Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Price of flats in Bucharest continues to fall

The prices of flats in Bucharest fell by 5% from January through to July this year, as a result of the reduction of prices especially over the last two months, the ZF index reveals. The price a of three-room flat in the capital, built between 1980 and 1990, went down by 3% on average in July, after the average price per square metre reached 1,920 euros, compared with 1,976 euros in June, according to the real estate index put together by ZF based on sale prices displayed on website. "Prices continue to go down, and as far as deals are concerned, they are at 25% of what they were at the beginning of the year," said Gabriel Dragomir, senior broker of real estate agency Indoors Real Estate Group. June and July were the first months in the last few years when asking prices went down, according to the ZF research. Asking prices can be as much as 20% higher than those at which deals are actually struck.



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Housing sales crisis forces developers to offer €10,000 discounts

The drop in sales of new apartments in the first half of this year has forced real estate developers building for the middle class to offer discounts or promotional objects worth €5,000-€10,000 of the price of the sale, according to main players on the local real estate market. Bonuses can be in the form of a Logan car, a bicycle, kitchen furniture, or even a holiday.

Sales of new apartments dropped by some 50 percent in the first six months, compared to the monthly average in 2007. April and May were critical, because rumors started circulating at the beginning of the year, especially in February and March, about a Real estate market crisis.

“Some 80 percent of developers are offering discounts worth €5,000-€10,000. Promotional offers are meant to stimulate sales and enable the developer to meet his plan for which a financing contract was signed. Normally, as soon as developers obtain financing from the bank, the latter insists on the sale of a certain number of apartments within a given period, in order to qualify for the rest of the loan,” according to a declaration for Business Standard by Ilinca Paun, Director of the Residential Division of the Colliers International real estate advisory company.



Monday, July 28, 2008

Notaries: Real estate deals down by 5% in June

The number of deals on the domestic real estate market has gone down over the last two months, by as much as 5% in June, compared with the same time last year, according to the data the National Union of Notaries Public of Romania (UNNPR) sent to ZF. After growth rates of 10.3%, 32.3%, 11.2% and 22.5% from January through to April compared with the same time last year, the number real estate deals fell in May and June by 3.5% and 5.3%. Therefore notaries certified 43,196 deals in May, compared with 44,749 in May 2007, and the number of transactions involving buildings fell to 40,383 in June, compared with 42,648 in June 2007. Over the last few months, the real estate market slowed down as a result of the bad news concerning the money troubles of some foreign funds, as well as expectations created on the market about price declines due to the new lending restrictions prepared by the NBR and to the increase in rates on RON and euros.



Friday, July 25, 2008

Bulgaria's real estate market: Romanians invest in apartments at the seaside

Dozens of Romanians have bought luxury apartments in famous Bulgarian seaside resorts. With only 75,000 euro the price for a one room apartment in Bucharest, people can buy two for this price in one Bulgarian seaside resort, Golden Sands. Another option in Bulgaria is in Ruse, the closest city to the Romanian border south of Bucharest, where a house is sold with 5,000 euro. In Ruse real estate agents complain that Romanians doubled the household prices. Even so, the most expensive apartments there do no exceed 60,000 euro.

In Romania, Bulgarian households can be purchased through the real estate company Bulgariainvest. Director Andrei Muresan says that so far his company sold 50 apartments in Sunny Beach and Golden Sands - top destinations on the Bulgarian seaside.

Romanians who bought an apartment over there declare that they now have a house for holidays but also a very good investment. They declared that they might even consider renting or selling, depending on how the market changes.

In Ruse, Romanians invest in houses. Aleksander Iordanov and his family own the oldest real estate company in Ruse. He declared that in the last period, he sold dozens of properties to Romanian customers.

He adds that those buying do not live there but they consider that in a few years, they will be able to sell at a better price and earn some good profits. The area has great potential, especially that more and more Romanians are tempted to buy there. Even now, there are some 2 million Romanians who would rather shop in Ruse than in Romania.



