Wednesday 8th December 2021

Real estate as part of the bigger picture

Hear from Mary Finnigan, Transaction Director, Civitas Investment Management on real estate as part of the bigger picture...

Real estate as part of the bigger picture

By Mary Finnigan, Transaction Director, Civitas Investment Management.

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in the beautiful city of Liverpool, a city known for its fantastic waterfront buildings, the 3 Graces: the Liver Building with its famous birds keeping watch over the ships as they leave the docks, the imposing Cunard Building and the grand Port of Liverpool Building. 

As a child and now with my own children, we spend our summer holidays in Ireland and as the return ferry winds down the River Mersey, the sight of the 3 Graces is always an emotive one: to me, these buildings represent the hustle and bustle, the character and enterprise of my home city. The buildings are of themselves, of course, beautiful buildings. But what is more important to me is what it is they represent, what it is that is happening in and around the physical spaces. The buildings do not exist in a void.

This notion of real estate as part of the bigger picture of a social and economic environment is one that has also been important to me in my professional life. Having spent 5 years running transactions at WeWork, the co-working office provider, the value in the connections made and the community created within the physical building was very clear. A large part of the value for the end user of the space was in the building as a facilitator of experiences and in the network that enabled the businesses that worked there to recruit and retain a productive workforce. 

Now running transactions at Civitas, the largest owner of specialist community-based properties for adults of working age in the UK, I can see again just how important the experience of care and support provided within the physical space is to the occupiers of our homes. Our buildings house over 7,000 service users throughout the country and yesterday I had the great pleasure of meeting some of our occupiers when attending the book launch of “A Place For Me.”  The book tells the stories of 50 people living in Civitas homes , their challenges, their search for greater independence and the opportunity that comes from living in what we hope will be a home for life based in the community. 

The occupiers who attended the book launch spoke of just how transformative their moves into specialist supported housing had been in their lives, how they had become more self-sufficient, how they now had the ability to make their own decisions over food and clothing and often formed close bonds with their support workers. When we buy properties at Civitas, we are aware of our responsibility to our occupiers in that we are providing them with a home for life, as one lady put it “a place for me.” For us at Civitas, it is just as important on a property purchase to ensure that our properties provide that feeling of home to the people who live in them as it is to undertake surveys, due diligence and to negotiate legal documents. The real estate is of course key but just as important is the care and connections that are taking place in the property. As one of the authors of the books writes: “Home is where people feel understood and accepted.”

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