Earlier this month, on Wednesday, March 8 -- International Women’s Day -- three of Toronto’s most influential women in real estate shared the stage for a pertinent discussion on the ever-dramatic real estate market. 

Hosted by the NAIOP Greater Toronto Chapter and led by Megan Pfrimmer, Principal Real Estate at Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), the event provided thought-provoking insights on local and international market trends, investment strategy, and the current state of the market from distinguished real estate leaders Nathalie Palladitcheff, President & CEO of Ivanhoé Cambridge, and Cecilia Williams, EVP & CFO of Allied REIT (soon to be President and CEO).

Ivanhoé Cambridge and Hines hosted the event at CIBC SQUARE’s luxe new tenant lounge, The Canopy. The recently constructed high-end lounge is accessible exclusively to tenants of CIBC SQUARE and was curated to not only support the newfound hybrid reality of office work, but to elevate it. 

The engaging discussion involved everything from market trends and sustainability, to the nature of the urban office.  

NAIOPImage: Manning Avenue via NAIOP

“There’s nothing easy, anywhere in the globe,” said Palladitcheff of international markets.

“We used to have one portfolio with one big solution and now we need to have bespoke solutions for each property that we own.” She added that Singapore is the place to be right now, “there’s a lot of talent and money there.”

“Everywhere else is complicated. Europe is resilient despite what you hear. You still find financing -- which is impossible here in North America -- and transactions happening with the exception of the UK.” Palladitcheff also highlighted India, Brazil, and Mexico as being interesting. “The US is the most liquid, flexible, and structured market and it’s going to be that way forever,” she noted. “With everything happening in the world, it will be the big winner.”

And while she is a believer in Canada, Palladitcheff did joke that she doesn’t want to advertise our country because there’s a lot of foreign capital to compete with. “I’m a migrant myself, so I am a huge supporter of immigration, we’ll keep that secret for ourselves,” she laughs. 

When it comes to Canada, Williams highlights that Allied Properties REIT helps employers attract and retain talent through thoughtfully-designed urban workspaces. “I believe in the future of urban workspace because I believe in the future of Canada’s cities,” says Williams. “Cities are the engine of the country. It’s where the immigrants go, which helps to feed that engine.” She highlights Canada's record-breaking immigration figures and targets. 

“I’m thrilled with immigration targets,” says Williams. “In places with good education institutions and jobs, Canada has gotten more than its fair share of global talent. Now, we are also a draw when it comes to food, energy, and climate security. Canada offers that in spades. I’m confident our governments will figure out the housing situation to accommodate this influx.” 

NAIOPImage: Manning Avenue via NAIOP

Naturally, the conversation turned to sustainability, something that’s moved from a nice idea to a strong demand. “To be profitable, you have to be sustainable,” says Palladitcheff. “As investors we are managing risk. We don’t just do return. So, you have to think about what will happen in your buildings five and ten years from now value-wise. Our job is to provide the best risk return at any moment in the cycle.”

Sustainability is also playing a role at Allied Properties REIT. “From the start, it’s been about repurposing space for us,” says Williams. “We also started earnestly reporting our ESG and exposing ourselves to third-party scrutiny. There’s more of a demand from stakeholders.”