Real estate, alternative real assets and other diversions

Latest Article

Commercial Real Estate Returns Drop to Financial Crisis Level

The National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF) tracks the performance of over a half trillion dollars of commercial real estate in the US.  Because the properties are marked to market every quarter for financial reporting, NCREIF can provide quarterly returns as a benchmark for institutional investors as well as other trends from the database.  The total return was 0.71% in the first quarter which was a decrease from the 1.55% return for the prior... Read More >

Recent Articles:

Proptech disruption won’t hit any time soon
Proptech evangelists would have you believe that emerging digital technologies can and will be applied imminently to any real estate use, in the process resolving all of the industry’s current inefficiencies overnight. However, as the saying Read More >
Time for AAT
Around the world, landlords of all types are being asked by tenants, or even required by governments, to waive rents, grant rent holidays or write off arrears as tenants struggle to stay in business and household incomes fall or Read More >
A plague on your houses?
At some time last year, a bat passed on a mutated virus to a trafficked pangolin (a scaly ant-eater) in a wet market in Wuhan, China.  Now, that same virus has spread to unknown thousands of people across the globe and there is only Read More >
Property Valuation – Material Uncertainty
Introduction I think that it is fair to say the effect of the coronavirus worldwide is something that is unprecedented in our careers. I know that there are a few survivors of the “Spanish flu” of 1918/19 who are still alive but for most Read More >
Online learning – a new model for Learn while you Earn
Within the field of postgraduate education there has been a growing interest in providing (and undertaking) part-time courses, which are of the same academic standard and rigour as full time courses, but allow students to “earn while they Read More >
It’s not that simple
Simple comparison in property valuation involves greater complexity than some may assume – and it’s getting harder. Comparison is the lynchpin of all valuations. In property, we use the term ‘comparable’ to describe the Read More >
Comic art collecting comes of age
A single page of comic art can command prices of up to $1m – this isn’t just a market for sentimental collectors “Everything you can imagine is real,” Pablo Picasso once said. Nothing could better sum up the appeal of collecting comic Read More >
Branching out: what trees can do for farming
As UK agriculture faces major funding changes, one important resource should not be overlooked in developing sustainable farming systems Those who remember farming in the decades after the second world war, especially the 1970s, will know Read More >
Flexible leasing isn’t going to change
WeWork, with its space-as-a-service model, began a chain reaction that will have a lasting impact on the commercial property market The term ‘smart building’ first appeared in an Iron Man comic from 1994, according to Propmodo’s Franco Read More >
Three types of NAV
EPRA’s new best practice recommendations for NAV calculations, which kick in this January, introduce three discrete NAV measures to replace the old ones. Are you ready? It is well known that the UK listed sector (in aggregate) currently Read More >
It’s not that simple
Simple comparison in property valuation involves greater complexity than some may assume – and it’s getting harder Comparison is the lynchpin of all valuations. In property, we use the term ‘comparable’ to describe the transaction of Read More >
Alternatives are the new Core
The demise of high street retailing in the UK has been a subject of national concern for some time – and even mainstream TV and radio has covered the issue from a variety of angles. The very public failure of big-name brands such as Read More >
Private Debt Funds: Challenges and Opportunities in the Spanish Real Estate Debt Market
Since the GFC, Spain has seen a dramatic change in the commercial real estate debt market. Not only has the consolidation of banks helped the sector to deal with non-performing loans more effectively and restore confidence in the banking market, Read More >
Elections, government policies and UK house prices – the real story
Government policies and elections affect house prices, but in what way and by how much? A new report from Birmingham City University researchers reveals why property professionals should take note when elections are in the air The period of Read More >
It’s all about MEES, MEES, MEES: the new rules on energy efficiency will change property forever
UK legislation enforcing minimum emissions standards for existing buildings can no longer be ignored  “A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves,” or so said Marcel Proust 99 years ago. I wish he had Read More >
It’s about time offices went green
