Steve Weikal, Head of Industry Relations at the MIT Center for Real Estate, joined us on the podcast to discuss the latest research coming out of MIT regarding the future of real estate.

Steve Weikal is Head of Industry Relations at the MIT Center for Real Estate, responsible for managing relationships between the Center and its global network of industry partners and nearly 1100 alumni of the MIT Master’s in Real Estate Development (MSRED) program, in 46 countries. He is also a lecturer and researcher, and the CRE Tech lead in the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab, focused on innovative new technology and business models that disrupt the traditional ways of developing, transacting and managing real estate.

Steve was the Founder of MIT Real Disruption, a successful series of conferences discussing the impact of emerging technology on the real estate industry that is now part of the international CREtech conference platform. He is a member of the CREtech Leadership Board, and sits on the advisory boards of three real estate technology start-ups. Steve has spoken extensively about real estate technology at conferences for AFIRE, ULI, IREM, SIOR, CCIM, CoreNet, ICSC and BOMA, and has been quoted by numerous media outlets, including BuzzFeed, TechInsider, the Boston Globe, GlobeSt. the Real Reporter, Travel Weekly, IPE Real Assets Europe and Anuario Inmobiliario LatinoAmerica.

Steve holds a Master’s of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) and Master’s in City Planning (MCP) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School. He is a licensed attorney, a licensed real estate broker and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Links

Steve cited many different sources throughout the interview. If you’d like to learn more, click the links below.

 MIT Sustainable Urbanization Lab

– Price Dynamics Platform

– Real Estate Innovation Lab

– Center For Real Estate

– Automation in Real Estate: A Primer on Smart Buildings and Digital Twins

– Investors fund new initiative to assess climate change transition risk in global real estate investment portfolios

– Rising Seas Threaten an American Institution: The 30-Year Mortgage 

– Climate Change Migration

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Transcript

Tyler Stewart (00:00:00):
All opinions expressed by Adam, Tyler and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of RealCrowd. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. To gain a better understanding of the risks associated with commercial real estate investing please consult your advisors.

Steve Weikal (00:00:22):
Workers would come into the office for the social part and the human engagement part, and that’s where the creativity, that’s where the creation and the invention would happen. And then they might either go to a solo office or a co-working space or go back home to do their actual work.

Adam Hooper (00:00:50):
Hey Tyler.

Tyler Stewart (00:00:51):
Hey Adam, how are you today?

Adam Hooper (00:00:53):
Tyler, I’m doing great. We’ve got another fantastic conversation with a good friend of the show, our friend Steve Weikal.

Tyler Stewart (00:00:59):
Yes. Steve Weikal, Head of Industry Relations at the MIT Center for Real Estate. And Adam, you and I were talking, Steve has a great job. Doesn’t he?

Adam Hooper (00:01:09):
I tell you, it’s got to be one of the most fascinating places to be at the intersection of everything that’s going on in our industry, everything that’s going on at MIT. He sits in a really, really interesting spot to get to see all these things that are going on around him. And he was able to share a little bit of that with us today.

Tyler Stewart (00:01:27):
Yeah, it was a very interesting conversation. Again, Steve, is at the forefront of just the latest technology, the latest research. And so he’s filling us in not only on what’s happening with real estate today, but what the outlook for real estate looks like from a technology perspective decades down the line.

Adam Hooper (00:01:46):
Yeah, that’s what I always love about the conversation with Steve is it’s as much about, again, like you said, what we’re talking about today and what we can expect to see in the future based on some of the research that they’re seeing at MIT and all these different areas that he has insights into. And so, we started off the conversation talking about what a lot of us are in right now is a switch to a virtual experience.

Adam Hooper Hooper (00:02:06):
They had the World Real Estate Forum that they normally host in-person back there in Massachusetts but had to go virtual this year. So we talked about just that general trend. And obviously again, we’re right in the midst of going back to school, if kids aren’t already in school, and how does that translate even all the way up to higher education, right? MIT and what they’re trying to do from a virtual experience. So, a lot of shifts in there, and again, trying to identify what are some of those things that we’re learning in this time that will be maybe even beneficial long-term and how will that change some of the ways that we use to think about schooling and education and these virtual events today.

Tyler Stewart (00:02:42):
Yeah. And I think the thing that blew me away the most was talking about in the future, what the smart office will look like and what the smart office will know about you, including when you had to work, where you park, and how to get to your desk as efficiently as possible without touching any doors, windows, walls, just straight to the desk automation, from the ground floor all the way up to your office space.

Adam Hooper (00:03:10):
Yeah. This concept of, he said, “The buildings are going to tune themselves to the workers.” It’s just absolutely fascinating that now that we have all these sensors and all this data that’s embedded in those offices and just buildings, what can we do with that? Right?

Tyler Stewart (00:03:23):
Yeah.

Adam Hooper (00:03:24):
What can we do with that information, that data? So another… again, just super fascinating stuff. There’s a lot of links in the show notes, Steve, as always drops a lot of knowledge, references a lot of different sources, and papers and research activities. So, definitely check the show notes for a lot of those things that we talked about in the show today. And at some point in the future, we’ll go back and update those show notes when some of the content from that World Real Estate Forum are available too. So, be sure to bookmark this and come back and check for that when that’s released as well.

Tyler Stewart (00:03:55):
Yeah. Yeah. We’re lucky enough to get an early look at the Real Estate Forum videos. Unbelievable, the content they’re putting out, very fascinating. So, definitely keep an eye out for that when it gets released.

Adam Hooper (00:04:08):
Definitely. So, a lot of stuff to get through in the show today. I think that’s enough of us talking here, Tyler. As always though listeners, if you have any questions or comments or if there’s anything you would love to hear us talk about on the show, please send us a note to podcast@realcrowd.com. And with that, let’s get to it.

Adam Hooper (00:04:30):
Well, Steve, thank you so much for coming back on the show today. It’s been a while since we’ve connected, the world has changed a little bit since then. We’re excited to get your take on where everything is at.

Steve Weikal (00:04:42):
It has changed. Good to be back with you. I think the last time we were in-person was in New York at CREtech, which was a huge event and was a lot of fun. But yes, you are right that the world has changed a lot, the real estate business has changed a lot, and the landscape for prop tech has certainly changed a lot.

Adam Hooper (00:05:01):
Yeah. And so we talked to Michael a little while back about how they changed that event to a virtual event. You guys just recently did the same yourself with the World Real Estate Forum, we’ll talk about that in a bit, but we’re recording this in the end of August. I believe school has started back up at MIT. Curious what that environment looks like right now, given the current health crisis. How are you guys adjusting? What’s different? What’s the same? What is that like on the ground?

