For some it may bring back memories of Bill Clinton coming to power in the US or Monica Seles being stabbed in the back by an obsessed fan of rival Steffi Graff at a tennis tournament in Hamburg. Meat Loaf's 'I'd Do Anything For Love' was the biggest selling song of the year, way before i-pods and on-line downloads.
For me I remember working in Hanover Square at what was to be the end of the recession before a record 15 years of continuous economic growth in the UK. I was at Healey & Baker (now Cushman & Wakefield) and the market was tough. Letting activity in the retail market was almost non-existent for all but the best schemes, and investment values had kept falling for the preceding three years.
Although technically the UK was by now out of recession it certainly didn't feel like it. Unemployment was still rising at the start of the year, house prices had fallen off the edge of a cliff and vacancy levels in shopping centres had reached 8%. Rents were still falling and wouldn't show meaningful growth for another 3 - 4 years.
So what happened next?
Somewhat surprisingly, given all of the above, investment demand for real estate picked up suddenly and significantly to the extent that total returns from All Property (as measured by IPD) reached a staggering 20.2% in 1993.
This return was driven by high income yields, (average income yields of 9% at that time), plus capital growth as demand pushed prices upwards. Pricing became competitive as the major UK institutions and large overseas investors piled back into the market after three years of sitting on the sidelines. A sense of optimism returned.
Perhaps this doesn't sound that strange knowing what we know now about the long term economic recovery that followed, but at the time many commentators were taken by surprise at the level of this renewed demand.
As it turned out the optimism was well founded but a bit early in the cycle. Returns moderated to 11.9% in 1994, and 3.6% in 1995 and the strong rental growth for real estate in the late 90's was still some years away.
So are there any parallels with the situation today?
Will 2010 be similar to 1993?
The answer is quite possibly.
Following the revival in activity of the private investor at the auction rooms earlier in the year, there has been a return of significant money chasing the market from institutions and larger overseas investors such as German open ended funds. Well let properties i.e. let to strong tenant covenants on long leases, have attracted a dozen or more bids and competition to acquire these assets has become fierce. For some assets such as retail warehouse parks and distribution sheds, yields have fallen by up to 100bps in the last 3 - 4 months. At the same time very little stock has been released into the market, vendors taking the view that if you don't have to sell then now is not the right time to do so as values are probably at their lowest point. The banks have a huge amount of assets on their hands as indebted owners have had to hand the keys back having defaulted on loans, but they are in no hurry to crystallise losses by selling now.
This lack of stock has fuelled the recent price rises and there is no immediate sign of that abating. If there are 12 bidders for one property only one can acquire it, so there are 11 left in the market looking for the next asset to buy.
So what is driving this investment demand?
There are a wide range of factors at play. For the UK institutions the denominator effect of the 40% rise in the equities markets since April means that property is more underweight than previously. In order to re-weight to meet their target allocations they need to acquire more real estate. For overseas investors the weakness of the pound has been a huge boost. The Australian Future Fund who recently acquired a third stake in the Bullring for £210m do so at a time when the exchange rate with the Australian dollar is the lowest it has been for many years. The German open ended funds who have been buying City office buildings are attracted to the high income yields now available of 7%+ and benefit from the strength of the Euro which is not far from par with the pound.
Most commentators are sceptical about a rapid recovery in real estate prices in the UK. They point to a weak economy, rising unemployment, high vacancies and falling rents. But that was what was also being said in 1993 and just maybe history will be repeating itself 17 years later.
Time will tell.