The below article first appeared on my website (and is published subject to the disclaimers that can be read on there),

I’ve spent a good proportion of my working life observing and working with property people. Property has a curious appeal. From an academic perspective (surveying, financial and legal) it is arguably one of the driest disciplines. It presents as a scientific endeavour, with an abundance of rules, minefields and procedure. Yet it remains one of the biggest stores of value. If it wasn’t for the security of land, there would not be the confidence that enables the coursing of capital. With the dynamic of financial flow overlaid with the trust that only comes from good working human relationships, property comes alive in practice. Accepted, there are complicated rules of the game, but when understood (rather like cricket) they serve to enable rather than stifle.

Now you might question- this is a blog about trading and investing shares. Why on earth are you bringing up Property?

Well I think that Property can teach us share types a thing or two, particularly when it comes to distinguishing between trading and investing.

So often when you come to talking about dealing in shares, “trading” and “investing” are used inter-changeably. I’m guilty of it myself. You see behaviours of traders emerge and butt up against traditional investor behaviours. You see practices mixed. It all leads to the question- should we define ourselves as traders or investors? This prompts the inevitable follow up question- is it be permissible to mix behaviours?

The discipline of Property has something to teach us here. The dynamic, creative, riskier end of Property is Development. The beauty of Development (whether commercial or residential) is that every project is different and brings its own problems to be solved.

Fairly early in my career, I was involved in a project where we landed a great site and managed to do a deal with an arm of government to build them a new purpose built office. As the quality of the tenant was great, we knew that the value of the completed project would deliver a higher than usual level of profit as the Market would be keen to bid up the price.

As soon as we’d navigated the deal with the tenant through the lawyers, I was taken aback when the Developer announced that they would be selling it on “immediately”.…

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