Where are Real Estate Development Trends Heading in 2018?

Guest Blogger Kathy Leo, PE, GAI Vice President and Director, Private Development, offers her insight into emerging U.S. real estate development trends for 2018.

Here’s an insider’s perspective on real estate development trends

The ULI/PwC study offers in-depth info on real estate development trends.Each year, I look forward to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report from ULI (Urban Land Institute) and PwC. It presents an authoritative study of regional growth trends, and I use the report as a tool to confirm that GAI’s real estate development strategy aligns with our partners in the market. I want to be sure we are putting the right focus on specific geographies and the growing segments of the industry.

The 2018 report is as useful and packed with insights as in years past. I think we all know that we are in a mature, post-recession market. This means greater stability as the real estate development industry considers the lessons learned of eight years ago and has adopted caution as “the new norm.” Today we see projects taking a little more time to develop and secure financing. On the engineering and planning side, there is more up-front due diligence on projects, and there are more deliverable checkpoints designed to control costs and reduce risk while still driving schedules. All good practices.

At GAI, we are well positioned with offices and talent in some great locations. I’m really excited to see that the report’s U.S. markets to watch for Top Overall Real Estate Prospects include Orlando, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Palm Beach, Chicago, Richmond, Jacksonville, and Houston—GAI has operations in all of these locations. And the #1 prospect for homebuilding markets in 2018 is Indianapolis, where we already have a skilled team in place.

The types of projects we are seeing are evolving as well: the report indicates that hot project types include urban mixed-use properties, data centers, and infrastructure. On the development side, there are fewer and fewer green-field sites, and many of our clients are developing in the urban core with higher density, mixed-use projects. Infrastructure projects are needed across the board to make development viable by building utilities and roadways to deliver services and make properties accessible.

All told, 2018 promises to be a year that couples opportunity with sustainable business practices in real estate development nationwide, and GAI is well positioned to meet the market with the diverse expertise needed to bring a range of interrelated projects to life.

I recommend that you refer to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report for a detailed and well-researched overview of real estate development trends—it’s a dependable reference and guide to the year ahead that I’m happy to pass on to you. I’ll be contributing to GAI’s website with a series of blog posts in the coming months—check back soon as I share more real estate development trends, news, and my insights into happenings around the industry.

Contact Kathy Leo, PE, 321.319.3095, for more information about GAI’s infrastructure services for private development.


Kathy LeoKathy Leo serves as Director of Private Development within GAI’s Infrastructure group. With 24 years of experience, she has extensive background in the private, public, and federal markets, with specialization in the private sector.

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