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What we can learn from … / … Berlin’s response to the “Airbnb effect”, and how other European cities are tackling the same problem

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Opinion / RICS economist Tarrant Parsons on the risks of another property-led financial crisis

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Chartered territory / Freed from more mundane tasks, what would surveyors do with more time in their working day?

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President ’s column / We must channel the forward-thinking ethos of a start-up if we are to thrive, argues Chris Brooke FRICS

Editor Oliver Parsons Art Director Sam Walker Deputy Editor Andy Plowman Designer Katie Wilkinson Creative Director Matt Beaven Account Director Karen Jenner Sales Head Sam Gilbert Senior Account Manager



Self belief / What does it take to start a successful new business? We meet the built environment entrepreneurs who are forging their own path

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Reasons to be cheerful / Climate emergency, skills shortages, the rise of the robots … we go looking for opportunity in a world of uncertainty

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The start-up’s survival kit / Going it alone? Who better to guide you through the most essential tools for a fledgling business than the surveyors that use them

magazine are fully protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without the prior permission of the publisher. All information correct at time of going to press. All rights reserved. The publisher cannot accept liability for errors or omissions. RICS does not accept responsibility for loss, injury or damage or costs that result from, or are connected in any way to, the use of products or services advertised. All editions of Modus are printed on paper sourced from sustainable, properly managed forests. This magazine can be recycled for use in newspapers and packaging. Please dispose of it at your local collection point. The packaging in which this magazine was delivered is made with potato starch and will biodegrade naturally. Please dispose



Way to go / Josephine Lee, Knight Frank, Singapore


How to … / … futureproof your skills strategy in a small business


Let me introduce / Mass appraisals and automated valuation models

of it by putting it in your food waste bin or on your compost heap. 82,689 average net circulation 1 July 2018 - 30 June 2019


What if? / Could the US-China trade war prove contagious?


Urban housing shortage / President’s column / Professional development / Commercial property /

Popular with artists, students and tourists, Berlin’s Kreuzberg district has suffered from the “Airbnb effect”


OU T S TAY ING YOUR WELCOME A boom in short-term holiday lets was pricing Berlin’s residents out of their own housing market, so the city authority decided to get tough on landlords. How successful has it been?


With many European cities in the grip of acute housing crises, the negative impacts of short-term rentals mediated by online platforms such as Airbnb have become a subject of intense debate. A key issue is landlords buying up small flats to maximise yields through high-priced holiday rentals, pricing young renters and lower-income groups out of neighbourhoods. City governments across the world have been responding to this phenomenon in different ways (box, right), sometimes passing new forms of regulations to control short-term rentals. Berlin has taken a strong regulatory approach, introducing measures to curb the growth of short-term rentals following repeated complaints from residents concerned about the shortage, and high cost, of housing in the city. In 2014 a law was introduced making it illegal to let a property on a short-term basis repeatedly, without authorisation from the district administration, with a two-year grace period for hosts to get that approval, depending on their situation and motives. If applicants are themselves renters, they also need the approval of their landlord. In 2018, the regulation was amended. A distinction between letting one or more rooms equivalent to less than half the surface of a main residence – flatsharing, effectively – and letting it entirely was established. Anyone who wants to let their main residence for up to 60 days must register online, indicating the days they plan to rent out the flat. The maximum fine has been raised to €500,000, 10 times more than its original limit. Approximately €2.5m per year is devoted to financing a taskforce of “detectives” to identify illegal letting, which tends to be brought to their attention through complaints from residents, who can fill out an online form or call a hotline. The taskforce inspects properties and, if necessary, gathers information for taking illegal landlords and “hosts” to court. Berlin’s strict approach has paid off. By the beginning of 2018, nearly 130,000 people had registered to let a secondary residence in the city, and almost 4,000 short-term rental properties had been brought back to the regular rental market, out of roughly 20,000 listings in the city. By the same date around €2.6m in fines had been imposed on misusers of housing space. As told to Cherry Maslen by Claire Colomb, professor of urban studies and planning at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, and author of a forthcoming RICS insight paper on short-term rentals in European cities. Read the paper at

BE WARE B&B: HOW THREE OTHER CITIES TACKLED SHORT-TERM RENTALS BARCELONA ZONES IN ON PROBLEM The Catalan capital’s dilemma is that, although tourism generates 15% of the city’s GDP, the high number of residential units devoted to visitors has increased the unaffordability of homes for many residents, as well as disturbing their peace and lifestyle. Between 2014 and 2018 house prices increased by 41%, while average rents rose by 18% in 2016. Since 2017, regulation has included a freeze on new licences, zoning to spread units over a wider area and measures to detect illegal lets.

PARIS HOMEOWNERS MEE T THEIR MATCH Short-term rentals have become a concern for City Hall after an increase in “unoccupied properties” (vacant units, seasonal housing, and secondary residences), which has coincided with a rise in short lets, and house prices. Main residences can’t be rented out for more than four months a year, and the law now demands online listings make this clear. Short-term rentals of more than 120 days have been classed as commercial, not housing, since 2010, and in 2014 a law was passed requiring anyone wanting to let a secondary residence to apply for change of use. A crackdown between 2012 and 2018 brought about 570 properties back on to the housing market.

SHARING ’ S CARING IN MIL AN Milan has taken a lighter approach to short-term rentals than many other cities, encouraging “home-sharing” – renting out rooms – as part of the so-called sharing economy, which was part of the agenda of the city government ahead of the World Expo held in Milan in 2015. The aim of the Milano Sharing City policy was to marry economic growth to social inclusion through, among other things, new technology. OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 5



6 / MODUS / OCTOBER 2019

In the five years that preceded the 2008 global financial crisis, UK bank lending to commercial property increased by 149%. Alongside this accumulation of debt, annual investment volumes into the UK market trebled, increasing from £21bn in 2000, to £67bn in 2007. This rise in activity pushed capital values up 49% over the space of five years. Given that commercial property valuations then fell by 43% from peak to trough over the next two years, it’s little surprise that serious pressures began to emerge for lenders. Research from the Financial Services Authority found that in 2011, around one-third of the outstanding stock of commercial property debt was in some form of forbearance, while many other loans were at least in negative equity. Commercial real estate values suffered similarly steep declines across many global markets during the same period, falling 40% from peak to trough in Japan, 37% in the US and 23% across the eurozone. In each instance, non-performing loans within the sector rose sharply. So, does commercial property pose a similar risk to economic stability today? Looking specifically at the UK, although capital values have appreciated significantly over the past five years, this phase of the cycle has not been accompanied by an increase in bank loans. In fact, net lending to commercial property has fallen since 2009. This may seem unusual, given investment into the sector has surpassed pre-2008 levels by some margin. Breaking down the source of investment funds reveals a big shift between the preand post-crisis periods. Most strikingly, overseas investment has accounted for nearly 45% of quarterly volumes since 2011, up from 25% in the seven years preceding the crash. Likewise, across Europe, crossborder investment now accounts for more than 55% of total inflows. Perhaps more importantly for financial stability, over 60% of non-domestic investor activity came from outside Europe

– predominantly the US and Asia. As a result, this promotes better distribution of risks, decreasing the concentration of potential commercial property losses by transferring them to investors or banks outside the domestic market. That said, non-bank lenders have also stepped up their activity in recent years. The worry is that private debt funds, for example, are not covered by the same regulations as banks, and activity is driven largely by the level of returns sought by investors. These will typically be targeting higher yielding, higher risk assets. Nevertheless, in its 2018 annual stress test of the UK banking system, the Bank of England estimated that a 40% fall in UK commercial real estate prices would lead to an impairment rate half of that which prevailed during the financial crisis, due to tighter underwriting standards and a reduction in the size of the loan book. With banks now facing stricter rules on the level of capital reserves needed to be set aside for commercial real estate loans, 46% of participants to RICS’ latest UK Commercial Property Market Survey feel that regulatory changes have made the UK financial system more resilient to potential shocks in the market. This compares with just 23% who feel they have not. A severe market downturn would invariably still carry some negative effects for domestic financial conditions, but the measures put in place since the financial crisis, alongside more diversified sources of financing, should help to mitigate them. Read the latest edition of the RICS Commercial Property Market Survey at





#RICSMODUS ON T WIT TER @ALISONHAYWARD 16 September Delighted to see my Modus magazine arriving in a biodegradable wrapper! Let’s make it mandatory



One of the potential benefits of the rise in AI and machine learning is that it will free surveyors from doing more boring, dayto-day tasks. So what would you take the opportunity to do instead? For our Twitter followers, it’s all about self-improvement.

@SEORGAN 11 September Very pleased to see the compostable wrapping with the @RICSnews #Modus land on my doormat today!






9 September Encouraged to read the @RICSnews President using his #RICSModus column to say the surveying profession needs to galvanise around the moon shot of creating a more sustainable built environment to combat #climatecrisis and #resourcescarcity




9 September The September issue of RICS Modus has arrived. Printed on sustainably sourced paper & wrapped in compostable packaging – well done @RICSnews OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 7


8 / MODUS / OCTOBER 2019


Go back 20 years and only 13% of UK households had access to the internet. The figure is now closer to 90%. Over the same period, global internet access jumped from around 4% to just over half of the world’s population. The UN predicts that universal global coverage will be achieved by 2050. From how we talk to each other to the way we consume knowledge, almost every part of our lives now relies heavily on the internet. This is in large part because companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google used it to create platforms to access the wider population. In just a few decades, ideas that were dreamt up in college dorms, garages and basements have gone on to radically change how we connect with each other and the way in which we transact goods and services. And it’s not just our personal lives – all major transport, energy, financial and communications infrastructure relies on access to the internet to provide services with efficiency and confidence. The same is now becoming true of commercial real estate, which is quickly turning into a consumer industry as the market in “space as a service” grows in popularity. Corporate occupiers, who want to turn their assets into digital platforms that they can use as tools to better understand their employees, are also fuelling this trend. In the last two years alone, investors have poured more than $20bn into proptech start-ups. With employers engaged in a war for talent, workspaces have become key arenas in the battle to inspire and retain employees – and new proptech innovations are helping them address this challenge.

