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International Financial Reporting Standards in Real Estate

Working paper #658
Robert T. O'Brien

Real estate has for many years been a global business with a steady, international flow of capital despite the bumps and friction caused by different currencies, languages and accounting from one country to the next. However, one of those friction points may soon be removed as the world moves rapidly toward a single set of accounting and financial reporting standards, known as the International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, today used in more than 100 countries and expanding rapidly. The SEC recently issued its “roadmap” outlining milestones that, if achieved, could lead to mandatory transition to IFRS by U.S. issuers starting in 2014. This article describes the expected impact of the adoption of IFRS on real estate companies. IFRS provides enhanced comparability to global competitors and perhaps greater opportunity to raise capital globally, but the adoption of IFRS will have implications beyond financial reporting, including impacts on a company’s processes, information systems, and human resources. Real estate companies should start their planning now and lay out a roadmap that provides for an appropriately integrated and sustainable conversion to IFRS.

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