17 Commercial Real Estate Conferences You Can Still Attend in 2021

January 27, 2021

2020 threw a huge curveball at the commercial real estate conference circuit. CRE event organizers have rebounded in 2021, either taking their programs online or moving them later in the year.

That’s great news for brokers and investors. Conferences are where we build our networks, learn about trends that guide investments, and get exposed to the technologies that are redefining our roles. If you want to ride the huge wave of changes happening in our industry without getting swept up by it, then conferences are a must.

There are hundreds of conferences in the greater real estate sphere. We’ve sifted through them to find 17 that offer programs specific to CRE investors and brokers. Then we organized them by date, where possible, so you can get them on your calendar ASAP.

1. National Tech in Commercial Real Estate Virtual Summit

brochure for national tech in commercial real estate virtual summit
Source: National Tech in Commercial Real Estate Virtual Summit

When: April 7

Where: Virtual - Registration information

About: From Zoom calls to 3D virtual property walk-throughs, a whole new set of tech tools have become part of commercial real estate’s standard operations. This 100% free and virtual summit is focused on predicting which next set of CRE challenges will be tackled by technology. There are four presentations scheduled, covering cybersecurity, tenant expectations, smart buildings, and using data. Investors will come away with a new list of tools to run their business, and brokers will gain a new appreciation for what features CRE buyers will be looking for in their next investment property.

2. Global Institutional Real Estate Investor Forum

mixer of men and women in business clothes eating appetizers at global institute for real estate investor forum
Source: DLP Capital Partners

When: April 20

Where: New York, NY - Registration information

About: Held at the New York Athletic Club, the 2021 Global Institutional Real Estate Investor Forum is where limited partnership investors and fund managers discuss due diligence and investment opportunities. This year’s lineup of speakers includes Mark Teixeira, 14-year Major League Baseball veteran and founder of real estate development company Urban Creek Partners. This is one of the most exclusive events on our list, but if you’re a serious investor, it’s one to keep on your radar.

3. Realtors Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo

woman on stage at REALTORS legislative meeting giving a presentation
Source: NAR

When: May 3 - 14

Where: Virtual - Registration information

About: The “new normal” that emerged in 2020 is influencing legislation for the real estate industry. It’s likely to affect everything, from parking lot requirements to air quality standards. The REALTORS Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo is a chance for you to learn where these new rules are headed and find out what’s being discussed by fellow real estate pros. The event will be virtual and free for NAR members for the second year in a row. And that may not be a bad thing. Attendance tripled last year (from 9,000 to 28,000) for the first online version of the Meetings.

4. Crittenden Multifamily Conference

pannel of men and women presenting on stage at crittenden multifamily conference
Source: Donaldson Management Co.

When: May 17 - 19

Where: Dallas, TX - Registration information

About: The Crittenden Multifamily Conference is an education-heavy event with more than 14 educational sessions, all focused on multi-family real estate topics. Investors will find useful trend analysis and an opportunity to network with developers and builders. The event is still scheduled as of now; however, other Crittenden events have been postponed until 2022.

5. NAIOP National Forums Symposium

conference room of people in business attire at NAIOP National Forum
Source: NAIOP National Forum

When: May 19 - 21

Where: Chicago, IL - Registration information

About: The NAIOP’s National Forums is less conference and more an exclusive club of experienced CRE pros who gather once a year to exchange ideas and expand their network. The small-group format of the Forums means everyone can join the conversation. Once the three-day program is over, every attendee is provided access to an exclusive listserv, so the exchange of ideas can continue throughout the year. You won’t find a better place to curate a network of trusted advisors.

6. I.CON East

advertising brochure for I.CON East with city scape in the background
Source: I.CON East

When: June 17-18

Where: Jersey City, NJ - Registration information

About: Theories and trends are great, but there’s no replacement for experiencing projects from the trenches—and that’s exactly what this conference delivers. The first two days of I.CON East begin with a “hard hat” project tour of a local industrial facility. Last year, attendees learned how a multi-story warehouse was solving urban space constraints. The visits aren’t just tours; insiders share how the projects came about and offer tips on repeating that success in other geographies.

7. BOMA International Annual Conference & Expo

man on stage welcoming audience to BOMA International Annual Conference
Source: BOMA Seattle

When: July 18 - 21

Where: Boston, MA - Registration information

About: With the fitting theme of  “BOOM. Everything’s different,” this year’s Building Owners and Managers Association is focused on helping CRE pros get a handle on a rapidly changing industry. The conference includes dozens of educational sessions and speakers covering topics like new regulations, technology, and near-term market changes. While much of the content is geared toward investors and owners, brokers will also find a deep pool of potential leads among the attendees.

8. Innovation, Opportunity, and Investment Summit

dark conference room of real estate investors on computers watching a presentation on stage
Source: National Association of Realtors

When: August 16 - 17

Where: Boston, MA - Registration information

About: Commercial real estate is at a crossroads of technological innovation. Brokers and investors who can maintain the right balance of tech-enabled services with indispensable human compassion will come out on top. iOi promises to bring together the sharpest minds in property technology and the most experienced real estate professionals in one place. If you’re searching for the tech/human balance in your business, iOi is the right conference for you. Past speakers have come from Google, successful PropTech startups, and the National Association of REALTORS

9. Apartmentalize

team of conference goers posing with matching shirts and lanyards
Source: National Apartment Association

When: August 31 - September 2

Where: Chicago, IL - Registration information

About: The National Apartment Association pushed the date back for this year’s event by over two months to allow for a safe, in-person conference. Smart move since it’s the largest gathering in the rental housing industry. For a fast-paced three days, attendees can choose from 85 different educational sessions, Ted Talk-style presentations, and loads of networking events, including a beer garden and escape room. For investors or brokers who regularly deal in multi-family projects, this event belongs on your calendar.

