PRRES Newsletter

April 2009

PRRES 2009 Conference

The PRRES 2009 conference held in Sydney over 18 – 21 January 2009 was an outstanding success and continued the tradition of informative, friendly and supportive PRRES conferences.

156 delegates attended the conference held at the UTS campus in Sydney. A strong international representation from over 15 countries attended, including a group from Tanzania representing the African Real Estate Society. Over 100 papers were presented in a wide range of property research areas including housing, property investment, valuation, property development, sustainability and property education.

Highlights of the conference included:

  • Bob Hargreaves presenting an excellent opening keynote address on housing research
  • John MacFarlane receiving the 2009 PRRES Achievement Award
  • Industry Day, with Barry Brakey from the Australian Government Future Fund presenting an excellent opening session, as well as all other industry speakers giving quality presentations. Thank you to Anthony DeFrancesco for putting this important part of the PRRES program together
  • PRRES Case Competition involving seven teams of property students from various universities competing. This was a highly successful initiative by PRRES and all groups represented themselves very well. Congratulations to the University of Southern California team as the winning team and the UTS team as the runner-up
  • Best refereed conference papers were awarded to Andrea Blake and Connie Susilawati for their paper on “Property education: an evaluation of how well students are prepared for commencing their careers” and Nelson Chan for his paper on “Revisiting valuation of contaminated land in Australia”
  • Successful PhD Colloquium, with seven PhD presentations; this session being well attended and with supportive feedback. Zaharah Manaf and Abdul Jalil Omar received the 2009 PRRES PhD scholarships
  • Conference dinner on Sydney Harbour boat cruise, with wonderful weather and company
  • Property Education Forum sponsored by the API and Property Research Forum sponsored by the RICS
  • Strong support from the PRRES conference sponsors; API, RICS, PINZ, Estate Master, Colonial First State, IPD, Mercer, ADPIA and Emerald; thank you.

Thank you to Hera Antoniades (UTS) for making the PRRES conference registration process, venue facilities and support services at UTS work so well and to Lina Gong (UWS) for handling all of the conference administrative arrangements regarding the academic program. Both Hera and Lina did a wonderful job; thank you.

Thank you also to all PRRES conference delegates for providing an excellent conference environment and supporting property research in the Pacific Rim. We look forward to the next PRRES conference in Wellington, New Zealand in January 2010.

2009 PRRES Conference Organisers

PRRES Case Competition - UniSA Student Feedback

A group of property students including four students from UniSA, Tessa Norman, Amelia Mitchell, Neil Zwaans and David Philpott, were involved in the inaugural Case Competition at the Pacific Rim Real Estate Society (PRRES) 2009 conference.  This competition, initiated by the Auckland University Business School who run an annual case competition, was open to undergraduate property students from the Pacific Rim region and included teams from Australia, New Zealand, USA and Hong Kong universities.

Here is their invaluable feedback!

Student 1

The case competition was an invaluable experience in measuring where we are at as students and as an institution. It’s interesting to see how other students approach complex problem solving and what focus their respective institutions place on parts of the problem. In that I think that we had a strong analytical base with strong problem solving skills, we provided an in-depth analysis but were weak in creative ideas and marketing!  I guess it’s important to know where we are at – after all we will be competing against these people in the broader employment market globally.

Student 2

The competition was very challenging, but we had a great time participating in it. And as a bonus we got to attend the conference and spent some time sightseeing in Sydney.  We arrived on Sunday afternoon and the competition was held on the Monday. On Monday night we had dinner together with all the students and on Tuesday we attended the conference. There were some terrific speakers providing good insights into the current economic situation and the difficulties faced by the property sector. We stayed in a pretty nice hotel and the UniSA even picked up the tab for most meals.  The conference included a four-hour harbour dinner-cruise, which was terrific fun. We spent Wednesday sightseeing before flying home that evening.

In terms of the competition, we had four hours to prepare a ten minute presentation on a Harvard Business School property case study. Our particular case-study dealt with the re-development of an office building into apartments in inner Mexico City. It drew on broad knowledge from the program in terms of finance, market fit, product development criteria and especially risk assessment. Different teams appeared to focus on different aspects and this showed that the different universities have varying priorities in their programs. The eventual winning team from California focused more on marketing whereas we focused more on questioning the financial viability and market fit of the project and on the identification of the major risks.

Overall though, it was a great learning experience and great fun.

