Is England’s planning system in the wrong direction?

By Victor Alarsa

From a developer perspective, sometimes the UK planning system can be quite intricate and vague. One of the reasons is due to its uncertainty at the initial stage.

Before starting a site negotiation with the landowner, the developer needs to calculate the residual land value. However, to appraise the prospective development, the developer needs to know precisely the maximum number of unities, max stories height, and all other building metrics. That is only possible if the developer officially consults the local planning authority (pre-application), which is going to charge for the information (ranging from a few dozens to thousands of pounds).

That is a dilemma: the developer needs to decide whether it is worth to pay a pre-application fee for each and every new deal to verify the residual land value.

Continue reading Is England’s planning system in the wrong direction?

An overview of the “UK-complex-housing-planning-permission-system”

By Victor Alarsa

Who’s responsible for granting planning permissions?

The planning system is designed to be applied by local authorities. There are three layers of authorities:

  • Nationally (national plan)
  • County councils (regional plan)
  • Unitary authorities such as districts, boroughs or city councils, hereafter referred as to Local Planning Authority (LPA)

LPA is ultimately responsible for designing local plans and granting planning permission.

Continue reading An overview of the “UK-complex-housing-planning-permission-system”

The UK Private Rented Sector (PRS) perspectives and Build to Rent (B2R) opportunities

By Victor Alarsa

The PRS is the fastest-growing sector in the UK properties market. It is England’s second-largest housing tenure after owner occupied, 62% against 20%, as shown below:

Image 1

Source: Alex Bate, Building the new private rented sector: issues and prospects (England), 2017

Continue reading The UK Private Rented Sector (PRS) perspectives and Build to Rent (B2R) opportunities

The benefits of SUMPRODUCT?

By Victor Alarsa

If you are one of those who loves to model using lots of “IF”, “AND” and “OR” functions, then this article is for you.

Let’s discuss the SUMPRODUCT, which literally means summing up the multiplication (product) of two or more different arrays.

For example, if you want to calculate total rental value of a property with different floor sizes and rents per square foot, then you simply need to multiply each floor size by its corresponding rent and sum up everything in the end.

Continue reading The benefits of SUMPRODUCT?

London: Density vs. Price, Challenges & Opportunities

By Victor Alarsa (valarsa@cambridgerefinance.com)
& Maria Wiedner (mwiedner@cambridgerefinance.com)

We are living in the age of the City. Larger and denser cities are likelier to be more innovative and generate more wealth. For instance, as the population of a city increases by 100%, its residents get 115% more innovative, productive and hence 15% wealthier1. This attracts more people, which, in turn, makes the city larger, denser, more innovative, wealthier. This cycle continues up until a point when pollution, house unaffordability, traffic and crime outweigh the benefits of agglomeration, i.e. when a city becomes too large for its own sake.

Density in general is massively beneficial, for example in 2015, London represented 14% of the UK population but was responsible for 23% of its GDP. However, the virtuous cycle of agglomeration needs to be accompanied by a housing expansion, which many cities struggle with. In London, finding housing accommodation is a challenge; land is scarce and restrictions in planning permission deter new constructions. Demand, on the other hand, is further growing as people want to move to London where jobs are available and the clustering of people has made public goods such as entertainment, health and transport more accessible.

Continue reading London: Density vs. Price, Challenges & Opportunities

What is covenant strength and why does it matter?

By Cleo Folkes

As House of Fraser announced the closure of 31 stores earlier this month and Debenhams issued their third profit warnings in the year today, we hear that landlords worry about covenant strength. What is it exactly that they worry about?

In property you often hear the word covenant strength when people talk about a tenant or the quality of an investment property or real estate loan. When you Google the definition for covenant it will tell you it is “an agreement” or something you “agree by lease, deed, or other legal contract”. Thus, when people talk about covenant strength, they are talking about how secure the income is coming from a lease with a tenant. Continue reading What is covenant strength and why does it matter?

What is the relationship between yields, risk, rents and price/value in property?

Yields have many different meanings in finance – yield to maturity, running yield, dividend yield, interest yield – and in property finance, the case is very similar. We can talk about initial yield, equivalent yield, reversionary yield etc. It is, therefore, really easy to get lost in a “yield” conversation, unless you stop the other person and ask: “which yield?!”

If you are emotionally intelligent enough (and I bet you are if you are reading this!), you won’t do this so blatantly. So, let’s break down this “yield” conversation first to ascertain the relationship between yields, risk etc. Continue reading What is the relationship between yields, risk, rents and price/value in property?

RICS and Cambridge Finance collaborate to bridge the skills gap between real estate and finance

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is delighted to announce a collaboration with Cambridge Finance to develop a comprehensive training course that will help bridging the gap between real estate and finance education.

The growing sophistication of the property and financial markets has meant that investment surveyors have not only been requested to advise on property location, covenants and physical structure of buildings, but also on debt, Continue reading RICS and Cambridge Finance collaborate to bridge the skills gap between real estate and finance

Demystifying real estate financial models

Real Estate financial models are mainly spreadsheets used extensively as an aid in decision support in the areas of property investment and lending. These spreadsheets will ascertain the present value of a stream of cash flows and generate risk / return ratios.

Continue reading Demystifying real estate financial models

How to convince your boss to pay for your financial modelling training

More often than not employees find themselves trapped in a situation where they know they could do a better job, but just don’t have the right skills to implement more efficient routines. Training seems to be the key to solve their problem. However, there is always that question: “Should I pay for my training or should I ask the company to pay for it?”

In our experience, companies are more willing to pay for their staff’s training as long as they can see the short-term results of their investment, mainly improved process or product development.
Continue reading How to convince your boss to pay for your financial modelling training