The world wide web is more than 10 years old and it has helped to underpin rapid globalisation. It has ‘shrunk’ the world and brought shared information and 24/7 networks to every corner of the planet.
For a business looking to set up in Europe, the web is now a natural tool to use. It can be used to scan potential locations. It will help to identify which locations are hot and want business; where competitors are locating; where grants and other incentives are on offer; and where the best quality of life is.
What about finding the right property? That is always one of the big hassles for the corporate mover. Can it now be done from a laptop?
If you search on Google Europe for different types of property, it only takes a few seconds to get onto sites that will help in finding a serviced office – offices that are available immediately, ready to move into and for an all-inclusive price. If you want to lease or buy offices or industrial property, it is a bit more problematic, but with a bit of searching you can quickly get a feel for supply, availability, rent levels, areas of high demand, etc.
This is thanks to reports and comment provided by property consultants and online property databases provided by some of the investment promotion agencies. The internet is a great tool for collecting and comparing information.
So that’s it then, job done? Not quite. Our experience is that the internet can take you so far, but the last step needs to involve using local knowledge and networks, and that is where property consultants earn their fees.
A good property agent knows their local property market inside out. With them on your side, this personal touch can make the difference between a sweet deal and a stinker.
Property consultants come in all shapes and sizes, from the local one-person operation to the huge international firm covering the globe. It is always good to meet a few before you choose your particular adviser, whether it is before you make your search or once you have chosen your preferred location. An excellent place to see them in action is at MIPIM, the international property conference that is held annually in early March in Cannes, France.
Douglas Clark is a director of Tenon techlocate, the London-based location consultancy of the Tenon Group, a UK national firm of accountants and business advisers.