Dig In

In his role as Head of Canada Research at Cushman & Wakefield, Adam Jacobs explores trends in commercial real estate by leveraging research. That is to say that he knows * a lot * about the economy and how things might change and shift in the next little while.

Show Notes

In his role as Head of Canada Research at Cushman & Wakefield, Adam Jacobs explores trends in commercial real estate by leveraging research. That is to say that he knows * a lot * about the economy and how things might change and shift in the next little while.

Tune in to this episode to get details about:
- How downtown vacancy rates, warehouse development, and migration away from cities affect the real estate industry
- What Adam expects to see when things go back to “normal”
- What Adam has to say about big picture stuff like the Canadian economy and the impact of inflation on the real estate market, labour market, unemployment rates, and innovation in Canada

What is Dig In?

Welcome to Dig In, the podcast brought to you by the minds at Dig. We spotlight marketing and insight leaders doing something different within their space.

We'll feature interviews with inspiring business leaders, discuss trends in research and technology, and generally keep you up-to-speed on the wild world of innovation.

Ian: Hi, I'm Ian, co-founder of Dig Insights and president of Dig's innovation insights platform, Upsiide. Welcome to Dig In. Dig In is the place to stay up to date on what's happening in the world of innovation, research and technology, to find inspiration from today's business and innovation leaders, and to properly dig into hot topics that matter for consumer brands right now and when applicable, we'll bring our own research to that conversation.

Ian: Welcome back to Dig in. This week, I'm talking to Adam Jacobs, Ph.D. He's the head of Canada Research at Cushman & Wakefield. Thanks so much for joining us today, Adam.

Adam Jacobs: Thanks very much for having me, Ian. I'm glad to be here.

Ian: And so in your role at Cushman & Wakefield as Head of Canada Research, you lead the research team, you explore data and trends in commercial real estate and across Canada. Tell us a little bit about the day to day type of work that you're doing for Cushman & Wakefield.

Ada: Yes, I'd love to. So we're keeping tabs on the whole market across the country. So what's happening with leases, with listings, with subletting, with sales. And there's the office market, there's the warehouse market, there's a retail market. People think of real estate as housing, but there's all of these asset classes in commercial that we're trying to keep track of.
And then in addition to the nitty gritty of who leased what space and what's the vacancy rate in every building, we're trying to look at the big picture of what's happening. I am a big believer in that demographics are really driving everything we see in our business and in real estate. So aging population, immigration, shrinking household size. This is what we're seeing on the ground when we look at what's happening with the warehouse economy or why our office vacancy rates are up or our people migrating out of the city.
So it's we're at the micro level in terms of what's happening in the market, what deals are being done. And then we're also trying to be at the macro level of where this is all going, what's happening with the Canadian economy.

Ian: Great, thanks so much for joining, and one of the reasons why I reached out to you and I was so excited to talk to you is not only because of what you do currently, but also your strong economic background. You're previously a senior quantitative economist for the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure, so we can have a bit of a broader conversation not just about real estate, but also what are the economic impacts on real estate and how is real estate reacting? And why that's so important is because, you know, we're in complicated times right now. Inflation is a big concern. We've got big impacts due to COVID, obviously, in the way that people are working and where they're working. And all of these things are impacting real estate, both commercial and residential, which are really some of the biggest sources of growth for GDP in Canada in general. And also a lot of people have argued in hyper inflation mode, particularly residential, at least. So just in general terms, what are you seeing right now? You know, you know, vacancy rates, downtown warehouse developments, people migrating away from cities, what's sort of the 30,000 foot view?

