A new high-technology service launched yesterday should make it easier for international financiers to assess the risk and return potential of battered Asian property markets.
The Pyramid service is being offered by Hong Kong-based Property Market Intelligence, a start-up company that recently won US$1 million in backing from the Government's technology-focused applied research fund.
It covers properties in 11 Asian countries and 15 key cities within them, providing a huge amount of raw and manipulated data on the markets, down to the level of individual buildings.
One central element is its ability to display details of the interests held by the region's top 250 listed property companies, allowing an accurate picture of their property portfolios to be calculated at any given time.
Founder and managing director Matthew Richardson said Pyramid was being introduced at a time when there was a 'paradigm shift' in the way investors saw the Asian property market.
'The next cycle will be international institutional-led investment rather than bank to private bank lending to individuals or companies,' he said.
Foreign institutions would demand higher levels of due diligence and information before investing in property.
In the past 'lenders and users thought they didn't need it'.
Pyramid is being pitched as an on-line business tool similar to the services provided by Reuters and Bloomberg.
The service includes current and historic information accessible through personal computers to financiers and analysts worldwide.
The database includes details of more than 11,000 investment-grade buildings and 3,000 hotels.
'The focus is on sectors and buildings in the investment end of the market,' Mr Richardson said.
Despite the reluctance of investors to move into depressed Asian property markets, he said there was evidence of increasing interest in Bangkok, Korea and Tokyo.
However, the first target is Hong Kong where Pyramid is undergoing trials at several banks and property research departments.