Student 3

When it came to the day of the competition we were all quite nervous but excited. The case we received was longer than expected, but we worked through it together very well and in good time. We were happy with how we were able to pull together in a time of high stress and produce an answer and presentation which we believed was at a quality produced by the best of our abilities. After the finalists were announced all the teams were able to watch the final presentations and speak to each other about the case study. This was very interesting as it was clear there were vast differences in the answers the various teams had produced, making us realise that there is not one straightforward answer to a case study.

The case study competition was really great as it taught us to work together very well, and to get a result very quickly. My reading, analytical, and communication skills are also more advanced now. It was also a superb experience to meet a number of the academics which authored multiple papers on our course reading lists. Additionally the industry day provided a great deal of information to us on the current state of the economy and various markets, as well as other topical property issues. Trekking Sydney doing tourist-like activities was also fantastic as I had never been to Sydney.

The recommendation I would make for future teams competing in case study competitions would be to practice lengthy case studies many times before the competition, including the presentations to develop strong presentation skills and ensure good preparation. Additionally, I would recommend to students not to hesitate about doing a case study competition – all the effort is really worth it and it really is an amazing experience!

Student 4

This experience was fantastic in taking the next step from academia to the real world. I think that learning via case studies has great merit. It allows you to take your theory and put it into practice. It would make a great addition to the curriculum if you were able to fit it in. It also forced you to become more disciplined in time management and keeping focused on the big picture.  I think that this tends to get lost in uni where the focus can shift to completion of the next assignment and not looking at what you are learning as a whole and how it can be applied to the real world.

A case competition is not something that I (and I believe the rest of the team) would have entered externally; however as none of us were very "campus orientated" I think that incorporating the case studies into the university curriculum would provide the most benefit.  However speaking to the lecturers at the conference, they felt that a "club" would be successful. As the skills required to undertake a case study competition are not specifically property related it could be a whole school club if required although the mix of disciplines could tax people’s negotiation skills. Though this may not be a bad thing!

I learnt a lot, not only from the case competition, but also from attending the PRRES conference.

UniSA PRRES Case Competition Team

News from Lincoln University

Chris Eves has left Lincoln to take up the chair at QUT. He will be sadly missed as he made a substantial contribution at Lincoln and fitted in perfectly with the culture of the organisation. Applications for the chair he left vacant have recently closed and interviews will be held shortly.

Jane Simpson recently took up a lecturer's position at Lincoln. She is a graduate of Auckland University in both Architecture and Property. In recent years she has been playing and coaching soccer for national and professional teams in Europe and New Zealand but has now embarked on an academic career. With Chris' departure she has been thrown in the deep end taking over some of his third year subjects.

Former Lincoln stalwart Ced Croft is to return to teaching in the second semester 2009. He will be delivering the final year Rural Valuation course on a contract basis while still maintaining the property consultancy business he set up after leaving Lincoln a few years ago. Always very popular with the students, it will be great to have Ced back with a whole new bunch of "real world" stories and contacts from his recent consultancy activities.

Rod Jefferies has negotiated a reduction of his teaching load this year, with another reduction planned for next year as he eases his way into retirement - again!!  This he says will allow him to focus a little more on his PhD and his fishing.   

John McDonagh is very lucky to still be here at all!  Recently, while in the process of replacing a head gasket on his racing car between races at the major classic car race meeting of the season, he managed to drop the car off the jack. Unfortunately he was underneath it at the time!! Luckily people nearby were able to lift it off John, and battered, bloodied and bruised he competed in three more races (after fixing the head gasket) before heading off to accident and emergency.  Luckily x-rays revealed nothing broken, and after three weeks limping around he is almost better - just in time for the next race meeting!

John McDonagh


News from Deakin University

Sara Wilkinson and Richard Reed delivered a course to Parliament House staff in Canberra on how to make the ‘house’ more sustainable.  This course covered many aspects of sustainability including green roofs, water saving initiatives and facility management.

As Visiting Professor of Environmental Real Estate Richard Reed spent all of February in Germany hosted by Professor Karl-Werner Schulte at the University of Regensburg.  This involved many seminars and lectures include a keynote address on global sustainability and property markets.

Richard Reed

Deakin University

Industry Day a PRRES 2009 Highlight

A key highlight at PRRES 2009 was Industry Day. This event aims to bring together high-powered industry researchers and thought leaders to share their knowledge about current industry events shaping the property investment world.

