From gloom to boom: Serbia’s residential

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

Residential construction in Serbia is performing extremely well, and the long-awaited recovery is now well underway, with 2018 volumes again surpassing initial expectations. The situation on the market has been brewing for some time, with a strong investor confidence as well as very favorable financial conditions fueling expansion.

There has been a steady growth in construction activity for 4 years in a row now, but this trend has all the necessary conditions to sustain these levels and produce more growth in the coming years. Housing construction is flourishing, being already one of the best performing sectors in the overall building construction.

New projects are lining up, boosting permit numbers to record levels. Although it is expected for permits to hit the roof in 2020, the amount of permitted homes will certainly drive this growth cycle for several more years.

Top: Belgrade Waterfront/St.Regis Tower; Bottom left: Skyline complex; Bottom right: West65 tower – Source: : Beobuild Core D.O.O

Serbia’s residential market though is coming from a very low-end of its potential – hitting historical bottom after a long and very deep recession that ended in 2014. With such a small basis at the time, an upswing was expected in construction volumes, but the current strength and speed of the recovery seemed too optimistic.

Investment activity has accelerated, with the strong contribution of both domestic and foreign investors, creating a real boom in the construction of multi-unit buildings. Investors from around the world have already entered the market, particularly Belgrade’s starved luxurious segment and yielding high-end residential projects. The competition of large-scale projects by international and domestic investors is bringing a whole new level of market sophistication, with different services, features and amenities.

The most notable is the Belgrade Waterfront development, a large-scale re-urbanization of the banks of the Sava River in Central Belgrade, covering 80ha of prime construction land. This project is a joint venture of the Republic of Serbia and Abu Dhabi-based investment fund ‘Eagle Hills’, estimated to be worth more than EUR 3bln. Continue reading From gloom to boom: Serbia’s residential

Russia’s mortgage boom

Written by Andrey Vakulenko – MACON Realty Group, EECFA Russia

The Russian residential market will long be the driving force behind the whole construction sector due to the continued high demand of most of the country’s population for improving their housing conditions. Mortgage loans, the most common means for purchasing homes in Russia in recent years, have finally strengthened, which compensates for the crisis years of 2015-2016 in Russia. As there has been a major drop in the population’s income, and it persists, mortgage lending is the only way to increase home purchases. The mortgage market easily overcame the crisis of 2015-2016 in Russia and already in 2017 exceeded the peak indicators of the pre-crisis year of 2014. During the first half of 2018, the trend towards growth further strengthened: the volume of issued mortgage loans rose by 68%, and its share in the total number of housing transactions reached a record 54% in the primary market. All this shows the current high demand for mortgage loans.

To explain the explosive growth in mortgage lending, the fundamental factors shaping the housing market need to be considered:

  1. Level of individuals’ living space provision (sqm/person);
  2. Demand for housing (how much more housing needs to be built, so that the level of living space provision can reach an acceptable value – about 30 sqm per person);
  3. Affordability of housing for purchase (the ratio of the income of buyers and the price of real estate).

As per the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, to date, the total housing stock in Russia is about 3.4 billion sqm, only slightly more than 23 sq km in terms of the country’s permanent population (146.9 million as of January 1, 2018) per person. This level can be considered low compared to most developed foreign countries (39 sqm/person in France and Germany; 70 sqm/person in the USA, 76 sqm/person in Canada). Minimally comfortable living conditions are achieved with a security level of at least 30 sqm/person as per the social standards of the United Nations, and it is the target of public housing programs in Russia. To ensure that the population’s living space has reached this target, while maintaining the country’s population at the current level, another 1.0 billion sqm of living space should be built. Thus, the low level of housing provision is the guarantor of the preservation of demand for new housing projects for a long term.

The second factor ensuring long-term demand for housing is the quality of the existing housing stock, which has more than 33% (or about 1.2 billion sqm) of housing built before 1970. Even with the record volumes of housing construction registered in Russia in recent years (in 2014-2017 about 80 million sqm annually) and even if it stays at the current level, it will still take at least 28 years to reach the minimum acceptable security and to fully replace the old housing stock. In general, housing demand in Russia will not be Continue reading Russia’s mortgage boom

Turkey forecast in hindsight

Written by Janos Gaspar, EECFA’s Head of Research

Back in early July, a month before the currency depreciation entered into the free fall phase in Turkey, we wrote a post about the European Commission’s forecast. This is a regular task for us, since we use these forecasts for assessing the expected macro environment in some of our countries. The post was about comparing the most recent GDP forecast with the previous ones and comparing the construction investment (precisely Gross fixed capital formation) outlooks where available.

