Governments are dumb about property

I have recently started a series of interviews with leading figures in the property world for a new specialist publication The Property Chronicle. This month’s subject is David Lewis, a well-known property developer whose interests over a 40-year career included three listed companies and a range of private ventures. He looks back on his highs and lows, gives his views on current market valuations and expounds on his view that Governments rarely make a success of their interventions in the property market. The first interview in the series was with Professor Andrew Baum of Oxford University, a leading property academic (yes there are such things) and a pioneer in property market research. He also has a fair bit to say about the challenges of valuing property in a low interest rate world.

Land prices need to be better controlled

t only takes a few minutes in the company of Andrew Baum, recently appointed as the first real estate professor at Oxford University’s Said Business School, to realise why he now prefers to be an academic rather than the successful full-time property professional he trained to be. His heart is in teaching and research and in having a platform to “speak truth to power”, however unpalatable that truth may be to the natural conservatism and vested interests of the property world or the head-in-the-sand attitudes of truth-averse politicians. In this interview for The Property Chronicle, Prof Baum gives his views on property prices, the need for intervention in the property development market and why valuing real estate has become so tricky in an era of suppressed interest rates.