Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Internet update From: Property Management, Volume 29, Issue 3
For this special issue of Property Management focussed on Africa, it seemed appropriate to provide an internet update focussed on the region. My immediate reaction was to stop and think at how I could fill a couple of pages on web sites devoted to the African property market. As a researcher based in Central London even finding information about some European markets can be an uphill task.
Taking Jones Lang LaSalle’s Transparency Index as a starting point (www.joneslanglasalle.com/transparency) one can see immediately, that beyond South Africa – which is considered transparent – all the other African markets which are covered (and these are few) are rated as “Opaque” or “Low Transparency”.
In the past I have had the advantage of advising clients about some South Africa markets, which provided some benefit. Following a brief exchange of e-mails with Akin Olawore, the Executive Director of the African Real Estate society, I felt even more empowered. While the internet can easily cross borders, there are times when even a Google search will not yield what you need, and the benefit of local knowledge cannot be ignored. I am therefore grateful to Akin for his support.
My starting point was to take a quick look at the offer by some of the UK based agencies with an international presence. Few have exposures to the region. What little research that is available mostly focussed towards South Africa. Here CBRE (www.cbre.com) have a partnership with BROLL, and provide some reports. Colliers International (www.colliersinternational.com/Markets/SouthAfrica/) also provides some reports, largely as part of wider EMEA outputs. The agency which stood out to me was Knight Frank (www.knightfrank.com/). They have coverage in a number of Africa countries. I selected South Africa from their list of country sites at the top right of the screen. Then selecting research, I came across their “Africa” report, which provides some rich detail on numerous countries across the region.
For those seeking performance measurement there is IPD (www.ipd.com). Their immediate offer is limited. Selecting the “global network” tab you can then drill down to South Africa, where they do provide an index. The SAPOA/IPD index is produced bi-annually and a pdf report is available to download. Unless you are a subscriber you will not be able to access the fuller history. The data do go back to the mid-1990s, comparable to some of the main European countries. In the near future there will hopefully be more information available, and Akin informs me that they are working with IPD to create a West African index with results from a test fund to be presented shortly. The release of robust performance measurements consistent with other global indices will go a long way to putting the region on the map.
Of course there are various bodies and organisations supporting real estate markets in the region. The starting point would have to be the African Real Estate Society (www.afres.net), which as the home page highlights is “a continent-wide organisation that seeks to promote networking, research and education among property professionals across Africa”. The Links and Sponsors page provides a direct link to other real estate societies, as well as related organisations and academic institutions in West, East and South Africa. One of the sponsors links on the site is to “IREBS Foundation for African Real Estate Research” (www.afrer.org). Their work is “to foster research on African real estate, especially by nurturing the talent, motivation and knowledge of African researchers and practitioners and by supporting African universities and research institutions”. The site provides some background to their work, which amongst other things includes links to various external publications.
Back on the AfRES web site, you will also find links to conferences, calls for papers as well as some reports under the “African Property Markets” section; this includes some reports I have highlighted above. The “downloads” section provides a variety of documents including Emerald’s guide for African authors.
For those with an interest in South African property, the South African Property Owners Association web site is worth a visit (www.sapoa.org.za/). Some of the information on the site is not readily available to everyone. For example, the research section is host to a number of publications including vacancy surveys for the office and industrial sector, plus a retail survey. Surveys on capitalisation rates and operating costs are also available. All these reports are only available to members.
For someone new to the market, I would recommend the links page. Select “About” and then “Useful links” and you will find a host of web sites on the South African market at your finger tips. These include links to the local Council for Shopping Centres and Institute for Valuers. There are also links to research organisations, Government and academic intuitions. It is worth browsing this page in case any of the links are of interest.
Of course this is South Africa. What about other countries? In Nigeria there is the Nigerian Institution for Estate Surveyors and Valuers (www.niesv.org.ng/). From this site you can find out more about the organisation, search for a local surveyor, access publications. Also in Nigeria is a site (www.findnigeriaproperty.com). The site essentially lists properties for sale or to rent. The site also provides details of agents listing properties on the site – an easy way to get in touch with someone on the ground. I also understand there are plans to enhance the site with the provision of market reports drawing on transactions completed through the site once more agents are on board. From the quick review of properties listed, there were quite a number of agents listed.
From the list of agents you can see what properties they have activated on the web site and link through to view these properties. Click on the property to find more details. You can also find contact details for the agents. From this it does not take much to find a web site of a particular company. One of the most prominent agents listing property on the site was Akin Olawore & Co (www.akinolawore.net/index.html). Their site is easy to navigate and outlines what the company does, their clients, offices as well as detailing properties available for sale, to rent or to lease. There are also some downloads available including one of land titling and registration.
Moving away from the property market itself and to the economy, there are a number of web sites available. For some general background information on a country I have often taken a look at the CIA World Factbook (www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/). Here you can explore individual countries across the globe, covering people, politics, history, geography and various other facts. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org/) is also worth a look. There is also the World Bank (http://web.worldbank.org), or the IMF (www.imf.org).
On the economic front there are a number of sites. In South Africa you have the local statistics office (www.statssa.gov.za/). This site provides data on the economy, labour, utilities, tourism and transport. You can also access to census data and publications. You may also wish to check out the Bureau of Economic Research (www.ber.ac.za/). In Nigeria you have the national statistics site (www.nigerianstat.gov.ng/). The site provides a range of data on social and economic activities as well as conditions of the inhabitants of Nigeria. If you have a different country in mind, why not try searching the country name followed by statistics in any search engine. Chances are it will pick up the appropriate official site.
Despite the apparent lack of transparency, it is surprising how much information on the African real estate market is available on the internet with a little bit of digging, or with the help of some local knowledge. What I have covered in this editorial is just the tip of the iceberg, and it is worthwhile looking at the various links pages on the sites mentioned to uncover more.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of DTZ.
Nigel AlmondAssociate Director, DTZ. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org