A “post-crisis renewal” is under way in the office market as occupiers look for “more flexible, more hybrid, more efficient and less carbon-intensive space”, writes Colliers International.
This “renewal” is keeping Tanya Cravero, associate director of tenant representation at Colliers International in Paris, busy as occupiers look to rethink and reorganise their workspace needs.
Earlier this year, Cravero, as a rising star in the world of real estate, interviewed Mark Dixon, CEO & Founder of workspace provider IWG for the MIPIM Leaders’ Perspectives Summit.
Now, with the tables turned, MIPIM World talked with Cravero about her career to date, and the big transformation that she would like to see in the world of real estate as the industry enters a ‘new world, new era’, the conference theme for MIPIM 2021.
From San Diego to Paris
Even when Cravero started out in real estate in her home city of San Diego, California – first in residential, and then in commercial property management at investment firm SENTRE – she had at the back of her mind a lifelong dream of moving to France.
In 2011, at a crossroads in her professional journey, she considered switching careers to become a sommelier, having gained a Level 3 Award in Wines from the London-based WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust).
But then came her big professional break, when she had the opportunity to work with the company president at SENTRE to diversify the portfolio into multi-family. “That was my transition into asset management,” recalls Tanya.
After building a successful team of 12 professionals, Cravero moved back into commercial real estate as asset manager for family office Paragon Real Estate Investments, before finally deciding to make the big leap to Paris in 2019.
Bringing an international vision to tenant rep in Paris
“The biggest challenge was getting up to speed on a professional level with real estate in France,” Cravero recalls about arriving in Paris.
As a first step, Cravero enrolled for a Master’s in real estate finance at the Ecole Supérieure des Professions Immobilières (ESPI) in order to get a better understanding and grasp of the differences between the US and French systems.
“The biggest challenge was getting up to speed on a professional level with real estate in France” – Tanya Cravero, Colliers International
As part of the Master’s programme, she worked part-time as an asset manager at a French investment firm. Then, on completion of her studies, she started as associate director at Colliers International, moving to tenant representation. “This gave me the opportunity to understand the perspective of the occupier as well as the investor.”
Handling expectations in a changing workplace
In her current role, she works mainly in the Paris region as well as other key locations across the rest of France.
“My dual background helps me see the world in different ways,” Cravero explains. “We have a lot of international clients, and it’s much easier for me to explain the market and the process to them. I’m able to translate real estate concepts as well as documents and communications, providing them with the context they need to make a decision.”
A big part of her role is to ensure that “everyone’s expectations are on the same page”. This is proving a particularly “fun challenge” in the current market, given the uncertainty as to the future direction of the workplace, where “the dust is yet to settle”, she says.
“Occupiers are thinking through things once, twice, three times, before making a decision” – Tanya Cravero
What is certain is that occupier clients are rethinking their space: more meeting rooms; more break-out areas; more modular walls for flexibility; and a greater emphasis on natural light, design and landscaping. “Occupiers are looking for originality in their space as well as for mental health and wellbeing,” she says.
Another common thread is the length of time taken to make workplace decisions. “There is so much uncertainty so decisions are taking much longer,” she explains. “Occupiers are thinking through things once, twice, three times, before making a decision.”
A call for more data transparency
Her call for greater transparency in market data and information sharing in the French market compares with the US, where data is easily accessible. “I would love to see the same information sharing, openness and collaboration between real estate professionals in Europe,” she says.
Cravero sees hurdles in three areas: technology, operational structure and culture. With regards to technology, Cravero believes now could be an opportune moment to make some strides, given the greater acceptance of digitalisation during the pandemic. She recalls her experience of arriving in Paris in 2019 to find that many leases were not available digitally.
“In the US, you have one broker for each commercial real estate space or project, whereas in Europe, there could be two, three, four different brokerage companies” – Tanya Cravero
Talking about the operational differences, she continues: “In the US, you have one broker for each commercial real estate space or project, whereas in Europe, there could be two, three, four different brokerage companies. This creates competition between brokers and the guarding of market data like ‘trade secrets’.”
When it comes to cultural differences, Cravero explains: “In the US, when people do a deal they’re proud of it, and they’re happy to share the price they got, or the rent achieved,” explains Cravero. “In France, there is a feeling that you have to be discrete.”
Transparency leads to efficiency + flexibility
“When you have a full picture of the market, it creates a lot more efficiency and flexibility for occupiers, investors, owners and brokers,” says Cravero. Time is saved from not having to chase up much-needed information.
“When you have a full picture of the market, this creates a lot more efficiency and flexibility” – Tanya Cravero
“An open platform with shared information allows service providers to focus on offering a real value add rather than just providing exclusive access to data. That’s a win for everyone,” says Cravero.
“You can’t provide a good analysis if you don’t have good data. It’s challenging in the capital city, and extremely difficult in other areas of France, especially if you aren’t part of a big group like Colliers.
The attraction of France
Has her experience of living and working in France matched the expectations of her lifelong dream?
“Moving to Paris has opened my eyes to so many new things,” says Cravero. “It’s of course been satisfying on a personal level, but also enriching on a professional level.”
She has also enjoyed discovering the Paris market. “I’ve gotten to tour some of the most top quality renovation projects in Paris, in the most prime locations and with stunning architecture and design.”
“There’s a beauty and quality that runs through everything the French do; and a cultural richness, whether in gastronomy, architecture, design, fashion, as well as in literature and philosophy” – Tanya Cravero
She adds: “There’s a beauty and quality that runs through everything the French do; and a cultural richness, whether in gastronomy, architecture, design, fashion, as well as in literature and philosophy.”
For a professional wine taster, Paris is also a good place to be.