With a background in Aerospace Engineering, Basil Demeroutis has ‘always been exceptionally curious about how things work — I love to take things apart and see if I can make them better.’ It is this that drew him to real estate investment. A romantic despite his technical background, Demeroutis talks about enjoying his job ‘not just in terms of bricks and mortar — the heart always races as you enter a building for the first time — but also in changing the way private capital accesses investments.’ His firm is finding new ways for a select handful of private families to co-invest in sustainable real estate projects. Originally started five years ago representing the family office of an eBay cofounder, the firm has grown to 12-15 clients whose assets range from tens of millions to the low billions, and offers what Demeroutis calls ‘a boutique, white-glove service’. His service revolves around finding (and in some cases, helping to create) investments which closely align with the needs and values of these families. FORE Partnership is built around answering one question private families face when looking at investing in real estate: ‘If I buy a building today, will it be obsolete in five or ten years’ time?’ Understanding and investing in sustainable projects, Demeroutis argues, is the best way to mitigate long-term risk. FORE Partnership’s vision ‘is for a world in which real estate is a carbon-neutral contributor to the environment and a force for good in society.’ There is increasing demand for this outlook, as ‘private capital families are trying to align their investments more and more with their core values. Families do a lot philanthropically, but increasingly are saying “why am I doing all this great stuff with my philanthropic dollars and yet 95% of my capital is just being invested normally. Why can’t it too make a difference?”’
It is this sort of thinking that has led to a dramatic inflow of capital to their platform over the past year, bringing 4 or 5 new families into the fold. Demeroutis looks at all aspects of urban sustainability: he says ‘we’re going into buildings and reducing the carbon footprint, saving costs, focusing on health and wellness, and social impact strategies. At the end of the day, we think this will make more money for our investors.’ One success story has been the Geisberg-Berlin residential complex. 95% of the flats there have sold a year before construction completed, and they’ve just been given a Gold Award by the DGNB, a first for a historically listed landmark building in Germany.