Adam: Yeah, thanks, Ian, so much to discuss here.
Let me start at the end. The demographic shifts. You know, you hear about people leaving cities, there's an urban exodus. I think that is happening. The data shows that was happening. I was just looking at something that said last quarter was a 50 year high of people moving to Nova Scotia. This is an area that's been losing population for years for various reasons that booms in other parts of the country either decline the fisheries aging population. And now we're seeing this kind of wholesale reversal where people are just taking that remote work on the road. They're relocating and they're going to figure out the details down the road. So housing is a whole other discussion, but we really are seeing that the whole province kind of being Toronto wise people cash out of their house.
I was reading something that said Hamilton is now on the list of most overpriced markets ahead of Silicon Valley. So when Hamilton's ahead of Silicon Valley, I think, you know, things are a little bit upside down and it's spilling, you know, way beyond the Toronto metro area all over the country.
But I think people are more familiar with the housing story and everything that's going on there in our world where houses have become just sort of absolute gold rush. Vancouver, Toronto - some of the tightest markets in the world for industrial real estate, and the pandemic has just turbocharged this in terms of Amazon, Costco, Walmart doubling down on e-commerce, home delivery. People who maybe weren't too familiar with e-commerce before the pandemic has kind of opened the door to, “oh, I guess, getting my groceries delivered isn’t very complicated. You just go on the app and it's there the next day”.
So warehouses… I always feel like they're a little hidden. You know, people just they're not aware of them the way they're aware of downtown buildings or 50 story hotels or anything. But there's really a lot of innovation going on in warehouses. For a long time, it was just bigger, bigger, bigger, higher ceilings, more truck bays. Now we're starting to see there's so little room. People are having to get creative. We're seeing multilevel warehouses, which never existed before, but they're starting to be actually like stacked warehouses, and there's a circular ramp for the truck drivers up to the top.
I was in Vancouver and there's now even mixed use. There's warehouses on the bottom and condos on top because the land is just so scarce and these are some pretty new concepts. And you know, it's kind of interesting to see there. Just when we get below 1% vacancy rate where we are in Vancouver, Toronto, people need to get creative for office. I think this story has been pretty well covered.
Obviously, vacancy is way up since COVID, although what I like to remind people is these are insane levels, you know, downtown Toronto offices are still less than 10% vacant. It's not now when I say vacant, I mean, leased. I mean, obviously there aren't a lot of people there right now, but the spaces mostly lease tenants have long term leases in commercial, you know, for your apartment, it's a one year lease and then once a month, that's not the way it works in commercial. It's a ten year lease.
So it's worth remembering there's a lot of new buildings being built downtown. So CIBC Square on Bay Street was too big, a big building that was delivered this year. That building is full, and those leases were negotiated and signed years to go before anybody knew anything about COVID.
So you're adding millions of square feet downtown and it's all “occupied”. Obviously, there isn't anyone in the office right now, but at least in that space, someone is paying rent. So that's why, you know, it's perhaps not as bad as it seems from the office real estate side.

Ian: A couple of really interesting points. Before we jump into that. You know, the leases because I have some questions there. The warehouse point that you made is really fascinating because you're right. I mean, there's not the same kind of visibility. It's not the type of thing that I knew about or noticed. Is it changing where these warehouses are being developed, like are people developing warehouses more in downtown cores now as a result of higher vacancy rates and a greater need for food delivery speed of delivery? Or is it just the way they're building them?

Adam: I don't think we've seen much of that, at least in Canada. I know in some parts of the U.S. there is sort of downtown or like there's maybe an old porch and there were warehouses like right on the water.
They're not so much of that here because cities are more built up with housing and offices right downtown. I think it's really more innovative. So it's mostly happening still out in Milton, Brampton, Mississauga, you know, the airport is the place people want to be. They want to be close to the highway and they want to be close to the airport. So the West Side is heavy.
One thing we've seen is that things are starting to move east, record a bit. You've got your whole Pickering Durham that that wasn't as popular market, but now it's, you know, as the scarcity drives people to look for new things where people are starting to consider, “OK, maybe maybe the eastern half of the GTA is is also good, even if the western half is a little preferable in terms of highways”. And then there's just the issue of if you're on the west side, you're closer to the U.S. border in terms of driving to Buffalo or Detroit or that sort of area.
So I think most of it, it's more of the innovation has got to be in the form rather than like where people are going. Also, we have the green belt, which I generally think is a good thing and needed. But you know, the green belt does constrain. There is only so much land. There just isn't infinite sprawl that could happen. And so people are needing to densify the same way we've densified housing and other asset classes, we're starting to need to identify warehouses, too.

