Report: 12th Annual Real Estate Investments Conference, 15–17 June 2022, Amsterdam
What a pleasure it was to welcome our real estate colleagues and friends to Amsterdam for the 12th Annual Real Estate Investments Conference in June. It was lovely to meet everyone in person again after so many years of Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions.
A total of 145 participants from 44 different countries attended the conference to discuss and share views on trends and opportunities in real estate. That is truly an amazing number and as Conference Chair, I would like to thank all who were able to attend for their contributions. Panellists who unfortunately, were not able to attend in person, had the opportunity to attend online.
The conference was hosted in the beautiful Sofitel Legend The Grand hotel, which is located in the heart of the city on one of the most beautiful canals. It was built in the 15th century and served as a convent and city hall before becoming a hotel.
The conference started on Wednesday evening with the welcome reception and flying dinner sponsored by the local host committee: Houthoff, Lafarre Law Firm, Lexence, Loyens & Loeff and Stibbe. It proved to be an excellent networking event over drinks and exquisite food and was well-attended. Apparently it was also very much enjoyed by everyone, shown by the fact that it lasted until the late hours of the evening and people were reluctant to leave.
The next day started early with a real estate running tour that some enjoyed as a light jog and others as a refreshing walk under the guidance of our officer Peter Vocke, who organised this event.
After the welcome and opening remarks by the Co-Chairs of the IBA Real Estate Section, Michael Lunjevich (online), Bernat Mullerat and myself, the Vice-Chair, the keynote speech was given by Jan-Willem Flohil, Managing Director, Economic and Cultural Affairs of the City of Amsterdam. He gave us a very interesting insight into Amsterdam’s historical culture as well as the booming new developments in the city as exciting place for real estate at the forefront of innovation.
The first session covered the global market outlook on megatrends. We were extremely proud to have the Ukrainian lawyer Tetiana Storozhuk on the panel who gave us an impressive insight in the situation in Ukraine and post-war prospective of rebuilding the country by way of a ‘Marshall Plan’ as declared by European Union leaders.
This session was followed by the one titled ‘Amsterdam – the new London?’ which discussed how Brexit is influencing real estate markets in cities around the globe.
Later that day we had other captivating sessions about the hot topics in cross-border real estate transactions, alternative ways to invest in real estate, global trends of the real estate servicing sector and understanding construction contracts for real estate transactions.
The session ‘The sky is the limit: the city of the future’ enlightened the audience with dynamic power point presentations and discussions. We were advised to look up and not down as space is limited and we need to create ‘communities in the sky’, buildings with forest roofs and connecting bridges, shared facilities and green vertical neighbourhoods.
The effects of electric mobility on infrastructure were discussed in the following session.
The first day of the conference concluded with ‘The silly legal development contest’. Delegates were asked to give a three-minute speech presenting the silliest legal development of their jurisdiction in real estate or other areas. The winner would receive a silly prize. Although it was the end of an already very exciting day and the weather outside was so inviting, the session was extremely well attended and packed full. It turned out that we had a very competitive audience who all wanted the win the prize: a book called 101 lawyer jokes for lawyers.
After refreshments we headed to the conference reception dinner venue, which was located close by at a private club in a beautiful historic building. We enjoyed lovely drinks and a great dinner. It also turned out that we have very talented officers among us: Claudia Mathiasen, Pedro Nicholson and Phil Skinner had written an amazing song about members of the IBA Real Estate Section, inspired by the song Imagine of the Beatles, and everyone sang along.
After the dinner some people went on a night-time tour of Amsterdam.
The second day of the conference began with another hot topic: the housing shortage and how to solve it. The session was titled ‘No home, no future!’ This is a topic that involves all of us, worldwide, and it was nice to see how everyone participated in the discussions and came up with possible solutions.
This session was followed by the panel about ‘The real guide to real estate disputes’, which had a particular focus on the advantages and disadvantages of litigation and arbitration.
After the coffee break we continued with another dynamic session ‘The investment climate is changing in a world of climate change’. Experts around the world discussed ways to achieve climate objectives and create a circular economy. No more make, take and waste!
The conference continued with the session ‘Leases in times of changing tenant demand’. We are facing a new lease market in the light of the ESG agenda and new demands relating to the EU taxonomy and the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Also very interesting was the way that property technology opens up for new ways of putting value into leases.
Last but not least, we concluded the formal part of the conference with the session on the work-life balance. The pandemic has definitely changed our views on the way we want to work, what we want from our careers and how law firms are seeking to help achieve a work-life balance.
Although it was the final session of the day, all delegates participated in the very lively discussions.
Then it was time to put the lessons learnt into practice: after two days of hard professional work, the conference concluded with a real estate property tour which took delegates along the canals of Amsterdam and places where they had never been before on a three-hour boat trip. The weather was fantastic with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures.
Everybody seemed to have very much enjoyed the conference and its programme, both its professional and social sides.
I dare to say, nothing replaces an in-person conference. The officers of the IBA Real Estate Section look forward to welcoming delegates to the 13th IBA Annual Real Estate Investments Conference in Santiago, Chile, on 21–23April 2023. Save the date.