EECFA countries in the European Commission’s 2018 Spring Macro Forecast

Before the publication of the 2018 Summer EECFA Forecast Report, the European Commission released its spring forecast, revealing the prospects for almost all EECFA member countries. Let us highlight the main changes in the prospects over the past half year.

Written by Aron Horvath, PhD, EECFA Research, ELTINGA

Chart 1. Revision of GDP growth forecasts for EECFA countries, Hungary and the EU (average 2017-2018-2019) Source: European Commission

Chart 1 shows that GDP growth is higher in the region than in the EU, so the economic outlook is still better in the Eastern region. Looking at the individual level, the only exception is Russia, where economic growth is set to remain under 2 percent according to the Commission. As for the rest of the countries in the region, the expected growth is between 2.75 and 5.5 percent. Turkey and Romania lead the group with an over 5 percent forecasted economic growth.

Among EECFA countries, Slovenia, Turkey and Romania have witnessed their economic outlook having improved since the latest forecast in Autumn 2017. On the other hand, the forecasted GDP growth Continue reading EECFA countries in the European Commission’s 2018 Spring Macro Forecast

Q1 2018 Permit and Completion Data

The interactive permit and completion charts for residential and non-residential buildings in the 8 Eastern European countries EECFA covers and in Hungary (covered by Buildecon in EUROCONSTRUCT) have been updated with the latest data.

Residential permit-completion (number of dwellings)

Non-residential permit-completion (floor area and number of buildings)

EECFA 2018 Summer Construction Forecast

The Eastern European Construction Forecasting Association (EECFA) – the forecasting association conducting research on the construction markets of 8 Eastern European countries – has released its 2018 Summer Construction Forecast Reports up to 2020. The main findings of the reports are summarized below. The full reports can be purchased, and a sample report can be viewed at eecfa.com

Construction up to 2020 in ‘South-East Europe-5’ (Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia)

The region is posting a strong economic growth which is fuelling building construction. Some of the region’s housing markets are seeing record-breaking results, so the first voices for overheating appeared. We think these markets are far from it, though. At the same time, construction labour shortage, due to economic migration from these countries to Western Europe, is one factor giving cause for concern in the future. With accelerating absorption of EU funds, civil engineering is expected to contribute positively to growth all the way on the forecast horizon.

Bulgaria

Construction output in Bulgaria continues its recovery and is expected to reach an 8.8% growth in 2018. The star performer is the residential construction segment, benefitting from improved employment and real disposable income, as well as the ongoing process of the concentration of population in big cities. Additionally, the steady economic development will increase investments in non-residential projects. Civil engineering construction is forecasted to contribute strongly in the next few years after EU fund absorption started catching up. Therefore, estimations for 2019 and 2020 are for an additional growth of 7.1% and 6.0%, respectively.

Croatia

Croatia’s construction output is likely to grow at a respectable rate until 2020 (by an estimated 2.2% in 2017 and a forecast 11.6%, 6.2% and 4.0% in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively). Particularly well performing sectors include hotel construction, education and health and certain civil engineering subsectors, especially railways. A global trade war, fallout from the Agrokor crisis and rapidly rising construction costs are threats to Croatia’s construction industry. And all are now significantly more likely to occur than they were at the time of EECFA’s 2017 Winter Report. But fortunately, none yet constitutes an imminent danger. In 2021 or soon thereafter growth will probably begin to tail off in a number of important sectors as Croatia’s catch-up phase gradually comes to an end, but exactly when and how this will occur is not yet clear.

Romania

The housing and non-residential segments are set to continue their excellent performance in 2018, and, in spite of an underwhelming performance in the civil engineering segment, the total growth of the construction sector in 2018 is forecasted to reach 7.1% (up from +6.8% in Winter 2017). As projects co-funded by the EU are starting to be implemented, Continue reading EECFA 2018 Summer Construction Forecast

Ukraine’s housing market prospects: up or down?

Ukraine used to have an acute housing problem owing to the lack of effective social policy in the housing sector, aggravated by the low level of housing provision in Ukraine and its relatively high cost. During the past few years, the growth in the volume of housing construction, mainly in large cities and in their suburbs, has made significant adjustments to the market, though. Given the historically high need for housing and a number of existing conditions for growth in this market, there has been significant progress in the development of the housing sector.

