By Bobby Jayaraman
DONALD Trump started off in real estate developing residences in Manhattan in the 1970s when New York was on the brink of bankruptcy. Li Ka Shing scooped up property dirt cheap during the 1967 riots in Hong Kong. The late Ng Teng Fong of Far East Organization was the king of Orchard Road in the 1980s.
All these tycoons made fortunes when the value of their investments grew multiple times. However, it is unlikely they invested on the basis of a valuation from a property consultancy! So what is it that drives growth in asset values? And is it possible to value assets accurately?
The noted economist John Maynard Keynes was thought to have observed that it is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong. Investors would do well to keep this in mind when reading reports by analysts and valuers. Their neat Excel spreadsheets make it appear that valuing a Reit (or real estate investment trust) is a perfect science. In reality, it is far more art than science.