As we have seen with Amazon and Facebook, companies that can prove their mastery of data – and an ability to use that data to automate decisions – will lead the market. These companies will need datadriven insights to create environments that can change according to individual needs and preferences. Technology-driven start-ups are not only challenging the traditional business models of our industry; they also raise questions about a shift in responsibility, from human professionals to software. This of course risks blurring the lines of professional accountability. Although machines might be able to work faster than any human, they still have a long way to go before society will fully trust them to comprehend human nuances of cause and effect. The general public will require assurance on the outcomes of all this technological innovation, and this is the key reason why we are developing standards that professionals can use to navigate this untrodden path. Standard-setting organisations such as RICS can support the industry with rules to deliver confidence to the market. We’ve already introduced data standards that will protect consumers and businesses by ensuring that the utmost level of professionalism is practised across the built and natural environment. Yet we can only continue to provide this confidence by basing our decision-making on the latest trusted knowledge, data and insight. This is why we need the best thinkers from across our profession to drive change in our organisation and champion the use of technology. That new thinking must now also flow into, and be a key focus of, our reconstituted strategy body, Governing Council, for which RICS is holding elections this month. Please go to and make sure that you vote in these elections, as your support and involvement will ensure that our profession continues to pioneer better places and spaces for future generations.

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Self belief. How important is it to realising your goals? We spoke to three start-up pioneers about the challenge of going it alone to carve out a new niche in the market

Company name: ME FIN Founders: Pascale Weber MRICS, Thierry Mari Started: December 2017 Product: Social network for investments and financing. Members of staff: 2 Lesson learned: “When you’re launching a company, you have to always maintain the mindset of a pioneer. It’s about keeping an open mind, discovering new landscapes and learning. You also must have great leadership skills to be able to work with a lot of people who are not from the finance sector. And finally, you need to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.”


eaving her role in investment portfolio management at French banking group BPCE in 2018 was the realisation of a long-held dream for Pascale Weber. After spending more than 20 years in the banking sector she is developing ME FIN, a networking platform that aims to completely shake up the way people do business with each other. “We’re creating an app that will be the first open social network dedicated to financing and investment, and which will be easy to use even for people who know nothing about finance,” says Weber.“Our ambition is huge, we don’t want to just create a niche in the market, but to make major changes in the industry, like Airbnb for hotels or Uber for taxis.” The app will run on a membership basis, she says, adding they will make it straightforward to register and to use. “Membership will be available to individuals, corporations, banks, asset managers, insurance companies – everyone. It will be free of charge whoever you are and whatever your assets, whether they’re in real estate, land, commodities or financial securities, and whatever you want to do, including purchasing, investment, financing, funding, lending or giving to charity.” Working on the project in her spare time while at BPCE, by April 2018 Weber felt the concept was mature enough to launch. “People might think it was irrational to leave such a secure job but I don’t think so,” she says. “When you dare to become an entrepreneur you discover so many opportunities to learn, and you work on so many different aspects of a business that I believe you increase your employability for the future. But I know I will try everything possible to avoid becoming an employee again. I think it’s always best to drive your own life forward in the way you want it to go, rather than be dependent on other people.” The project is still at the stage of raising funds to finalise the algorithm, which – appropriately – will allow the app to match users depending on their requirements. Whether you are an investor or looking for funding, the algorithm will find matches with other individuals or businesses whose interests align with yours, increasing the probability that all parties will meet their objectives.“Even if you know nothing about finance, you’ll be able to use ME FIN to do the business you want on your terms, not on somebody else’s.” After a 20-year career in banking, Weber is only too aware of the restrictive financing opportunities imposed on new businesses. “The biggest challenge for us – and any – start-up is finding enough money,” she says. “It’s very difficult for companies to secure backing, especially for a new concept and even more so when you’re trying to disrupt the finance sector. We’re looking for investors who can bring relevant experience and business connections and, above all, who share the same values as we do.” Weber is conscious of the risk of the project failing, particularly as she has had to invest her own money. “But as far as I’m concerned that just shows my determination. Of course there are risks but it’s so exciting to be creating a unique solution that will benefit so many people. I’m convinced we’ll be successful.” The plan is to complete the coding at the end of 2019 so that the app can be launched soon after, says Weber.“We are going to reduce the cost and improve the transparency of investing. Through ME FIN, we are giving everybody the opportunity to access affordable, tailor-made finance options that will help them achieve their goals.”


OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 11

It’s like running two companies at once




Company name: iMitig8 Risk Founder: David Baxter MRICS Started: 2016 Product: A software as a service (SaaS) workflow system that tracks and manages project risks during construction and reduces loss for all stakeholders by managing risk recommendations and actions digitally in a highly intuitive platform. Members of staff: 7 Lesson learned: “Find the right co-founder – one that comes from a software development space, who can build the team and project manage external developers.”

avid Baxter’s 20-year career in insurance has taken him from the UK to the US, with extensive travel across the globe as a risk engineering consultant for some of the world’s biggest insurance and reinsurance companies. He moved to Miami, Florida, in 2011 where his company, Mitig8 Risk Management, is based. “I now specialise in risk engineering, where underwriters or brokers appoint an expert to undertake regular surveys during the life of a construction project or operational facility,” he explains. “Our primary purpose is to prevent losses by identifying key areas of risk.” Around 2016 Baxter recognised that the industry was changing, with start-ups partnering insurtech and proptech companies to provide a more efficient service for their customers. “I knew I had to change with the times as well,” he says. “Ineffective paper-driven processes used by insurers gave me the idea of developing a platform to track and manage recommendations, to reduce risk and prevent costly disasters at construction sites.” Baxter says he was lucky in that he already owned his main business, Mitig8 Risk Management, so the pressures were different to creating a start-up from scratch. “But I’ve been producing the platform simultaneously with my current business, which has been very stressful,” he says. “It’s like running two companies at once. I have worked weekends and evenings for the last three years building the platform, which launches this year.” The start-up is called iMitig8 Risk.“It’s the first insurance platform to allow underwriters to identify, predict, prevent, mitigate and manage project risks,” says Baxter. “It collates the data of all subscribing insurers to determine the future risk path of a project. Our first product will be launched this month, which we’ve named iMitig8 Risk Tracker (iMRT).” For Baxter, by far the biggest challenge of starting a tech business is funding. “You may have a really great idea, but then you have to prove to venture capital investors that your idea is worth their investment,” he says.“It’s not like five years ago when new tech start-ups were getting $1m funding on the back of a simple Investor Deck pitch.” Baxter adds that investors now want to see that you are generating income from the idea, and seed money is harder to get hold of. “A venture capitalist would rather join you on the journey at a ‘series A’ round of funding (the first significant round of financing) of nothing less than $2m, which takes you to the next growth stage.” He decided to self-fund his start-up with the help of friends and family: “You want to give as little as possible away in equity when seeding a new idea.” Another major challenge is finding the right development team to bring your idea to life. “If your start-up idea needs a software coder or developer and you are neither, I’d suggest finding a co-founder with these skills who can help develop the team as well as project manage the idea,” says Baxter. “I went to a company in India that I found on It gives you access to developers around the world who’ll be able to get things started.” He recommends making sure you have a local project manager if you go down this route. “You can arrange weekly meetings online with your team to make sure there’s a clear understanding before development starts.” And avoid skimping on the detail. Getting a detailed specification provided by a software expert is something Baxter cannot recommend strongly enough. “Spending time creating the specification for your idea is absolutely key,” he advises, adding that it may help if the same person can also project manage your idea. And the best part of creating a brand-new business? “Besides turning a dream into reality, for me the best part of all this is seeing how it will save my clients millions of dollars.”

OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 13

We’re solving a problem everyone faces




Company name: Fixxa Founders: Johnny Dunford FRICS, Matthew Hammond, Richard Hughes, Mark Ticktum Started: May 2019 Product: Online platform that enables the booking of highquality, vetted tradespeople to work on properties at a time suitable to the owner. Members of staff: 7 Lesson learned: “Every aspect of the business, whether tech platform, brand, marketing, sales, recruitment, needs to be analysed to ensure it contributes to the mission. Eventually you find the crucial piece that unlocks the challenge ahead.”

ike many good ideas, the thinking behind Johnny Dunford’s new start-up began with a conversation in a pub, in the summer of 2017. The discussion was about a property issue that affects everyone, from householders to managers running multiple building maintenance programmes: the difficulties of finding the right tradespeople to get a job done, where and when it’s needed. “I was familiar with the huge inefficiencies in the delivery of tradespeople’s skills,” says Dunford, who has a background in property consultancy and management. “I knew there was a way of improving the property maintenance market, we just needed the right software and platform.” After six months of “thinking about it” and at least 12 months developing and testing the concept, the result was Fixxa. Through its website, customers can book vetted local tradespeople, agree a price, arrange emergency repairs on the spot or fix a precise time, and track their arrival to the door. Dunford is an ex-army officer, while two of his co-founders are former Royal Marines. He believes their services experience gave them another way of creating their own niche. “The combination of applying a bit of military logic and our sense of camaraderie means we’re determined to overcome any setbacks, which is pretty important in a start-up. We have to deliver on service, of course – we rely on getting good reviews – but the military connection is like a badge of quality that gives customers assurance.” Fixxa has been trading since May this year, focusing on London first with plans to scale up to other cities, then towns and rural areas, eventually growing internationally. “One of the most exciting things about working on a start-up like this is coming up with a brand-new solution to a problem everyone faces,” says Dunford. “But if anyone’s thinking they don’t have the technological knowledge to do what we’ve done, I can tell them that neither did we. What we had was knowledge and experience of a problem in our market, so it was a question of explaining that problem to software developers who could create the platform we needed.” It wasn’t as simple as that, of course. One of the challenges was the conservative nature of an industry reluctant to embrace change. “There was some friction when we talked to property managers who liked the idea but wanted to carry on doing things as they’d always done. But as with a lot of tech start-ups it’s not a quantum leap, it’s just improving what we already have with a new system. It’s like estate agents moving from adverts in their windows to online, with the smartest ones offering more by using videos and fly-throughs. We’re just pushing the system to do more for the benefit of everyone.” Self-employed tradespeople benefit, Dunford explains, because they can take on work through Fixxa as and when they want to but also carry on with their independent businesses. Dunford left corporate life at BNP Paribas Real Estate in mid 2017 to pursue Fixxa, and faces similar financial risks to anyone launching a new venture. “In the early stages money was going out all the time, but now the planning is proving itself as we are selling Fixxa into all our target markets and getting a great response with some tremendous positive feedback,” he says. “Right now everything is focused on hitting targets to lead us to a successful fundraising round later this year, which will allow us to push the business forward.” n

RICS’ Tech Affiliate Programme exists to increase awareness and adoption of technology in the built and natural environment sectors. Join today: OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 15

A fragile economy, disruptive new technologies, an ageing workforce and a climate emergency. Is it time to run for cover, or just the moment to grasp the initiative? We asked three experts for their bright sides



2/ 1/



older, wiser …

fears over future are redundant ANDRE W WALLER MRICS PARTNER, UK, REMIT CONSULTING


eal estate is reluctant to automate. The industry generates a lot of data and, if you automate a lot of the processes that capture all this information, the traditional skills that people have developed – such as networking – become less useful. In real estate, the fear is that all this automation is going to take away people’s ability to make money. However, change is inevitable, and some people are right to fear that change. For example, parsing long leases and drafting changes is a task that can be automated. So if you’re a lawyer and that’s how you make your money, your skills are going to have to evolve, but it isn’t an existential threat. The next generation will have those skills and will expect something different from their working lives. There’s been a lot of talk about proptech and a lot of money going into it, but fundamentally there has been little change to date. However, the big funds are spending big on artificial intelligence and experimenting with blockchain. They recognise the opportunities and we are starting to see changes in business models based on the use of data. There is a Dutch firm that has got rid of its asset managers and now employs four “quants” who analyse 120,000 data points every day, and then make decisions based on that analysis. Then there is Woolbright Development in Florida, which analyses data from shopping centres and, when it finds one that it thinks is underperforming, it investigates the economics of the area. It analyses the retail data that it can get and picks out two or three retailers that it thinks would do well in that location. Then it goes to see those retailers and asks: “If we buy this shopping centre, will you go in?” If they say yes then it buys the centre, puts those retailers in, turns it around and then sells it on. There are other opportunities, too. Because we have all this extra data, we know what our customers are thinking and we can start to make decisions about how their environment can be improved, whether that’s in terms of living space, shopping or working in an office. Data can be used to enhance the user experience, making your property more valuable than the one next door.



here are definitely some issues with having an ageing population, such as increased spending on the state pension and the additional funds needed for health and social care. But there are opportunities as well. We know that the older population has considerable consumer spending clout, and contributes a lot back into the economy and society. Many of us are living for longer but we are also working for longer. The rate of employment for the over-50s has been increasing since the mid-1990s, which is helping to provide the workers that the economy needs. There is a big economic driver in people staying in productive work for longer and, ultimately, spending their money and further contributing to the economy. With the UK’s state pension age due to rise to 68 in 2028, people are being encouraged to work further into their old age. This has become possible because, generally speaking, we are in better health and living longer than ever before. In the past, many people developed health problems as a result of working in heavy industry, and consequently were forced out of work. A decline in manual labour jobs, plus improvements in workplace health and safety, mean that is less the case these days. I also think that people’s attitudes have changed. The idea that you might retire early or start winding down from the age of 50 has changed. There are opportunities OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 17

to work into your 70s and beyond if you so wish. But there are still big inequalities. People who work in low-skilled, low-wage jobs might not have the luxury of deciding when to retire, and are at greater risk of redundancy as they get older. But it is clear from our research that employers value having older workers. When surveyed, employers mention factors such as experience and loyalty to the organisation. Older workers have amassed a lifetime of skills and experience, and often their employers say that they have better interpersonal skills, which helps them manage conflict in the workplace. Often employers say that having older and younger members of staff working alongside each other allows skills to be transferred between generations – and that works in both directions. So, there are huge benefits that older workers can bring to the table, but ultimately having a workforce that represents the age profile of the population as a whole is a good thing. We want people of all ages working together.


We explore these opportunities further in the next RICS Futures report, coming in early 2020. Sign up to receive it at

3/ Climate change: an opportunity to save the world JULIE HIRIGOYEN CHIEF EXECUTIVE, UK GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL


hen did we start taking climate change seriously? I would point to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that came out in 2018. That was the moment we recognised that urgent action is needed to keep the temperature rise globally to 1.5ºC. If we are to a achieve that, then we absolutely have to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. We know that our buildings account for around 30% of our carbon emissions. So, it is a very significant proportion of our carbon footprint, but it is also one of the most cost-effective abatement levers. The interventions needed to make both new and existing buildings zero carbon are considered to be some of the most cost-effective ways of decarbonising our economy. Buildings might be a massive part of the problem, but they also represent a massive opportunity. There is mounting evidence that the cost of acting early will be easier to bear than the cost of acting later. This will present opportunities for early adopters, and conversely a huge risk for those slow to act. We have to expect that ever-tighter and more demanding policies aimed at reducing carbon in buildings will be introduced in years to come, so there is a real danger that inefficient properties will become obsolete. And obviously, by adapting existing stock or building better new buildings, you can also create more resilient and therefore more valuable assets in the longer term. But there are also other upsides. The UK Green Building Council has been working to demonstrate the tangible benefits that green buildings offer businesses through health and productivity gains. In addition, today’s workforce – particularly millennials – are increasingly interested in working for more ethical employers, many of whom occupy greener spaces. Businesses that follow suit, therefore, have an opportunity to futureproof their workforces. There are also significant socio-economic benefits – whether that’s reduced energy bills or improved physical and mental health – to be derived from investing in reducing carbon emissions by retrofitting our existing housing stock. And then there are jobs that could be created right across the country. There is a massive opportunity, and there is more and more green finance available to do it. In the coming months and years that will unlock opportunities in retrofitting. The popularity of green buildings also has an impact on market demand, from both investors and occupiers. We are seeing a massive rise in interest in environmental, social and governance issues from investors, who are taking a closer look at sustainability performance. Ultimately, I think the biggest driver in shifting the market will be this demand for more sustainable buildings. n

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C L U S They bring together companies, people

T E R and skills to create a sum greater than their parts.

P A R But is there a right recipe to make them happen?


“ Pittsburgh’s


outh Yorkshire in the mid-1990s was a region still trying to recover from the ravaging effects of the decline in two once-proud industries: coal mining and steel. It was against this backdrop that two separate attempts were made to kick-start the local economy, each yielding starkly contrasting results. Targeting the abandoned coalfields bordered by Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster, in 1995 Michael Heseltine, then president of the Board of Trade, set up the Dearne Valley Enterprise Zone, a 0.56 square mile (1.5 km2) area offering a mixture of tax breaks, grants and subsidised staff training designed to draw in new businesses and create thousands of skilled manufacturing jobs. When the zone’s 10-year lifespan ended in 2005, the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward found that, despite the creation of 17,700 new jobs, most were low skilled and in the service sector, particularly call centres. Levels of employment, skills and aspirations were among the lowest in the country. A few years later in Rotherham itself, a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Technicut, a local specialist cutting tool company, was taking the first step in a regeneration initiative aimed at bootstrapping the fortunes of the local area. Today, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), to which this partnership gave birth, is the anchor of the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), a cluster of world-class, knowledge-based manufacturing companies, drawing skilled, high-value workers to the area and providing a crucial spur to the growth of Rotherham, Sheffield and their surrounds. “These are the type of high-skilled exporting businesses that create new innovations, boost local wages, and drive the local economy,” says Anthony Breach of the Centre for Cities, a UK thinktank. “They are helping transform the Sheffield City Region’s economy from a place for low-cost production to a place for highvalue knowledge production.” The fact that a similar set of policies in two areas almost within walking distance of each other turned out so different is a lesson in the unpredictable alchemy of cluster-led regeneration. The practice, which aims to generate economic gains in a city or region by cultivating small, specialised business

sectors, has become something of a cause celebre for economists and policymakers. The trouble is that although successful examples are easy to spot, and many people are ready identify the key ingredients, efforts to create them are as likely to fail as succeed. “For all the compelling and widely accepted attention given to the concept of clusters over the past three decades, cluster initiatives in US regions have, for the most part, failed to live up to their expected potential,”conclude Ryan Donanhue, Joseph Parilla and Brad McDearman in Rethinking Cluster Initiatives, a July 2018 paper for the US thinktank the Brookings Institution. The theory is compelling. Productivity benefits of so-called“agglomeration”– where companies that form part of a cluster enjoy the economies of scale typically reserved for large ones – let high-value business clusters spawn long-term economic growth well beyond their specific specialisms (panel, opposite). In the US alone, more than 1,350 academic articles have documented many benefits for the firms that are part of clusters and the regions that have them, since the term was first coined in 1990 by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. “Clusters have become, in effect, simply the reality of how regional economies are organised. As such they have become a mainstay of local development policy,” write Donanhue and colleagues in their paper. Real steel Among the classic successful examples is Sheffield’s sister “steel” city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By 1983, with swathes of the US steel industry priced into abeyance by emerging world producers, unemployment in the city had hit 17.1%. Things would get worse: the wider region lost another 133,000 manufacturing jobs between 1979 and 1987. By 2003, Pittsburgh was designated as financially distressed under state law, triggering a broad programme of fiscal and employment reform, including provision for wide-scale layoffs. But in its Oakland neighbourhood, the city had the perfect conditions for an innovation cluster. At its heart were two world-leading research institutes: the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. As start-up firms, and related support services like coworking spaces sprouted up across the district, three advanced industry