Written by Sergii Zapototskyi – UVECON, EECFA Ukraine

Tetris Hall Residential Complex, Kiev. Source: http://tetrishall.com.ua

Housing market situation

Since 2015, the market has grown quite significantly for a number of reasons. First of all, due to the sharp devaluation of the national currency when the best option not to lose one’s money was to purchase a residential real estate. This process accelerated the crisis of the banking system. The lion’s share of the money that Ukrainians paid to developers was taken into banks where they were on deposits with fairly high interest rates. Another problem was providing housing for internal migrants, soldiers and their families, and the like. Customers tended to choose dwellings in new buildings where, when buying, the prices were more acceptable, and when selling, they could stick to their positions. Under such conditions, the housing market began to grow, including the primary one.

More details on Ukrainian housing market trends can be found in the EECFA Forecast Report Ukraine that can be purchased here.

In fact, this growth was driven primarily by the increase in large cities and their suburbs. In Kiev, the year 2013 registered about 130 newly constructed buildings, while in 2015 around 220 residential buildings were built. In 2016, already 290 such buildings were built, whereas at the beginning of 2018 there are more than 330. Within the Kiev region, the figures are somewhat smaller, though the trends are very close. Although five years ago Lviv lacked sufficient new residential buildings and there were only few construction sites, today there are approximately two hundred sites. The situation is similar in Odessa, where there are now almost one hundred and fifty new residential buildings. In Kharkov, there are approximately a hundred new buildings, almost 70 in Dnieper.

Thus, we can observe a growth in construction volumes, and consequently, a rise in the commissioning of housing in these regions. Kiev region remains a leader in housing put into use, accounting for 35% of all housing put into use in this region. This attracts investors due to lower housing prices and the fast transport access to the capital city Kiev. In 2017, the share in Kiev region is 18%, and in Kiev city, another 17%. In the capital city in 2017, only holding company Kyivmiskbud commissioned more than 300 thousand square meters of housing. In 2018, the company plans to put into use at least seven new facilities on around 450 thousand square meters.

The dynamics in housing put into use in Kiev region shows considerable input volumes when compared to other regions. Thus, over the past 10 years, in Kiev region (Kiev city + Kiev agglomeration), 28 million square meters of housing was put into use, Continue reading Ukraine’s housing market prospects: up or down?

Ljubljana among cities with the fastest growing real estate prices in the world

Real estate prices in Slovenia have been increasing at a furious pace

Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, has strongly rebounded from the recession. Since the bottom of the recession in 2015 till 2017, the average real estate price has increased by 15%. However, the price growth accelerated in 2018, making Ljubljana one of the hottest real estate markets in the world.

Written by Dr. Ales Pustovrh – Bogatin, EECFA Slovenia

Ljubljana Castle Hill and City Center – Source: visitljubljana.com

Following the peak in 2008, the Slovenian construction and real estate markets experienced a catastrophic slump. Total construction output decreased from EUR 4.6bln in 2008 to EUR 2.3bln in 2016 according to EECFA. The average real estate price in Ljubljana dropped by 25% between 2008 and 2015 (although the average price hides significant differences in price trends in different neighbourhoods and real-estate segments).

However, on the back of the strong economic growth in the last few years, prices started growing again. In Ljubljana, they increased by 15% between 2015 and 2017 according to GURS[1], the national database. In 2017, KnightFrank’s Global Residential Cities Index estimates that residential real-estate in Ljubljana has increased by another 4.4 %[2].

And the pace of real-estate price hikes seems to be accelerating further. Continue reading Ljubljana among cities with the fastest growing real estate prices in the world

Updated Permit and Completion Data – 2017

As Q4 2017 permit and completion data are being published, we’ve been updating our interactive permit & completion charts for residential and non-residential buildings in the 8 Eastern European countries EECFA covers
and in Hungary (covered by Buildecon in EUROCONSTRUCT)

Interactive charts for the 2 sub-markets:

1. Residential permit&completion (number of dwellings)

2. Non-residential permit&completion (floor area and number of buildings)

And this summary table shows the latest data of permitted buildings (residential and non-residential floor area together).

These data have been compiled by Janos Gaspar, Head of Research (EECFA, Buildecon)

Growing too fast? The stability of the Romanian residential construction market

As the housing market in Romania is seeing a rapid expansion, this rings the bell to some experts: there is a growing concern that the 2008 turmoil might repeat itself. Can the 2008 crunch be back in the Romanian housing market? This article is looking at the probabilities of this to happen.