The commercial property sector has slacked on sustainability, but smart monitoring offers cost savings which could change that For everyone except Donald Trump – who seems to have buried his head under a rock for the past 50 years – Read More >
Don’t let emissions rules drive your property out of the market
The new CRREM tool reduces the risk of properties being ‘stranded’ by non-compliance with changing regulations Climate change represents an enormous challenge for real estate, requiring adjustments at numerous levels. The property Read More >
Since the 1950s, accessibility using some form of time/distance measure has been considered a determinant of land use in American city and transportation planning theory and practice. But, due to the functionalist orientation of education and Read More >
A different form of sporting heritage: the language of sport
How sporting terms enter the mainstream In 1976, a Canberra cricketer who had moved there from Western Australia complained about the quality of the local pitches, which were not like those in his native Perth where “the ball bounced truly Read More >
Architectural character on the big screen
Architectural character on the big screen As revealed in the last edition of The Property Chronicle, it’s pretty clear that in Hollywood movies of the past, architects have traditionally been cast as the Good Guys: creative, socially Read More >
Real estate and sustainability – the moral imperative
Why the industry must be an active force in driving change “Sustainable investment is about the responsibility and potential the real estate industry holds to reach climate and environmental sustainability targets. In a rapidly urbanising Read More >
Green infrastructure means business
Why we need to encourage innovation and holistic solutions to the challenges facing real estate  “Silo busters unite!” is becoming a slogan here at the Real Estate Institute. We contest that few, if any, of the major problems that Read More >
Blockchain leaves the blocks
But first, the industry must digitise News broke in March 2019 of the first successful global blockchain real estate transaction. It included participants from established organisations, such as Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, Barclays, Clifford Read More >
Universities are destroying the value of their own degrees
Is there anything else British universities can do to prove the worthlessness of a degree? It appears not, as this week it was revealed that grades have been artificially inflated across the country’s academic institutions, with almost Read More >
The experiments of youth: unpacking the complexities of China’s real estate market
With so many factors to consider, the division between doomsayers and optimists has never been so large There seems to have always been two starkly different perspectives about China's real estate market. For years, doomsayers have warned of Read More >
A defining moment for infrastructure
More people. More cities. More buildings. More infrastructure. Infrastructure is turning out to be an asset class that, while appearing mostly immeuble, is fundamentally different from real estate requiring, among many things, strong and Read More >
Real Estate Market Cycle Monitor: First Quarter 2019 Analysis
The Physical Market Cycle Analysis of 5 Property Types in 54 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The economic expansion has been solid with 1Q GDP growth at 3.1%, which also drove continued job and wage growth so far in 2019. Trade Read More >
Mumford’s mistake
The United States has experienced over 40 years of diminished economic growth. While different data sources and analyses yield different estimates, they all confirm several decades of slow economic growth. Earlier, from the 1890s to 1972, Read More >
Shopping Centre Valuation: The changing face of retail
(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window? - Bob Merrill (January 1953) As the quote above reminds us, retail is all about enticing shoppers to part with their money to buy the goods on display. Historically, retailers have displayed their Read More >
Response to ‘What do we mean by #RethinkRealEstate?’ by Yolanda Barnes
I started perusing The Property Chronicle a few months ago when I came across a good piece by John Ratcliffe.  This morning I knew I had to respond to Yolande Barnes' What do we mean by #RethinkRealEstate? She's a professor of real Read More >
Real Estate Market Cycle Monitor – Fourth Quarter 2018 Analysis
The Physical Market Cycle Analysis of 5 Property Types in 54 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The 2018 economic expansion continued at a moderate pace with a slightly higher GDP growth rate than the past five years. Employment growth Read More >
Congratulations to Professor Nick French!
Congratulations from us all at The Property Chronicle to our fantastic contributor Nick French, who is getting married this Sunday. We hope you have a wonderful day! Read More >
Diary of a Traveling Academic – When property sold for ten cents on the dollar
These last six months have been full of terrific opportunities for this travelling academic to feed her real estate addiction.  First up was a trip home to Madison for the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association. Since I hold three Read More >