‘meds and eds’ element was crucial to the growth of the surrounding cluster ” NEIL LEE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS

clusters emerged in robotics and advanced manufacturing, technology, and healthcare and life sciences. In 2017, the Oakland district, a subsection of the wider Oakland area covering just 1.7 square miles, accounted for more than one-third of the university research output of the entire state, according to another Brookings Institution report: Capturing the next economy: Pittsburgh’s rise as a global innovation city. Accounting for 3% of the city’s land area, it boasted nearly 29% of its jobs. No one would question the legacy today. Employers range from tech stalwarts such as Google and Uber, to Bayer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, and banking group PNC, besides a host of other technology and healthcare firms – most notably the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a leading American healthcare provider. The city has also reprised its position in metal industries. Aluminium


Hollywood in the 1930s was one of the original business clusters – a collection of related industries brought together by the US movie studio system

What is a cluster, anyway? Business clusters are not a new phenomenon. Around the world and throughout history, towns and cities have attracted labour and capital by specialising in specific industries. In the UK, Nottingham hosted lace-makers, Luton hatters, and the cluster of towns that form the city of Stoke-on-Trent are so associated with pottery that the region’s nickname, “the Potteries”, endures today. With the disbanding of the US movie studio system in the 1930s, specialist companies and individuals sprung up in its place across Hollywood, California. Co-locating in the same area, sharing knowledge, a labour pool and – sometimes – resources allowed them many of the economic benefits that had allowed the studios to grow so mighty before them, not to mention sidestepping some of the disadvantages – such as unionised labour – that had helped the studios fail. The productivity benefits of co-locating in this way – which economists call “agglomeration” – come in three areas: sharing, matching and learning. In the first case, companies can share the facilities, infrastructure and suppliers that meet their particular needs. Second, they are able to find workers quickly and efficiently

by virtue of a deep, well-suited local labour market. Third, the dense, knowledge-rich environments facilitate the exchange of ideas and innovation between companies. “Probably the most important dimension is matching,” says Neil Lee, associate professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics. A company seeking specialist skills such as coding would rather locate somewhere it can find skilled workers than fund the expense of training staff to code. Workers, meanwhile, are drawn to specialist clusters by the prospects of finding the biggest range of jobs and the highest wages for their skills. Where a number of inter-related specialist industries locate near each other – like the finance, technology and legal skills required by a fintech firm in Shoreditch, adjacent to the City of London – clusters foster particularly speedy benefits. In an era of global labour markets, rapid transport and high-speed telecommunications, many forecasted the waning benefits of clusters as business broke free of the constraints of geography. The death of clustering turned out to have been greatly exaggerated, and it remains a central plank of current economic development. OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 23

producer Alcoa has its headquarters there, as does Allegheny Technologies, which produces the specialist alloys necessary for many aerospace and defence applications. “Growth in the city’s start-up support systems – mentorship, flexible workspaces, capital and talent attraction – are fuelling a new generation of high-value firms as start-ups like NoWait are leveraging the full pipeline
of entrepreneurial services to attract investment and grow,” says Scott Andes, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, who has studied the city’s re-emergence. A degree of certainty What both Pittsburgh and Rotherham have in common – apart from their steel heritage – is that the leadership of and investment from higher education institutions has played a key role in instigating regeneration through agglomeration. “In Pittsburgh, the pre-existing ‘meds and eds’ element was

crucial to sparking the growth of the surrounding cluster,”says Neil Lee, associate professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics (LSE). For its part, Rotherham’s AMRC has been crucial in attracting specialist companies such as Boeing, Rolls-Royce and McLaren Automotive, on to the AMP.“The institutes provided the ready stream of skilled labour and a rich local knowledge environment required to attract specialist companies,” says Breach. As if to affirm this approach, the UK Atomic Energy Authority announced it would open a £22m nuclear fusion facility on the park in 2020 as Modus went to print. This type of genuine knowledge advantage is instrumental to creating the virtuous circle – companies moving to an area for skilled labour, in turn attracting skilled labour in search of work – that is at the heart of what makes urban clusters work. Both the Advanced Manufacturing Park and the

The Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham is home to high-tech companies such as Boeing and McLaren, but the catalyst for the park’s growth is the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (above left), which is backed by the University of Sheffield; Pittsburgh’s “med’s and eds” cluster provides the perfect skills base required by tech companies such as Uber, which has been using the city as a test-bed for its research into self-driving cars (above right)


BANGALORE FOR YOUR BUCK In 2017 the Economist Intelligence Unit ran a survey to establish which city had the best environment to enable businesses to flourish. Bangalore came out top overall and on the key

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metrics that support clustering: innovation and entrepreneurship and people and skills.



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“ Institutes

provide the rich local knowledge environment required to attract specialist companies ”


Oakland district provide an oasis of highskilled labour in city regions generally characterised by low-skilled, low-paid work. Genuine academic expertise puts both cities out ahead of those that today claim the status of start-up or biotech hubs.“So many cities claim specialised tech, health or innovation clusters. By definition they can’t all be clusters. Clusters need a combination of expertise and specialisation to work in order to attract firms that wouldn’t be better served elsewhere,” says Breach. Lidl detail Although it is tempting to assume that the high-level skills and expertise of universities are vital ingredients in creating a cluster, in some instances it’s more a matter of private sector will and investment. Heilbronn is a small city about 50km north of Stuttgart, which forms part of the latter’s automotive CARS (Clusterinitiative Automotive Region

Stuttgart) supply chain and is also home to the headquarters of European discount supermarket chain Lidl. Already there is a public institution in place – the recently opened campus of the Technical University of Munich School of Management, devoted to the study of how effective management and digitisation can grow small and medium-sized companies. But Frieder Mitsch, a PhD student at LSE’s department of government who has been studying the city’s development, says that in future the “Lidl campus” will play an even more important role. The brainchild of the chain’s founder and owner Dieter Schwarz, the institute devoted to “the future of retail”, aims to add several thousand jobs to the local market by 2025. “On the one hand there is, in Lidl, a pioneering multinational company willing to make big investments. On the other are the R&D facilities – including the new Lidl campus – that will train and retain skilled people for the clusters of regional business sectors,” says Mitsch. Where they succeed, cluster-based development policies often piggyback off effective government services. Lee says that, where they have worked in Europe – besides Germany he points to the Danish capital Copenhagen and Malmö in Sweden – the local area has boasted a “basic hygiene infrastructure” comprising reliable public services and good connectivity – both physical and digital. The local authority’s spending on cultural initiatives – including festival and arts programming – which broaden the city’s appeal as a place to study, is providing an important plank of the Heilbronn development plan, says Mitsch. But Bangalore bucks IT A successful cluster, then, is one that can draw on the expertise of academic institutions, and is supported by local government policy. So how does that explain the world-leading tech-based clusters that have formed in Bangalore over the last 40 years, which have emerged in spite of, rather than because of, the support of reliable local governance? Following state elections in 2005, where a poor rural majority showed little interest in the prospects for the urban elite, the city’s infrastructure was neglected. It had long been characterised by water shortages, poor sewers and unreliable power supply, features

that stood in stark contrast to its breakneck growth, which by then was adding nearly 900 cars per day to the streets. A new 13.5% “entry tax” raised on goods entering the state imposed a heavy burden on local IT firms that relied on imported computers and components. “Few in the IT industry have much good to say about the new government,” observed an Economist article at the time. But the impediments did little to stem the rapid growth of the city’s technology clusters. The big IT firms – many based on huge purpose-built campuses in Electronic City, a few kilometres outside the city centre – were building their own infrastructure to secure reliable power and a harmonious working environment. Nasscom, the industry’s lobby, forecast IT service growth of 25-28% per year in 2005. More than a decade later, the gap between the demand for infrastructure spending in India and its supply is still a gulf. “India’s infrastructure deficit is simply too large to eliminate any time soon,” declared Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings credit analyst, Abhishek Dangra, in the 2018 report India’s Infrastructure Marathon: Why Steady Growth Can’t Close The Supply Gap. Dangra notes the $4.5tr of investment that the government estimates will be needed by 2040. Tech leaders remain unconcerned. An Economist Intelligence Unit survey of 2,620 executives in 45 cities, commissioned by telecoms company Telstra in 2017, revealed that executives in Bangalore were the most optimistic in the world that they had the right environment around them to grow their companies. Two other Indian cities – Mumbai and New Delhi – make the top five, with San Francisco and Beijing completing the line-up (infographic, p25). “Digital ecosystems can thrive without the municipal government playing a proactive role,” the authors of the report, Connecting Commerce: business confidence in the digital environment, conclude. As hard as they are to seed, when business clusters take root, they will thrive under even the harshest environments. No wonder policymakers are still scratching their heads. n We will explore successful city clusters at our next World Built Environment Forum Summit, to be held in Shenzhen, China, on 18-19 May 2020. Register your interest at


manager and the contractor will help ensure that everyone knows the status of the project, and how far within the budget it is, so there are no big financial shocks close to completion. You also have a responsibility as the client to not change your mind too much around things such as overall layout, materials, fixtures and fittings, etc, during the project. When this happens, costs can start to escalate out of control, which the project team may not have anticipated.