Steve Weikal (00:05:26):
It’s a good question. We are adjusting well. We actually adjusted spring term, the second term of the master’s program, moved courses online, successfully, moved the research teams… to be honest, the research teams at MIT are often very global and very dispersed anyway. So our research teams adjusted pretty quickly. And in fact, our research agenda has grown even more, no surprise, a lot of questions about COVID and the future. The areas that we were already working in about the future of real estate, this conversation has been accelerated and our partners of the Center are interested, the industry is reaching out to us. So on the research side, very exciting time to be working on the things we’re working on.

Adam Hooper (00:06:15):
And how about on campus? Are you guys fully remote, fully digital now? Do you have students back? How has that effected the Center for Real Estate?

Steve Weikal (00:06:23):
The incoming class, some of the students are here in Cambridge, but courses, at least for fall term, are being offered virtually. A few of us have been over to campus, I’ve actually been over to campus to pick a few things up at the office, and there’s a fair amount of activity. Curiously, there’s a lot of activity. It looks like the backlog of real estate projects around campus is getting cleared because there’s very little parking, it’s filled mostly with contractor vehicles. So, there is a lot of activity on campus, but campus wide there are no general classes, undergraduate or graduate.

Steve Weikal (00:06:59):
I understand though that the labs, especially those that are involved with COVID or any kind of medical research or technology research, those labs were sort of the first to come back because that was a central mission critical kind of activity.

Adam Hooper (00:07:15):
And how has that changed? Again, the nature of a lot of higher education is networking and the connections that you make being there. I’m curious, are you guys implementing anything to facilitate that sense of community or how does that look in this current environment?

Steve Weikal (00:07:31):
Yeah, it’s a good point. The whole MIT experience, a large portion of the MIT experience is being on-campus with this incredible group of peers in your class, faculty, researchers. That kind of a cocktail of experiences is really perhaps more valuable than what comes out of a textbook. And so we’ve been trying to recreate that using technology.

Steve Weikal (00:08:01):
I know that MIT campus wide is exploring all the different kinds of platforms and ways of engaging beyond just delivering the classes, because there are solutions even right down to the most simple using Zoom to deliver the courses. To be able to establish that kind of community and interactivity amongst all of those different groups and more that I didn’t mention, that I’m sure is a challenge, but MIT has been doing a pretty good job with that. I don’t know which tools they’re using, but no surprise they’re either home growing using their own homegrown solutions or they’re going to outside solutions to create that kind of experience.

Adam Hooper (00:08:42):
I know that’s one of the things that we’ve talked about a fair bit on the show is this experiment that we’re running right now of remote work and some of these stay-at-home orders. How is that going to affect things in the business world long-term? I’m curious as you look at education and your environment there, are there any things that you’re seeing that are occurring now that might stick, that might actually be improvements to maybe the older experience? How do you see that playing out?

Steve Weikal (00:09:10):
That’s a good question because academia, and at some levels is quite different from arguably from the real world, but on the other hand it’s the same situation. You have a dense campus of workers at various levels, and now they’re working from home, which you could point to any industry vertical and say that that’s going on. So the productivity is up although, and that’s been reported, I’m noticing just on our teams, the productivity, in fact, because as I mentioned on the research side, we’re doing even more research and it seems to be working quite well.

Steve Weikal (00:09:52):
I’m wondering now that we’re what? Four or five months into this, in August, that there’s a, I don’t know if you call it the Seven Stages of Grief or if you call it the Nine Circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, and maybe you noticed the two. The first month was kind of learning the technology. The second month was, “Oh, wow, I’m getting so much more done. And this Zoom thing is pretty cool. And I haven’t had any hot mic incidences and we haven’t been Zoom bombs. So this looks like this is going to work.”

Steve Weikal (00:10:21):
And then the third month and the fourth month, I just speaking personally myself, I miss going to campus. I’m ready at least once a week to be able to drop in on campus and see my colleagues and see the students. So, as good as Zoom is, and as good as all of these tools are, there’s a human element that I think there will be research on this, a behavioral and a sociological aspect. And we’ve seen some of the writing. We haven’t done the work at the Center for Real Estate yet, we might, but I’m sure you’ve read people starting to report on sentiment and the social aspect of a labor force that’s been working from the living room and if they have kids and if they have pets or if they have elderly parents they have to take care of. And there’s some elements to this whole remote adventure that have been good and some that are starting to show their age or are starting to exceed the capabilities of the technology.

Adam Hooper (00:11:19):
Yeah. And I think that I would echo that. And a lot of the conversations we’re having, it seems like the last three, four weeks or so, there’s been a shift in how people are responding, right? I mean, this is very much a marathon in exercising patience for how we get through this. And it definitely seems like the collective sentiment of this is… how much longer do we have to do this? It’s just-

Steve Weikal (00:11:44):
Yeah. I mean, the first month was, “Oh, cool. I get a month off it’s like a snow day. For a month I’m going to get all this reading done, I’m going to get my kitchen cleaned and all this stuff.” And then the second month, “Oh, it’s month number two. Okay. I’ll keep doing this and I’ll kind of get back to work.” But I agree with you, we’re now in the fourth and the fifth month. And maybe there was some novelty in the beginning, and then there was some adventure, kind of the adventure of it all, and then the reality has set in about what it’s like to sit at your living room table and have to just sort of like Groundhog Day.

Adam Hooper (00:12:22):
Yeah. It’s like this interim normal before the new normal becomes present. Right?

Steve Weikal (00:12:25):
Right.

Adam Hooper (00:12:26):
We have to just kind of accept and release ourselves into this normalcy, quasi normalcy that we’re in right now, but again-

Steve Weikal (00:12:34):
Yeah. You probably heard from people, “Oh, we thought it was going to be a couple of months, thought it was going to be three months, but now it looks like it may be six months, it may be a year. Our company’s telling us 2021…” that’s a dose of reality that we didn’t have before.

Adam Hooper (00:12:53):
Yeah. And I think, again, we’re hearing more and more companies not going back to the office until Q1 of ’21 at the earliest. Right?

Steve Weikal (00:12:59):
Yeah.

Adam Hooper (00:12:59):
And that’s still so many unknowns around the health side of this and what that recovery looks like to be able to actually get back into a more sense of historical normal, but who knows again, I think it’s just submitting to this again, this interim period and embracing the good that we can. Right?

Steve Weikal (00:13:14):
Yeah.

Adam Hooper (00:13:14):
I think there are definitely benefits. I love getting to eat lunch with my wife and my kids every day.

Steve Weikal (00:13:19):
True.

Adam Hooper (00:13:19):
It’s nice to, as much fun as it is to BS with Tyler Stewart, it’s fun to get some work done too.