Ian: Really interesting. You talked a little bit about, you know, occupancy rates, vacancy rates, lease rates, for instance. You know, Dig, my company. We signed a ten year lease. I can remember how many years ago, but we still have a lot of years to go. Are these long leases slightly boosting up these occupancy rates in the short term? Any picture to like when that starts to have a greater effect, if people don't return to the office on the same level?

Adam: That's something that we're grappling with. But, you know, part of the stability is just that commercial leases are longer, so you know, it depends where you were in the cycle of where you are up for a renewal or where you just signed your lease right before COVID and now you're locked into 2029 or whatever? We are still seeing people renewing for space, though it is a big, big leap of faith for a company that's been downtown for whatever 20, 50 years to just say that's it, “We're done with the office”. So you know the big occupiers, your royal bank Ontario Government Sun Life Insurance, they're hedging their bets there. They may even be embracing work from home, but they're not willing to just say, “OK, we don't need a big downtown tower anymore. We're just going to leave it”. That is, there's a very big commitment and once you leave it, it's pretty hard to get it back. You can't just come back tomorrow and say, Oh, actually, I need 37 floors of a downtown fancy tower. It's not going to be there.
So we are seeing some hesitation. Even if people aren't using the office right now, they're a little hesitant to say, “are we 100% sure we're never going to need the office again?” That's a pretty big decision today I don't know that anyone has made yet. And yeah, part of the stability of the downtown market is just the market was very, very, very hot before COVID.
I don't think that's controversial 2018-19, you know, record type years. That's when people start to build big projects. There's more big projects coming. Really big projects. And those are all leased up already. The way it works just financially is that those need to be leased out before they can proceed with all of the development. So they get these buildings mostly pre leased, we call it. So. The downtown is continuing to densify and the new buildings are very fancy. They're fairly expensive and they're mostly leased up. So I mean, perhaps years from now, we'll see the fallout from that.
But my hope is years from now, we're not still talking about office closures.

Ian: Right? I mean, how people are going to use the space, I mean, whether or not employees will return to office in droves is up for debate and everyone's got an opinion on. And a lot of companies are saying we're going to be remote first now, et cetera, et cetera.
But there is definitely a value to having an office space. And I was, you know, I was talking to some of the other day about corporate culture. And I said, you know, going into the office is kind of like going on the treadmill. I don't feel like it when I get up in the morning, but if I go, I feel better instead of just staying home all day. We're kind of talking to our employees about the idea of it's almost like it's a free WeWork space, like we're going to try to make it a little bit more comfortable, take away some of the density, make it a little bit more fun so that it is that escape for our employees.
What kind of interesting uses are you seeing in terms of how people are thinking about being innovative about the space they have?

Adam: Yeah, I'm really glad you mentioned that. So Richmond has a lot of lines of service. We don't just do brokerage and leasing, we do all kinds of different things. One of them is workplace strategy, trying to help employers understand, “OK, what are we doing post-COVID? Maybe we need to do things differently”. In exactly the way you're describing. Like, there's, I think, a recognition that the office needs to… This is not about cracking the whip on the employees and saying, “get your butts back in your cubes”.
There needs to be a positive reason to go there, like our head of workplace strategy talks about the office as a club. The office is a place where fun things happen and where you want to go because it has more stimulation than your home because you get to meet people you wouldn't otherwise meet because the food is better because something there's some kind of appeal there and it doesn't have to be a… people get hung up on how it's going to cost a lot of money. The employees want catering or something like that. It doesn't even have to be that, but just that there are events, there's interaction with senior leadership, there's the opportunity for mentorship.
And I think, like a lot of organizations, they are having to rethink going back to the office after two years. And it's not as simple as snapping your fingers and saying “everyone get back here”; like there needs to be a pull, not just a push to the office. I haven't seen one single approach, but I think there's a lot of consideration like you're talking of. We need to make the office appealing. As Samantha, who's our head of workplace strategy, likes to say, if you can work anywhere and we've proven you can, why work here? What is the thing that's compelling to you? It's the social aspect. It's the opportunity to advance your career. It's the amenities. It's and that's the challenge, right? These people are going back downtown and discovering there maybe aren't quite the amenities that there were in some ways.
There's the donut shop I like in the path. It is no longer there, so there's going to be some kind of a reconfiguration of that. I am personally, by the way, I personally agree with you. I have been going into the office on and off since July, and now I do think there's a certain value to it just in terms of things that can get stale working at home and there is a need for just some kind of variation in balance.
I don't know. I'm curious about your employees? Like what kind of feedback you're getting or what if there's anything in particular they're asking for?

