Cities to boost municipal property data

Brussels, 16 March 2010 - Currently only about 30% of major European cities are able to provide reasonably reliable figures on the size and value of their real estate portfolios. This is one of the preliminary conclusions from the survey that Deloitte Real Estate conducted among major cities in 8 western European countries. A unique and first time initiative to stimulate international knowledge sharing among municipal real estate professionals.

This conclusion is also corroborated by the number of cities that declined Deloitte’s invitation to participate due to lack of available data.

But that situation is expected to change dramatically over the coming years. Administrators increasingly acknowledge the potential strategic value of their properties. Professional real estate management will enable cities to not only reduce their accommodation costs, but more importantly to support their primary tasks in social, spatial and economical city development. To do that, information is key.

Initiatives to increase portfolio insight often go hand-in-hand with (partial) centralisation of real estate management within the municipal organisation. Examples of ongoing programmes are the French cities of Paris and Bordeaux which, respectively, intend to create a department dedicated to real estate management, and have just achieved it. A small group of major cities having finished such a programme includes Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and Copenhagen (Denmark). In all cases, consolidating the data is and was a great challenge. A centrally coordinated approach by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the UK has now run for three years.

Deloitte also concludes that this professionalisation requires support from more mature and dedicated IT systems. In addition to portfolio inventory, the Deloitte survey compares the level of outsourcing, financial management, the rationale behind portfolio composition and the ‘crisis impact’ on municipal property.

Publication of the first edition of the final report is expected before the summer. Deloitte intends to enrich its study and enroll new cities in the coming years.

Municipalities interested in participation should not hesitate to contact Jean-Paul Loozen, EMEA Real Estate Industry Leader for Deloitte (e-mail: jloozen@deloitte.com) or Harro Zanting, Cities Survey Project Leader (email: hzanting@deloitte.com).