Be the master of your own works Taking on a home extension or renovation can be a daunting task. Les Yates AssocRICS, a building surveyor with 30 years’ industry experience, offers his tips on how to ensure a stress-free build

Is it feasible? The first step to consider before embarking on a renovation or extension project is to make sure the works are feasible and financially viable. Is it affordable and is it likely to stay within the budget set? If £30,000 is to be spent on a longed-for extension, will it add a similar amount of value to the property? If not, will it be worth the trouble and disruption of doing it? Get some supervision I would always advise homeowners to hire a qualified and trustworthy project manager to supervise the build and ensure accountability for the project team. They will not only manage the finances and agree interim payments based upon agreed valuations, but also the programme of work, making sure it is to a good standard, on time and to the correct specifications. They will also keep records of all the work taking place – and, importantly, any extra work that might be required – to ensure that the client is not being overcharged.

Employing a chartered professional with a proven track record for the project is always recommended. The money saved through careful planning could potentially cover the cost of the project manager but, just as importantly, they will ensure the build is completed to as high a standard as possible within time and budget constraints. Reputation is everything The project must have a proper schedule of works that a reputable builder with a good track record will follow. Not only do they have to be capable of completing the work, they also have to be reliable people. More often than not, the best builders are found through word of mouth – if someone you know can recommend a builder that they have contracted, I would trust their opinion over an online search-and-rating service.

Retention bonus Before any decorating takes place, the project manager should ensure everything is dried out, and shrinkage has occurred. Even after the works have been completed, I would always advise that contractors are kept on a retention figure – 12 months is usually sufficient. This is important, not only so they’re available to come back and deal with any snagging, but also if there is a more complicated problem that requires substantial further work. … and finally, make sure you’re covered “Homeowners undertaking works should always make sure they are protected in the event of a loss,” says James Vaughan, development underwriter at Hiscox. “This is because, should the worst happen during the works – such as a fire or a flood – and if your insurer has set a limit lower than what you’re spending on your project, you will effectively not be covered. The danger is you could lose not only the money you had set aside for the project, but also the potential market value.” A Hiscox Home Insurance policy includes cover for home renovation and extension works up to £75,000 as standard. A 12.5% discount is available to you as an RICS professional. Call 0808 278 8195 to get a quote, or visit to find out more

Keep things in check In the latter stages of the project, make sure the finances continue to look sound. Regular meetings with the project OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 27

THE STARTUP ’ S SURVIVAL KIT Time is money, especially for small businesses with limited resources. Could any of these productivity tools give you a boost?





A free, secure and easy-to-use online file-hosting service

A desktop or smartphone-based app for organising accounts

WHAT IT DOES / The march of digitisation means that every business, be it large or small, now has ever-increasing data storage needs. Dropbox helps you expand data storage away from in-house servers and on to the cloud. It works by creating a folder on a user’s computer that is synchronised to Dropbox’s servers, and to other devices on which the user has installed Dropbox, so you can keep the same files up to date regardless of the hardware you’re using. Subscribers sign up to a free account with limited storage, while paid subscriptions offer more capacity and additional features.

WHAT IT DOES / Keeping on top of accounts and tracking invoices can be a pain for any time-pressured small business. QuickBooks helps you organise your finances digitally, and all in one place – potentially freeing up more time for client work and increasing business productivity. Business paper waste can be reduced as well – documents, receipts and invoices can be scanned into the software and backed up online, so boxes of physical copies will no longer be needed.

WHAT IT COSTS / 2GB of storage is available for free, but upgrading to “Professional” for around £20 per month allows up to 3,000GB of storage, as well as a 180-day file recovery service.

WHAT IT COSTS / A range of plans for small businesses are available, starting from around £5 per month. A free 30-day trial is available.

IN PRACTICE / “Storing data online means we avoid the need to spend thousands of dollars on a robust server,” says Andrew Hyett MRICS, director of Quintons in New Zealand. “We store everything from photos to drone videos and 3D scans. Your files are always available even if you are offline, as they will automatically update when you are back in the office or, if essential, via your mobile’s hot spot. Our office is in Wellington, which is prone to earthquakes, so having our data backed up online ensures business continuity should a seismic event occur that closes our office and restricts access to our server.”

IN PRACTICE / “I don’t employ any staff or have admin help, so QuickBooks comes in really handy,” says Chichester-based Tim Kenny AssocRICS. “Working as an independent surveyor can be tough, but it allows me to provide a high level of service to clients and a chance to maintain a good work-life balance. To achieve the latter without compromising the former, I’ve got to operate efficiently, so the app is ideal for that. I particularly like how it presents all the information I need around cashflow and minimal overdue invoices on the home screen. On the downside, it does occasionally do odd things, such as changing the due date on invoices to today’s date every time I save it. Hopefully this will be sorted on the next update. I pay around £14 per month, but it’s worth it for the amount of time I save.”

DRAWBACKS / Uploading and downloading files can be slow at times, and because folders cannot be individually “locked”, security could be a concern.

DRAWBACKS / A lack of customisation for reports, and limits for file size and the number of users, might frustrate larger operations.

IN A NUTSHELL / Although the free version is adequate for small businesses, it’s worth upgrading for the bigger storage capacity and higher level of security.

IN A NUTSHELL / Great for cutting paper waste, and accessing and organising your accounts from anywhere. Some may find the interface hard to use. OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 29



Construction estimating software that takes the hard work out of preparing estimates, tenders and bills of quantity

A project collaboration app that encourages engagement

WHAT IT DOES / Rather than using traditional paper-based methods for carrying out measurement works, which usually involves an inordinate amount of time taking-off from construction drawings and inputting the data into spreadsheets, CostX automates these processes. The timesaving software can take measurements from data files of 2D drawings, as well as generate automatic quantities from BIM or 3D models. WHAT IT COSTS / Standalone, network and portable licences are available across a range of CostX products, and free trial periods are also available. IN PRACTICE / “We used to spend a tremendous amount of time overworking architects’ and engineers’ drawings with notes, measurements and quantifications,” says Kenny Telfer MRICS, director of Scottish quantity surveyor Torridon CPM.“Completing these tasks digitally saves time, increases accuracy, and if there are further queries we can simply open up the drawing and see what was measured at a certain point in time. Six months down the line, if a client is unhappy about particular costs being too high, we can then work with the architect to value-engineer areas of the design back to an acceptable budget. Once we have the new drawings, CostX recalculates and updates our costs. Although using the software can be quite expensive, its value will really depend on how much you use it. For us, it’s well worth it.” DRAWBACKS / Costs for use and training can be quite high – and time will need to be set aside for training to measure more complicated 3D BIM models. IN A NUTSHELL / Revolutionary, time-saving technology for quantity surveyors, but initial outlays for software licences may be quite steep for some.

WHAT IT DOES / The smartphone and desktop-based app uses colourful boards, lists and cards to help visualise, organise and prioritise projects. Coworkers can collaborate on ideas, see who’s working on what, which tasks are outstanding, and what’s coming up next. Comments, photos, videos or PDFs can be added to tasks, which are then synchronised to everyone’s devices, and backed up in the cloud. WHAT IT COSTS / A limited version is available for free, while business versions start from around $10 per month and bring customisation and automation. IN PRACTICE / “I run a small consultancy, and last year a government client of ours was using Trello to facilitate project management around a very diverse team,” explains Kathryn Bourke MRICS, managing director of Watford-based Whole Life. “Initially, it was to provide us with a work plan, which was kept on the various home-screen cards featured on the app. We could also access individual work streams, where everyone in the team can post notes and files. It was disconcerting at first, as it was so different to what I was used to, but I became so impressed with it that we started using it on our own projects. Its transparency is a key aspect – it helps you see the wider picture of all work streams and deadlines without feeling overwhelmed. However, the cards do need to be maintained to remain effective.” DRAWBACKS / The app’s redeeming simplicity also means it may be unsuitable for large projects, and it cannot be used offline. IN A NUTSHELL / It could change your firm’s whole approach to project management, but might require careful “in-app”management to avoid boards and tasks overwhelming teams.