10. I.CON West

advertising brochure for I.CON West with a riverboat in front of city buildings
Source: I.CON West

When: August 31 - September 1

Where: Long Beach, CA - Registration information

About: As the geographic sister event to I.CON East, you can expect the same on-the-ground site visits at I.CON West. Both conferences also include a robust speaker lineup. Past speakers included leaders from J.P. Morgan, Prologis, and CBRE. As long as your focus is industrial CRE, I.CON will provide the networking and educational opportunities you’ll need to grow in the coming years.

11. CRE.Converge

man on stage at CRE.Converge conference using his hands to gesture broadly
Source: NAIOP

When: September 26 - 29, 2021

Where: Miami Beach, FL - Registration information TBD

About: CRE.Converge covers all aspects of commercial real estate, but CRE technology has become a big topic at the event; Steve Wozniak delivered the keynote address at CRE.Converge in 2019, and roughly 75% of the trade show floor was covered by PropTech suppliers. That trend is likely to continue as CRE Converge returns to an in-person event in 2021.


man with microphone addressing panelists on stage at EXPO REAL in front of crowd

When: October 11 - 13

Where: München, Germany - Registration information

About: Although EXPO REAL takes place in Europe, the event has a global presence and plenty of focus on CRE in the U.S. There’s even an entire session on the topic. The three-day event is split into multiple forums that cover specific sectors of real estate like investing, networking, and technology. Each forum has its own speakers and discussion groups. The Investment Forum alone includes 11 individual sessions. If you’re looking to gain a 10,000-foot view of the CRE industry, as well as connect with the most influential people in this space, EXPO REAL is where you should be.

13. ULI Fall Meeting

four panelists have a conversation sitting on stage at ULI Fall Meeting
Source: Urban Land Institute

When: October 11 - 14

Where: Chicago, IL - Registration information TBD

About: The Urban Land Institute’s Fall Meeting offers one of the most diverse programs of all the events on this list. For example, the 2019 Meeting included 27 tours, 63 council meetings, and over 50 concurrent sessions. The topics covered are broad, but there is a lot of focus on future outlooks, something every CRE pro needs right now.

14. CREtech New York

crowded conference venue at CREtech New York
Source: CRETech

When: October 18 - 19

Where: Brooklyn, NY - Registration information

About: CREtech is the central platform for educating and advocating for the advancement of technology in commercial real estate. CREtech New York is their flagship conference. During the last in-person CREtech conference in 2019, 2,000 attendees used the conference’s matchmaking app to set up 12,000 networking connections. The 65-speaker lineup included brokers, venture capitalists, startups, and major development firms. Brokers and investors can expect the same balance of networking and education at this year’s event.

15. REITworld

six panelists on a dark stage at REITworld addressing the crowd
Source: Nareit

When: November 9 - 11

Where: Las Vegas, NV - Registration information

About: At the individual company presentations during REITworld, you get to hear about new investment opportunities, see forecasts, and view business plans straight from real estate investment trust management teams. Last year, more than 80 trusts presented their opportunities to attendees in a virtual version of the event. This year, REITworld goes back to the real world, convening at the beautiful Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.

16. REALTORS Conference & Expo

view of conference stage with a clock counting down to the start of a session at REALTORS Conference and Expo
Source: The

When: November 12 - 15

Where: San Diego, CA - Registration information TBD

About: Roughly 20,000 people attend the REALTORS Conference & Expo, making it one of the largest residential and commercial real estate conferences in existence. This is the place to build your network of experienced professionals; the average attendee has spent 16 years in real estate. Besides making connections, expect to learn about big picture RE topics like brand building, leveraging social media to source new leads, and how technology is shaking up the broker’s role.

17. RECon

crowd of people in business suits walk past sponsored booths at RECon in Las Vegas, NV
Source: Esite Analytics

When: December 5 - 7

Where: Las Vegas, NV - Registration information TBD

About: RECon is the International Council of Shopping Center’s annual conference and trade show. The event will bring retail real estate brokers, investors, developers, and owners together to address one of the most volatile sectors of CRE. The RECon exhibit is worth the trip alone. It’s a massive show floor filled with around 1,000 vendors. You could complete a year’s worth of due diligence for your next real estate tools in just three days.

Make commercial real estate conferences more valuable with a clear set of goals

We’ve been to plenty of commercial real estate conferences, and we’ve learned you can separate attendees into two groups: those who show up with a clear set of goals and those who just show up.

The goals you set can vary. A few examples might be:

  • add 20 people to my network
  • find a reliable solution for marketing automation
  • generate three new leads
  • understand how the new administration’s plans will affect office building construction

We’re goal-oriented people in CRE. We don’t make a phone call without knowing what we hope to get out of it. It’s what guides and motivates us to push just a little harder.

The people who approach conferences with the same attitude get more value for the time and money they invest. If you’re sitting in the last presentation and you’ve made 19 new contacts against a goal of 20, having that goal will push you to find one more before it’s over. It may just be the contact that leads to your next deal. If you're still craving more education and connection, check out these 20 podcasts for the CRE professional.

Ember Hansen
With over a decade of marketing & business development experience, Ember brings a fresh perspective on CRE to the biproxi leadership team by turning her passion for SaaS into actionable insights for brokers and investors looking leverage technology to create a more successful business.

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