Written by Dr. Sebastian Sipos-Gug – Ebuild srl, EECFA Romania

High-end residential project, Herastrau, North of Bucharest, Romania. Source: http://www.ascendproperty.ro

For almost a year now, concerns have risen regarding the Romanian residential market. Any instabilities in this field would have major implications across the whole construction sector, since residential construction accounted for approximately 1/3 of the yearly construction output of Romania in 2016.

Opinions emerged regarding the similarities between the 2007 and 2017 market dynamics, and reports by the National Bank (BNR), National Statistics Institute (NSI) and real estate agencies indicated unusually high growth rates of residential prices.

So, how likely is a correction event?

To answer this, we must look at the idiosyncrasies of the Romanian construction market, the similarities and differences between the collapse in 2008 and the current status.

The residential construction market in Romania is a mix between large projects, run by speculative developers, small projects contracted to construction companies and projects built by the owner.

Romanians are generally home owners, with 96% living in a house they own. They are also very fond of building homes themselves, mainly in the rural areas. This trend of self-development, mainly in the rural areas, is relatively untouched by macro-economic phenomena. Any disposable income is invested into construction materials that are used to build up or expand the home, leading to very low construction costs.

The main source of instability, however, is that of speculative urban (or suburban) development. With profit margins boosted by the real estate price increases and high demand, investments into residential construction are attractive. This has been evident in the years leading to 2008, as the number of homes in multi-unit buildings completed in 2008 was nearly three times that of the previous year, and the number of permits for this building type doubled yearly between 2006 and 2008.

The current status of the market is optimistic. Two-digit growth rates are estimated for 2016 and 2017, with EECFA’s forecast being positive until at least 2019 (the latest EECFA Romania Forecast Report can be purchased here).

Those who express concerns regarding these growth rates look at the similar results of 2006-2008 and expect another collapse of the market to take place. Other concerns are that much of recent growth has been backed by government subsidies. Under the ’Prima Casa’ Program, the mortgage market has considerably grown since 2010. Continue reading Growing too fast? The stability of the Romanian residential construction market

Housing Production and Housing Price Relationship in Turkey

This paper is to elaborate on the paradoxical situation Turkey is facing: while building construction cost has risen by 22.8 per cent in nominal, 9.8 per cent in real prices, real housing prices have decreased by up to 7 percent.

Written by Prof. Dr. Ali Türel, Çankaya University, Department of City and Regional Planning, Ankara, Turkey

Residential project EX-115 (Golden Horn Sea View Apartments) under construction in Eyüp, Istanbul, Turkey. Source: http://www.extraproperty.com

In terms of total floor area, Turkey is the leading producer of housing in Europe. Annual starts are around 1 million dwelling units with about 150 million m2 of total gross floor areas, and completions are 750 thousand on average having between 110-120 million m2 of gross floor area. The number of newly formed households in recent years has been between 500 and 550 thousand, and when renewal of risky housing against natural disasters is added, annual housing need can be estimated as 650 to 700 thousand dwelling units. Housing starts between 2010 and 2016 were about twice, and housing completions about 50 per cent greater than the number of newly formed households. Syrian refugees may also have created additional housing demand, by as much as 500 thousand dwelling units since the beginning of the war in Syria.

High levels of housing production occur without much state intervention to the housing market, as most of the conventional housing policies of the welfare state have not been introduced in Turkey. The supply side is favoured more than demand side in state policies, as evidenced by incentives recently provided to builders. Some additional construction rights beyond that determined by Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for each parcel were granted to builders by a By-law in 2013. Such additions, most of which can be made at the basement of buildings, were limited by 30 per cent of FAR in 2017 due to reactions of professional organizations. Another incentive of the 2013 By-law is reducing rear garden distance that enables builders to produce housing on parcels that had insufficient depth according to the former By-law. Otherwise, housing markets operate under a highly competitive environment without much state intervention. Primary support to moderate-to-lower income people in housing acquisition is producing housing on publicly owned land by the Housing Development Administration (HDA), a Department attached to the Prime Ministry selling at affordable conditions. Continue reading Housing Production and Housing Price Relationship in Turkey

EECFA 2017 Winter Construction Forecast and Revision

EECFA (Eastern European Construction Forecasting Association) – the forecasting association conducting research on the construction markets of 8 Eastern-European countries – published its 2017 Winter Construction Forecast Reports on 4 December. A concise summary on the main findings is outlined in this article. Please consider that foreseen development stories are rather different for the 3 submarkets (residential, non-residential, civil engineering) of construction in the countries we cover. In Russia, for example, civil engineering is expected to drive the total market back to expansion. Unless you need only an impression about the total market, we kindly suggest consulting with our reports.