Diary of a Real Estate Professor
What do we mean by #RethinkRealEstate? If you are wondering what your life is about and want to get rather philosophical about it all, there is nothing quite like acquiring a new job title –particularly when you have to make it up yourself. Read More >
Real Estate Market Cycle Monitor Third Quarter 2018 Analysis
Real Estate Physical Market Cycle Analysis - 5 Property Types - 54 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). It appears mid-term elections should not substantially change the pro-growth policies being pursued by the current administration, thus Read More >
The Entrepreneurship “Tsunami” The rise of Global Small Businesses and the mindsets of Entrepreneurship
Having conducted a number of Strategic Foresight exercises for various universities over the past year, I am shocked and concerned how ill-prepared students on Built Environment programmes are, with notable exceptions, to ride the rising global Read More >
Fostering Deliberative Democracy Is support for democracy in the West being lost to alternative models?
Most of us probably go through periods of serious scepticism regarding the nature and practice of democratic government. Indeed, having lived and worked in Singapore for a spell during the ‘reign’ of Lee Kuan Yew, I found myself Read More >
THE FUTURE OF THE PROFESSIONS The challenge of reforming the professions of the built environment
It has become almost a commonplace to suggest that the professions are at a watershed - or even under siege. That, with the new culture of accountability in society, there is a ‘crisis of trust’ in their conduct and a serious questioning of Read More >
Taking the Inside Track England’s major racing scandals
Some years ago I was given the responsibility for taking a cache of legal documents from the Wellington offices of Weatherby’s, the administrative arm of British racing, to the British Racing Museum at Newmarket. The material related to one of Read More >
Mortgages and mismatching The transformation of British clearing banks
Victorian bankers rarely wrote mortgages. As a contemporary bankers manual explained: ‘house or shop property, even of a superior class, is not a desirable security...on the grounds of its uncertainty of sale’.(1) Until the 1980s, UK clearing Read More >
The Future of Universities The role of universities in society and the economy
At the start of a new academic year, it is worth reflecting that Higher Education is facing a future that is both more challenging than at any point in the last century but also presents more opportunities for innovative organisations than ever Read More >
It’s Not Cricket: A Black Mark on Australia’s Sporting Record In the 1850s and 1860s Australian Aborigines participated more freely in cricket
The inaugural officially-recognised test match between Australian and English cricket teams took place in March 1877 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), where Australia beat a professional team led by James Lillywhite by 45 runs. Reciprocal Read More >
Having just delivered a panegyric on “Cities of Tomorrow” at a recent conference on Urban Sustainability, and praising the growing practice of ‘Citizen’s Juries’ across many countries in the world, I was momentarily thrown by a query Read More >
Notes from Cambridge 2 The Higher Education Policy Institute have produced a fine report measuring the economic benefits of international students to the UK
The Prime Minister continues to cling to the nonsensical view that foreign students should be counted in the immigration numbers. The policy was based on data since proven to be false, the PM’s assertion that 100,000 students overstayed their Read More >
Property Valuation: Climate change and perpetual assumptions We all need to be realistic about climate change
"The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating." - John Schaar, Legitimacy in the Modern State (1981) Although the quote above isn't directly related to the topic of climate change, it fits the ongoing debate about our Read More >
Bond yields and real estate prices – where next? The current round of asset price inflation has not fed into higher prices for consumers
The decade since the Global Financial Crisis has seen sharp increases in asset prices apparently driven by low interest rates. These low interest rates have been caused by quantitative easing, and lower interest rates have caused lower discount Read More >
Green Milestones 1 How the design of the built environment has evolved to take account of ‘Green’ issues
In a new four-part series, David Shiers looks at how the design of the built environment has evolved to take account of ‘Green’ issues and considers what may lie ahead in the way we experience the buildings in which we live and work. With Read More >
Galloping Ahead: The American Jockey Invasion The influence of the American riding style from Willie Simms