Steve Weikal (00:13:29):
Yeah. Don’t tell Tyler Stewart that. Yeah, the sense of family and immediate family. Suddenly now I’m not racing off to campus or racing off to meetings. I can actually be closer with my family, which is a good outcome from this unfortunate… let’s not overlook the broader really devastating situation that’s going on out there.

Adam Hooper (00:13:53):
We talked a little bit about the shift to virtual, the World Real Estate Forum. Tell us a little bit about that programming, how that shifted out to an online experience this year, and maybe some takeaways from that. And there’s five of the main topics and just phenomenal presentations that were in that forum. We want to dig in with you a little bit today, and then we’ll let you be on your way.

Steve Weikal (00:14:12):
Sure. The forum, as you know, we hold every year in May, it’s at the Media Lab. This year we deferred, that’s an example of thinking, “Oh, well, this whole thing will blow over and we’ll be back on campus by July. Couldn’t go till July, so we’ll do it in July.” And then of course it did. So we moved it virtual and which was very successful. In fact, we had a lot more people registered than we do when we do it live. That should not come as a surprise because now people from around the world can attend without getting on an airplane.

Adam Hooper (00:14:42):
Right.

Steve Weikal (00:14:43):
So we offered, we had I think 18 sessions. It was a combination. I mean, going to virtual was pretty cool because we could mix it, we could switch it up on what the program was. Was it a fireside chat? Was it a panel? Was it a keynote with an interview? We could mix all of that up. The other good thing is you can get speakers from all over the world, again, because they don’t always have to get on an airplane now.

Steve Weikal (00:15:08):
So, we had a great program. It was very successful. And the feedback we got was terrific. And I think in the future, if we do get back to campus by May of 2021 at the Media Lab, I think now there will always be a virtual component. We streamed a few sessions in the past, but now the technology is so easy to use. You can just have a whole virtual attendance separate from the live attendance.

Adam Hooper (00:15:35):
Yeah. I think we’ve heard that too with, again, Michael Beckerman with the CREtech conference that they run. The audience can be much more expansive when you do virtual, because again, you don’t have to rely on people actually traveling there. So, that is one of those things I think we’ve definitely seen in that space.

Adam Hooper (00:15:52):
And the conference industry is one that has a lot of question marks around it, no doubt, in how much, you know, again, similar to the question of how you’re fostering community on-campus or remote campus, so much of those events is the networking. And I’m curious to see some of the technologies that are going to help foster that networking at those virtual events that you can’t get necessarily when you’re remote. So, interesting to watch.

Steve Weikal (00:16:18):
Yeah, that piece of it, the networking and the introductions and the random or not so random meetings, and then also meeting with the startups and the exhibitors and seeing the cool new stuff, that still needs to be figured out in a virtual world that I think the tech, there’s some examples of the technology being there to do that, but there’s a lot of human behavior that has to shift and people have to get comfortable with doing it that way.

Adam Hooper (00:16:47):
Yeah.

Steve Weikal (00:16:48):
The forum was mostly one-way communication, although there was a lot of Q and A coming in as you would imagine. And we were able to, it’s not just two dimensional the way it might’ve been a year ago where there’s no live Q and A, at least now we’ve got live Q and A and chatting and things like that. I think the next generation is going to be what you mentioned, which is the engaging, getting people in the industry to meet other people in the industry and then also meet companies and technologists and people who are the “exhibitors” normally at a conference.

Adam Hooper (00:17:25):
Maybe we need to make a conference speed dating, Tinderfied swipe app, I think.

Steve Weikal (00:17:32):
Well, I don’t know if that’s a great analogy, but I get it. It’s an interesting analogy there, but yes, that actually is out there. I’ve seen a couple of really cool ones but you have to get everybody on board and understand how it works. I’m impressed by how quickly Zoom, everybody kind of got up to speed on Zoom, we all fumbled through it, and then now it’s like email. It’s pretty much how we do everything. So, I think those other tools we’ll just have to get up to speed on those.

Adam Hooper (00:18:03):
Yeah. I’ve seen as the months roll on, I’ve actually seen a reversion back to just regular phone calls. I think Zoom fatigue would have sat in a little bit and we’re having more just regular phone calls, which is another interesting thing to watch.

Steve Weikal (00:18:16):
True. Yeah. Yeah, that’s true. Again, it comes back to, and then you could point to this in all of the technology around real estate tech, that as good as the technology might be, there’s always that human element that sometimes gets overlooked, or you have really clever, sharp people that look at the human element and enhance that with the technology. That’s a different approach.

Adam Hooper (00:18:36):
Yeah.

Steve Weikal (00:18:37):
And I don’t have to tell you that because you’ve been around this space for a while now too.

Adam Hooper (00:18:41):
Let’s get into some of the panels that we thought were, again, fascinating to have an opportunity to listen in on. And are you going to make those available for the public? Are those going to be published?

Steve Weikal (00:18:51):
They are available to the attendees of the conference.

Adam Hooper (00:18:55):
Okay.

Steve Weikal (00:18:55):
And then we usually release them to the general industry after a kind of a holding period.

Adam Hooper (00:19:01):
Okay. So, we’ll let everybody know once those are available, but as a preview here today then. So recently, first we want to talk about, you guys recently launched a course or MIT launched a course on developing health-centered communities. Obviously very current in the current crisis. What does that mean? What does a health center community look like and what kind of roles does real estate play in that community environment?

Steve Weikal (00:19:26):
Yeah. Great question. Let me clarify a few things on it. We always pick a big idea for the forum every year, and our big idea this year was how wellbeing and health and wellness was driving the industry to a different place, was pushing the industry to a different place. So just know that that was prior to COVID when we started to put the program together last fall, because this conversation was going on and then it just got accelerated by COVID.

Steve Weikal (00:19:56):
And I should note that it isn’t just about, this isn’t just about healthcare related real estate or medical office buildings, this was the broader, and as was clear in the sessions, was the broader conversation about wellbeing. And you see the rise of the well building initiative and the ratings and rankings that will come out on wellness that are maybe akin to lead and although there is some overlap. So, this was a program that was proposed by the MIT Professional Ed Program to do along with Harvard Medical School.

Steve Weikal (00:20:38):
Harvard at the Medical School, which I think says a lot that they were learning that the built environment plays a role in human wellbeing, wellness, both emotional and physical. So that’s how this idea and this conversation started. And so there’s a professional, we had to move it to next year, the Professional Executive Education Program around the built environment’s response to the increasing demand and awareness for health and wellbeing. And so we have done a couple of webinars on that leading up to the course that will be delivered in April in partnership with the Harvard Medical School. And so anyway, that’s the back story.

Adam Hooper (00:21:28):
And so that was like you said, that was already in place prior to this current crisis?