Ian: You know, it's interesting. We kind of have a little there's a little bit of a mix in a balance. I mean, it depends a little bit on the team and it bends a little bit by person. But generally speaking, those who do come into the office every time I, you know, I talk to them after they've been in the office, they say, I really liked that, like, I really enjoyed it and it really gave me that break. It's been so hard. I've been at home by myself for so long. And just that they really like it.
I mean, I'm not saying that it's going to be, you know, there's a lot of talk about, you know, post-pandemic is going to be like the next 1920s. I'm not saying we're all going to be drinking, you know, cocktails in the office like it's Mad Men or a Great Gatsby party. But I do think there's something to it, and I think it could become maybe the next big perk. You know, there was a time when it was like free snacks was the perk. I think having an office for some companies that decide to ditch the real estate or are missing out on something that could potentially actually end up being a big draw for some employees somewhere to go somewhere to meet my colleagues and somewhere that's a little bit more fun. I think that's a big plus there that not a lot of people are talking about. So, yeah, I'm excited about it.

Adam: I agree. I agree in a professional sense and just personally. It's been interesting to see how much work can be done from home, but I think a lot of people, myself included, have discovered the work from home setup. My house was not designed for me to do my job from home 365 days a year in terms of office space, layout, kids, internet access, you name it, it's been an interesting experiment, but it's just there is a certain pleasure to going in and having a standing desk with double monitors and the docking station and a filing cabinet and all of that that my living room lacks at the moment.

Ian: Yeah, absolutely. So just lastly, I want to touch on some sort of big macroeconomic items and how they relate to real estate because I think real estate is a big part of what all of us are thinking about right now. A lot of us have a ton of our values wrapped up in our homes. You know, we may have second properties. A lot of people may have second properties and they're worried because they don't necessarily understand what the impact of some of these macroeconomic trends will have.
So I think the big one in my mind is inflation. Everyone's talking about a lot of inflation going on, worried about inflation. They're going to have to get it under control. What impact does inflation have on real estate in general?

Adam: Yeah. I mean, inflation is absolutely a huge issue. It's something we discuss every week and it just, you know, it affects everything: food, gasoline, restaurants, pick your thing that you enjoy. I think for us, what we're looking at is inflation really going to change people's investment decisions. It's clearly happening, people have different ways of approaching that, you know, buy bitcoin, buy gold, you know. There's a whole bunch of different approaches, but in a weird way, it can be good for real estate if you do see people looking at, like”hard assets” or investing in a real estate investment trust, something where it's a little bit protected. Your home is a good example. It's probably the only thing that's gone up more than inflation in the last year or two because people are rushing to get into that for some kind of security and for an asset that will appreciate.
And so housing is one area, but, you know, commercial is another and commercial has a lot of variation that we think of it as billion dollar downtown office towers. But, you know, commercial. There has been an active market, people buy and sell gas stations. You know, you can own a commercial property which has a single tenant, which is just a couple of thousand square feet, but it still provides rent so you may be able to resell it in the future. There's, you know, a lot of advantages to that for inflation. I mean, all I can say is that it's very uneven, like it really depends on what you need in your life. I was looking at some data and. It was saying, acquiring the Bank of Canada and Stats Can, housing costs have gone down during the pandemic, which makes no sense, but according to their definition, it was if we're just looking at someone who's owned a home, they have been able to refinance at a lower rate, so their monthly cost is less. So it just kind of depends where you are in the cycle, what you need or, you know. Young families have a very different spending pattern than people reaching retirement.
They need different things. So, you know, some things are up 40% since COVID. We were looking at data that said cooking oil is the number one source of inflation in food. I'm not what I would have guessed, but you know, for some reason, flour is less expensive and cooking oil is more expensive. So it where you are fueling inflation, I think, is very, very uneven right now.

