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5 signs it’s time for your asset portfolio audit

5 signs it’s time for your asset portfolio audit

asset portfolio audit

As an asset portfolio manager, you are responsible for millions of pounds worth of bricks and mortar. Your reputation dictates that you need to be fully aware of the value of the assets you are managing so that you can advise your clients on the best course of action for their investment. Here are 5 signs that it is time for you to commission an asset portfolio audit:

1. Time for your asset portfolio audit: You don’t trust the data you have.

In order to make good decisions you must be in possession of the facts. Don’t charge into battle until you are armed and you know exactly what you are up against. Too often businesses are almost forced, coerced or misled to carry out works that simply aren’t required by a corporate version of a dodgy tradesman sucking his teeth and saying ‘x’ when actually ‘y’ would be better and cheaper. If you are being asked to embark upon a major capital programme but aren’t given the resources and tools to deliver results without risk, think again. Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. Don’t rush headlong down a path without truly exploring the data and ensuring it is honest, trustworthy accurate and above all – impartial. In another word, plan well first  with valuable data.

2. Time for your asset portfolio audit: You have a merger looming.

Merging portfolios, merging businesses: It is coming to you and you are about to inherit the motherload of problems. Is their data accurate? Is it better than yours? Will they use your lack of knowledge to beat your price down? Or exploit your lack of understanding of their data to drive their value up. Due diligence is a part of life. Do it better than the other party and you stand a good chance of leaving the room standing tall and confident in your decision. Who knows, you might dodge a bullet and walk away unscathed. Ask Royal Bank of Scotland about their due diligence process on the purchase of Dutch Bank. They did not have one and it almost bankrupt them.

3. Time for your asset portfolio audit: Your client wishes to dispose of their assets.

At some point your client will want to sell on a property or two, maybe even their whole portfolio. What do you advise them? Which ones do you sell? Nothing short of an in-depth understanding of every facet of that portfolio is good enough. Your client is paying for professional advice: you need to be confident that you know their portfolio inside out without any nasty surprises  and that the information you have at your fingertips is up to the minute to provide accurate advice to the best of your knowledge. You must become an asset management Jedi with a crystal ball.

4. Time for your asset portfolio audit: Brexit impact

2016 has brought a fresh challenge for the property world. We have witnessed the Brexit vote result. Now there are talks of a possible Clexit, where Britain bows out of all the climate change targets. This will trigger yet more unwelcome uncertainty. We all saw the effect the Brexit vote had on share prices and the unprecedented action taken by the likes of Aberdeen Asset Management. Investors like bricks and mortar for the long term stable nature of something physical. Brexit and Clexit are speeding things up to say the least. The risks and their impact are very real. Of course the market will recover, but the long term effect of the likelihood of sudden and dramatic risk is toxic for us all. Yet here we are. The world is still turning and people still want to invest and make decent returns. Brexit didn’t bring about a revolution overnight. If you are currently trying to dispose of a portfolio, you may consider putting it on the back burner for a while and instead use the time to ensure your portfolio is the very best it can be and use technology to increase the assets value.

5. Time for your asset portfolio audit: Legislation presents a risk.

As mentioned above, legislation is so fluid at the moment it represents a credible risk to the market. Remember ESOS? Ever even heard of it? 12 months after Energy Saving Opportunity Surveys were introduced and implemented by the brave few, they were abandoned. What a waste of money for all parties. Will MEES / MEPS go the same way? (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard and Minimum Energy Performance Standard) Same thing two different names. They are major pieces of legislation with Royal Assent that say you can’t sell rent or lease a building with an F or G rating. It is estimated that 31% of the built environment falls into that space. (Source WSP on Aberdeen Asset Management’s portfolio).

I can tell you first hand from three of our clients their thoughts:

One said: “we need to provide professional advice, this is of grave concern we must deliver rapid cost effective energy audits at scale to satisfy our client’s needs”.
Another client said the exact opposite: “the legislation won’t come. If it does it will morph into something else, I am not advising my clients spend needlessly when I have no faith in the government following through”.
A third client literally took me to a 30-storey building erected in the 1960s with uninsulated roof, concrete precast modular walls, single glazed, original heating system etc. He then proceeded to show me the £250 EPC certificate boasting about his C rating.

Why invest millions when a £250 piece of paper will suffice?

If you are seeing one or all of the above signs, help is at hand. Today, rapid portfolio evaluation and impartial, solution-independent advice is a phone call away. Technology has progressed to the point where infrared images can be quantified, data augmented and calculations carried out by sophisticated algorithms – all for much less than you might think. Drones and software advances have meant surveying is easier, reporting online and the deliverable all dynamic and interactive. Experts are being replaced by sliders and speedos on dashboards. Simulations that were once a black art practiced by experts only are now child’s play. If you can catch a Pikachu you can conduct an energy audit on a portfolio.