It was so surprising to see the Commission’s upward revision of construction investment forecast in Turkey (for 2018-2019), that I have entered into a mail exchange with those behind the figures. I thought this was a mistake, but they have assured me that everything is ok with their figures.

For this reason, one more paragraph was added to that post emphasizing that our view on Turkey is significantly different from that of the Commission and that we, EECFA, have revised our forecast downward.

This is the EECFA forecast I was referring to, issued in at the beginning of Summer 2018:

This interactive presentation of our latest forecast is available on our website: http://eecfa.com/

Turkey in bigger size:

Surely, we did not foresee that the events would unfold in such a dramatic fashion; our scenario in many previous forecast rounds was the soft-lending, instead.

Since Summer 2016, which was the first time we provided forecast for 2018, we have had five forecast rounds in EECFA, two per years, plus the most recent one in 2018. In these 5 forecast rounds, our forecast for 2018 varied in a relatively small band, from -1.7% to +2.8%. And the same figures for 2019 (in our latest 3 issuances) were between 1% and -0.8%.

And here we are now, construction investment was up by 8.4% (as published by the Turkish Statistical Institute on 10 September 2018) in the first half of the year. In the good half.

Considering the massive unsold dwelling stock [link in Turkish] and the wide-ranging consequences of the currency downfall already materialized in abandoned/suspended private and public projects, very cautious investors and reconsidered public investment plans, my gut feeling is that our forecast is very much valid.

In case you would like to see our assessments on segment level, EECFA’s forecast for Turkey is available in the EECFA Forecast Report Turkey released on 18 June 2018 together with the other 7 EECFA Forecast Reports.
Sample report: eecfa.com / Discount options and orders: eszter.falucskai@eecfa.com.

Global warming: near-future effects on the Croatian coastal infrastructure

Due to its coastal geography, Croatia is exposed to the effects of climate change such as rises in sea level and serious wave and storm threats. In the near future, the country will need to take action which will involve increased civil engineering construction on the coast.

Written by Michael Glazer (SEE Regional Advisors) and Tatjana Halapija (Nada Projekt), EECFA’s Croatian members

Rovinj coastal city – Source: http://www.studio-pastello.com

Croatia’s building boom is continuing, but some of the engines currently driving it will likely run out of steam in a few years: Coastal hospitality-related construction will decline in importance as current renovation and greenfield projects complete and opportunities for new projects become more limited. Educational, health and other construction spending fueled by EU post-accession funds will decline as those funds dry up.

All of this is several years off, and inland hospitality construction and renewed office and residential building will take up some of the slack, so there’s no need to panic. But, it’s still worth asking: what will be the next big thing in the Croatian construction market?

One likely candidate is Continue reading Global warming: near-future effects on the Croatian coastal infrastructure

Residential construction in Bulgaria – Growth goes on, challenges remain

Rises in employment and income in Bulgaria, combined with low interest rates both on deposits and housing loans, are pushing residential construction as well as the property market upwards. The rise in profit margin increasingly attracts investors in the sector. However, aging multi-family buildings and the growing number of uninhabited properties remain as major challenges ahead of the housing stock in the country.

Written by Yasen Georgiev and Dragomir Belchev, EPI – EECFA Bulgaria

Varna Wave ongoing residential project in Varna, Bulgaria – Source: varnawave.bg

Residential construction and the real estate market in Bulgaria continue to be in the focus of investors and developers. The turning point was in 2016 when the sector registered a growth of 31.1% and it is expected to increase in double-digit terms in the period up to 2019. These developments have a direct correlation with improved living conditions as in 2017 the Bulgarian GDP grew by 3.6%. According to European Commission forecasts, there are no signs for pessimism as they prognosticate a further growth of 3.8% in 2018 and 3.7% in 2019.

The economic development is accompanied by low rates of unemployment and an increased disposable income. Major cities in Bulgaria such as Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas are getting more and more attractive, which leads to the concentration of the population and creates a strong demand in the residential sector. Consumer preferences are also changing in favour of quality properties (larger ones and with better location) that are lacking in the market. At the moment supply is still lagging behind, unable to catch up with demand. In H1 2018 completed newly-built residential buildings were 9.1% more than in the same period in 2017. In terms of dwellings, there is a drop of 10.3%, which is a proof of the completion of bigger-scale projects.

As a result, currently over 50% of the deals are made while dwellings are still under construction. Continue reading Residential construction in Bulgaria – Growth goes on, challenges remain

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