Steve Weikal (00:21:31):
Yeah.

Adam Hooper (00:21:32):
So, this was something again, we’ve talked about the health impact and what those communities look like going forward. I’m curious how has, or has anything from this crisis informed that thinking or changed that thinking? Is there any new surprises or anything that could have been maybe predicted in how this crisis is playing out and some of the thinking that was going on before?

Steve Weikal (00:21:52):
Yeah. I think what it has done is accelerated the piece of the conversation around well buildings. And so now it’s not just about wellbeing, it’s about you can get sick if the building is not doing what it’s supposed to do. So, I think there’s a higher level of urgency and awareness that now you can get sick. So where was about maybe kind of a broader conversation of wellness about lighting and air quality, now we have to make sure that the surfaces are clean and that the air gets circulated. And we’re moving toward touchless. And so, it got accelerated. And that’s not such a bad thing to heighten the awareness and the attention on specifics about this in this conversation.

Adam Hooper (00:22:47):
Yeah. And that comment again, is one that we just… Last episode we had Ivy Zelman on talking about the residential real estate space. And this concept of the current crisis is in a lot of cases, more an accelerant of trends that were already in play, not necessarily… I mean, there are some new things that are going to be developed in reaction to it, but a lot of the bigger trends that we’re seeing are just being quickly sped up and we’re realizing that we have to do that today rather than six months from now in reaction to the current crisis.

Steve Weikal (00:23:16):
Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good point that these trends got accelerated. So, millennials moving further out to have a backyard so that they can have kids that are school age kids, that was going on before COVID. I always caution people these headlines about, “Oh, COVID causes cities to die and the suburbs to explode.” Remember there was a headline that the suburbs are dead and the cities are rising and taking over again. And so, the headlines can be misleading. These trends were happening. So, if you talk about, well buildings, better air quality, better lighting, we’re doing some research on lighting, there’s been a bunch of research done on air quality. That’s been part of the LEED conversation for years and years.

Steve Weikal (00:24:05):
So, I think this idea of healthier buildings, whether it’s residential or retail or all buildings, that conversation had been going on. Now it’s been accelerated. General purpose technologies are now being applied, which I think is exciting probably faster than they otherwise would have been. So for example, thermal sensors to determine if somebody’s got a temperature spike when they walk through the door. I don’t know that a building owner would have even thought about putting that in, except now they are considering putting that stuff in.

Steve Weikal (00:24:39):
And will it stick around? I don’t know. That sort of leads to another session that we had about, I do level of smart buildings, which we can talk about in a moment, but anyway, back to the kind of health conversation, you’re right that these trends were already happening and they have now been accelerated and made more obvious to us.

Adam Hooper (00:25:00):
Yeah. I’m going to ruin my transition by announcing the transition, but going from the health of the communities, Steve, to the health of the environment, you guys had a panel about 4 billion people are ready to move, where are they going to go?

Steve Weikal (00:25:11):
Yeah.

Adam Hooper (00:25:12):
And the prompt basically it was, is real estate ready for climate change, right? This is very central to you in Boston, right? On the Waterfront there?

Steve Weikal (00:25:21):
Yeah.

Adam Hooper (00:25:21):
We’re out here in Portland, the Pacific Northwest. What’s going to happen?

Steve Weikal (00:25:26):
I’ll give credit to that title to Parag Khanna, who came up with that great title. He also he’s written a number of books one called The Future Is Asian, another one called Connectography. Anyway, he’s just a really incredibly thoughtful guy and he’s doing work now on this idea of… Well, one thing that he told, we were on a call with him and he mentioned one thing that really got me intrigued, he referred to climate away seas. And I said, “Well, what is that?” And he said, “Well, can you use data to map the next 100 years and determine what parts of the world are the places you’d want to be in the next 100 years, or would need to be in the next 100 years?”

Steve Weikal (00:26:12):
And that’s part of a broader conversation about the effects of climate change on coastal, the effects of climate change on increasing temperatures. Didn’t Death Valley just hit a new record high?

Adam Hooper (00:26:24):
Yeah, it was I think 30+.

Steve Weikal (00:26:26):
Yeah. A new record high. We’ve got brush fires in Australia, we’ve got brush fires in California again. So, that was the starting point for this conversation about the billions of people who are in at risk geographies. They’re either low sea level or high temperatures. And where are they going to move when they begin to escape the impacts of climate change?

Adam Hooper (00:26:53):
Interior Canada. That’s my guess.

Steve Weikal (00:26:56):
Well, yeah, I forget the list that we talked about, but yes, there’s Interior Canada. I know there was a terrific article, I don’t know, maybe it was New York Times, or where the article was, but it identified Buffalo, New York, and Duluth. Buffalo and Duluth would be these places that if you wanted to-

Adam Hooper (00:27:16):
Oasis.

Steve Weikal (00:27:17):
Yeah, if you were worried about this and felt that this was going to be a long-term trend and you wanted to be someplace that maintained its moderate temperature, moderate winters, moderate summers, and had a lot of other elements that were attractive, Buffalo and Duluth.

Adam Hooper (00:27:34):
There we go.

Steve Weikal (00:27:35):
I think that article just, not to be too flip about it, I think that article also showed some maps. It showed maps, the models, that are projecting what areas will remain green and temperate versus the other areas that are under threat. At least if I recall it was a North American map, it was a US and Canada map.

Adam Hooper (00:27:58):
Okay. We’ll track that down and put that in the show notes. What is that going to do to real estate pricing? I think every hurricane season we hear talks about how coastal property… At some point, this is going to be reflected in pricing, right? And we’re talking about rising sea levels potentially coastline property having some kind of effect on pricing. Have we seen anything like that yet? At what point does it become enough of an issue in the collective consciousness that there’s a reflection on pricing, and how does that affect that?

Steve Weikal (00:28:28):
My colleague, Bill Wheaton, at the Center did a study on the Boston area. I was going to suggest where people could go to get it, and unfortunately, I’m not quite sure where it lives, but I’ll do my best to find it for you, but that was looking just at Boston mapping, using mapping data and then analysis of property value, as you might imagine. You’ve been in Boston, this Waterfront real estate, even in Fan Pier, which is a relatively recent development in the last 15 years, billions of dollars of real estate at sea level, basically, and at risk. And then the experience with Hurricane Sandy in lower Manhattan, and all of that.

Steve Weikal (00:29:12):
I know there’s some work being done on the impact. There’s a guy named Jesse Keenan from, I think he’s at Tulane now, but he also has been at Harvard, either visiting professor, and he’s written and been out talking and been on all the cable news channels talking about this. He’s put some numbers on the impact that I think would be revealing to people who want to dig into it. And I always wondered why the insurance companies hadn’t begun responding, except now they are beginning to respond. And now I don’t know if it’s in a significant way, and I’m sure you’ve read, there have been some startups that have… In fact, I think there was a startup that Moody’s might’ve acquired to help better model the whole climate impact, not only the sea level rise, but then climate impact generally. So, I think there’s an increased awareness.

