Property market models have the overriding aim of predicting reasonable estimates of key dependent variables (demand, supply, rent, yield, vacancy and net absorption rate). These can be based on independent drivers of core property and economic activities. Accurate predictions can only be conducted when ample quantitative data are available with fewer uncertainties. However, a broad-fronted social, technical and ecological evolution can throw up sudden, unexpected shocks that result in the econometric outputs sceptical to unknown risk factors. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to evaluate Australian office market forecast accuracy and to determine whether the forecasts capture extreme downside risk events.
This study follows a quantitative research approach, using secondary data analysis to test the accuracy of economists’ forecasts. The forecast accuracy evaluation encompasses the measurement of economic and property forecasts under the following phases: testing for the forecast accuracy; analysing outliers of forecast errors; and testing of causal relationships. Forecast accuracy measurement incorporates scale independent metrics that include Theil’s U values (U1 and U2) and mean absolute scaled error. Inter-quartile range rule is used for the outlier analysis. To find the causal relationships among variables, the time series regression methodology is utilised, including multiple regression analysis and Granger causality developed under the vector auto regression (VAR).
The credibility of economic and property forecasts was questionable around the period of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC); a significant man-made Black Swan event. The forecast accuracy measurement highlighted rental movement and net absorption forecast errors as the critical inaccurate predictions. These key property variables are explained by historic information and independent economic variables. However, these do not explain the changes when error time series of the variables were concerned. According to VAR estimates, all property variables have a significant causality derived from the lagged values of Australian S&P/ASX 200 (ASX) forecast errors. Therefore, lagged ASX forecast errors could be used as a warning signal to adjust property forecasts.
Secondary data were obtained from the premier Australian property markets: Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. A limited ten-year timeframe (2001-2011) was used in the ex-post analysis for the comparison of economic and property variables. Forecasts ceased from 2011, due to the discontinuity of the Australian Financial Review quarterly survey of economists; the main source of economic forecast data.
The research strongly recommended naïve forecasts for the property variables, as an input determinant in each office market forecast equation. Further, lagged forecast errors in the ASX could be used as a warning signal for the successive property forecast errors. Hence, data adjustments can be made to ensure the accuracy of the Australian office market forecasts.
The paper highlights the critical inaccuracy of the Australian office market forecasts around the GFC. In an environment of increasing incidence of unknown events, these types of risk events should not be dismissed as statistical outliers in real estate modelling. As a proactive strategy to improve office market forecasts, lagged ASX forecast errors could be used as a warning signal. This causality was mirrored in rental movements and total vacancy forecast errors. The close interdependency between rents and vacancy rates in the forecasting process and the volatility in rental cash flows reflects on direct property investment and subsequently on the ASX, is therefore justified.
Perera, T., Higgins, D. and Wong, W. (2018), "The evaluation of the Australian office market forecast accuracy", Journal of Property Investment & Finance, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 259-272. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPIF-04-2017-0029Download as .RIS
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