Slovenia C-19 situation in construction (status on 26 April 2020)

Written by Dr. Ales Pustovrh – Bogatin, EECFA Slovenia

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached the Slovenian construction industry in a good shape. New construction contracts strengthened in H2 2019, resulting in some of the fastest growth of construction in early 2020 in the whole EU. The activity continued into March 2020 even though the lockdown measures were already implemented.

However, a decline is expected as halting construction works are affecting the entire sector:

  • There are some disruptions in the supply of materials as some manufacturers have stopped production and others have reduced production.
  • Construction work is being done less intensively mainly because of measures to protect workers.
  • Some foreign contractors have problems mainly with the logistics of their workers on projects in Slovenia.

Yet, the construction industry has been relatively less affected than some other industries (like tourism) as most large projects continue even during the lockdown measures. The concern is the absence of real estate contracts as the risk of making long-term investment decisions has also increased.

We are planning to issue the new EECFA Slovenia Construction Forecast Report on 29 June 2020. Sample report and order

Economic damage to construction segments will crucially depend on the duration of the crisis and the uncertainty it brings. According to some estimates, the short-term crisis is expected to result in a 5% drop in GDP. First indications that the return to normal operation of the Slovenian economy is near were the announcements that several lockdown measures were to be relaxed by the end of April 2020. Nevertheless, the actual fall of the economic activity will depend on the effectiveness of the state’s actions, where Slovenian politicians have promised one of the largest stimulus packages in the EU (estimated at more than 6% of its GDP) but they will have to be implemented in an effective way.

Slovenian public housing scheme kicks off

A boom in residential construction is underway in Ljubljana, Slovenia, having a knock-on effect on real-estate prices in the whole country. It will still not be enough to change the trend of rising residential real estate prices and rents. To offset the unaffordable luxury apartments, there is a national policy to build public housing.

Written by Dr. Ales Pustovrh – Bogatin, EECFA Slovenia

 

Residential boom in Ljubljana, Slovenia – but can people afford luxury apartments?

After almost a decade of the worst crisis in residential construction in the history of Slovenia, residential construction has turned the corner. Most of it is due to very ambitious plans for constructing new multi-dwelling units in the capital city of Ljubljana. Several smaller developments of luxury residential properties commenced in 2018 and 2019, but their prices are usually too high to impact the price level and availability of housing in the whole city. While a total of almost 1500 new residential units are in planning phase or under construction currently in Ljubljana, only 500 will be completed before the end of 2020 – and most of them will be prized in the luxury range of EUR 4500 – 6000 per square meter, and thus, inaccessible for the majority of the population.

Even so, demand is likely higher. Before the crisis, an average of 1500 units was sold annually in Ljubljana. With the much-improved economic situation in Slovenia, full employment and easily accessible credit, demand for apartments, in Ljubljana in particular, has very likely returned to that level. Reasonably priced apartments for young families are especially in short supply due to lack of new construction.

The latest EECFA Slovenia Construction Forecast Report with analysis and forecast on the housing market up to 2021 can be ordered on EECFA’s website

Public housing scheme – is it viable?  

For that reason, both the local municipality and the national government decided to significantly increase the construction of public housing. They have started the construction of 672 new dwellings at the Novo Brdo neighbourhood that will be completed in 2 years. The National Housing Fund of the Republic of Slovenia, which is building 498 of them, has obtained a loan of EUR 50 million from the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) for the construction of more than 800 dwellings across Slovenia, most of them in the Novo Brdo development in the western part of Ljubljana. The local municipality of Ljubljana will construct another 174 dwellings. All of them will be available for rent with rental prices of EUR 6-8 per sqm. The size of the dwellings will be between 30 and 80 sqm. The total value of this construction investment will be EUR 56.8 million.

There are plans to add thousands more dwellings in the next few years – 10000 new dwellings available for rent to young families by 2025 according to the national housing policy. If the policy proves to be successful, it will increase the supply of dwellings in Ljubljana by almost 10%. This would certainly have a major effect on real estate prices in Ljubljana. As Ljubljana represents more than half of the residential market in Slovenia, it also acts as an anchor for residential prices and rents – so a higher supply and lower prices of dwellings in Ljubljana would lower demand for dwellings in the rest of Slovenia as well.