Steve Weikal (00:30:09):
Another article that comes to mind discussed, interviewed Maarten Jennen, Dr. Maarten Jennen, who’s with PGGM, which is in Europe. I think that’s a group of Scandinavian pension investors investing in real estate. And if I remember the article correctly, I think they have now shifted their mandate that the portfolio must stress test for climate change.

Adam Hooper (00:30:35):
So we’re starting to see again more, not just awareness, but action in preparing for some of that?

Steve Weikal (00:30:43):
Yes, it’s my understanding. It appears to me that there’s greater awareness, not just as part of the ESG conversation, but a direct analysis and decision-making being affected.

Adam Hooper (00:31:03):
And ESG is something that only very, very, very recently and still not even at a, I think a very significant level, has started to enter the conversation in the real estate space. You know, you had LEED and Energy Star building certifications for ages, but I think the level of awareness around ESG investing and what those factors are, is starting to trickle into the real estate space like we’ve seen in some of the other financial markets. Have you seen anything interesting or exciting on that side that’s maybe some new technology or thoughts around what impacts that might have? [inaudible 00:31:39] a more consciousness about that philosophy of investments?

Steve Weikal (00:31:44):
Yes. Starting to see startups doing a better job of the analytics on ESG, how do we actually measure it? And how do you scale it and how do you define it so that everybody’s using the same scale and the same definitions? I think because our real estate innovation lab has been doing work on bits and pieces, we’re continuing to do some research called Smart, Connected and Green which is valuing, doing asset valuing and modeling on smart buildings, green buildings, connected buildings, and now they’ve added a fourth element which is well or healthy. So, it might be smart, connected, green and healthy, I don’t know what the new title will be.

Steve Weikal (00:32:35):
But trying to quantify, we know through this research that buildings that are smart, connected, and green transact, on the sales side, transact at a premium. And each of those elements has been broken out and has a different impact. Also leases, you’ll find that leases in smart, connected and green buildings tend to, with everything held equal, tend to lease at a higher rate, but this is all very preliminary. And so I think we’ll start to see more tools that help the industry better understand, well, what is the return on investment on ESG or whatever the healthy version is?

Adam Hooper (00:33:23):
Yeah. And I think pricing is an interesting aspect of that in terms of, how do you price that into an acquisition? Right?

Steve Weikal (00:33:32):
Yes.

Adam Hooper (00:33:33):
[crosstalk 00:33:33] seen in the past with philanthropic investments, right? It’s hard to price in the philanthropic component of something that’s an investment. I think it’s going to be a similar dynamic to figure out how you price in some of those factors on the ESG side.

Steve Weikal (00:33:46):
Yes. Yes. It’s hard, but we know from LEED, from early on in LEED, people did it because it was the right thing to do where they knew in their heart or they knew they just had a gut instinct, but there were no transactions to help to drive any data to do the analysis. And so I think LEED is… because LEED’s now what? 15 or 20 years old. And we’ve done analysis, other people have done analysis, we now know that LEED buildings they do perform at a premium, all things held equal.

Steve Weikal (00:34:16):
And then, so we took it then to connectivity, so data, as data and the digital infrastructure became more and more important, we can now assign a premium to that and then green or smart, excuse me, smart. And smart. As you know, there are all these different definitions of smart, so we had to define what it is and standardize for everything and control for everything. And then now it’ll be health and wellbeing. So, I think ESG in the same way has to go through that in order to really understand the benefits and the advantages.

Steve Weikal (00:34:53):
I suspect the finance industry, other asset classes are probably ahead of real estate on this because they have metrics, they have ways of measuring and they’re doing it, and it’s just a matter of time before real estate gets caught up. I’ll give another example. Nigel Wilson, who’s the Head of Legal & General in London, which I think I forget what Legal & General does, they might be the largest government pension in the UK, trillion dollar or something like that, and they’ve got large real estate holdings.

Steve Weikal (00:35:23):
They also similar to what Maarten Jennen is doing in Scandinavia, they’ve said that ESG is important and they’re going to take a much closer look at their portfolio broadly, including real estate, and determine which real estate is, I don’t want to say compliant, but which real estate is pursuing an ESG strategy that aligns with the mandate of the fund. So, we might start seeing real estate being pressured into satisfying certain demands from the institutional capital side.

Adam Hooper (00:36:03):
Yeah. And let’s kind of stick with this smart building thing because obviously new development’s going to be much easier to integrate a lot of these concepts, retrofits are going to be more costly and more difficult to do, but smart buildings you said you guys had to define that. How do you define a smart building?

Steve Weikal (00:36:25):
Sorry, you asked that. I actually, I don’t know how my colleagues define it. I will say that report is available at the website of the Real Estate Innovation Lab.

Adam Hooper (00:36:36):
Okay.

Steve Weikal (00:36:36):
Was that a good deflection? I don’t know how they defined it, but in order to research this stuff, you have to define somehow, right?

Adam Hooper (00:36:47):
Right. We’ll put a link in the show notes to that for listeners out there.

Steve Weikal (00:36:50):
Thank you for that.

Adam Hooper (00:36:51):
And again-

Steve Weikal (00:36:52):
But ask me the question anyway though, despite my not knowing how they defined it, feel free to ask me a question.

Adam Hooper (00:36:58):
Yeah. When we talk about smart buildings, you have this definition, and again, we’ll link to that in the show notes, but some of the concept is it beyond… We’ve heard internet of things, we’ve heard 5G, we’ve heard smart sensors, we’ve heard all these different things. What are you actually seeing in terms of implementation today or is it still kind of future-looking with some of these different technologies?

Steve Weikal (00:37:21):
That’s a great question. I think we’re going to see more, there’s going to be more obvious smartness when people go back to the office, where they might have an entirely touchless experience and their phone might instruct them. I mean, you could take a look at the buildings, the EDGE buildings that EDGE Technologies did in the Netherlands, they’ve done a number of them, but the first one was the one that got a lot of publicity where the algorithms tell you based on your profile, what floor to go to and what desk to use. And the algorithms, you tell the algorithm whether… the algorithm knows, I think in the future, it’ll know how the traffic was. So, it’ll know when you’re going to arrive at the building, so it’ll know where your parking space is, which will change dynamically until you get to the gate, and it’ll know where your desk is, but that’ll change dynamically until you get through security. And it’ll tell you which elevator to use.

