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The new value of urban territories: the competing roles of local authorities, public land appraisers and real estate consultants


This research is based on the observation, theoretically grounded, of the "double colonization by numbers" experienced by organizations during the last century: that of accounting first, then that of financial valuations. In order to apply this analytical grid to urban contexts, our main objective is to analyse the instrumentation that organizes and regulates the relationship between public and private real estate evaluation bodies (public land appraisers, local authorities and real estate consultants), as well as urban materialities (buildings and cities) resulting from the adoption of these financial valuations. Besides identifying the practices and valuation instruments used to establish real estate assets prices, we seek to identify how local authorities plan, implement and sell to investors their urban development programs, specially related to territorial attractiveness. We adopt a qualitative mix-method research design using three fundamental methodological strategies in an international multi-scalar comparison perspective (Brazil and France / Lyon and Ribeirão Preto): field research in real estate consultant firms and local authorities; documentary research on the programmes and legislation related to the valuation of real estate property and to the planning of metropolitan regions and analysis of secondary databases on real estate market and demographic surveys. The scientific relevance of this research lies in the development of a critical perspective on the practices and instruments of the agents who plan, manage and produce the urban space. This perspective allows us to understand the contradictions and the resistances of the borders of finance in the construction of cities and, at the same time, to reflect on urban public policies. In this sense, by recovering the theoretical framework of the colonization of non-financial activities by financial valuation tools (Chiapello, 2015), this research seeks to bring a new look at the theme of urban financialization, which structures several international debates in urban studies. In Brazil, the strong growth of real estate activities promoted both by the opening of capital of large developers and by housing policy and other institutional mechanisms to stimulate the sector, have nourished an academic field that has been mobilizing recently. There was also a research program on the financialization of cities developed in France during the 2000s. The private agents that were given priority in Brazilian studies were the publicly held developers. In the French studies, in addition to the developers, institutional investors and asset managers were placed in the forefront. However, in the context of the advance of finance in the sector, a range of economic actors are part of the process of anchoring capital in the territory, within international business networks. One of these agents, which will be treated in this research, are the real estate or property consultants, which make the real estate product a sufficiently readable commodity to be evaluated as a financial investment in several parts of the world simultaneously, as well as in making world cities comparable to each other. Once again, financial metrics have taken on strategic positions in organizations, whether enterprises or public institutions. Furthermore, by comparing administrative structures to promote the territorial attractiveness of metropolises, this project will contribute to tackle the influence of dedicated metropolitan institutions (as developed in Lyon) to promote autonomy of local scenes in front of international urban financialization. (AU)

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