Real property - the land, buildings and other improvements that make up the built environment - is profoundly important to Australia. As a functional asset, real property has a significant influence on the effective operation of business and, for individuals, households and the wider community, is a key contributor to liveability, identity, culture, income and sustainability. Real property is of great public interest and frequent media attention. However, the property sector remains something of a mystery for many - an array of volatile markets, financial and legal issues, complex development processes and management systems - all mixed with anecdotes and perceptions that approach the status of urban myths. While danger exists in taking a simplistic or naïve approach to the complex field of real property; the topic does have its own logic, structure and (reasonable) predictability.
This book provides a better understanding of these issues. It will inform students, property professionals and others with an interest in the real property sector beyond sales and transactions. The book can be read in its entirety, but each chapter is discrete in its own right.
First, despite the remarkable diversity, complexity and apparent confusion of the property sector, underlying forces and principles shape and drive the sector and property markets. An understanding of these economic, legal, geographic and psychological influences is a prerequisite to the understanding and effective management of property assets. That is, property must be considered in a wider context, not simply based on the individual characteristics of any particular property. Real property and the built form are more than a simple setting for human activity. They are integral to how communities, societies, nations and civilisations develop, evolve and, over time, decline.
Second, an holistic approach is required for success. Too often property is controlled through its component parts - such as design, finance, construction, sales, management and servicing - with insufficient consideration of how all these elements combine to effect function and outcome. We also need to recognise and appreciate the long time frames typical of real property and its development, its use and sustainability (in the wider use of that word).
The book does not presume detailed prior knowledge; it provides a structure, framework and context within which analytical property decision-making can best occur. Chapter themes reasonably align with various knowledge fields in tertiary property programs.
Chapters 1 to 6 identify the philosophy, academic theory, history, law and public policy in Australia upon which real property activities and dealings are based. Chapters 7 to 13 describe various subsectors and specialist areas wherein property is developed, assessed, financed and managed over time - in each case identifying essential knowledge and good practices that lead to successful outcomes.
Most of the legislative and administrative structure for real property and real property dealings in Australia are state based. While there is currently a high degree of commonality across all states, only general observations about these arrangements can be made in this text. More detailed investigation and research will be required to appreciate local variations and parameters within each jurisdiction.
Michael J Hefferan, PhD