In 1895 a solitary American jockey, the African American Willie Simms, rode in British racing. His unusual riding style—virtually crouching along the horse’s neck with short stirrups, high knees, and a tight rein—was in contrast to that of Read More >
The Premium of Place Harvesting the Rewards of Creative Placemaking
By strange and satisfying serendipity the other day, my opponent in a seniors golf match against another club was someone I’d last met back in the early 1980s when we were both members of what we liked to think was an elite fraternity in the Read More >
There is no such person as a fat jockey If riders cannot do the weight then they do not have a job
The result of the 1886 Cambridgeshire horse race shows that St Mirin was beaten a neck by Sailor Prince and that the losing horse carried a pound overweight. Jockey, Fred Archer, rider of second-placed St Mirin, blamed himself for the defeat as Read More >
Bond Yields and Real Estate Prices – Where Next?
(Article originally published Summer 2018) Part one: What do recent rises in interest rates mean for property prices? US 10-year Treasury Bill rates have been at an all-time low, having fallen below 2% for the first time in 2017. UK Read More >
Diary of a Travelling Academic Studying the Impact of the Panama Canal on Global Trade
One of the wonderful perks of being an academic is that most of us have the summers “off”. They are not really off, as many of us work hard on our research or take students on summer tours to study real estate... but that is often in a fun Read More >
Social Value: “Force for Good – Or the Emperor’s New Clothes?” A dubious dilemma
Worrisomely, I have been somewhat conflicted over the past few weeks. Academically and philosophically, I am engrossed in conjuring up a Keynote Address for an international conference in the autumn proselytising “A Commons Transition” in Read More >
Not pushing their weight: Corruption in Sumo Results at some tournaments exposed corruption in the form of match-fixing.
Some in the west might deem sumo a freak show in which obese children and even more obese adults are paraded to an admiring audience, but is it any more freakish than seven foot basketballers or 300 pound gridiron footballers who can run even Read More >
Health, wealth and happiness A radical shift in collective mind-sets and a new strategic direction for the world of property
Prelude More than two millennia ago, the celebrated Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro, more familiarly Virgil, pronounced: “The greatest wealth is health.” Arguably, such a sagacious statement really needs no elaborate explanation or Read More >
Improving Numeracy on Real Estate Courses Numeracy is only one of many desirable attributes for students studying Real Estate
An old adage had it that “no-one got into Real Estate because they were good at maths”. If it was ever true that you didn’t need good numeracy skills in the property industry, it certainly isn’t now and one of the major challenges Read More >
Winning by not playing to win The rules of a competition can tempt teams to 'throw' a match
Most times teams do their utmost to win matches but on occasions the rules and organisation of a competition can tempt them to do otherwise. Take the 1994 Shell Caribbean Soccer tournament in which teams were divided into groups of three where Read More >
The Big Questions The role of real estate and the part it plays in our societies and cultures
“Imagine ahead - plan backwards” has long been my idiosyncratic mantra for exploring the future horizons facing global real estate; in contrast, conceptually, to the more traditional conjecture regarding industry vogues and emerging business Read More >
Dead Birds, Lengths of Rope and Olympic Medals The forgotten gold medallist Donald Mackintosh
Until the 1980s the official list of Olympic gold medallists was one shy of being complete. The records did not include Australian marksman, Donald Mackintosh’s victory in shooting at the Paris Olympic Games of 1900. However, diligent research Read More >
Are we Ill-Served by Poor Governance? David Shiers looks at the environmentalist view of property laws
In 1977, a then 16-year old William Hague said that his generation wanted the national government to “...get out of the way, not intervene, not interfere in their lives” and hoped that future Prime Ministers would promote a truly free-market Read More >
Bond yields and real estate prices – where next? Part one: What do recent rises in interest rates mean for property prices?
US 10-year Treasury Bill rates have been at an all-time low, having fallen below 2% for the first time in 2017. UK government bond (10 year) yields have also been lower than they have been at any time and 10 year Treasuries in Australia are Read More >
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare – Securing a career in Real Estate How Generation Z can secure employment in the real estate industry
We have always been told that success in the real estate world is down to "location, location, location". Yet for students aspiring to join the profession a more important mantra is "prepare, prepare, prepare". Competition for property related Read More >
