Recognizing the key role of the real estate sector, RE, in generating sustainable growth for the Greek economy, the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce has launched a new “Real Estate and Development Committee”, composed of professionals with in-depth knowledge, broad understanding, and practical experience in dealing with key issues related to the development and operation of real estate assets in Greece. The RE&D committee will, among other things, support the government in the formulation of an integrated strategic plan and the adoption of the right policies in order to attract the interest of private and institutional investors for real estate in Greece.
However, there seems to be some misunderstanding about the nature of the real estate business and the role of the main players in the relevant markets. Clarifying the idiosyncrasies of each sector of the economy would help all stakeholders realize the distinct objectives they are committing to in their particular market sector, and better understand what to expect from investing in money and effort in a market that operates on its own terms that leave no space for real estate development and exploitation. It is becoming apparent that the distinction between real estate and other business activities is inescapable and helps investors better understand what to expect from their investment in real estate or other business.
What is and is not real estate
In international terminology, the term “real estate” (RE) means the land, any development or improvement made on it, and the rights of ownership or use. According to classical economics, land is one of the main factors of production in all sectors of the economy, which is why many people categorize various business activities as “real estate”, although they do not have nothing in common with them. The leisure industry, logistics and manufacturing are very good examples of this misinterpretation, as none of them are developed and operated under the same regulations and market conditions encountered by the original real estate players. . The operational framework of a real estate company includes all these actions and services, ranging from the origination of a development opportunity to the best exploitation of the development carried out.
Each development option requires the satisfaction of a set of financial conditions, through which the investor will obtain adequate financing from local or international financial markets, as well as real estate portfolio management companies, aimed at maximizing the return on capital. investors. These conditions/services can be rendered either autonomously by a legal person offering integrated real estate services, or in complementary combination with another player in the same market, offering a holistic approach to the client’s needs. It is quite common to see entrepreneurs/developers collaborating with financial institutions to offer such holistic services. Companies with this philosophy can, at the same time, be recipients of some of these services, in a kind of “special customer-supplier agreement”, that is to say when the company is the owner or user of a commercial. The same applies when the beneficiary is a third party who manages the shopping center without any right of ownership or use of the building.
The role and activities of a real estate company are proposed along two main axes. a) main area of expertise in real estate operations and financing and b) customer focus on the type of customer, i.e. occupier or investor. In this approach, the role and main activities of a real estate company are grouped into six groups of services, partially overlapping, which define the criteria that we can adopt to decide what is and what is not Immovable. The six groups are:
Business service provider
Use and management of space
Administration of leases
Corporate real estate asset management
Use and management of space
Owner/Rental – Portfolio Analysis
Capital structure modeling and advice
Investor service provider
Capital Markets Analysis
joint venture partner
Capital structure modeling and advice
Capital Markets Analysis – Company/Fund Analysis
Source and location of capital (debt and equity)
Establish funds (for own business or for others)
Even if readers of this brief collection of thoughts on the nature of real estate do not agree with the above approach to what real estate is and what is not, it is highly likely that they will quite easily understand that this industry has already changed not only in terms of day-to-day practices and procedures, but in deeper and fundamental elements of the business, which distort the traditional perception of it as a safe investment opportunity while making it capable of producing remarkable yields in a shorter time than ever.
ER has always been a slow business venture, which promised rather conservative returns to investors over the life cycle of the asset, i.e. a period of 10 to 12 years. This is the main reason why pension or social security funds have systematically been the funders of
real estate assets for a long time in the past.
The increasing intermediation of exchanges in the RE sector, however, creates high expectations of returns over shorter periods, creating a breeding ground for even higher fluctuations in real estate values, which is not normal in the RE market. .
Another important driver of change in the traditionally stable RE market is the unexpected (and out of all consideration of risk) emergence of COVID-19, the pandemic that has persisted for more than two years, disrupting the normal standard of living. in all places of life. the globe.
The impact of the pandemic on professional and social life is enormous. We have seen a drastic change in our daily actions and working conditions which cannot be easily absorbed as mere changes in our lifestyles, but which will have a huge impact on the fundamentals of various business sectors, mainly on real estate, all over the world. . The forced adaptation to changing working conditions through telework, teleconferencing and the global digitalization of business and social activities has produced a completely new framework for companies and workers and forced them to develop new business models. which will take into consideration the expected decline in demand for space and corporate profits. The end result of this effort is not known. One thing, however, is clear: the negative impact of COVID-19 will be less significant for countries that have worked carefully to take the right steps early enough to protect people and their wealth. Perhaps for the first time in history, Greece has taken a pioneering position in managing a crisis, in this case the pandemic, and has won global recognition for efficiency and effectiveness. of the mechanism quickly devised and implemented for the good of his people and their wealth. This is one of the reasons why Greece should be the next destination for foreign investment in all sectors of the national economy, as follows:
Greece as an investment destination
The Greek government is working hard to build a positive image of the country as a competitive destination for investment from the United States, China, or other financially sound players in the global economy. It seems that, for the first time in its modern history, Greece is closer than ever to conquering the major role of being a significant junction between East and West, within a historically vast area of remarkable economic and social activity. Greece will then get rid of its image of a small country with many problems and without strategic importance neither in the East nor in the West. The mission is difficult to accomplish, and the Greek people must strive for it, eagerly offering every part of their faith, energy, intelligence and patience to the national cause. However, in addition to the importance of human rights, Greece must pay particular attention to the development of an ambitious but realistic national plan, which will give the Greek people a vision of the situation of their country of origin in ten years.
Key factors of success
Considering the long-term objectives and the vision for the next decade, the strategic plan should focus on the most important factors that will guide the country towards a large-scale implementation of the measures envisaged therein and towards a result. positive for the collective effort. . Some of the most important success factors, related in some sense to the real estate segment of the economy, are:
Foreign direct investments
FDI in real estate will be critical to the overall success of the strategic plan as it can motivate the movement of additional financial resources to join those already allocated to the country by the EU and relevant local authorities. Investments in real estate will serve 100% the scope of the strategic plan, which prioritizes the long-term rather than short-term impact on the national economy and with the corresponding benefits for the whole of society. Important factors include:
- The time element (long-term perspective)
- Complementarity of the measures to be taken
- Synergies of different types of investments
- Policy coordination and partial target prioritization
- Particular attention to the digitization of the economy (in general and in real estate)
The main government policy issues regarding the real estate sector in Greece include urban planning and spatial management, general and sectoral taxation and investment incentives.
This is the only way for Greece to be included in the group of investment-friendly destinations, to build a reliable support mechanism for FDI and to convince the investment company that the country will never return to inefficiency and bad practices of the past. The future of the country is irreversible!
Vasilis Delikaterinis is an advisor to the board of directors of GEK TERNA GROUP SA and a member of the real estate and development committee of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.