More than 20,000 real estate developers, investors and financial institutions, convened at the world’s premier property market, MIPIM, this week. A critical issue this year was how Brexit and changing world politics will impact on the real estate industry.

Underlining the importance of inbound investment in the British real estate sector and property’s role within the UK economy, Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her support for the British delegation at MIPIM.

The Prime Minister noted: “As we leave the European Union, I am determined that we will seize the opportunity to forge a bold new role for a Global Britain as the most outward-looking, free trading nation in the world.”

The major event demonstrated that the UK is open for business, as a key player in international markets and more committed than ever to creating the most business friendly environment possible. The Prime Minister added: “And by attracting investors to the whole of the UK’s real estate market, we will in turn drive jobs and growth across our whole economy, helping to build the homes that Britain needs and regenerating towns and cities in every region of the UK.”

This sentiment was reflected in the largest ever UK presence at MIPIM with 960 UK exhibiting companies and cities (+24% on 2016) and over 5,600 attendees. For the first time in the history of MIPIM, the British Government hosted its own pavilion to raise awareness of its ‘Invest in Great’ campaign to promote international investment in the UK and promote the services and expertise of British firms working in the property and construction sector.

A total of three government ministers attended the event, including Gavin Barwell, Minister for Housing, Planning and London, Mark Garnier, International Trade Minister and Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury.

Gavin Barwell said that a chronic under-supply in UK housing represents a significant opportunity for overseas institutions and funds seeking to invest in Britain. He said: “There’s huge potential to bring in investment from outside the UK. There is real demand for housing all over the country and for institutions there are investment opportunities. There’s a clear commitment from government, backed up by increased spending. We have a clear ambition to increase the supply.”

Commenting on the recently issued housing white paper, Barwell said that the government was being frank that there was “no silver bullet” to solve the housing undersupply problem, and no single cause to it.

“Governments of all colours over the past 30 years have not done enough,” he said. “There are different parts of the country where we haven’t been releasing enough land. There’s also an issue over the speed of construction. We want to cut the gap between getting planning permission and getting houses built.”

Data released by cushman & Wakefield identified the UK as the third most popular target for investors following the US and China and much of the talk at MIPIM was focussed on where the UK property market will be heading in post-Brexit Britain. In addition, CBRE announced that London has been ranked as the most attractive European City for real estate investment for the sixth consecutive year based on CBRE’s annual Investment Intentions Survey.

Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor of London predicted that the UK capital will continue to attract major investment. Referring to Brexit, Pipe said: “Whatever happens, London will come through this.” The Deputy Mayor predicted that if real estate investors seek alternative destinations to London, they are likely to look at New York, Singapore or Hong Kong rather than European capitals.

Manchester’s outgoing Chief Executive, Sir Howard Bernstein, said that at a time of uncertainty it was more important than ever for Manchester to promote the fact that it is open for business. He also stated that once it leaves the EU, the UK should expect to do more business with Far Eastern markets, which “tend to look at things on more of a long term basis.”

Mark Garnier, Britain’s International Trade Minister, commented, “The UK is open for business – and staging the first UK government pavilion at MIPIM brings our businesses and opportunities to thousands of investors from some 100 countries. It’s been a packed programme over four days and I was delighted at the launch of a £7 billion portfolio of exciting investment projects across the Midlands Engine to a global audience.”