About 6 months ago I made a short review of the property market in Romania, since the change of the system from the communism to the free economy. (here)

Now I shall make a review of the situation regarding the property market for the last 6 months.

It is true that the problem during the last few months has been concentrated to the huge debts of the national Governments in some European countries with emphasis on Greece and now on some other countries like Italy.

The property market in Europe, was adversely affected mainly by the actual economies deterioration, as the incomes of people are reduced. In addition to this psychology has a substantial contribution, and also the reluctance of banks to grant loans.

Banks in Romania, started giving loans with caution, making use of the scheme ‘prima casa’ for first time buyers. This resulted in the creation of some demand for small and cheap residential units.

The sector of the building plots in the periphery of Bucharest, is going to take longer to recover, because the demand for villas in these areas will be created by the middle and upper class.

In the long ran, the property market generally, is going to improve dramatically in the years to come, as it is estimated that in, say, 10 years time the population of the Capital is expected to double, that is to reach 4.5 million people. This will create demand for housing for additional 2 million people.

Already there is a very big deficit of housing units. It is usual to see in a small apartment in Bucharest the grand parents, the parents and the children.

Another sector of the property market is the commercial and office buildings, in which foreign investors are moving in, although these investors are waiting to see the outcome of the Euro crisis, in order to proceed.

Presently the market for commercial and office properties, which are let started moving, as it gives a very good return (about 8-10% return from rents plus substantial capital appreciation which is expected in the following years. An investor who has 50-60% of the proposed investment can borrow the balance from a bank. This arrangement will result in increasing the rate of return as the interest payable on the loan will be less than the rental income.

Another sector of property market is the market of houses and villas in the suburbs. This sector of the market , will take probably 1-2 years to recover, and therefore developers thinking to expand in Romania, and especially in the area of the Capital Bucharest should start preparations from now, to see and decide areas of activities, make applications for building permits, and other facilities, as this may take one year or more. When the permits and all preparations are ready, the market will be regularly under review, and the project will start when there are signs of recovery, and some advance sales contracts can be made.

Concluding, I wish to refer to the prospects for investments in the emerging countries, like China, Brazil, India, but I don’t think that investments in these countries are presently safe compared to investments in a European country.

 

ANDREAS KAKOFENGITIS is a chief executive of Bestservus Group. He is a qualified accountant (FCCA) and Banker (FCIB) with long experience in the financial sector in Cyprus, England and Romania since 1997. He is an optimistic guy who sees Romania as a second home and likes to lay down his thoughts on his blog. You can check his work at www.bestservus.ro.
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