upzoning, is the basis for BuildCasa, the company Bear cofounded and now leads as CEO. BuildCasa works with local governments to split residential lots in order to build more housing. BuildCasa only works in California right now, but Bear is hopeful that an acceptance of upzoning can help the business expand.

"I'm excited about the momentum that upzoning continues to have and the fact that it seems to be happening in both blue states and red states," Bear, 35, said. "We're seeing a real shift in the way that people feel about the need for more housing."

He sees the YIMBY movement — which stands for Yes In My Backyard, and is used as shorthand for someone who is pro-development — spreading and is optimistic that BuildCasa's business model holds the promise for bringing more housing to a country starved for inventory.

"I think if we can just keep our heads down and show that we can deliver this public benefit of unit creation in an area where it has been hardest to do so, then I think a lot of states and cities are going to be excited about that," he said.

New-home construction will provide some relief

A woman with blond hair smiles for a photo behind a blank backdrop.
Devyn Bachman Kristin Karkoska, Blue Sky's Studio

Devyn Bachman, the senior vice president of research and operations at John Burns Research and Consulting, is betting on new-home construction to remain a bright spot in the housing market in 2024.

It's been a slow year for sales of existing homes, leaving homebuilders to fill the gap. While the rate for a typical 30-year loan has fallen to around 7%, down from its recent high of nearly 8%, buyers and sellers are still hanging out on the sidelines as they wait for better days.

But that's where homebuilders have a "significant competitive advantage" over your average home reseller, Bachman said — builders can afford to "buy down" mortgage rates, or pay a lump sum up front to reduce a buyer's monthly payments.

Builders are willing to use this tool because they enjoyed substantial profits during the pandemic-driven housing boom, Bachman recently wrote in a piece for John Burns Research and Consulting. Construction costs have also eased since the frenzied days of 2020 and 2021.

New York City homeowners will hold onto their properties

Kenny Lee in a blue button down shirt
Kenny Lee Daniel Berman

Economist Kenny Lee of StreetEasy said his concern for New York City's famously tight rental market will dominate his research in 2024.

One trend the 32-year-old is keeping an eye on is New York City homeowners choosing not to sell their homes. He predicts that will continue into the new year, but renters should not despair.

"That's actually good news," he said.

Instead of selling, homeowners are choosing to rent their homes, which Lee thinks could increase the availability of homes to renters.

"Hopefully it creates more relief for renters next year," he said.

A lack of housing affordability will drive people from Miami

Zelalem Adefris
Zelalem Adefris Courtesy of Zelalem Adefris

Catalyst Miami CEO Zelalem Adefris predicts housing affordability issues will "come to a head" in 2024.

"For the first time, we are losing population in Miami due to our affordability crisis," she said. As of November, the median home price in Miami had increased 73% since January 2020, to $595,000, according to Redfin. And RentCafe reports that over 70% of rentals in Miami cost more than $2,000 a month.

The 31-year-old believes solutions can include emboldening current tenants rights or addressing issues in skyrocketing insurance costs.

"We must create solutions that benefit everyone, especially those with the least expendable income that are feeling the greatest brunt of the crisis," she said.

There will be innovation in building technology

A headshot of Natasha Sadikin
Natasha Sadikin James Leng

Natasha Sadikin is excited for more innovation in building to take place next year.

She's already ahead of the curve, when it comes to working with different building technologies. Sadikin, 31, is the senior development associate at Juno, a California-based startup that utilizes modular building techniques and renewable resources like timber.

Sadikin is hoping that other developers get creative with how they approach projects.

"I think this year we'll definitely be seeing all the creative ways in how to get a project penciling," Sadikin said, referring to "thinking outside the box."

She believes that in 2024 some of the traditional ways of doing things in construction will be challenged — because they have to be.

"There's big hurdles to trying new, innovative ways of thinking," she said.

Homebuyers will return to Austin, Texas

Nicole Marburger
Nicole Marburger Fifty Clicks Photo

Nicole Marburger, founder and owner of Austin-based Legacy Real Estate Group with Compass, anticipates a resurgence of home sales in the metro during 2024.

"I definitely see that we are getting back into seasonality trends, meaning that most of our listings are going to experience the highest level of success in the spring to early summer timeframe," she said.

Marburger, 32, associates the rebound with growth in the US job market.

"October data shows that there was a slight increase in job postings on Indeed, and when we see hiring improve, we see the real-estate market improve," she said.

Marburger believes that better employment opportunities, coupled with substantial drops in US mortgage interest rates "as soon as May of next year," could stimulate heightened competition among homebuyers in her region.


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