An HPP chitchat: Michon van der Salm & Sebastiaan de Wilde

  HPP-IREIN & Finance


[Lees in Nederlands]

Investors, (station) developers, aldermen, architects and other decision-makers from the real estate sector… all with a heart for real estate and an even greater passion for bicycles. Last year during HPBike 2021, we invited six of our cyclists to our orange seat for an HPP chitchat. What challenges do they see in the sector? What would they do if they were ministers for one day? And how could they strengthen each other?

Read the interview between decision-makers Michon van der Salm (CEO, Whitewood) & Sebastiaan de Wilde (Director of Property, NS Stations) below.

Watch the entire video here

What did you think of cycling today?
S: I found it far away, but very enjoyable. And very well organised. I feel like a professional cyclist. Your bike is just about to be handled and polished. If you want a bitterball (Dutch snack), it’s right in front of you. Really great fun. Are you a bit of a fanatic cyclist?
M: I was, but I haven’t been for 1.5 years now. So in the end I was a bit sour.
S: Cheers to meeting you!

You are the Minister of Real Estate for one day, what would you do immediately?
S: I would immediately call the Minister of Infrastructure, because I really believe that we have to combine the budgets for spatial planning.
M: What would be the advantage of that?
S: Then we could make integrated projects. I now see too often in projects that real estate is taken care of and infra is not, or the other way around. I would immediately make a point of integrated spatial planning in the Netherlands.

Sebastiaan: “Too often, I see projects in which real estate has been taken care of and infra has not, or vice versa. I would immediately make a point of introducing integrated spatial planning in the Netherlands.”

Can you together think of a challenge for future decision-makers in the real estate sector?
M: I think we need to think much more holistically. Whether you’re from a housing corporation, property developer or municipality. How can we unite the interests more?
S: Perhaps as an extension of that, we should make public choices and accountability a permanent part of the business model. It should no longer be accepted to just collect money and disappear again. I would like new decision-makers to think about their role.
M: Yes, that role is changing too. The wishes are becoming stronger and the information flows are becoming more transparent.
S: At NS we work in a glass office. It’s nice to see that more and more private companies are also getting a glass office. You are no longer doing business anonymously.
M: Yes, you don’t want that. You want to create involvement and if you do that well, it can be very collaborative.
S: Yes, then you can work responsibly and still be proud after the deal.

What did you notice during Corona in the real estate sector?
S: That things simply keep on moving. With every serious economic crisis, you expect real estate to be involved. So many companies are on the verge of collapse and so many people are really struggling, and still, you have a 20% increase in house prices. That fascinates me.
M: I find that inexplicable. A small explanation might be that there is a kind of explosion now because during the financial crisis we locked everything up.
M: I am afraid that another bubble will burst.

Michon: “In my opinion, we should bring the social and economic together much more. So think about the question Who are we doing this for?”

If you wanted to change three things in the sector, what would they be?
M: One thing that is very important, and we certainly do that at Whitewood, is to think about the question Who are we doing this for?. Fortunately, I see that change being implemented in many companies. In my opinion, we should bring the social and economic together much more. How we do that is complex, but that does not mean it cannot be done. Another important point, I think, is our impact on the planet. How critical are we about that? Aren’t we just justifying it from a marketing point of view?
S: Greenwashing!
M: Yes, exactly. Or are we really working on our sustainability goals? Sometimes I have the idea that we are not really working on it. If we want to make real estate more sustainable, we have to make more rigorous choices now. For example, a law in the short term that prescribes certain things. An important part of this, and this is perhaps point 3, is that the supply sector must really start to turn around. They actually need to be triggered by us, by the real estate sector saying I’m not going to buy from you if it’s not circular or local.

How could you strengthen each other?
M: I think we are going to meet each other business-wise on a number of fronts. That would be a good time to see if what we have discussed works.
S: Yes, I am very curious to see how we can strengthen each other in the sector.
S: Nice! I like to get to know


A moment of connection between two new faces in the HPP Community. Curious about the other decision-makers in the HPP community? Read the article by Annemarie Leeuwen (Senior Director, Deutsche Hypo NORD/LB Real Estate Finance) & Hein van der Meer (Partner, CMS Netherlands).

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