Are you seeing the signs? Then please do contact us to discuss your requirements by clicking on the button below.

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Housing stock management made easy

Housing stock management made easy

Housing stock management

Managing a portfolio of housing stock has never been an easy task.

A task made that much harder when people assume that buildings, by and large, look after themselves and also make the dangerous assumption that the information held about those properties is bang up to date. After all, they are making investment grade decisions using the data – so it must be okay. Right?

Well, what if it’s not? What if there are thousands of opportunities to leverage grant funding.  Millions to be saved by optimising your budget and years to be knocked off your to-do list by exploiting technology?

Since 2002 we have been working in the field of housing stock condition surveys. Not the familiar traditional way, but always by using technology. Firstly, via infrared surveys (hence the IRT of our name) and latterly via software analysis.

Let us explore the options on the table for the already thinly stretched, housing stock manager (apologies for missing out the variety of titles).

The two sides of housing stock management

On one hand the job is simple. Just make sure the buildings are fit for purpose. Keep the tenants happy and ensure the rent flows in on time without complaint. (I said simple didn’t I?) .

The above is hard enough, but consider the other hand – improve the value of the assets, reduce the spend on maintenance, ensure legislative compliance – oh and by the way, we just merged and here are another 10,000 homes to look after.

It’s daunting. Overwhelming even.

Housing stock management without trusted data

In 2010-2012 we surveyed 60,000 homes throughout Scotland for 83 separate housing associations and the findings were startling. Firstly, the information the Housing Associations (HA) knew about their stock was varied. Some knew almost everything, others very little, but all had blanks in their data we had to populate with rational assumptions.

Secondly, where a client did provide data such as a SAP or EPC rating from an outsourced supplier, invariably they were inaccurate.

The most revealing aspect of the survey for us was the actions taken. As even though we delivered compelling information and analysis on a spreadsheet, the clients still found it difficult to interpret and action.

Easy to use software for better housing stock management

We love our clients. We love them to bits. Their feedback has led us to create TheHouseSurvey.co.uk. Here they can analysis their stock at the click of a button. Find the best, the worst, the ones they can make the biggest difference to and the ones that qualify for grants. All mapped into Google and colour co-ordinated.

If you are reading this and are a housing stock manager, we would like to hear from you. We can help you meet your targets and take a load off your shoulders. We know your desk is creaking under the workload and we know the variables keeping changing. Just keeping up to date with legislation is a nightmare, let alone getting round to actually doing a retrofit to improve the stock.

What we must all remember in the sector of course is that we are walking a tightrope in two tonne shoes. Social requirements on one side, commercial reality on the other. Let’s not lose sight of why HA’s were formed in the first instance – that need hasn’t gone away. Yes “times they are a changin’” but people will always need a roof over their head, that’s the whole point. But as long as we live in a capitalist society, money will always inform the decision making process.

Our mission at IRT surveys is to align those needs, help you leverage funding, focus on quick wins and help do our part in getting people out of fuel poverty. All whilst improving the built environment for future generations.

We hear a variety of scenarios in the sector: Providers in Scotland are focused on the social impact and meeting their EESSH obligations whilst south of the border the focus is far more commercially oriented. In fact one client said saving energy for their tenants was altruistic – a philanthropic win they weren’t willing to invest in. They will remain nameless here, but it’s a bit of a short sighting view that doesn’t bode well for a long term sustainable portfolio.

Efficient stock is valuable stock.
Tenants spending less on energy means they can more readily afford the rent.
Rent on time, means a more stable company.

Running a viable Housing Association is harder than it once was. There are affordable and easy-to-use tools which can help you with your housing stock management challenges.  Click on the button below to discuss them and get your free, non-obligation quote.

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Energy Efficiency Technology to Make Informed Decisions

Energy Efficiency Technology to Make Informed Decisions

Energy Efficiency Technology

 

True innovation is key in the UK’s push for energy efficiency. In a climate (forgive the pun!) in which all social and affordable housing providers and building portfolio managers are challenged by increasingly strict energy legislation and nationwide belt tightening, a ‘game changer’ capable of benefiting all is needed now more than ever.

 

Energy Efficiency Technology: Infrared Thermal Imaging

The ability to accurately quantify energy loss is seen as the one of the most significant technological advances of recent times. The marketplace is more used to time consuming, expensive and potentially destructive traditional survey methods and to see energy products being pushed through local or national initiatives such as insulation, double or triple glazing, boilers, etc.

