Since the peak of the property cycle in 2007, First Property Group plc has grown its net asset value at an annualised rate of some 25% per annum and either maintained or increased its dividend payouts each year. Most property companies either went bust or had to raise additional equity capital to survive this period. I attribute my company’s success very significantly to the strength of the Polish economy and its property market.
We have always sought to invest in high yielding property with a clear gap between the cost of funding and the yield available on a target investment. Unless there is a significant yield gap we are typically not buyers. For the first fifteen years of my career in property, which started towards the tail end of the recession in the early 1990’s, this broadly held true, creating the opportunity for investors to magnify the returns that could be earned by borrowing against income generating commercial properties. But the market had changed by 2004 after international and domestic investors, in the pursuit of yield, had bid it up to silly levels. The yield gap was replaced by a funding gap. Undeterred and buoyed by an apparently relentless rise in the value of properties investors continued to buy UK commercial property and apply leverage to them.