Steve Weikal (00:38:24):
And so that level of smart, that kind of dynamic, somebody… I forget who described it, this is a fantastic, I wish that I’d thought of it, they said that buildings will tune themselves to the individual workers, which is a great, that’s just a great way to say it. Christian Bigsby who was the Head of Real Estate at GSK and now is at Cisco, he’s been talking about this for a number of years that you’ll have this… that the system will be dynamic depending upon, did you get up late? Were you caught in traffic? Did one of your colleagues call in sick? So your whole schedule dynamically changes, and it tells you which meeting room to go to or not go to. And your desk may change because that one person in the four o’clock meeting got delayed in Chicago, their flight got delayed in Chicago.

Steve Weikal (00:39:23):
This idea of a totally dynamic experience with real estate, and real estate will be responsive, and it will tune itself to the individual worker, I think it’s exciting.

Adam Hooper (00:39:34):
It’s fascinating.

Steve Weikal (00:39:35):
Yeah, it’s fascinating. And Christian also told me, he said, “You know, Steve, have you ever used a thing called the GameDay app, which manages your whole experience for the NFL before you even get to the stadium?” And I hadn’t, but I looked into it. And so it’s still early on that, but there’s this app that manages your whole fan experience from the moment you wake up in the morning, you haven’t even gotten to the stadium, or you haven’t even turned the game on, but I think more and more there will be, I mean, of course there are privacy issues, but more and more real estate will be responsive. And so a smart building will be at that level. And we’re not there yet, there are few hints of it, but we’re not there yet.

Adam Hooper (00:40:15):
Yeah. And that’s fascinating. This is one of the first times we’re hearing about, we’ve talked about sensors and we’ve talked about collection of data, but I think there’s been a shortfall in terms of what do you actually do with it, right? It’s great to collect everything and have all this stuff, but how do you introduce this dynamism of the space in reaction to that data? That’s fascinating. I think that’ll be really cool to see how that plays out.

Steve Weikal (00:40:38):
That’s the other part of it really is the analytics on the other, so you make a great point. Remember when big data was a thing?

Adam Hooper (00:40:45):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Steve Weikal (00:40:47):
That was a big thing. Everybody was excited about big data. We have no lack of data right now. The problem is it’s dirty and it’s inconsistent, it doesn’t talk to one another and nobody’s really figured out how to unlock the knowledge from the data, but we’re getting better. There’s a lot of work being done on AI in all industries, that’s going to bleed into real estate. We’re doing some great work at the Center For Real Estate. And as I might’ve mentioned to you, we launched the first real estate data, it’s an online course. Real estate data and analytics course is an online version of the live version that we launched last year at the curriculum. So our industry has a lot to go.

Steve Weikal (00:41:25):
The good thing is people are gathering a lot of data. And as we know, machines are computers with a roof on them. They’re spitting out even more and more data. We do have to balance that with the other side of the equation is how do you use it? How do you analyze it? How do you have it inform all of this dynamic stuff I was just talking about?

Adam Hooper (00:41:45):
Yeah. And I’m assuming again, COVID crisis is more of an accelerant there to some of these trends that were already in place. Do you see anything new in reaction to that, smart buildings that the current crisis is affecting? Or is it again more of just making us do it much quicker?

Steve Weikal (00:42:01):
I will. I think so. So we never had to write algorithms to manage people going up and down elevators, for example. We never had to write algorithms to understand the cleaning of surfaces everywhere. Now we’re already seeing robotics. So, it’s possible that that cleaning may happen in an automated way. Those are just two examples of things that we never really had to do before that may or may not go away when we get a vaccine. And there are probably a bunch of examples. There’s cleaning, there’s space usage, there’s sort of load balancing on space. Before it was all about optimizing space to get as much value out of every square foot, but now… I mean, this is a separate conversation. Will companies need more space because of social distancing? Will they use less space because of work at home?

Adam Hooper (00:43:01):
Right.

Steve Weikal (00:43:02):
It’ll probably be a blended model, this is a different topic, but it’ll probably be a blended model, but how do you analyze that? I mean, what are the tools? Well, you need a bunch of data, you need a lot of sensors, you need a whole bunch of sources of data, and then you need models that are fast enough and smart enough to be able to help us understand.

Adam Hooper (00:43:20):
So, yeah, again, that’s something, as you just mentioned there, right? This need for space versus working remote, right? It’s still fascinating to me there, how many different of these competing narratives that are both, they’re both true, they’re both plausible, but we have no idea which one’s going to win?

Steve Weikal (00:43:35):
Correct.

Adam Hooper (00:43:35):
It’s going to be a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and we have no idea what that end impact is going to be quite yet, which is you know, there’s still so much uncertainty about where this all plays out and how that affects our industry and our usage of the space that I don’t know when we’re going to see. I mean, it’s going to be an evolution of how those changes occur.

Steve Weikal (00:43:52):
It will be a longer evolution. The immediate evolution is how do you get people to come back to a building and feel safe?

Adam Hooper (00:44:00):
Yeah.

Steve Weikal (00:44:01):
I think some of the numbers, you’ve probably seen the numbers, that the human occupancy, not to be confused with how leased up a building is, but the occupancy rate of humans actually showing up and working in the space, for those places that have reopened is I’ve read 5%, 10%, 15%, maybe 20%. And the protocols in certain cities in certain markets have been as high as 50%. So it shows that the human element, that the workers, and then there are all those interviews with workers about what would make you come back and are you comfortable coming back although… it’s not looking good, right?

Steve Weikal (00:44:42):
You’ve got 50% of the workers would rather work at home, they’re not convinced. I should say it differently. 54% I think was the number I said, that’s a general number, it’s hard to make sense of it, but if half of the workers would choose not to go back, we don’t know why, we don’t know if it’s because they don’t feel safe or because it’s more convenient to manage their kids or what it is, but my point of all that is that I agree with you, we won’t know. Unfortunately, I think we’ll know more looking in the rear view mirror than we will be able to predict the future.

Adam Hooper (00:45:17):
Yeah. Is that a new underwriting metric human occupancy versus economic occupancy?

Steve Weikal (00:45:22):
Well, maybe. Maybe. If it starts to impact… I mean, you make a good point, will companies negotiate differently? Will they say, “Well, our human occupancy is only 25% at any time, even though we’ve got a lot of square footage”?

Adam Hooper (00:45:42):
Right. It’s like [crosstalk 00:45:42]-

Steve Weikal (00:45:45):
Building. Yeah. I mean, could they start getting aggressive on their negotiations? Yeah, our load factor is very light, even though we need this space. We’re not using the services, we’re not putting much wear and tear on the building, you should give us a lower rate. You should give us a lower lease rate. Here’s another. I have two other thoughts on that, that have come up. The other is, should my company start giving me a stipend to pay the rent on my dining room table? Possibly, I don’t know.