The use of infrared thermal imaging is well established for defect detection. Where it comes to its own is when the resulting images are analysed and quantified to bring energy loss to life and establish what energy and housing stock managers must do to make the buildings and homes of their tenants more efficient.

The highly visual results not only quantify energy loss but also help prioritise refurbishment programmes by providing a concrete ROI on the specific options that could be implemented.
Universities, colleges, airports, hospitals, cinemas, office blocks, police stations and shopping centres have all benefitted from IRT surveys’ infrared thermal imaging and quantified reports. Building owners and managers have been able to identify the best methods to deliver value enhancement across their portfolio and ensure their buildings are equipped for the future.

Over 250,000 social houses have also been surveyed, allowing landlords to decide upon the best methods for refurbishment and, in some cases, the most appropriate government schemes to take advantage of.

Energy Efficiency Technology: Software at Your Fingertips

Combining infrared data with energy efficiency options on its proprietary software, IRT surveys has developed a suite of digital products to make it easier for housing associations, local authorities and built asset management companies to get a handle on energy efficiency.

  • The Carbon Dashboard, aimed at built asset management companies, is an interactive online dynamic energy simulation tool that enables them to upload their images and experiment in real time with how changes to their building fabric would impact their energy efficiency. By gathering essential data on actual building performance in-use, clients can begin to understand the value of energy savings with an accuracy that simply cannot be achieved with other methods.
  • The House Survey is an online tool for housing associations and local authorities to make informed decisions on the their housing stock retrofit whilst leveraging much needed grant funding for it. At the discretion of landlords, it also has the advantage of being made available to the tenants whose house has been surveyed.

The one common denominator for both software is the easy identification of the most appropriate measures to implement for lowering carbon emissions, significantly reducing energy bills  and wisely refurbishing properties.

Whilst continuing to serve the UK with much needed infrared thermal imaging services, IRT surveys is also continually developing software for housing associations and local authorities. The launch of DREam is imminent. DREam is a unique software manipulating and evaluating housing stock data to make continuous suggestions as to how best to improve the energy rating, meet legal obligations, mitigate risk, leverage funding and improve building assets. You can find out more about DREam on our dedicated website http://irtdream.co.uk.

Energy Efficiency Technology: Making the Digital Case for Housing Associations

A recent blog by HACT however highlighted the perceived difficulty for housing associations to embrace technology.

Departing HACT CEO Matt Leach suggests that “The UK housing sector is stuck in a technology rut […] There is an urgent need to reinvent business models, levering the full potential of new technologies, advanced data analytics and new digitally enabled ways of working.”
He carries on in a series of blogs to detail the technological failings of the sector and makes suggestions as to how to address them.

Most Housing Associations were created to manage housing stocks previously run by local authorities. A transfer of employees from local authorities to housing associations duly accompanied the move. Traditionally local authorities were very much technology-adverse. The first question they would always asked was “what other public authority have used this software? We need to find out what they think of it”. Minimising the risk and investing with caution were key factors in the decision-making when it came to technology.

Whilst this thinking has now moved on in local authorities as technology has been proven in other sectors and budget-cuts means that efficiency is the name of the game, it has not necessarily been the case in housing associations. They need to know that their investments are future-proof, is already in use in another housing association who bore the risks and pitfalls, thus overlooking at their peril the advantages that the technology can bring and lagging behind those early adopters.

Our software has been used extensively both in the private and public sectors, with particular success with housing providers in local authorities such as Aberdeen City and Fife and housing associations like Yarlington Housing Group. We are now in advanced discussion with many housing providers who are keen to curb the trend for being technology-adverse.

This is great to see. For us working with like-minded clients is a bonus and a delight. They get it right away and can picture what the use of software will bring to their organisation. For a recent webinar, we asked participants at registration what challenges they face. Their answers cover a wide range of topics: data, internal and external relationships with interested parties, time management, understanding and meeting clients’ requirements, compliance in an ever-evolving legislative and technological environment, costs and finances.

Our software addresses many, if not all, of these challenges. Ease of use has been at the forefront of our thinking, as we know that complicated software and over-technical solutions discourage engagement and adoption by end users.

Energy Efficiency Technology: It is For YOU.

What is preventing you and your organisation from using technology to become more energy-efficient? If you have had enough of manipulating complicated Excel spreadsheets that do not expose any insightful conclusion, then we need to talk.

If the latest initiative-driven refurbishment has not yielded the savings or delivered the benefits expected, then we need to talk.

Drop us a line, or pick up the phone. We will be happy to share our expertise and help you on your way to time- and energy-saving data-driven decisions.

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