5/ ETECH Stress-free mobile mortgage report software WHAT IT DOES / Desktop or tablet-based software that helps surveyors carry out residential mortgage valuation reports. Information is captured in a consistent format, while site notes, photographs and floorplans can be included in the final digital report. A database of comparable properties aids valuations, and with all data backed up online, an accessible audit trail is available to support any defence claims. WHAT IT COSTS / Transaction based, each report can cost as little as a few pounds. IN PRACTICE / “It’s an incredibly useful tool for residential surveyors,” says Joe Arnold MRICS, managing director at Arnold & Baldwin in Croydon. “The site notes are mapped to lender guidance and criteria, so, for example, if I’m doing a mortgage valuation on the 10th floor of a building and there’s no lift, the software will decline the valuation because the lender’s criteria stipulates there must be a lift at that height. We also used to have to manually check a huge number of comparable properties, but because the software is linked to Rightmove, this is all taken care of. More than anything, I like how it ensures we have consistent and legible reports. In the past, a colleague might have filled out a form in illegible handwriting, and if they left the company, we couldn’t work out what had been written.” DRAWBACKS / Although mortgage valuation report data can also be fed into eTech’s HomeBuyer Report “sister” app, it currently does not link lender guidance notes across the two, says Arnold, “so filling out the same data twice can be a pain.” IN A NUTSHELL / The software’s quick, efficient and low-cost digital reports are great value, but interoperability with other software could be improved.


This recently launched database allows users to calculate the whole-life carbon emissions associated with each phase of a building’s lifecycle, so you can identify where carbon reductions can be made throughout the construction process. Furthermore, because you can access other buildings’ data, your designs can be benchmarked against other projects in the database.


The online subscription service contains a vast amount of technical information on a range of property and construction-related topics, as well as government legislation, RICS regulations and case law. With more than 25,000 pages of constantly updated information, it can help you put theory into practice, and potentially help to resolve workplace issues. A free trial is available. OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 31




Josephine Lee won the Property, Infrastructure and Construction category at this year’s Women of the Future Southeast Asia Awards for her work as an inspiring emerging leader. After joining Knight Frank six years ago she spent two years in China before returning to Singapore to oversee the property portfolios of global brands. How did you get started in the industry? It was around 2002. People were telling me that real estate was a sunset industry. I’d dispute that – no matter whether the economy is going up or down, you still need a roof over your head. I thought: why not give it a go? I’m very fortunate that I made the choice to study real estate at the National University of Singapore, graduated in 2007 and discovered an industry that I truly enjoy working in. You were seconded to China as Knight Frank interim head of the Beijing office services team. What was that like? It was exciting but challenging. Running a brokerage team that was hired by my predecessor was a steep learning curve. I had to adjust to a very different business culture. There were a lot 32 / MODUS / OCTOBER 2019

more social engagements and meetings with governmental officials. I have learnt that one has to be consistent, flexible and appreciate that you are in a foreign land. It was daunting, but I’ve grown tremendously, both professionally and as a person. You’ve now returned to Singapore to lead Knight Frank’s regional business development across Asia Pacific. What’s been your most rewarding project to date? I recently finalised a 1m ft2 (92,900 m2) deal in the Suzhou Industrial Park near Shanghai, which took 26 months to complete. We have been thrown many curveballs and there’s been a lot of government hoops to jump through. I’m really glad to be part of this team; we’ve worked very hard to close this deal and it’s proof that having the right people in place is vital to the successful delivery of a project. How do you get the best out of your team? By harnessing each other’s strengths, empowering the team by giving them responsibility and trusting them to deliver. In the face of challenges that a team member cannot overcome, they should be comfortable enough with each other to be open about it so we can all work together to address the matter. It’s never a solo effort. What is the most important skill or personal quality needed to succeed in a job like yours? You have to lead by example, and have integrity and humility. Arrogance will not serve you well in the long term. Being a great listener and being open to others’ perspectives is key. As a woman who’s progressed to high levels in the industry, do you feel like an outlier? Or is it becoming more the norm? I do feel like an outlier. On the whole there are still very few female leaders, particularly in our industry. The current crop are strong women who have paved the route for people like me, and I am grateful that we are having this conversation to increase awareness. Where do you feel the built environment is in terms of diversity and inclusion? It’s great that corporations are looking closer at these issues and announcing more female leadership. Places that you would assume are male dominated, such as China and Japan, are making efforts to support upcoming female leaders. But how many corporations are actually implementing the structures that allow the middle managers to develop these leadership qualities? Diversity and inclusion is not only about gender, it must also ensure that people of any sexual orientation, race and age have equal opportunities. RICS is a proud sponsor of the Women of the Future Awards. Submit your nomination at


“ You have to lead by example, you have to have integrity and humility ”



Futureproof your skills base When you’re running a small business, it can be hard to put together the perfect mix of skills and people for the work you have now, let alone for challenges of the future. These five industry pros explain how to get the balance just right

Find out more about the talent and skills needed to futureproof our industry at



James Burkitt MRICS is founder of chartered environmental surveyor Aviron Associates, Oxfordshire

Dylan Williams MRICS is partner at Swansea-based chartered surveyor and estate agent, Rees Richards

Because raising headcount is a risk, many small business owners will be familiar with just getting by – riding out peaks and troughs. The danger is that people get so busy, they do everything rather than what they’re best at, or want to do more of. We hit this position recently, so I decided to bring in someone specifically to provide administrative support. This simple change will free people up to have honest conversations about what they’re really good at, what new skills they want or need to acquire, and how we as a business can support them. Now, we can create a skills audit of everyone, and build the business case for training them according to how we see our market developing. Our business provides land insights to civil and structural engineers, so it may well be that we next hire someone in this field, to grow our business by offering more services to existing clients. This way, we won’t trample on our existing employees’ current skillsets. We’ll train from the bottom up, and in doing so people will see where they fit, and what skills they need to progress. This is also a good way to protect our uninterrupted growth. We haven’t lost any staff since launching in 2008, but it’s bound to happen at some point. At least this way, we’ll have created a formal skills structure that new recruits will be able to slip into.

Hiring when you need people is too late. Sometimes you have to take the plunge and recruit ahead of time, to get ahead of your competition and capitalise on emerging markets. In our region we noticed that the markets for second homes and commercial coastal properties were beginning to take off. So we decided to hire in advance of work coming in and expand into these areas. It’s why we took on two new hires in June, which is a big commitment for us, given the business is still only 20 people. What we’ve now done is effectively create a new department. Some might say that’s too much of a risk, but for us it’s an informed decision. We like to plan roughly 18 months to two years ahead, and work out what our skill requirements might be, including what resourcing constraints might prevent us from achieving this. For example, our location outside the main metropolitan areas makes attracting talent challenging. This is another reason we wanted to hire our new people as soon as possible, in case it took time to find them. To ensure the talent we want is attracted to us, we’ve looked at our benefits package, too. Our new hires will, for instance, be able to enjoy a profit share on new fees. Firms have to move with the times, and respond to new markets as they stand out, so for us, these hires formed part of our future-scoping exercise.






Calum Campbell MRICS is managing partner at chartered surveyor Graham & Sibbald, Glasgow

Rennie Dalrymple MRICS is managing partner at construction consultant Bruceshaw in London

Robert Postlethwaite is MD of share scheme and employee ownership specialist Postlethwaite in London

Futureproofing for skills is as much about focusing on retention as it is about acquisition of skills, and for us this means being able to provide support for the career progression staff want. Our aim is that every person in the firm should have an appropriate career path and opportunity to achieve their full potential, attaining the right level within the firm for them. To help this, we’ve created a new tier of progression: director-level roles, which sit between associate and partner, and come with new training and responsibilities – and bonus systems. We wouldn’t have faced the threat of people leaving had we not done it, but it was more to show people how they could move up. It’s only been going a few months, but already eight people have been promoted, which then creates opportunities for those below them to move up. We try to ensure everyone gets an “appropriate landing” in the business – giving them the career best suited to their skills. Because having roles for people to move into at the top creates lots of internal movement, we’re naturally building talent pools throughout the organisation. Having these clear structures is a great way for us to manage our succession planning. This attention is also repeated at entry level, too, with graduate-entry routes and pathways for development available to people if they want it as soon as they join.

Culture is an often-ignored aspect of the skills conversation, but one that we believe feeds into retention and how our people are engaged and want to grow. Three years ago we did some major work on the way we wanted our people to behave – how they spoke to clients, colleagues and peers – as the basis for how we wanted to move forward as a business. In return we better codified our side of the bargain for achieving this, including providing partner mentoring, coaching, and training support to help people reach their career goals. We’ve also enhanced our maternity/ paternity offering, and done more to promote flexible working, which is having a big impact on morale and engagement. In turn we’ve updated our organisational governance. Now, all service lines meet monthly to discuss how the business strategy is going, and what we need from a skills point of view. It forces us to talk about talent pipelines – for instance do we do more training, or bring in new hires, to enable us to achieve our plans. All of this is having a positive impact on talent attraction, induction (our values are there for all new hires to see), and retention. Churn is down compared with three years ago. By having governance backed up with clear skills-based policies, we feel we are more agile and adaptable to change because we’re identifying our skills needs early.

