Book reviews

Journal of Property Investment & Finance

ISSN: 1463-578X

Article publication date: 1 April 2005



Devaney, S. (2005), "Book reviews", Journal of Property Investment & Finance, Vol. 23 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Book reviews

The Best of “Mainly for Students” – Vol. 3Edited by Austen Imber and Leslie BlakeEstates Gazette BooksLondon2004495 pp.

The Glossary of Property Terms (2nd ed.)Compiled by Jones Lang LaSalle in association with Estates Gazette,Edited by Geoff ParsonsEstates Gazette BooksLondon2003326 pp.Review DOI:10.1108/14635780510584373

These two books published by Estates Gazette are reference books rather than cover-to-cover reading. They aim to provide basic definition or explanation of either particular words, issues or concepts used in the property profession, both with students and practitioners in mind. It should be noted up front that they will be of most interest to UK readers, though the Glossary does contain some international terms.

The title of the first book may leave you somewhat mystified if you are not an Estates Gazette reader. Basically, it is a collection of articles from the Mainly for Students series that appears fortnightly in this UK trade magazine. Entries have been selected from all contributions made over the period 1998 to 2002, with 71 reprinted in this volume. They cover a range of topics, but on balance the content leans toward the traditional areas of surveying practice – law, estate management and valuation – with many of the articles having been written by the editors themselves. Although investment and economics are mentioned on the back cover, there is only a small amount on these areas.

Inside the book, the articles are arranged under various subject headings. To review, I selected three or four from across the different subjects, choosing ones on topics I was not particularly familiar with. All the entries I read were straightforward and easy to follow without being over simple. In fact, at points, they went into a surprising amount of depth. For instance, in the entry on dilapidations (pp. 264-71), not only were basic elements such as repair covenants and schedules discussed, but also landlord tactics and the possible implications of different actions were considered.

Overall, the book contains good and well-written introductory material to many practical property issues, though it is perhaps of more use to APC rather than University students. However, I felt that it was let down a little by presentation, since at first glance, the chapters do not look very inviting. Certainly, anyone expecting the same colourful style as used in Estates Gazette for individual articles will be disappointed. For the purposes of “dipping in” to get information on a particular subject, though, this is not too important.

The second book needs much less explanation – it is exactly what it says it is! This edition is a revised and expanded version of the Glossary that was first published in 1989 and it now contains around 3,200 terms and 750 abbreviations. The case for revision is set out at the front of the book – with changes to legislation, the scope and structure of the property industry and wider social and political changes meaning that many new terms have arisen in the UK property market. For example, it cites the emergence of facilities management as a source of some of the new words it now contains. Meanwhile, some old terms have either changed in meaning or become obsolete.

In reviewing this, I decided that the best approach was to actually select some property terms and see if the glossary contained them. So the following terms were tested:

  • depreciation;

  • break clause;

  • section 106 agreement;

  • alienation; and

  • equivalent yield.

The book easily met this challenge, containing definitions for all five phrases. In fact, for depreciation, it gave two definitions – one property and one accounts related – while in the case of alienation, it not only distinguished between “clause” and “right of”, but it also gave a UK and a US definition for the former. For abbreviations, often just the words for the letters are set out, but sometimes both words and a definition are provided, depending on the particular entry.

I personally think that the Glossary is an excellent book. Its presentation is very good, with words easy to find, and its definitions are both clear and concise. At the back, there is also an appendix listing the words by topic, which gives the reader an idea of the vast number of fields from which words and phrases have been drawn. To quote the preface, the Glossary is “a simple idea done very well” (p. vii).

Steven DevaneyInvestment Property Databank, London, UK

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