Alisa Zotimova, Director of AZ Real Estate, about Art Masters Summit, and some parallels between the world of art and the world of property.

I was delighted to speak recently at the inaugural Art Masters Summit, which ran alongside the world renowned Frieze Art Fair in London. The theme was ‘disruption’, looking at challenges, opportunities and changes within today’s art market. From a property perspective it was clear that there were parallels between the two worlds, which as it happens have always been intertwined, dating back as early as the 1700s when the aristocracy would construct majestic homes to house their newly acquired collections.

The Summit was packed with interesting panels, focusing on today’s collectors and how they find their pieces; security in the information age; blockchain and cryptocurrency – all of which are topics that are prevalent in the property world at present. While blockchain has been much hyped, it has yet to take off as a common solution for property transactions but is an area to keep an eye on, with investors attracted by the prospect of a decentralised currency, impervious from exchange rate fluctuations, that keeps them in control.

However, without a doubt it was the topic of the internet and social media that dominated the agenda, particularly the rise of Instagram and how today’s collectors have access to vast quantities of artworks at their fingertips without ever having to leave their home.

Likewise, prospective property investors can enjoy the same luxury, thanks to the abundance of portals and other online channels at their disposal. While this might make for worrying conversation as an advisor (whether art or property) I was reassured to hear panellists express opinions that although the digital age is shifting the way we find and consume art, there remains a strong desire for human interaction and experience. This is something that I feel strongly about in terms of property also.

It is true – you are now able to see the entire shop window online, however when such large sums are at stake, would you really purchase blindly on the word of the seller?  While the internet and social media have opened up the floodgates, one could argue that we are actually reaching information and product overload; the space is so big that now so more than ever you need a trusted advisor to help you navigate – whether you are searching for a Banksy or penthouse on Bankside.

Whether it is stopping the client paying over the odds because it is a location they don’t fully understand, or giving them a dose of reality on rental estimations for their new purchase, part of being a good advisor is also saying ‘no’ and showing some tough love when you need to. I know of cases where a buyer has rushed in headfirst without an advisor, only to regret their purchase down the line once they realised the developer was going through a tricky patch and was willing to offer a substantial discount to get the units sold quickly. It’s that type of advisor insight that can save a lot of money. Equally, some buy-to-letters dive in on unsubstantiated research, only to find out that the ‘predicted’ rental yield isn’t quite what they were told.

Beyond consulting on the transaction itself, buy-side advisors are also able to offer valuable insight on other areas – such as furnishing the client’s latest purchase and making it as presentable as possible if they want to rent it. Some listen, some don’t but those who do tend to get better results!

Alisa Zotimova, founder, AZ Real Estate