Exploring urbanization and its impact on real estate

Christian Ulbrich, Global Chief Executive Officer, JLL

February 19, 2020

We think of this as the digital age, but future historians may also consider it the age of urbanization. Since the earliest known civilizations, most of humanity has lived outside of cities. The tipping point arrived in 2008 when, according to the United Nations, cities provided a home to more than half the global population for the first time.

By 2050, another 2.5 billion people will have joined the urban throng, not just in fast-growing emerging countries, but also in the thriving capital cities and regional hubs of mature economies. The steady trend towards global urbanization is set to continue for decades to come, regardless of near-term economic or political fluctuations.

So what are the effects on the built environment and the fabric of our expanding cities? How does their infrastructure, transport links — and especially their real estate — change? That’s where we throw the spotlight in our third edition of Ambitions magazine — The Cities Issue.

If we look at JLL’s City Momentum Index — an analysis of which cities have the strongest positive momentum in their economies and real estate markets based on a series of indicators — we see 17 of the top 20 are located in China, Vietnam and India. Those are three Asian countries undergoing a simply fascinating, accelerated and unprecedented transition in their economies and urban life.

However, the effects of urbanization can be found everywhere in today’s interconnected world. On a recent visit to Berlin, I had a moment to reflect that when I joined JLL in 2005, there were less than 50 people based in the local office. Since then, like other capital cities, Berlin has seen significant growth and considerable commercial and residential development.

Today, just 14 years later, JLL has nearly 400 people based in Berlin, working hard every day to achieve ambitions for our clients.

What does all this urban growth mean for our industry? Cities are where we do most of our business. Our markets will continue to change and evolve, and we must be prepared for that change, embracing new technologies and new ideas.

We hope you enjoy this third issue of Ambitions magazine—and we look forward to working with you as together we build a better tomorrow for people and cities around the world.

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