Social Responsibility, New Technologies Increase Real Estate Transparency

Greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility and new technologies have improved global real estate transparency over the past two years, JLL and LaSalle reported.

Top-performing “highly transparent” markets, including the U.S., UK, Australia and France, are driving higher sustainability standards, the JLL/LaSalle report said. For example, France and Australia are first adopters of initiatives including water efficiency standards and resilient building frameworks. Other countries with significant improvement in their Global Real Estate Transparency Index rankings are undertaking similar efforts. Abu Dhabi increased transparency with government initiatives to improve corporate and real estate sustainability and Belgium enacted new requirements for large companies to implement climate action plans, the report said.

“Sustainability commitments have become the biggest single driver of real estate transparency globally since 2018,” said JLL Director of Global Research Jeremy Kelly. “As companies demonstrate an unwavering commitment to corporate social responsibility, there is increased voluntary adoption of Environmental, Social and Governance measures and greater acknowledgement of the need to create a sustainable built environment.”

Another key transparency driver is the volume of real estate data now available due to property technology platforms, digital tools and “big data” techniques. “Although real estate markets have historically faced challenges when implementing new technology, the pandemic is leading to an acceleration in new types of non-standard and high-frequency data–especially relating to health, mobility and space usage–being collected and disseminated in near-real-time,” the report said. “The COVID-19 pandemic could fast-track digitization and stimulate innovation in the use of technology due to the need for accurate and just-in-time data.”

Highly transparent markets including the U.S., France, Netherlands, Australia, the UK and Canada as well as high-income Asia-Pacific markets such as South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong have seen the most proptech adoption. “Significantly, several less transparent, larger emerging markets also stand out on proptech adoption, including India, South Africa, Brazil and mainland China,” the report said.

South Asian and Southeast Asian markets led transparency advances in the biennial survey. India made the greatest progress in the region by advancing in its real estate investment trust framework to attract greater interest from institutional investors. India also moved into the top 20 countries for sustainability transparency and is actively rolling out sustainability regulations and standards, the report noted.