Steve Weikal (00:46:14):
You do see companies giving budgets for power and conductivity and also as you know, trying to provide amenities the way they do at the office building. There are these startups that are springing up to provide delivered amenities to the team. So anyway, that’s one thought about my dining room table. You’ve heard me talk about fracking where the use of the asset is getting blown apart.

Adam Hooper (00:46:42):
Yeah.

Steve Weikal (00:46:42):
This is the ultimate. This is fracking 3.0. We fracked out of co-working all the way to the dining room table.

Adam Hooper (00:46:48):
Right. Well, I think there was some research earlier too about how, again, from a corporate profitability standpoint, this is basically shifting a lot of that occupancy costs and operating costs down to the employees, right?

Steve Weikal (00:46:59):
Yeah.

Adam Hooper (00:46:59):
Which is not necessarily the greatest trade-off. So, I think that’s something that will need to be addressed in the future, for sure.

Steve Weikal (00:47:06):
Right. And frankly, the employees who are taking a cut to move to a more desirable or a less expensive location, there would be probably a lot of that, but should they also be… It’s one thing for a company to say, “Well, your salary given that you’re moving to a lower cost market, we’d like you to take a lower salary.” And I know there’s been some analysis of this where the net, the kind of the net quality of life or cost of having a quality of life is still an improvement. So, you take a price cut to move to Austin from San Francisco, but even though you took a salary cut, your value of your quality of life is actually better. So, it’s a good deal.

Steve Weikal (00:47:50):
But those employees could also push back and say, “Yeah, but the remote, my dining room table, the extra added cost of the electricity and higher bandwidth, I would like to be able to expense that.” You could see that coming.

Adam Hooper (00:48:04):
Well, listeners out there, you’ll have to let us know if you employ any of these negotiation techniques. Let us know how that goes.

Steve Weikal (00:48:11):
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, and another, just one more anecdote, another interesting way of looking at square footage is happening in industrial and warehouse where now this is distinct from COVID, but this is because of the automation of warehouses looking at dollar per cubic foot, rather than square foot. Should the metric be dollar per cubic foot because warehouses are becoming like big robotic machines?

Steve Weikal (00:48:40):
And one final point on this, my colleague over at Nanotech, Vladimir Bulovic, over at MIT Nano, they’ve done some analysis on value per weight in certain consumer products that actually it’s fairly consistent. The value of weight of consumer products, across many, many different consumer products ends up being fairly consistent. So, he was half joking when he said, “Well, should real estate be valued in a dollar per kilo?”

Adam Hooper (00:49:17):
That’s maybe a stretch, but I’m curious to know how that works out. Yeah.

Steve Weikal (00:49:22):
I’m with you. I’d be curious to know how that works out, but that’s one of the advantages of being at MIT is you get people who really have a totally different take on how the world works. And sometimes it sounds a little out there and other times you start to think about it and you think, “Maybe that’s not so far out there.” We’ll see. We’ll see how that turns out.

Adam Hooper (00:49:41):
Yeah. All right. We were kind of around the edges there of getting back into an office, right? Like we’ve got the smart buildings, we’ve got this elevator scheduling, we’ve got all these algorithms. One of the other panels was workplaces become dynamic, frictionless and healthy. So once you get into the office, what does that look like? What’s driving people back to the office? Is it being fed up with working from the kitchen countertop? Is it a desire for us being social beings? Is it the commute is so much less because there’s so much less traffic, so now I can drive into the office? Like what’s going to bring people back to the office and what does it look like once they get there?

Steve Weikal (00:50:18):
Probably all of the above. I don’t know that I have the right answer to this, I do know that it’ll be a hybrid model. On the extremes are Facebook and Google got a lot of headlines by saying, “We’re going to let our people work remote if they want to forever.” Again, we don’t know if that’s really how it’s going to go, and which I know they clarified those statements by certain types of jobs might be able to work remote forever.

Steve Weikal (00:50:46):
So, I think it will be a hybrid model. And let’s see, somebody had a great term for it, and now it’s escaping me, but the idea that I might work at home on Monday, I might go to a remote office on Tuesday, or I might go to a remote co-working place on Tuesday and Wednesday. I might go downtown on Thursday, and then I might be back at my home office on Friday. I think it will be, in that way, it will be dynamic.

Steve Weikal (00:51:19):
And I think as you and I discussed, what would be the reason for people to go to the office? There was, I wish I could remember who wrote, it was maybe… it might’ve been a blog post, a really interesting kind of provocative article that said that the future might look like… When people are doing work, what you might define as work, they might do that at home. You might go to the office for the socialization and the conversations, and what we feel at the center in our discussions, because the real estate school is part of the school of architecture and planning, we have a kind of a more holistic approach to real estate, we know that innovation happens in a place.

Steve Weikal (00:52:07):
I think getting innovation to happen digitally remote is going to be hard because so often innovation happens through the random interactions. But this blog post was interesting because it posited that workers would come into the office for the social part and the human engagement part, and that’s where the creativity, that’s where the creation and the invention would happen. And then they might either go to a solo office or a co-working space, or go back home to do their actual work.

Adam Hooper (00:52:42):
Which is fascinating, right? And I think it mirrors something that we saw in the retail space of it being more of this experiential showroom kind of thing. Rather than you just go there to buy your stuff, you go there to experience whatever that company is offering, and then you order it somewhere else and then it just shows up, right? Does the office now become the place where those interactions work, where you get that social fix? And again, as we talked before, one of the benefits of working at home is I can just focus and get stuff done, right?

Steve Weikal (00:53:10):
Right.

Adam Hooper (00:53:10):
There’s so many fewer distractions that kind of play into that. So, I think there’s definitely an element of increasing productivity like you’d mentioned before of having that private space to work. Again, just another conversation around open offices, right? That’s always been a fairly open topic, but yeah, the concept of office becoming that experiential component or the social component. And work can be done anywhere, right? For a lot of industries, a lot of jobs.

Steve Weikal (00:53:35):
True.

Adam Hooper (00:53:35):
A lot of jobs can’t, a lot of jobs have to be onsite. So, that’ll be another dynamic to see how that unfolds.

Steve Weikal (00:53:43):
That’s a great analogy. I’m going to remember that analogy because retail has been solving its challenges by becoming more and more experiential and showrooming, and you either order it while you’re there through a tablet online basically, you’re not really buying it off the shelf. You’re ordering it the same way you would have if you were at home in your living room or you go home and order it in your living room, and the reason to go there is to experience it. So, is it possible that the other product types… I mean, we could carry this analogy even further that if you look at co-living.

