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New Middle East society to encourage better analysis and understanding of real estate markets

The Property Research Society, which is sponsored by Abu Dhabi based Aldar Properties, has attracted interest from more than 100 industry players who are keen to promote a better understanding and analysis of market information in the region.

Charlie Acworth, the director of research and head of commercial leasing at Aldar, said the slowdown was a good time to develop such a body. 'One of the benefits of the credit crunch is that we're now better able to manage information. Unfortunately, the market hasn't been transparent about some of the information that has been made public,' he explained.

The aim of the society it to encourage market research firms to be more conscientious about what they produce. 'There's no question in my mind that, historically, the quality of research in the region has been poor, but it is improving significantly. I read two reports in the last month that were better than anything that was out there a year ago,' he added.

The society will be modelled on the Society of Property Researchers in the UK and will aim to improve transparency by providing a forum for members to gather and share data and resource tools.

'It's about making sure different people come together and understand the same thing. 'We'll hopefully have a body which would then go to the government and say this is what you need to do and we'll support you in doing that,' he concluded.

At the height of the property boom developers paid little attention to undertaking thorough market studies, according to Adel al Zarooni, the managing director of Burooj Properties. He said accurate information, particularly when it came to property prices, is necessary to help restore confidence.

'In the past developers were rushing to announce projects without studying the market. Everyone was in a race and launched products at ridiculous prices. We need accurate market and price studies. Information that is inaccurate will not help bring confidence to the market,' he added.

Gurjit Singh, chief property officer of Sorouh Real Estate, welcomes the formation of the society and said that it is crucial that banks are involved. 'There will be a necessity for developers to understand how banks are faring in terms of their performing and non-performing loans and it will also be important as to how financial institutions work with developers to create financing and mortgaging products that are tailored to the market,' he said.