Ian: For sure, and you know, it's interesting because even still, even by historical terms like back in the day, I think it was the seventies in the U.S., inflation was up, I think it was near 20% at 1.4 for a short period of time. Where are we right now in Canada, like somewhere around five or something? It's not like, yeah, it's around five now.

Adam: You can say, maybe you think it's actually more than that, but yeah, it's not 30 or whatever.

Ian: Yeah, it's not like we're what Turkey is dealing with. You know, we're OK. We're. What about the labor market? Wages, unemployment rates? How are those impacted? What do you think of that, that element of the economy?

Adam: Yeah, it's such a hot topic. And, you know, remote work has been so disruptive in that area. There's some good news about the labor market, and this is part of why we're bullish on office, even with all of that negative news is the Canadian labor market has really performed better than the U.S. In the U.S. they're still trying to just kind of get back to where they were before COVID in terms of the number of people employed. We're way beyond that. And the Board of Trade had this stat recently that the biggest growth during the pandemic was in professional jobs. So accounting, legal, engineering that that type of work is actually way ahead of pre-pandemic numbers. Now this is just Toronto, but I think that's probably true of a lot of places. So, you know, those are industries that ultimately probably are going to return to the office are part of the core of like downtown office leasing.
They generally want nice offices if you're a, you know, a law firm or something like that. So I think there's something, we always say, you know, there's that tailwind of even if work from home has happened for years now, that the composition of jobs is moving more and more to what we call office using employment. So that type of things, not services, not food and beverage, not warehouses, so much as like the professional work that's downtown.
So some other day that was looking at said all of the job gains we're seeing are basically in the university educated cohort. So that's another area where that's probably going to feed into office leasing at some point. But don't make me take out the crystal ball and say whether that's in the next three months versus in the next twelve months.
So yeah, the labor market is actually surprisingly good. We do hear a lot about how it's an employees market, how people are switching jobs more than ever.
The one thing I'll say is I think we need to be a little careful transposing the U.S. trends and assuming everything is the same in Canada. I mean, in the U.S., absolutely 100%. There is this huge issue, the great resignation. You know, employees are just not going back to certain jobs. But I don't think it's quite as clear in Canada that that's happening at the same pace.
I am curious what you're seeing like in your world of hiring employees turnover. Is it a new world or is it not noticeably different for you?

Ian: Yeah, yeah. I think along with what you said, I think it's, you know, I've heard lots of different ways of describing it in Canada? Isn't it really the great resignation or is it the great reflection? Is that the great intention, you know, because we haven't necessarily seen it play out in, like you said, university educated, perhaps knowledge worker type level.
Certainly, you're seeing it in generally speaking in the service industry, a lot of those people are leaving their jobs. They've really been given no choice and they're moving on to other things. But yeah, we're not seeing, you know, massive, massive resignations yet, at least in my industry and not from what I've seen in broader trends. So I think it's really good to know that the overall unemployment and labor market statistics, though, are stronger than they are in the U.S. and I think people would be surprised to know that because it's not what you see in the headlines.

Adam: No, I think, yeah, I think people are surprised and I think it's kind of happening under the radar a bit, right? But if you hear about these hiring booms that professional services, law firms, all these sorts of places where, you know, if anything, the pandemic has been very uneven. It's been very cruel to hotels, bars, and restaurants. Obviously we know that without the closures, but it has in some areas, you know, data areas, cloud areas has generated probably more work than there ever was beforehand. Nobody half the world didn't know what GMS teams were before COVID did that we all do, and it's creating a need for support development, all of the things adjacent to that hosting.
The one other thing about the labor market that we're always kind of keeping an eye on is like, especially in Toronto, there isn't going to be a full return to downtown until people start riding the train again.
Like just no doubt about it, there are not enough parking spaces downtown for every single person in the GTA who works downtown to drive down there and park. Not even, you know, 15% of them. So there's going to have to be some kind of moment where people get comfortable getting back on the train or the subway or the streetcar or the bus. And there was just some data from StatCan saying, OK, you know, transit ridership is coming back across the country, but we're still at about half the level of where we were before COVID, so there's a way to go there.
Part of the return to office discussion is just like the logistics of how are people going to get there? People have kind of moved away from transit. I will say personally, I have also, but there has to be a moment where we just go back to riding the subway or the streetcar the way it was before, and we just haven't seen that yet.