Steve Weikal (00:54:22):
Is co-living a little bit of that, that where you rest your head at night is just a tiny portion of the experience of being with other people where you live? So, I think we could probably carry that analogy over to different product types and see some version or variation of it, where the original purpose of the product type, the original purpose of the real estate is definitely going to shift and morph and change and blend and merge and blur.

Adam Hooper (00:54:55):
It’s fascinating. And again, I think that’s what’s just what I love about these conversations with you, Steve, is we talk about things that are just so forward looking and fascinating, right? It’s going to be really fun to watch how some of those dynamics play out.

Steve Weikal (00:55:10):
I always enjoy the conversation and I’m glad to share it. It comes from all the great people that I get to talk to, the real thinkers and the inventors and the creative thinkers in our industry, and also being around MIT with these just incredibly smart, creative people thinking about what the future looks like.

Adam Hooper (00:55:35):
Are there any triggers or indicators with some of these things that we’ve talked about that will set them down one path or another? Like are there any real big factor? I mean, again, obviously we’re in the current COVID crisis, right? That’s going to be a pretty big trigger for a lot of this stuff, but as you look at the future of space and the future of these buildings and how we interact with them, are there any foreseen triggers that will have a dramatic impact in terms of how quickly those technologies get adopted or which path those go down?

Steve Weikal (00:56:09):
That’s a good question. First of all, it’s a good question because I don’t know that there’s an answer to it, but it’s a good question because COVID is such this unusual… on the one hand, it’s this very unusual, unpredictable change that happened. On the other hand, we could go back and make a list of all of the unexpected significant changes that have happened in the last a 100 or 200 years. So, on the one hand we think that these are unusual occurrences, and on the other hand we have pretty regular unusual occurrences. So, COVID, will there be another pandemic? Probably. Will there be some climate events that cause us to rethink? I’d like to think that when we have a bad experience like Hurricane Sandy, that it moves the needle on how we do things.

Steve Weikal (00:57:09):
I’m sure there are people that wish it moved the needle more, and on the other hand we could look and say, “Yeah, it did move the needle.” So, I don’t know what the next 50 or a 100 years might bring, we do have significant demographic shifts, we have significant climate change probably, and no doubt we will have some additional health, unfortunately, maybe another pandemic, hopefully not at the same level.

Adam Hooper (00:57:42):
Hopefully not at the same level. Well, last question before we let you go. I’m going to put you on the spot, we didn’t prep you for this one. What is the most interesting or exciting technology that you’ve discovered or is on your horizon since this crisis has begun?

Steve Weikal (00:57:59):
Oh, man. Can I give you some that were on my radar before the crisis?

Adam Hooper (00:58:06):
I suppose I’ll allow it.

Steve Weikal (00:58:08):
If you’re going to allow that. I feel like I’m talking to Alex Trebek. So, a couple. One is augmented reality. So, it actually, this is a bundle. I’m going to say three that are really part of a larger trend. Augmented reality, which has been around. Digital twin, which is getting accelerated. And then the kind of the game effication. We did a session at the forum on how the gaming industry is now getting interested in the real estate industry. And I’ll explain what I mean by that. One is that in the virtual world there’s a whole economy of real estate where real estate is being developed and bought and sold in the virtual world, in the virtual gaming world.

Steve Weikal (00:58:50):
And it’s at this point, it’s, I don’t know if it’s hundreds of thousands or millions or tens of millions, it’s not billions of dollars of virtual real estate, but it’s happening and it’s growing. And so you have this digital world, but now if we can step back, digital twins are sort of the digital, they are the digital manifestation of the built environment. So, you have this overlap with digital twin which is a more maybe practical approach to digitizing the built environment, but it’s going to bleed over into the virtual gaming world.

Steve Weikal (00:59:26):
And then augmented is the kind of the interface between the existing physical world and the digital world. And whether we see it through glasses or through our devices, I think we’re all going to have very normal looking eyeglasses and that’s where the virtual world will appear to us in the augmented version of this. So, I think that category with all of the opportunity that it presents and all of the incredible things that will be possible that are like magic right now, but will become part of our day-to-day, that category as it’s unfolding and being accelerated by COVID is very exciting.

Adam Hooper (01:00:11):
Absolutely fascinating. I think it’s a… Yeah, we’ve talked about AR for a long time, it will be hopeful that we get there. There’s a lot of really cool stuff out there that seems like it is, as you say, it’s on the verge of becoming more widely adopted. So, there’s definitely some fun stuff to see there for sure.

Steve Weikal (01:00:28):
Yeah. It’s ready to pop. And I think augmented is much more interesting than virtual because for now, when people have to put on a goofy headset, which I shouldn’t say it that way, because putting on the headset is cool as hell, I have to admit, but this augmented way of having almost a virtual experience that is overlaid on the physical environment, that is just the most amazing… that provides so many exciting and interesting opportunities for how we work with the built environment as developers on the construction side, I know we didn’t talk about construction tech, but just imagine on the construction side, the real estate side, it’ll impact leasing, it already is impacting design, the way we design the buildings and we build them.

Steve Weikal (01:01:20):
So, it just opens up an incredible avenue into a world that we never really had before. Partly because we have better connectivity, 5G was necessary, the linear coding was necessary, device smarter, smaller, lighter devices were necessary, the glasses are going to be necessary, this perfect storm of all of these hardwares, software, all kind of coming together at the same time and necessity as a result of COVID, this might be the time when everything clicks.

Adam Hooper (01:01:55):
There we have it. Steve, thank you so much again for sharing your thoughts on all this stuff. Any way that listeners can learn more about what you’re up to at MIT and the Center for Real Estate?

Steve Weikal (01:02:06):
Yes, they can. They can go to the Center’s website, which is mitcre.mit.edu. They can sign up for our newsletter. We have a quarterly newsletter that just gives updates on research. They can also go to the three labs that we have at the Center for Real Estate, the Real Estate Innovation Lab, the Sustainable Urbanization Lab, and the Price Dynamics Platform. Three different research groups within the Center for Real Estate that are doing a lot of fantastic stuff. They can get white papers there, they can look at the latest research releases webinars, they can also sign up to get on their mailing lists as well. And that’s a good way to access all of the really fascinating work that’s going on at the Center.

Adam Hooper (01:02:54):
Wonderful, Steve. Again, really appreciate it. Always wonderful to have you on the show. And thank you for the conversation today.

Steve Weikal (01:03:01):
Adam Hooper, always a pleasure to be here. And I look forward to speaking with you again.

Adam Hooper (01:03:04):
Thanks. And listeners, check the show notes. There’s a lot of stuff that we talked about today. There’ll be plenty of links down there for you to follow. As always if you have any questions or comments, please send us a note to podcast@realcrowd.com. And with that, we’ll catch you on the next one.

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