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Constanda sells 1.63 ha of French Village for 68m euros

Businessman Constantin Constanda has received around 68 million euros from the sale of 1.63 hectares of land in Satul Francez (French Village) to Greek firm Raptis Kavouras, a deal that put the entire 2.8-hectare plot owned by Constanda at 120 million euros. In March, in one of the biggest scandals on the real estate market, Constanda became part owner in the French Village in exchange for Bordei Park with the Bucharest City Hall.

He acquired the park from two individuals, who had bought it from the two people it had been given back to, Dumitru Tudor and Eugen Lincaru. Constanda could not be contacted by the time this issue was ready for print.

The purchased lot includes nine villas whose rental contracts range from 2,000 to 4,000 dollars and will expire by next spring. "We probably won't start working on the new project until next year, while a team of architects has already started design work. The owner did not wish to sell everything, but we might buy the rest, as well," Lucian Mateescu, general manager of Raptis Kavouras, told ZF.

At a price of 4,200 euros/square metre, the sale of the land which houses Satul Francez (French Village) is a record deal on the segment of large plots, located in luxury areas of Bucharest.

Negotiations for the 16,300 square metre plot took less than two months, but a price was decided on in just ten minutes, although the starting price was less than 10% higher than the value of the transaction.

"This was a transaction that we worked on day and night, and in the last three days the final details were discussed for 50 hours. We really wanted this land, and, according to our information, at least three other companies were also interested. Price negotiations started from 4,500 euros/square metre, but it only took around 5 minutes to make a decision," said Mateescu.

Mateescu met Constanda on May 22, while the deal occurred less than two months later on July 15, during a period when big real estate deals are rare.

"When it comes to prices of tens of millions of euros, the market is not overcrowded with buyers under the current conditions, so this is not exactly perfect timing. On the other hand, we believed the position of the land is unique, because there aren't any other large plots in the central-northern part of the city," added Mateescu.



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Time taken to sell houses up 20% in last six months

The average period in which a real estate property is put up for sale and finally gets to be traded grew by 20% in the last six months, according to representatives of the real estate company RE/MAX Romania.

"The average time for the sale of real estate properties grew by 20% in the last six months, reaching even up to 12 weeks. However, if the selling price is 10 to 30% below current prices in the market, the building or the dwelling sells within 30 days. We had cases in the RE/MAX network when, in the same conditions, the properties were sold in 5 days", said Paul Dumbrăvanu, Broker/ Owner of real estate agency RE/MAX Star.

According to the RE/MAX statistics, the period during which a property enjoys maximum interest from the potential buyers is five weeks, at present. "After this time limit, the interest of the buyers for the property drops to around 15%, starting from the 7th week of stationing in the market, requiring the repositioning of the property in terms of price, so that the interest for it would rise again", is the opinion of Dan Tărăcilă from RE/MAX Star.

According to RE/MAX representatives, real estate assessment is carried out through three main methods and techniques: direct comparison method (the estimation of the market value is made by comparing it to similar properties, this technique offering a fairly accurate picture of the value of real estate), the cost method (which estimates the cost to construct the existing building and then deducts the depreciation of the evaluated property, estimated at the date of the evaluation) and, respectively, the yield method (the property is considered as an investment that generates an income).

RE/MAX Romania registered a growth of over 100% in its office network, in the last 12 months, from 11 offices in June 2007, to 23 active offices in the same month of this year, other offices already being under establishment. As regards the number of real estate agents, RE/MAX Romania had a total of five agents in January 2007, while their number amounted to 43 in June 2007. Over the last 12 months, the number of RE/MAX real estate agents increased by 147%, currently amounting to 109.

At global level, RE/MAX is one of the leaders in real estate sales, according to independent statistics conducted in this industry: a RE/MAX real estate agent trades, on average, 4.5 million dollars a year.