The way a business is structured has a huge influence on its ability to futureproof itself, as the setup can either help or hinder efforts to attract and retain talent. Making your employees owners in the business – through share schemes, employee trusts or direct ownership models turns passive staff into those who feel they have a real stake in the future direction of the business. Surveyors already have quasi-ownership structures – featuring partner levels – and therefore have some experience at this already. The benefit of employee ownership is that it radically boosts engagement. Edinburgh Napier University found that 80% of employee-owner staff say they feel a sense of achievement from their jobs because they are stakeholders. However, it’s a model that requires preparation. A shift of legal entity alone won’t create change. Employee ownership needs to be believed in by leaders as the right thing to do. Thought will also need applying to the details – for instance whether employees get regular dividends, or shares they can sell when they leave. Get the detail right and it can be a way of futureproofing against talent loss. It’s no surprise to me that employee ownership is the fastest growing form of business ownership in the UK, now expanding at a rate of 10% a year. OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 35



Mass appraisal The explosion in the availability of property data, coupled with advances in machine learning, means the quality and transparency of automated valuation models is only going to get better, explains Brian Guerin FRICS


Mass appraisal is the valuation of a group of properties using common data, standardised methods and statistical testing. Like single property appraisal, mass appraisal is rooted in the three traditional approaches to value: direct comparison, cost and income. The differences are the scope of work and the tools used to complete the analysis. For municipal authorities that base taxes on the market value of property, mass appraisal is an efficient and cost-effective way to value all properties in a fair, transparent and consistent manner, because properties with the same attributes will receive the same value. By using mass assessment it is possible to produce very accurate values that can be explained to property taxpayers. Mass appraisal relies on good-quality data and sound market analysis to develop an automated valuation model (AVM) that estimates property values through mathematical modelling. Most major assessment jurisdictions in North America use AVMs to establish values for taxation purposes for both domestic and non-domestic property. Harvest time The mass appraisal process starts with the collection of property and market data. For residential AVMs, this data includes prices and the property inventory for homes that have been sold. AVMs for incomeproducing properties collect income and expense information – such as building renovations – in addition to sale prices. The analyst then works with that data to understand the value influences and

conditions for a given market area to identify what property characteristics influence value. For a residential AVM these will typically include a home’s living area, plot dimensions, age and location. Based on this exploratory data analysis, the analyst then specifies the mathematical model to represent supply-and-demand factors in the market area, calibrating the model so that it allocates an appropriate value for each property characteristic. Once the AVM is calibrated, it is tested to ensure that the model produces accurate, consistent and unbiased estimates of market value. In the public sector, the AVM is then applied to all properties within a given market area to estimate a value for taxation purposes. In the private sector, the AVM may be used for mortgage lending purposes, fraud detection or to assist a single property appraiser as part of their analysis. Applications such as online real estate database Zillow use AVMs and machine learning so that users can type in an address and get an instant valuation. It is important to remember that no AVM is perfect. Models based on goodquality data developed by experienced analysts using credible methods will produce sound value estimates more often than not. Cases in which the AVM may produce a less accurate picture include properties with unusual attributes, or market areas with limited data. Users of the technology must always apply their professional judgement when reviewing values produced by an AVM. Mass appraisal will continue to evolve and improve as the quantity of available

data increases and new analytical tools are developed. Better spatial data available through geographic information systems (GIS) will allow for AVMs to more accurately adjust values for locational influences. Cloud computing will enable local authorities to develop AVMs using advanced analytics and reduce the processing time needed to apply the model to all properties within their jurisdiction. The potential exists to apply a series of AVMs that will create a series of values for any given property, which can be used to improve the quality of valuations beyond the traditional methods of measurement. Self appraisal As technology evolves, so will the required skillset for mass appraisal analysts, who will need to develop skills in advanced analytics, geographic information systems and open-source coding in addition to their appraisal expertise. Data science and analytics has had a transformational effect on many industries – think of the “moneyball” approach in baseball – but AVM technology isn’t something that surveyors should be afraid of. It is often difficult for valuers to access information, and AVMs have the potential to place a much richer dataset at their fingertips. The ability to analyse 100 comparables, instead of six or seven, will lead to a more transparent valuation process and more reliable conclusions about value. Brian Guerin FRICS has more than 25 years’ experience in valuation of real property, utilising mass appraisal for ad valorem taxation purposes in Canada OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 37


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environment industry, and better places for the communities we serve. Sign up to receive the report in advance of release to the wider membership and the general public at RICS AND BBC JOIN FORCES TO HONOUR PROFESSION ’ S SOCIAL CHAMPIONS

GOVERNING COUNCIL ELECTIONS: YOUR VOTE IS VITAL Elections are coming up for the RICS Governing Council’s 15 geographic market seats, and it’s crucial that you have your say. Our profession needs strong leadership and innovative thinking from the widest range of talent to help us navigate the challenges that lie ahead, from urbanisation, through climate change to the digital revolution. The 15 market seats will help to ensure that we have a diverse array of voices setting the strategy and direction for RICS. Voting is your opportunity to choose who sits on the profession’s highest decision-making body. Please make sure you take part and encourage other members of the profession to vote. The voting period is open from 17 October to 21 November. For more information, visit



From construction to valuation, the use of data in our industry is exploding – but so too are the risks. The mishandling of sensitive, personal or client da ta can have serious consequences. For RICS professionals and firms, the challenge lies in providing assurance to clients that their data is being properly managed. RICS is consulting on a Data Handling and Prevention of Cybercrime professional statement, which establishes best practice to help you reduce the risk of falling victim to a cyber attack, and protect you from disciplinary and legal consequences. All RICS professionals and regulated firms will be required to adhere to this statement, so it’s imperative that its contents are informed by you. Share your views at

In our groundbreaking 2015 report, RICS Futures: Our Changing World, we explored the impact of disruptive trends from mass urbanisation to the revolutionary promise of big data. Since then, we have engaged extensively with RICS professionals, clients and other industry leaders to understand how our profession can respond to these issues and create better places to live and work. RICS has identified three keys areas on which our profession can refocus to achieve this change: sustainable 21st-century practice; adoption of new technology; and developing new skills and education reform. Achieving the goals set out in our upcoming report will ensure a bright future for our profession, greater confidence in the built and natural

We’re delighted to announce that 2020 will mark the first year of our new RICS Social Impact Awards, in partnership with the BBC, to celebrate the UK’s most outstanding built projects and surveyors that are making a positive difference to society. The awards will celebrate each region’s top built projects – and the talented teams or individuals behind them – that have significantly improved their communities and local economies. The window for awards entries opens on 21 October. Visit for more details, and to submit your nominations. DECEMBER DATE SE T FOR RICS ANNUAL GENERAL MEE TING This year’s AGM will take place at 15:30 on 2 December in London, at the Royal Garden Hotel. All RICS professionals are welcome to attend, either in person or remotely. Items on the agenda include: President and CEO’s report on RICS corporate performance for 2018/19; an update on financial performance for the period ending 31 July 2019; financial statements for the period ending 31 July 2018; appointing a new professional auditor; and to note the composition of Governing Council for Session 2019/2020. Members will be able to vote to appoint the professional auditor, either via electronic keypad if you are attending in person, or via a secure voting link for those following proceedings remotely. For details of how to register for the AGM, visit The agenda, financial and performance statements for 2018, and any other relevant documents, will be available on the website by 31 October. OCTOBER 2019 / MODUS / 41


EVENTS For details of conferences, training sessions and CPD seminars near you, go to

Digital Construction Week 16-17 October, Excel Centre, London The leading event for innovation and technology in the built environment



Diploma in Adjudication in the Construction Industry Online training (18 months) Start date: 13 November CPD: 420 hours £3,919

Harris Debate: Climate change – your impact, your responsibilities 30 October (online) CPD: 1.5 hours Free

Certificate in Construction Project Management Distance learning Start date: 27 November CPD: 48 hours £945

RICS Telecoms Forum Conference 14 November, London CPD: 5.5 hours £270 telecomsconference

RICS Water Conference 19 November, Leicester CPD: 5 hours £210 RICS Party Walls and Boundaries Roadshow November-December, various locations CPD: 3.5 hours £150

All prices exclusive of VAT or local taxes



Please email obituary notifications to or call +44 (0)247 686 8555


COLIN WALKER [0090974] AND WALKER DUNN LIMITED [739971], L ANCASHIRE DISCIPLINARY PANEL HE ARING — 12-13.06.19 The Panel heard one charge against Mr Colin Walker and two charges against his Firm, Walker Dunn Limited. The Panel found all charges against Mr Walker and the Firm proved and imposed a Reprimand and a Fine of £10,638 against Mr Walker and a Reprimand and a Fine of £2,000 against the Firm. The Panel also ordered Mr Walker and the Firm to contribute towards RICS’ costs.

John Anthony Christopher FRICS, 1924-2019 Peterborough

Richard Wilkie FRICS 1942-2019, Newcastle



Terrence Hughes FRICS 1946-2019 West Glamorgan


Alan Christie MRICS 1960-2019, Lancashire


Gordon DC Allport FRICS 1943-2019, Stamford

Michael Oliver FRICS 1933-2019, Lancashire

John Anthony Christopher FRICS, 1924-2019 Deeping St James


Paul Hardwick FRICS 1952-2019, Leicestershire

LONDON Errol Anthony Brown MRICS, 1962-2019 Wembley

NORTH EAST Gordan Newcombe FRICS 1936-2019

Nicholas Combes FRICS 1939-2019, Hampshire Christopher Meaney FRICS, 1947-2019 John Robert Stokoe FRICS 1930-2019, Westerham

WEST MIDLANDS George Brian Espley FRICS, 1933-2019 Market Drayton

42 / MODUS / OCTOBER 2019

Ronald Michael Ritterman FRICS 1945-2018, Zurich If you are facing hardship after the loss of a family member, or considering leaving a legacy, please contact LionHeart, the charity for RICS members and their families. You can call +44 (0)121 289 3300, email info@, or visit

MR TARIQ SAMEE MRICS [1130733], ESSEX, IG3 DISCIPLINARY PANEL HE ARING — 16-17.07.19 A Disciplinary Panel considered two charges against Mr Tariq Samee, contrary to Rule 3 of the Rules of Conduct for Members 2007. The Panel found the charges proved and imposed a Reprimand, together with conditions upon Mr Samee’s continuing membership of RICS. The Panel also ordered Mr Samee to contribute towards RICS’ costs.

