Many of us in the local real estate field have recognised the need for change. We are all suffering a rapidly deteriorating environment and quality of life. A remedy requires a collaborative, unequivocal, and immediate response from all stakeholders: policy makers, industry professionals, investors and consumers. Greed, an unskilled workforce, lack of vision, and short-term policies have all been widely discussed on various platforms as the sources of these problems. However, a less obvious reason and one that seldom reaches the media is the particular nature of the Maltese real estate market and a lack of understanding of value and value drivers.
Land, together with immovable property, is one of the major factors of production and are generally considered to be valuable asset classes within any country, Malta is no exception. The local real estate market has historically been an active one with good returns, but it is one which is also illiquid, inefficient, non-transparent, and remains notorious for information asymmetry.
We repeatedly hear the saying “price is what you pay, value is what you get”; but do investors really pay due consideration to the deeper implications of this pearl of wisdom? Price (the amount paid for something) can widely be disconnected from underlying value (a rational basis of what the price should be). This presents serious risks for investors and the public.
So, what is value all about? How is it estimated? And what role does it play in real estate and in the Investment Forum?
There is more to real estate than simply increasing prices and profits. Josh Panknin - a director of real estate technology initiatives at Columbia University - explains this and describes the relationship between value and real estate as follows:
“At its core, real estate is about value. Whether that’s value derived from the price of a property, how a space maximizes a firm’s productivity and potential, or what it adds to the attractiveness of a city or neighbourhood. It’s about maximizing revenue, designing spaces people want to be in and pay to be in, increasing efficiencies, lowering costs, etc. Capturing these factors (and many others) is essential to understanding the true value of a property.”
These value drivers are becoming increasingly difficult to determine and make sense of, making real estate increasingly complex to value. The challenge of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to this complexity. Investments are no longer about buying a property to hold onto and collect rent for twenty years. It is no longer that easy or boring!
If real estate is all about value, we need to gain a proper understanding of what value actually is and what the long-term sustainable value-drivers are in order to create and invest in real estate which, in turn, adds value to society.
In this uncertain and ever-changing world of real estate it is essential for the market to have clarity. Real estate participants must have quick access to accurate information, as well as professional and independent advice in order to make informed investment decisions. It is somewhat surprising to note the lack of literature and mature conversations on the topics of markets, investments, and the drivers of value of real estate in Malta, all of which are popular and contentious areas.
This is where the Investment Forum comes in.
The Investment Forum is an initiative based on both vision and values which aims to educate, entertain and encourage debate between investors, academics, and practicing professionals in multiple, diverse aspects of real-estate investment research and practice. Starting with this blog, the Investment Forum aims to assist the Malta Chamber in achieving its principal mission which is to “ensure that entrepreneurs enjoy the best competitive environment and regulatory conditions possible for the conduct of business”.
The Investment Forum proposes to support this mission through the creation of a network and platform which will support a broad team of competent thinkers. The aim is to promote collaboration in order to improve the investment market to one which is more efficient, liquid, sustainable, and transparent. Through different media such as articles, studies, lectures, and events, the Investment Forum will improve the market and investment decision-making skills in Malta. It aims to provide the underlying basis for informed investments to keep prices in line with underlying value. This will not only be limited to the topic of real estate but to all types of investments as real estate has become more correlated with larger capital markets.
This blog is one tool to kick-start this conversation. We will be publishing and promoting quality contributions and articles with a theoretical and practical relevance on all types of investments. These will touch on a wide range of topics which address subjects of major interest and practical importance to investors. The blog will also assist investors and professionals in keeping up-to-date with developments in the financial and capital markets and provide a cumulative source of reference material.
We have many articles lined up from authors based around the following categories:
• market summary reports;
• insights and opinion pieces from leading stakeholders;
• the analysis and promotion of key data and studies; and
• education and practice briefings.
We are convinced that our work will provide a foundation for confident markets, and welcome articles from any stakeholder that contribute to this conversation.
Justin Mizzi is an academic at heart who is passionate about real estate. He works as a property valuer at Archi+, an architecture firm based in Malta, and holds a Masters of Architecture and Conservation. He is currently working on a PhD on the valuation of commercial real estate in Malta.
Besides his studies and his role as a valuer, he collaborates with the Malta Chamber on the Investment Forum, provides his own private course on property valuations and is a part-time lecturer at Dhalia real estate services. You may contact Justin on firstname.lastname@example.org