The opening address was provided by Peter Verwer (CEO of PCA) who touched on the role of government policy in supporting the property sector. The keynote address was provided by Barry Brakey (Head of Property at Future Fund) who provided a comprehensive overview of the property investment sector and focused on how the state of the sector had changed markedly with the onset of the global financial crisis (GFC). Particular attention was given to the changing profile of risk and the subsequent the impact on asset valuations.

This year Industry Day focused on three themes: the outlook for property markets; the future for property investment (both listed and unlisted); as well as the sustainability of the property market.

With regards to property sector markets, the short-term outlook was unfavourable due to weakening space market fundamentals, especially demand in line with a global slowdown in economic activity and deteriorating labour markets. A sharp contrast to the relatively tight space market conditions faced over 12 months ago!

Both the REIT and unlisted investment property markets are also being adversely impacted by the GFC as an upward re-rating of risk has seen A-REIT prices tumble, yields soften across all sectors, access to finance constrained and transactional activity dry up. The big issue facing the sector will be whether unlisted property investments will experience similar falls in capital returns as did REITs or truly provide some degree of diversification from their listed counterparts.

The final session of the day provided a different tone, focusing on sustainability; an area which is embracing all aspects of property. Speakers discussed the role and impact of sustainability from various perspectives: at the property asset level in terms of property management, design aspects at the construction phase, and the motivation for investors.

In all, Industry day proved to be very successful with a strong audience, high quality speakers and interesting and relevant topics. We look forward to Industry Day 2010!

Anthony De Francesco

Chair and Co-ordinator of Industry Day

Vale Jim Web

I regret to advise PRRES members that Jim Webb passed away on Friday 27 February 2009. Jim has been a wonderful friend and mentor to many PRRES members. He will be sadly missed by his many friends around the world.

Jim Webb has an outstanding reputation in property research and has published many of the most cited and influential papers in property research. He was instrumental in establishing the American Real Estate Society (ARES) and was the main driver behind its significant growth and success over the last 25 years.

Jim was also instrumental in helping establish PRRES, AsRES and ERES, as well as the International Real Estate Society. Fittingly, he was the first recipient of the IRES Achievement Award, as well as numerous other major recognition awards.

Jim Webb was a wonderful friend of PRRES. He was keynote speaker at the PRRES conference in 1997, as well as having made a number of visits to UWS to facilitate the property research agenda. He was always generous with his time and support of colleagues.

Jim was a great supporter of young property researchers and welcomed them when they attended the ARES conference, introducing them to many other property researchers and helping them establish their networks.

Above all, Jim Webb was a wonderful friend and mentor to many colleagues in PRRES. For many of us, he has helped shape our property research careers and we are deeply indebted to his supportive and friendly advice.

Jim was also a great personal friend to many of us; he will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

Graeme Newell

On behalf of PRRES

Vale Duncan Rose

Members of the valuation profession in South Australia were saddened by the news that Duncan Rose passed away on Saturday 21st March, 2009. Duncan Rose made a major contribution to the property profession in South Australia not least of which was his contribution to the classic House Styles in Adelaide – a Pictorial History published in 1985; a book still referred to by professionals and students alike. Duncan always took a keen interest in, and was a strong supporter of, the property programs at UniSA and the previous SAIT.

News from UniSA

Professor Stan McGreal from the University of Ulster visited the University of South Australia at the end of January as Visiting Professor in Property. Professor McGreal, who is the Research Director of the Built Environment Institute at the University of Ulster, visited the Property Group with a view to establishing research links, promoting individual research agendas and identifying areas of common research. While in Adelaide, Professor McGreal has also had a number of meetings with local professional and government organisations. Despite the hottest fortnight on record Stan plans to return to UniSA again!

On the 27th February 2009 Paul Kershaw retired from UniSA.  Paul has been a Principal Lecturer at the University of South Australia for over 20 years. With significant expertise in finance and estate management, Paul has been involved in teaching and research projects relating to property valuation, market analysis and investment. He will remain as an Adjunct Principal Lecturer at UniSA and in this role will continue to provide invaluable support in terms of research and data analysis.  Otherwise Paul is looking forward very much to greater leisure and longer lunches.

News from QUT

Chris Eves finished working at Lincoln University on the 19th February 2009 to take up the role of Professor of Property Economics at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. His new email address is

Chris Eves


PRRES Newsletter

Editor: Valerie Kupke, UniSA

Webmaster: Peter Rossini, UniSA

Next edition October 2009