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Quantity Surveying / Project Management Practice Required An existing and well established Cost Consultant & Project Management Practice is seeking to acquire small to medium sized Quantity Surveying / Project Management Practices in the UK and abroad. We would consider all practices from a sole trader to medium sized practices offering Quantity Surveying, Project Management or MultiDisciplinary Services All enquiries will be treated with the utmost of privacy and confidentiality. Please Contact: Martin Mockler FCCA, Partner, Evans Mockler Accountants, Auditors, Business and Tax Advisors Tel: 020 8449 9632 Email:

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LionHeart is here for the ones you leave behind too LionHeart is here for all RICS professionals and their loved ones whatever issues they face – whether that’s support through ill-health, a bereavement, work or money worries. LionHeart is an independent charity and doesn’t receive any grant funding. We rely on donations to continue helping people just like you, when they need it most. A gift to LionHeart in your will can make a real difference to the lives of future generations of surveyors and their families. Would you consider leaving 1% of your estate to us in your will to help us make that difference?

To find out more, please get in touch with our fundraiser Carolyn McDonald on 0121 289 3300 or email

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RICS RECRUIT R IC S R E C R UI T.C OM / T O A D V E R T I S E , E M A IL S A MG @ W E A R E S UND AY.C OM OR C A L L + 4 4 (0)2 0 7 10 1 2 7 7 9

All the best jobs RESIDENTIAL SURVEYORS & VALUERS All the best jobs with premier employers, including lenders, financial organisations, large corporate and smaller non-corp surveying firms. Full and part time, employed & self employed opportunities. If you are AssocRICS/MRICS/FRICS and a registered valuer, ideally with relevant experience then call us first. Immediate positions throughout London/M25, Avon, Beds, Berks, Birmingham, Bucks, Cambs, Cheshire, Derbys, Devon S, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Hants, Herts, Kent, Lancs, Leics, Lincs, Gtr Manch, Medway, Mersey, Middx, Norfolk, Northants, Notts, Somerset, Shrops, Staffs, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex E, Teesside, Tyneside, Wales S&N, Warks, Wilts, Worcs, W.Mids, Yorks. Also, Staff Surveyor positions (many areas of UK), Senior Compliance and Private Survey Only opportunities. Call for latest locations and package details.

Email your CV in confidence to or speak to the industry’s most experienced recruitment team, Graham Johnson 07821 708131 or Jeff Johnson 07940 594093

The next issue of Modus will be published on 14 November 2019



Opportunities for experienced Residential Surveyors – UK Wide As one of the few independent recruitment agencies operating exclusively within the property sector, we have a unique overview of roles across all major and minor firms. Why shop around talking to each and every company when you can speak to us, in confidence and with no obligation, and get a clear view of the whole market. Opportunities within corporate environments: Remuneration includes a basic salary of £45-60k (depending on location), bonuses (based on fee income), a car now, (or allowance), For well over 20 years we’ve healthcare and pension. been placing surveying professionals BA / CT / NR / PO / RM / SP / TN / DA / NR

in positions across the country, at

Opportunities within non-corporate, some of theenvironments: most prestigious practice-based companies around. Offering the same security and market presence of corporate employment without the focus / points or Whether you’reona volume Chartered Surveyor impossible turnaround; five jobs/points per or AssocRICS, a Commercial Valuer or day is the norm! Basic salary of £45-60k Building Surveyor – we’ve got your plus generous package. BAnext / SP /job. BB / BD / CB / CF / NP / EX / HP / SL We / IP /are L / WA / LEto / LL / CH / LS / LU / happy discuss and/ HG potentially SGoffer / ME /contrast NG / SE to your current situation, If you’re not looking make a move or provide advicetoon the best move to yourself, why your not ask about our generous maximise career path. referral scheme?

Consultant / Freelance Surveyors: Surveyors required to undertake both valuation and surveys on a freelance / consultancy basis for both panel derived and instructed workload. Weprivately currently have numerous and Fee values vary depending on client but immediate vaccancies for experienced would certainly be considered reasonable and thosePayment seeking based on insurveyors the current market. up to 60/40 split across payablethe to the cross-training UK.individual consultant on a self employed / limited Some current locations include: company basis. PII is provided in all Residential Surveying: circumstances. Please call for our latest London & locations ofCounties interest./ Midlands / The North

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Cross training opportunities: North & East London / Southof West London Opportunities for Surveyors other Cross-training: faculties to cross train into Residential Surveying to /location WR / CV / (subject B / DY / NG NR / PL /and EX / L experience). Training can be provided to Building Surveyor: AssocRICS / MRICS Surveyors London / Leeds / Newcastle (with VRS eligibility) from most surveying

Unrivaled Property Recruitment Expertise. backgrounds so previous direct experience is not essential. Salary available is circa £50k with car allowance and bonuses on top. B / CV / CO / IP

With many more vaccancies available please do call should you be interested Contact us first: in having an informat chat about the Andy Welham in your own location. opportunities 0208 514 9177

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An opportunity has arisen to join this Central London based firm of Chartered Surveyors, carrying out commercial valuations throughout London. About the company: London’s team comprises ten Chartered Surveyors, all of whom are Registered Valuers and know London inside out.

Wednesday 16 October 2019 RICS HQ, Parliament Square, London Whether you’re looking for your first career break, or have years of experience to draw on, RICS Recruit Live will return this autumn to help you future proof your career and take it to the next level.

At the event you can:

• Speak directly with employers about the latest and upcoming vacancies • Network with leading employers and fellow surveyors • Speak to the RICS training and RICS membership teams • Listen to the latest insights from key speakers in the surveying profession • Gain personalised CV advice • Gain informal CPD points

Visit to book your free space today.

The company strives to deliver a bespoke valuation service to clients worldwide. Our clients include Private Banks, Lending Institutions, Solicitors, Accountants, Hedge Funds, Mortgage Brokers and Private Clients. About the role: We are looking for someone to immediately join our commercial valuation team. Experience in valuing residential properties would be an advantage but is not essential. Salary: £60,000 - £80,000 Benefits: Car allowance, pension and private health care. Our office is in Mayfair W1 and the position will be part office part home based dependent upon work load. If this appeals to you then please get in touch with Simon White for a confidential chat on 07775 794 215 or send your CV to

Join Jess at e.surv As the leading residential surveying firm in the UK, we can offer you: Multi award-winning flexible benefits Competitive salary and generous incentives Concise postcode areas and flexible working Career progression opportunities Mentoring scheme for all new starters Attractive selection of company cars We’re currently recruiting surveyors nationwide. Please contact us for an informal chat: Matt Siddons: 07794 392 858 Mark Cowlishaw-Booth: 07968 604 607 Email:

Jessica Van Rensburg MRICS, e.surv Chartered Surveyors


UNDERVALUED? Connells Survey & Valuation are seeking Residential Surveyors.

If you are interested in working for us then we would love to hear from you. Please contact:

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Tyser Greenwood are looking for MRICS/FRICS Residential Chartered Surveyors to join our nationwide Surveying team (from March 2020 onwards)

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W H A T I F…

…t he U S-C hina t r ade war b e c o m e s c o n t a g i o u s? A worldwide outbreak of protectionism will result in real estate investors catching a cold, says Simon Rubinsohn

50 / MODUS / OCTOBER 2019

green. The difficulty is that once this more muscular approach sets in, it often proves hard to row back, and more often escalates into something significantly worse. A rising tide of protectionism has, in the past, tended to be associated with less positive economic outcomes, if not recessions. Such an environment isn’t likely to be good news for the built environment sector either. It’s not just that a weaker growth picture will have a direct impact on development opportunities, crimping both demand and viability, but the increasing application of trade barriers is, over time, likely to have an adverse effect on capital flows. Cross-border real estate investment activity last year might have been the third highest on record, but I expect any further fracturing in the trading regime will begin to be reflected in investor behaviour.

“ An escalation could hasten the collapse of the rules-based international trading system ”

Simon Rubinsohn is chief economist of RICS


In the years since the global financial crisis, globalisation has become something of a dirty word. Widening inequalities within economies have provided the fuel for a new generation of populist politicians who, at the very minimum, have begun to question the “fairness” of many of the existing bilateral trade arrangements and are now making the case for change. This is clearly evident in the ongoing hostilities between the US and China, which has widened beyond its initial focus into something more akin to a battle for strategic control of future technologies. For the time being, the EU and other countries remain on the sidelines of this bitter dispute, but it is not difficult to see how they could be drawn into a wider trade war if this issue were to escalate. And if they were, it could hasten the collapse of the rules-based international trading system. That is, of course, taking a huge – and rather pessimistic –leap of imagination. It’s far more likely we will have a period of more frequent trade interruptions as bilateral relationships are frayed. And in this environment there will inevitably still be some winners – businesses who produce substitutes for imported goods that are subsequently placed under restricted entry may, at least for a period, be rubbing their hands. However, I suspect that there will be many more losers, some of whom we are already hearing from as costs begin to rise in response to the imposition of tariffs. Let’s be clear – very few policymakers openly boast about wanting to restrict trade. It’s just that when they look at the detail of existing arrangements, they feel their country is getting an unfair rub of the



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Profile for RICS

The Start-Up Issue - Modus October 2019  

This month's edition is a start-up special: how to survive, thrive and get ahead with your small business in today's challenging and fast-ch...

The Start-Up Issue - Modus October 2019  

This month's edition is a start-up special: how to survive, thrive and get ahead with your small business in today's challenging and fast-ch...

Profile for ricsmodus