Markets & Institutions in Real Estate & Construction

Article excerpt

RECOMMENDED READING Markets & Institutions in Real Estate & Construction By Michael Ball (2006, Blackwell Publishing, RICS Research, 280 pages)

THE GLOBALIZATION OF REAL ESTATE investing is a growing trend, one that requires among all of us a broader understanding of overseas markets.Michael Ball, in writing the handy manual Markets & Institutions in Real Estate & Construction, produces an analysis on property markets across Europe and how they compare to markets in the United States.

At a time when a rising number of American investors are adding foreign properties to their portfolios, Ball was concerned about the lack of reference literature that addressed international comparative analyses exploring housing markets and their relation to planning systems and real estate institutions, such as the construction industry and brokerage houses. As a result, he studied how markets are allowed to respond to demand and how different government programs or industrial institutions impact delivery of real estate products, especially housing.

Ball, a professor of property economics and urban studies at the University of Reading (west of London), has long edited the European Housing Review, which is published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Markets & Institutions in Real Estate & Construction has been published as part of a RICS research grant.

One of the areas of Ball's focus in this book is on the stifling housing markets of the U.K. and other European nations. Long delays in new construction have resulted in housing shortages in the U.K., where it takes six or more years to deliver new homes.Most other European countries experience similar, if not longer, timeframes. Extensive time lags, aggravated by planning rules or lack of suitable sites, can miss upswings in demand.

Markets & Institutions concludes that of the larger, growing economies, the U.K. trails all of its European Union counterparts in meeting housing demands. Stagnant home ownership is the perverse result of rigid planning policies coupled with government incentives.

Rising prices and values are among the barriers to entry for prospective homebuyers.With barely a trickle of new land brought into production, U.K. homebuilders cannot respond to increases in demand.

Ball points out that the U.K. is not alone in failing to ease housing woes or increasing home ownership within its borders.With the possible exception of Ireland (now of Celtic Tiger fame, which refers to Ireland's economic boom of the 1990s), few European countries have been able to find a way of jumpstarting the housing industry. In addition,Markets & Institutions also points out that the old Soviet block economies, still reeling from central planning, have been extremely slow to respond to rising prices, and no new supply is being produced. …

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