Ian: Oh, that's really interesting. So basically, mass transit utilization is like a corollary or a leading indicator of actual return to office rates, which normally we count on surveys for.

Adam: But yeah, it's kind of a bottleneck. It's kind of a bottleneck in terms of. Right now, because downtown is so empty, you know, it's mostly empty and there's room for people to drive downtown or commute however they feel. But if we're talking about a full return one day, it's not going to be possible without reengaging with public transit. Now that's maybe you can say this. That's certainly less true in Calgary and some of these other markets where there's a lot more driving and people aren't as dependent and there isn't a subway system in the same way.
But there really is that that we're going to need to break through that like to keep an eye on indicators aside from just OK, we have our own data. Vacancy rates, rent subletting. There's the kind of more macro level data of what's the unemployment rate, how many immigrants came to Canada.
But then there's a lot of adjacent pieces of information about prices, about commuting, about what's happening in the, you know, debt bond market, borrowing that that we all have to we have to balance the value of all those different kinds of information.

Ian: Very, very interesting. OK, so we've talked about a couple of things that inflation, yes, inflation is an issue. It's around 5%, but it actually ends up potentially assisting hard asset classes like real estate. You know, the labor market is not as bad as it is in the U.S. Surprisingly, actually, we're seeing OK, labor labor rates in Canada. Let's talk about the part that potentially is less rosy because economic growth forecasts that I've seen aren't really fantastic for Canada. What kind of thing are you looking at?

Adam: Yeah, that's certainly the case we were discussing. The OECD put out their forecasts and these are very long term forecasts.
You know, I don't put much stock in the what's the world going to be like in 2060 type forecasts, but they lined up all the OECD countries and that's, you know, everything from Turkey to Chile to Japan. And they said Canada is forecast to have the worst economic growth this decade and next decade.
I believe I saw something on social media or something and said, if you lived in Durham region, for people outside Toronto, that's sort of like the eastern suburbs of Toronto, your house made $5,000 a week tax free during the pandemic, or maybe it was 5000 a month, anyway, I think it was 5000 a week. That's pretty at it at that point. It beats any professional job in the world, so people see this as sort of. As growth, there is a big component of the economy, but it's also kind of a drag on growth.
We're seeing it in the demographic side of people being forced to leave the city because of prices, because of the lack of affordable housing. And then there's just the question of like. Does it maybe disincentivize people from starting a business, getting a professional education when so many of the gains are concentrated in housing specifically. I try not to even say real estate, people think real estate, you know, real estate is very multifaceted and there's always areas that are going up and going down. Retail real estate right now is, you know, obviously having it was having some obstacles before COVID. But COVID now has made it so difficult with store closures and then with e-commerce being sort of super powered by the whole thing, so I tried to not say real estate is where all the gains are because really housing is an outlier even within real estate. There's a lot of up and down and real estate office and retail and hotels and a lot of asset classes that are actually having some difficulty during COVID.

Ian: Yeah, I mean, we could probably have a whole other conversation we want right now, but we can probably have a whole other conversation about that, I think. I think what you know, what you're saying is, look. High interest rates. A lot of people are looking at real estate as a protection against that. Like, you know, a more secure gold, something with actual real value versus versus gold. We could argue that or not. But if we're talking about the longer term trends we need to diversify, we need to focus on innovation because the long term outlook right now for Canada is not so rosy because we really do need to do that kind of diversification on where our economic growth is coming from and we need to invest in innovation. These are all big long term trends that we've all known about. And just hopefully we kind of, as a country, kind of get our act together on some of those things. And as we get out of the pandemic, hopefully that just kind of adds some of that impetus. But again, generally speaking, the total macro economic trends inflation, you know, is not it's not great. 5% around 5% is not fantastic, but it's not going to necessarily hurt your home value labor markets. Not bad long term growth not looking so rosy right now, but kind of. Let's not take too much stock in that at the moment. Is that a good summation, you think?

