REAL ESTATE IN THE PANDEMIC ERA

We are changing – as well as our homes and offices.

The first two months of people being locked up in their homes in Poland have flown by.

There is a noticeable stagnation in sentiment and it is not yet possible to assess today what will happen in the following months in various sectors. In terms of consumption and psychology, this is a new phenomenon on a global scale. People, after a time of curiosity about the new situation, relative rest at home, then anger and helplessness, and then gradual acceptance of discomfort – slowly return to their activities in the new reality.

Tidy wardrobes at home, children calmed by education through on-line lessons, professional matters gradually arranged in virtual reality. Where business is less dependent on quarantine, the exchange of visitors from abroad, there is a slow establishment of new methods of profits and the restoration of lost business strength. New training courses and on-line shops are more and more popular.

In our real estate sector, where people seek advice, there are many unanswered questions. Most people do not have more assets in their bank accounts than in real estate.

Is the market facing a correction?

Poor locations, poor architecture and a 20% equity requirement for borrowers.
There is no need to wave away reality – there will be a price correction in weaker locations and in the less desirable segment. Some buyers who are in a difficult professional situation, have company problems or do not have the 20% of their own funds currently required by some banks, will refrain from buying. This correction has its advantages – it would reduce unnecessary risks for a while, if it turned out that a pandemic would force us to stay at home for 1.5-2 years. Some clients will temporarily choose rental options in poorer locations at lower prices, awaiting economic changes or the recovery of their own capital.

Flippers and investors with loan capital

Restrictions on short-term rentals and the correction of rents, where the share of borrowed capital was 90%, will force some investors to put properties up for sale at a price acceptable by the market. While the period of deferral of instalments has an impact on the negotiated first 3-6 months, in the longer term, the banks are not expected to be favourable. Especially when any other charges constitute a high risk and also inflation is possible. In my opinion, money on bank deposits loses in such times, but for those who actually have the money, not for those who have borrowed it to invest further. In the second case, the risk is greater because there are too many uncertainties.

Hotel, sanatorium, senior citizen, medical investments.

In my opinion, the hotel accommodation in Poland was very poor, and the last 5 years involved a lot of hard work on the part of investors, which resulted in the tourist traffic of domestic and foreign guests was less limited in relation to the assets of our country. Working people expected real leisure, comfort, convenient restaurant bases and on-site spas. Regardless of the temporary problems of the sector, its real value has already increased and will continue to increase in the upcoming years, and the possibility of adapting some of the buildings to sanatoriums, medical facilities or senior citizens’ homes, in view of the upcoming years of population ageing in Europe, is absolutely an advantage of this type of construction.

Flats

In housing estates with developed infrastructure and good communication, sales prices remain at a stable level. Offers with terraces, large balconies or gardens are at the same price. Some owners postpone corrections until they have checked interest in purchases, after the quarantine has been fully or partially suspended. Some Buyers continuously attend open doors under the new conditions (wearing masks, gloves, etc.) and some use virtual visits. However, the willingness to buy something without seeing it in person, as predicted by IT specialists for years, is close to 0. There are visits to properties every time before the deed. The majority of real estate agencies professionally dealing with the market – especially on exclusive agreements – responsibly operate from a home office system without any interruptions, thanks to the efforts of the entire sector, many notary offices, sales offices of developers, banks and offices co-operate with the pace and possibilities offered by the current situation. Clients accept the slowdown in the processes of preparing documentation for transactions.

Houses

Definitely increased number of enquiries for houses in close proximity to large cities. As a precautionary measure, clients prefer to own a second property or a single target property, whether through long-term rentals or through family purchases. Prices in the sector of real estate adjacent to forests, parks, cosy in reasonable prices and parameters of construction should not be affected by a significant correction.

Plots of land

Small and cheap investment plots are quickly sold. Type: „gold-property”. Building plots with all utilities are beginning to interest those who are open to construction – including low-cost modular construction. Without changes, large or interesting investment plots located in good surroundings are still in demand as an anchor for future investments to be made in 1.5 – 2 years.

Premium Market

Quite interesting, although theoretically more immune to global fluctuations, yet it should not be ignored that a large number of investors in this sector are seasoned players and excellent negotiators. Peacefully and thoughtfully selecting the best deals. At present, there is increased interest in the premium market – and the next few months will show the real rates paid from accounts.

Service units

A significant increase in the number of units put up for sale. In the previous two quarters, a lot of rental offers appeared. It cannot be ruled out that restrictions or people’s aversion to visiting large shopping centres will increase interest in cheaper places to buy or rent, where agreements are more flexible for both parties. Premises with the possibility of displaying part of their tables in restaurant gardens may enjoy greater interest in a while – both among buyers or landlords of premises, as interest in them will increase in a while among restaurant customers themselves. The correction expected by business and the unpredictability of the next 1.5 years will constitute a part of every negotiation.

Offices

Vacancy rates in poor properties will increase. The new investments had mostly already contracted space at the phase of the first construction stages. Certainly some clients will move some of their offices from the outskirts to coworking or time flexible facilities.

Developers

Have not begun to cut prices. They are waiting patiently, having financial resources earned in recent years and land secured for further investments. The phase of the constructions started earlier is still ongoing. With sales from 2019 and Q1 of 2020, the share of unsold offers is relatively small, especially in good locations. There’ s no reason to believe in large funds buying up entire housing estates and all the investments in the area. There are many other countries on the market besides Poland which are in a similar situation, where the quarantine could have a stronger impact on domestic demand and prices.

The glass half full or half empty?

Pessimists predict a correction – as they are already rubbing their hands to make purchases at long-lost prices.
Optimists and property owners – rising real estate prices – because of inflation.
Stoics – believe that they buy real estate for min. 5-10 years. Those who today simultaneously sell in order to buy – to a greater extent – will not be affected by market changes.

The importance of private advisor and exclusive agreements

Contrary to ordinary agreements, where the Owner and many agencies are involved, de facto there is neither strong marketing nor knowledge of what and how to improve – whether the price or the presentation of the property and how many clients already know about the offer. The pandemic has shown that where there is an exclusive agreement between the property Owner, there is co-operation between the agencies, a stable assessment of the situation and a specific person to support and be responsible for the operations. The Owner has a trusted advisor, is freed from presentation and extra energy spent on answering questions from potential Buyers. With exclusive agreements, just like in the sales departments of developers – there is a different business relation. Solid and responsible.

Client’s habits

It’s not that hard to guess that we’re all going to change our habits – home office, home workouts, learning through computer systems, healthy eating, reducing the unnecessary things in life, clothes that are comfortable and those that are really wearable, appreciating quick commutes and leisure time, changing our lifestyles. After two months we know what we really like in our homes and what we would like to change.  Correction of the fixed costs of family life and the operation of businesses is not a bad solution, and will bring savings for years. Releasing capital for ongoing activities. Combining resources from two flats to purchase one house, but a two-generation house. Holiday homes – private oases in Masuria, by Zegrze, in the woods, mountains or by the sea.

I am thinking positive – there will definitely be a lot of changes in the near future – there will be definite changes of flats, houses, locations, offices, units.

We are changing – as well as our homes and offices.

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