Queensberry Rules of boxing: OK or KO? How the Queensberry Rules transformed bareknuckle fighting
John Shotto Douglas, the ninth Marquess of Queensberry, has two major claims to fame. First he was the nemesis of gay author Oscar Wilde who sued him for libel after he had publicly objected to the liaison that Wilde had with his son Lord Alfred Read More >
Property Valuation: the Importance of being Earnest Understanding price, value and worth
"A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing." Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892, Act III I know that the quote above is semantically looking at the words “price” and “value” in a deeper and Read More >
South east UK displayed on map Stamp duty, mobility and the housing crisis How replacing stamp duty with better-designed local taxes could alleviate the crisis of housing availability
The stamp duty — a tax to be paid on the transfer of certain legal documents — has a long history in England. It was first introduced in 1694 to help finance the war against France. Although initially thought as a temporary solution, the tax Read More >
Close up of a computer motherboard Isn’t it time residential agents fought back? The rise of online estate agency alternatives - and where they will go next
According to Savills, 2016 and the World Bank, the global real estate market is worth $217tr, 75% of which is residential property. Annual real estate trading has averaged $683bn annually since 2007 and reached $900bn in 2015. This represents Read More >
Blurred photograph of crowds walking through London The story of the secondary banking crisis 1973-1975 Duncan Needham, Director of the Centre for Financial History at the University of Cambridge, considers an oft-neglected episode of economic history
In 2008, financial institutions across the globe were engulfed by waves emanating from an over-extended US property sector. The problems surfaced in the ‘shadow’ banking sector, where much of the exposure to the US sub-prime housing market Read More >
Businessmen walking across a bridge The History Man: an introduction My career so far, from trading derivatives to academia
After graduating from the London School of Economics in 1994 with a degree in Government and History, I spent three years with Credit Suisse Financial Products in London and Tokyo before studying Shipping, Trade and Finance for a year at business Read More >
A Chinese building in the mountains, with a traditional ship afloat on a lake. Let’s talk about C.H.I.N.A. Dr Helen Bao introduces her series on private property ownership in China
In 1982, my uncle’s family was thrilled by some good news. The head of the family, my uncle Xiang, had been allocated a new apartment unit by his employer, which was the largest state-owned company in the remote town where he lived in China. Read More >
Young professionals working at desks in an office Proptech: the future of real estate? Andrew Baum, of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, explains how the latest developments in property technology might impact us all
2017 seems to mark a turning point. Proptech has been building such mass and momentum that it will change the world. Will we soon be able to buy a house with the click of a button? My report PropTech 3.0: the future of real estate, published Read More >


Investor's Notebook

Smart people from around the world share their thoughts

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The Macro View

Recent financial news and how it connects across all asset classes

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Fintech, proptech and what it all means

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A sideways look at the world of wine

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The Architect

Some of the profession's best minds

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The Auctioneer

What's going on in the auction world

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Residential Investor

Making money from residential property investment

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The Professor

Analysis and opinion from the academic sphere

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Face to Face

In-depth interviews with leading figures in the real estate/investment world.

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The Headhunter

Recruitment and career moves

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The Analyst

Investment themes and trends

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The Historian

A look back at previous cycles, events, characters

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The Economist

Money, rates and prices

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Political Insider

The inside scoop on Washington, Westminster and Whitehall

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The Agent

Reflections on estate agency, today and in past times

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Alternative assets

Investing in tangible assets

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