Adam: Yeah. And also, the future is not baked in. I mean, there are things we can do to change it. Yeah. one thing that I was reading about was. If there were a national child care policy, which it looks like, perhaps there will be, maybe that alters the labor market or people's work, there's a bunch of secondary effects that we can't necessarily always anticipate, so policies can change and you know, they are still pretty solid demographics in Canada, you know, it's a young population, there's high levels of immigration, and immigrants are generally coming. The most common form of immigration is people who are coming in the economic immigrant category, they have education there, they're, you know, kind of on track for professional work, so there's plenty of evidence that there are some tailwinds and that this can get better. I think it's fair to say most people would agree. There's a bit of an overreliance on the sort of residential component and some of the things that go along with that, if there needs to be more of a focus on, you know, incentivizing business investment or science and technology. So I don't think that's too controversial, I just always like to say, you know, these forecasts are going ten, 20 years out in the future. All right. I bet if we look back at the last 20 year forecast, you probably would be too.

Ian: Yeah, I can't predict what I'm going to do next week, let alone next year.

Adam: So yeah, there's a little hubris in terms of making those. There's really long term forecasts and it's just, you know, it's so difficult right now because so much of it is just dependent on COVID. How many COVID restrictions there are. There was certainly a lot of momentum up until maybe, you know, a month or two ago where it was starting to seem like, OK, there is. We have a vendor who provides us like, what's the occupancy level of downtown Toronto. You know, they've been going up every single week since May, and now it's right back down to where it was before. So it's just very difficult to predict right now just because so many of the answers are… It just depends on restrictions and, you know, whether government policy is going to continue with lockdown and that's not a very satisfactory answer, but that really is like the number one thing that everybody is looking at, unfortunately.

Ian: Well, Adam, thanks so much for joining us. It's really great to be able to talk to an expert on a lot of these topics because you see headlines. It's hard to put it together. It's hard to understand what it means to me, what it means for my home, the value of my home. What's it going to mean for, you know, my lease, all those things. And I think you've done a really good job of covering a lot of big topics and how they all interplay and how they relate back to those, you know, those important topics for individuals. So I really appreciate your time.
If people wanted to learn more about you or to read any of the research that Cushman & Wakefield is sharing, where are some resources that they could look to?

Adam: Oh, great question. So you can find me on LinkedIn. If you look for Adam Jacobs, I am not a big Facebook or Twitter user. I pretty much stick to LinkedIn. In terms of Cushman Cushman Wakefield dot com, where they now it's a global company, so it may go to the U.S. site. There's a Canada side and we have a section called Insights with all of our research on the office market, the investment market, interest rates, warehouses, you name it. So yeah, we have a lot of material available. It's it's it's all for free. It's not a paywall. You don't need to give your email or anything to receive it. It's just it's out there as part of our offering.
And Ian, I really appreciate that I wanted to close on a positive note. I always like to emphasize this, but like. Yes, downtowns are empty, we don't necessarily know if everyone's going to go back the way they did before, but even if they don't, creative things are going to happen like we're starting to see people considering what else they could do with downtown.
Could it become housing? Could it become short term rentals? Could it become hotels? Could we have vertical farms in downtown buildings that aren't attractive anymore? Like, I think, I think we're all hoping that things return to normal.
But even if they don't, I think there's a lot of room for creativity. I think there's an opportunity to reimagine what downtown is, what the purpose of these buildings are, what the value of it is. So even if it's a grim time right now for us in our industry there, there is something interesting happening. I'm fairly sure.

Ian: Love it. Love that optimistic note. Thanks so much for your time, Adam. Have a great day.

Adam: Thank you. Talk to you soon.

Ian: Thanks for joining us for this week's episode of Dig In. If you want more information about Dig Insights or Upsiide, please check us out on LinkedIn or on our websites, diginsights.com or upsiide.com. If you have any ideas for future episodes or would like to be a guest, please feel free to direct message me through the LinkedIn app.