Megatrends and game-changers

Megatrends: Society and politics

Technological innovations have a major impact on society and the real estate market is no exception. Buildings and their environment are becoming more and more connected: smart cities, smart buildings and smart desks. Social and political trends, ranging from the energy transition to an ageing population and urbanisation, are helping the world to change rapidly. The main megatrends and technological game-changers are discussed below.


The world population is growing and there will be ever-larger urban areas and mega cities in the coming decades. Investments usually go to these areas, which have large sales markets and opportunities for growth. The TristateCity concept demonstrates that the Netherlands can also function as a large, green metropolis. But we must capitalise on the opportunities arising from this.

Globalisation and Deglobalisation

Globalisation has taken a different turn with Brexit and the election of President Trump in the United States. But there continues to be extensive cross-border cooperation. There is, however, a looming threat of a new form of protectionism. It will primarily impact our international sales market. This makes it even more important to strengthen cooperation within continental Europe.


The Paris Agreement requires a rigorous change in how we think about energy. This energy transition is prompting a huge wave of investments in energy-efficient buildings as a result of new and announced legislation. This must lead to an energy-neutral real estate stock by 2050. The introduction of a mandatory energy performance label C for offices in 2023 marks a first step towards achieving this.

Raw materials

Raw materials are becoming increasingly scarcer, which is causing reuse to become progressively more important. This is creating outstanding opportunities for circular business models, particularly for construction and real estate. An excellent example is Rabobank's office building in Eindhoven. It is being demolished and redeveloped, whereby approximately 95% of the former materials will be reused. It will also become more important in the future to know exactly which materials were used to construct a building and the extent to which they can be reused.

Demographic ageing

Parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, are facing demographic ageing and/or depopulation. In combination with urbanisation, this is leading to growing differences in the potential of real estate investments. This is not to say there are by definition no opportunities in the regions with ageing populations, but does mean there will be a shift in the real estate segmentation. The opportunities lie in recognising the new demand for real estate and anticipating it through transformation. But it is also important in some cases to realise that there are decreasing prospects and that the viability of some real estate functions will consequently be eroded or even eliminated altogether.

Game-changers: Technology

IoT and Big Data

Organisations collect and process data on an increasingly larger scale. In combination with the Internet of Things (IoT) (the linking of devices and buildings), this opens up a range of new possibilities for the years ahead. And this includes opportunities for the construction and real estate sector. A well-known example of this in the Netherlands is The Edge in Amsterdam.

Lees meer over de visie van de Rabobank op deze megatrends

Robotics and 3D production

Robots and production innovations are causing both the approach to and the location of production processes to change. This has the following implications for the real estate market: different demands for buildings, shifting location preferences and innovative construction processes.  

Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI)

The impact of virtual and augmented reality on the real estate sector could be massive. The physical and digital environment will increasingly overlap. This will mean we will no longer necessarily have to be at a certain place or that locations will conversely offer us surprising new possibilities.


Blockchain is sometimes also called the ‘next big thing'. Data is recorded in a virtual ledger. This makes it possible for processes and transactions to be carried out with greater speed, security and reliability. There are also applications for the real estate sector. Examples include Pay-per-Use solutions, recording lease contracts and properties and recording all the building data in a digital building passport.

Watch how Pay-per-Use works in practice on


The security of data exchange is crucial in a world that is digitalising at an ever faster pace. The software solution for this is called an Application Programming Interface (API). API is actually a kind of lego block that ensures a certain part of the data-exchange between computer programs is carried out properly and securely. Substantial amounts are now being invested in APIs.