Construction outlook up to 2019 in South East Europe: the countries EECFA dubs ‘South East Europe-5’ are Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. The overall picture is still very optimistic, but the expansion rate of the total construction market has been revised a bit downward, mostly due to the worsened expectation in EU fund absorption on the forecast horizon. This affects largely the civil engineering submarket, where 9% cumulated growth is foreseen for 2018-2019 for the region as a whole. In a very favorable macro environment where money is cheap, building construction is set to continue to recover; with a 17% cumulated market growth predicted for the upcoming 2 years. Shortage of skilled labour in construction is a major constraint of a more rapid growth, though.

Bulgaria: the country is facing a 7% growth in total construction output in 2017 as EU funds of the new cycle are fuelling civil engineering construction which dragged down the whole sector in 2016. Thus, total construction output comes from a very low level; in 2016 it nosedived by 35.2% (compared to the forecasted 31.1%). In 2018, the construction sector is set to register a 5.6% increase (as opposed to the 6.4% forecasted earlier), while 2019 should bring a 5.7% rise (up from the +4.5% predicted formerly).

Croatia: the good news for construction growth in Croatia is the country’s increasing capacity to obtain EU funds, at which the current government seems to be getting better and better. Continued strong growth in GDP, private consumption, retail turnover and industrial production should also benefit construction. Total construction output growth is estimated to be 6.3% for 2017, which has been revised down from the 11.2% growth expected in summer due primarily to caution shown by buyers, bankers and developers in the residential segment and to delays in some government-led, civil-engineering projects. Continue reading EECFA 2017 Winter Construction Forecast and Revision

Serbia’s retail – primed for take off

Serbia’s retail segment is enjoying a robust growth in the number of permitted buildings due to the permit reform introduced in 2015. With the first phase of the reform having commenced in 2015, and the second phase having been set out in 2016, the application procedure for permits has been made fully electronic in order to have full transparency. Consequently, not only did Serbia gain a better position in The World Bank’s 2016 Doing Business list, but is now seeing a new investment cycle of the construction of high-volume international-type shopping malls. The start of such several big-league projects should sustain this growth cycle and give a boost to construction volumes in the years to come.

Written by Dejan Krajinović, Beobuild Core D.O.O, EECFA Serbia

Delta Planet, Ada Mall (top row), IPM center, BIG Fashion (middle row), BW Gallery (bottom) – Source: beobuild.rs

In an effort to improve investment climate, permit procedures in Serbia were marked as a one of the main regulatory obstacles to development, with a long line of inefficient procedures and corrupt instances suffocating the economy. Before the reform was introduced, in some cases, it took almost a year to acquire a building permit, even if all legal conditions were met. During 2015, the government presented a multi-phase reform, which would include a total overhaul of the procedures, resulting in far cheaper and much faster permit procedures. Its implementation started in late 2015 and so far, it has been a resounding success, with building permit applications now being processed in just a few days. Furthermore, the second phase of the reform implementation started in January 2016, with building permit applications now a fully electronic system in Serbia. With electronic and centralized applications, the reform aims to lower the number of instances and the possibility of corruption and hush money in the process. This significant regulatory reform helped Serbia swiftly boost its ranks in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ list, and from 91st in 2015 it reached 47th position in 2016, making it one of the most improving economies of the world in 2016.

With some anticipation of investors, new permit procedures resulted in a strong spike of permit numbers across the board. Practically all construction segments have seen their share of growth, but with almost two years into implementation of the new permit laws, some construction sectors are leading the way. It seems that the retail segment forwards as main beneficiary in building construction, with a very potent investment cycle carrying almost 1 million permitted square meters in just over two years. Coming from a very low post-crisis level, this several-fold increase of permitted retail buildings created a real sector’s boom. The reasons behind such a strong reaction of investors lay in a very opportunistic market, open for development of big city malls and retail parks. It is worth Continue reading Serbia’s retail – primed for take off