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How to stay on top of the property market

  • 23 April 2012

I get a few key headlines on my blackberry first thing in the morning. I receive all the property and real estate headlines from the Financial Times, Citywire, the New York Times and Investment Week. I also get the RBS derivatives note, which shows what is happening to property pricing. I absorb all this news fairly quickly and it sets me up for the day ahead.

Property is a more slow-moving asset class than, say, equities. I usually use these headlines to look for areas where I might want to dig a little deeper. Often they will only come up with the residential headlines, but even this can be useful to know.

Another important area of research is the activities of the banks as they unwind their property assets. We want to be very much on top of that situation because it really affects what we do, both in the UK and across Europe. It can have a significant impact on commercial property pricing. The FT covers this area well.

I make good use of a number of websites, though I won't look at everything every day. I will start with Simon Ward's Money Moves Markets blog, which gives me Henderson's overall economic views. The CBRE site has an incredible research facility. The real estate group covers around 40% of the IPD index and has a great spread of information. It is possible to research almost any sector or any location – it has so many strings to its bow from cinema to healthcare. It also shows how to add value to assets, which is vital in this market.

I will always read hard copies of the trade publications Property Week and the Estates Gazette. They come out once a week and are very good on property market finance. They have a different sector specialism every week and they are the two magazines that everyone in the sector will read.

One less frequent, but important, source of information for me is the Deloitte annual Crane Survey, which focuses on London. It looks at property development going on in and around the City. London is effectively the UK as far as overseas buyers are concerned. It's a great report.

I also do a fair amount of research on sustainability. This has become an important part of our fund, which is now considered ‘clean' by many investors. We support initiatives such as solar panels on our buildings and we also work with tenants to improve their sustainability profile. Jones Laing LaSalle is a good reference point for this.

Individual agencies are good on different parts of the market. For example, Colliers is very strong on high street retail, which has taken a real pounding and is still very sensitive. BNP Paribas also does a lot of good research and doesn't miss many themes in the market. Andrew Wade at Numis is excellent, so I will also read any research he has done.

That said, there is a limit to how much research can be done online.  Nothing beats being in the place, talking to agencies, but it is a quick way of hearing about new lettings, new prices being achieved, and this really helps us with deals. It isn't the kind of information that is broken on Twitter so I haven't had much use for social media. In the majority of cases, I would simply pick up a phone. Clearly the power of social media is getting stronger by the day though so I may change my mind in the future!

Ainslie McLennan curated the 'Property' section on The Financialist.

The Financialist
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