However, this might be impossible. The national housing policy Continue reading Slovenian public housing scheme kicks off

The past, present and future of Port Koper

Written by Dr. Ales Pustovrh – Bogatin, EECFA Slovenia

The largest Slovenian civil engineering project in recent history – the construction of the second railway connecting Port Koper with the core international railway network in Slovenia – officially started in March 2019. Still, many questions remain to its successful completion.

Port Koper railway project – Source: http://www.drugitir.si

The past

Port Koper, which is the only deep-sea port in Slovenia, recorded an impressive growth in the last decade; it transported more than 24 million tons of goods, including almost 1 million containers (TEU) and more than 750.000 cars. Since 2009, it has increased the quantity of its throughput by more than 10 million tons. The throughput continues to grow fast.

However, its growth is encountering limitations from the infrastructure that was designed for much smaller traffic volumes. 59% of the goods has been transported from the port using rail, essentially reaching the capacity of the existing railway connecting the port with the international railway junction at Divaca.

Before recent and ongoing modernization, the existing railway had a capacity of 72 train compositions per day, allowing for the annual transportation of 9.2 million tons of cargo. When the modernization is completed, the capacity of the existing railway will increase to 14 million tons. Yet, with projections of Port Koper reaching 35 million tons of throughput by 2030, this essentially means that all additional cargo will have to be transported on road. This ultimately results in doubling the current road cargo transportation by 2030 and tripling it by 2040.

More about Slovenian civil engineering can be found in the EECFA Slovenia Construction Forecast Report. Sample report on eecfa.com

A simple solution would be to expand railway capacity by constructing the second railway next to the existing one, but unfortunately, this is not possible as the existing railway was constructed in 1967 as an industrial railway owned by the port. Due to its history and very difficult terrain with very steep gradients, it does not fulfil technical EU standards for the core TEN-T railway network. Thus, the construction of the second railway actually requires the construction of the whole new railway with two tracks to enable longer train compositions and faster speed.

Since 1996, and in the period of 10 consecutive Slovenian governments, 17 different technical plans have been prepared for the construction of the new railway.

The present

The final plan obtained a building permit in 2016 and will allow for the construction of 27.1 km of new railway. Together with the existing railway, the capacity of the new railway will be 231 train compositions per day, making the transportation of 43.4 million tons of cargo possible. Its steepest gradient will be 17%, while the existing railway has the steepest gradient of 26%. In order to achieve this key technical characteristic, 37.4 km of tunnels (including service tunnels) and 1.1 km of viaducts will need to be constructed. This plan is still being adjusted to construct a full two-track railway as the existing building permit only allows a single-track railway with service tunnels.

This will further increase the price of the project. Estimated construction value of works Continue reading The past, present and future of Port Koper

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

Small is beautiful – and has the potential to grow!

The Slovenian economy has strongly rebounded after the recession. This is finally improving the construction industry – and might even result in the implementation of some large construction projects

Written by Ales Pustovrh, Bogatin, EECFA Slovenia

Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana -source: http://www.visitljubljana.com

GDP is forecasted to grow by 3.6 % in 2017 – its fastest growth in the last decade. However, Slovenia’s GDP has been growing steadily for three years without lifting the construction industry. This time, it might also lead to an increase in construction output in Slovenia.

Construction output has been steadily decreasing since its peak of EUR 4.6bln in 2008 to EUR 2.3bln in 2016. However, it is almost certain that construction bottomed out in 2016 and has already begun to rise. The vibrant economic growth has increased demand for residential housing, especially since the credit flows started to go up last year following several years of a severe credit crunch. At Bogatin, EECFA Slovenia, we are forecasting the increase of residential construction by 30% until 2018, but the latest growth in credit to households hints that growth might even be faster!

Continue reading Small is beautiful – and has the potential to grow!