ULI global CEO Ed Walter welcomed attendees to the 2022 ULI Spring Meeting in San Diego with the debut of a new mission tagline: “Where the Future Is Built.” Walter and ULI global chair Peter Ballon then discussed in a fireside chat how ULI has fared through the past year of the pandemic.

ULI now has more than 46,000 members worldwide, Walter said, which is more than it had at the end of fiscal year 2019. Both the reserves and endowment are also larger, and attendance of the San Diego exceeded 4,000 people, which is back to pre-pandemic levels.

“We’ve raised more than $29 million in the last year,” said Walter. This included $10 million from trustee Randal Lewis, the largest gift in ULI’s history, plus a combined $17 million gift from former ULI leaders, including Thomas W. Toomey, CEO of UDR; James D. Klingbeil, founder and CEO emeritus of Klingbeil Capital Management; and Doug Abbey, chairman of Swift Real Estate Partners.

“A lot of what ULI of is about is connecting in person, so we lost that over the last two years,” said Ballon. “But ULI’s mission has become more relevant as the time has passed by.”

As global head of real estate for CPP (Canada Pension Plan) Investments, Ballon addressed what he sees in the broader global real estate industry, saying his organization sees four levers it can pull in terms of performance: country selection, sector selection, individual asset selection, and time. Ballon said his organization counts on its local teams to tell it when to lean in and when to pull back in a market.

“We did a study where seven out of 10 years, country selection was the most important factor to investing success,” Ballon said. “Three out of 10 years, it was sector selection. . . . But trends don’t last forever. We anticipate trends between sectors moderating, so countries may return as the primary factor in the coming years.”