Nate Johnson was eagerly working on his first international transaction. While attending an international real estate conference in 2019, Johnson had connected with a German investor. He saw an opportunity to bring the investor into St. Louis, so he returned home and got to work on a proposal.
Unfortunately, the emergence of COVID-19 scuttled the investor’s plans, says Johnson, CIPS, broker-owner of Real Estate Solutions, a commercial and residential brokerage in St. Louis. But that hasn’t dampened Johnson’s spirit. He made other connections at the conference, known as MIPIM, and says he’ll attend again in the future.
Commercial brokers from Miami to San Diego recently took advantage of NAR’s return, after a two-year pandemic hiatus, to the MIPIM international property event. This year’s event was March 15–18.
“I’m anxious to get back to face-to-face business,” said Michael Hinton, CCIM, C2EX, in the weeks leading up to the event. “We embraced meeting technology the past couple of years, but it can’t replace the experience of meeting someone in person to build a business relationship,” says Hinton, senior associate with Apex Capital Realty in Miami.
MIPIM is held annually in Cannes, France, attracting 25,000 investors, developers, corporate end users, and other commercial real estate stakeholders. NAR hosts the U.S. Pavilion, which provides participating sponsors and partners with an international stage to promote their market as a destination for global capital. The pavilion also serves as a kind of home base to REALTORS® who attend the conference to network and promote projects. In 2019, the last pre-pandemic MIPIM, 24% of the 25,000 attendees represented investment companies—including 80 of the top 100 real estate investors, representing $3 trillion in assets under management.
Tim Weisheyer, CIPS, C2EX, principal broker for dbrCommercial Real Estate Services in Celebration, Fla., attended his first MIPIM this year. “People call me from all over the world looking for land and development opportunities in the Orlando area,” says Weisheyer. “MIPIM gave me the chance to connect with those looking to invest in one of the country’s fastest-growing regions and introduce them to my listings.”
Business development at MIPIM is typically a multiyear process. Johnson first attended MIPIM as part of the Missouri REALTORS® leadership team. “By my second visit, I was better prepared to connect with investors and developers that could be beneficial to my business,” he says. “We didn’t have active listings that we thought would align with investor interests, so my partner and I put together a prospectus of the type of opportunities that painted a picture of what’s possible in our market.”
The strategy worked. Johnson connected with the German investor, who was interested in urban neighborhood investment opportunities. “I came home and pulled together enough parcels to create the scale the developer wanted and to make the numbers work,” says Johnson. “We discussed plans for the investor to come to St. Louis, but COVID changed everything. I hope to reignite the conversation, and I have other leads still hanging out there. The global connections made at MIPIM are mind-blowing.”
Johnson’s strategy is evolving. He plans to partner with large firms in the St. Louis market for his next trip to create the desired business outcomes.
Weisheyer took a similar approach to prepare for MIPIM. “I surveyed central Florida projects for large tracts of land and opportunities for mixed-use development and compiled a couple of dozen potential projects.” Weisheyer relies on a team of experts from various disciplines to differentiate himself. “My team includes a J.D. in immigration law who advises on immigration and visas, an engineer who understands what will be required to develop a property, and an MBA in finance who can work the numbers.”