Martinsa-Fadesa Romanian project still unaffected

Spanish construction and real estate development group Martinsa-Fadesa, which operates on the Romanian market, has become the first Spanish publicly listed company forced to seek bankruptcy protection after failing to get a loan to refinance debt. The firm has an ongoing one billion-euro project in Stefanestii de Jos, close to Bucharest. So the question is: what will happen next? The group was unable to get a 150 million-euro loan, which it needed for cash and the continued normal development of projects, as announced by its officials. The firm entered Romania in 1998, when it bought the majority interest in wood processing company Diana Forest based in Bacau from the state. Martinsa-Fadesa sold the company for 23 million euros to Polish flooring and parquetry manufacturer Barlinek early this year. Also at the beginning of this year it started construction works on its biggest development in Romania, Bonaire Community City in Stefanestii de Jos. The project was meant to include 7,600 flats, a hotel, office space and retail space and is the biggest residential complex announced in Romania so far. "In principle, the projects announced are still happening, considering we use different financing sources than the company in Spain, especially from banks. What we can say is that the situation in Spain is not affecting us for the time being," say the representatives of Martinsa-Fadesa in Romania.



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Three-room flats in Bucharest become increasingly harder to sell

The average price of old flats in Bucharest fell 12% on the average in the second quarter of the year, due to the lack of interest in such homes, reveals an analysis by website, which brokers direct real estate deals. As a result of the decline in demand, it now takes up to sixty days to sell a three-room flat. The most severe decrease in prices was that of two-room flats, which became 13% cheaper compared with the first quarter and now cost less than 120,000 euros, down from 136,000 euros. The studios and three-room flats prices went down by 10%, according to the same source. Therefore the average price of a studio fell from 86,500 euros to 78,160 euros and a three-room flat from 177,000 euros to 159,800 euros. The supply of old homes increased significantly against the same period in 2007 (51%), but fell against the first quarter of the year, by 34%, mainly because of the seasonal nature of the market, which peaks in February-March and September-November.



Monday, July 14, 2008

65,000 new apartments to be delivered in next 3-5 years

The number of new apartments to be delivered in the next 3-5 years will amount to about 65,000, but housing needs will not be covered, the ratio being currently estimated at one housing unit for five applications in Bucharest, shows a survey conducted by analysts of the Regatta real estate company.

According to this study, the North area of capital owns a percentage of 38.10% of the total units to be available in the next three-five years, which means 24,750 units. "In the North there are ample areas of land and the projects in the area include large-size residential ensembles of up to 4,600 units, which have complex concepts such as Cosmopolis or the Băneasa project, which cover vast areas, but also small-sized buildings and small, with an intimate character, with less than 50 units," say the analysts of the real estate company.

In the western area, developers have made full use of the available plots to achieve large-size residential ensembles, which offer between 2,000 and 2,700 units, such as those in Drumul Taberei, just over 1,000 in Military or Semănătoarea, but also buildings with a small number of units (between 88 and 465), such as Champions Residence, opposite the Ghencea Stadium. The total area includes 14,737 units, namely 22.68% of the total supply for Bucharest.

In the east, the most dynamic area is the Titan district, an area where competition is very high, providing varied offers. At the same time, the Dristor, Obor, Colentina and Pantelimon areas develop, offering together a total of 17,499 units. This figure represents 26.93% of total apartments announced in the market.

"As expected, the South begins to transform, the accentuated industrial profile starting to be balanced by the need for residential. Several new residential projects are expected here, an essential factor being the relatively low price of land. For now, the started projects represent a percentage of 6.38% through the 4147 units available in areas such as Constantin Brâncoveanu, Piaţa Sudului, Berceni, Tineretului or Splaiul Unirii. The biggest residential ensemble in the south currently provides 1,680 units and is located in the Splaiul Unirii area. Further development of large projects is expected in the area, as the space favourable to developments is still available here, the Regatta study also shows.

Regarding the downtown area of the Capital, real estate analysts consider that the lack of land is more than obvious and thus the percentage of residential developments in the area is only 5.88% of the total.



One-bedroom apartments cheaper in Q2

The price of older apartments in Bucharest dropped 12 percent in the second quarter, compared to Q1 2008. The most significant decline in prices was registered for one-bedroom apartments, at 13 percent, according to representatives of real estate portal.

“The average price of an old apartment in Bucharest was €119,000 in the second quarter of 2008,” according to a press release. The price is similar to the level registered in December 2007.

According to the Bucharest Real Estate index, compiled by Colliers International real estate consulting company, the price of old Bucharest apartments has been shifting since the beginning of 2008, with a 5 percent monthly decrease in May. The new apartment index amounted to €1,909 per square meter, the same level as in April 2008, while that for old apartments dropped to €1,808 per sqm, from €1,892 per sqm in April. This is due to fewer transactions on the market in April and May.



Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Developers deliver fewer flats than promised for H1

Approximately 1,200 new flats that had been scheduled for delivery in the first half of this year have been delayed, as the construction market is experiencing a serious personnel shortage, the weather in the winter was worse than during last year's winter and construction permits were issued later than they were supposed to.

The projects that had been expected to be delivered in the first half of this year include complexes like Planorama (Colentina), Residenz (Chitila), Primavara (Drumul Taberei) and Ibiza Sol (Pipera), which are multi-stage developments. They have all been pushed back by three months on the average.

One of the first large complexes started in Bucharest was Planorama, in the Colentina district, comprising four blocks with a total of more than 1,000 flats.

"The first block of 280 flats should start being delivered in August. They have been working twenty four hours a day but the volume was extremely high and personnel turnover in constructions is high," explains Ionut Botea, sales consultant of Prime Location, which handles the sale of the homes in this project.

The first delivery deadline had been set for the end of 2007, after which developer Euro Habitat announced the first block would be delivered in April this year. For each day of delay those who bought homes in this project will be reimbursed 0.02% of the acquisition price of the flat, which may amount to over 5% for those who bought off-plan.

On the other hand, buyers of the first stage of the Residenz complex in Chitila, developed by Tiriac Imobiliare and LBBW, are already moving in the 136 homes, though three months later than they were initially supposed to, that is March 2008.

"Residenz clients of the first phase are already moving in their flats and we anticipate to have them all moved in by the end of August, as final sale-purchase deeds are completed. We delayed the first phase by three months because we were unable to find skilled workers all the time," says Ruxandra Buca-Chendi, marketing manager of Tiriac Imobiliare. Delays happen at a time when the number of flats completed in Bucharest has been very low in recent years. The main projects that were delivered include Central Park, Quadra Place and Emerald Residences. However, a record number of homes are scheduled for delivery on the Bucharest market by the end of the year, approximately 6,000, double the number delivered last year.

Besides workforce problems, a series of developers have also had trouble getting their construction permits, which caused even more delays to their projects. Therefore, out of the 104 flats of the Ibiza Sol project that were supposed to be delivered in March, only 50 have been turned over to their owners, with deliveries starting at the end of June.

"Works fell behind the original schedule, because it took two months more to get the construction permit. It was supposed to be issued at the beginning of June 2006, so that works could begin in July 2006, but the Voluntari Town Hall only issued it on September 4, 2006," explains Alexandra Moldovan, marketing officer of Spain-based Ibiza House company.



Old apartments in sector one are 7% cheaper

Prices of old apartments in Bucharest went down by less than 1% in June this year compared with the previous month, with the most significant decline being reported for homes in the Capital's sector one (-7%), according to the real estate index set up by real estate consultancy Colliers International. The average price of old homes in Bucharest reached 1,794 euros/square metre in June, compared with 1,808 euros/square metre in May, while apartments in sector one of the Capital, which includes districts such as Dorobanti, Aviatiei and Baneasa, reached 2,061 euros/square metre, following the price decline. According to the real estate index put together by ZIARUL FINANCIAR, apartments in the Aviatiei district became 23% cheaper in June, while in Dorobanti, prices asked by buyers were 16% lower than in May. However, apartments in the sector one of Bucharest (which covers the Northern part of Bucharest) remain the most expensive in the capital, with the second most expensive sector being the sector four, which includes districts such as Tineretului and Berceni, where the average price is 1,995 euros/square metre, according to Colliers.



Central Bank hits the breaks on the credits market, new rules imposed

Romania Central Bank (BNR) tries to slow down the pace on the fast growing credit market, suggesting a new set of regulations designed to harden the already constrictive conditions in which credits may be obtained. BNR suggests that the banks and other financial institutions take into account a maximum of 20% larger income than the one declared for taxes in the previous year, instead of considering the income evidence issued by companies or other similar documents.

In a previous set of measures, BNR increased the key interest rate six times in nine months, up to 10%, the largest figure since August 2005.

BNR also suggests banks to introduce a new element, called "stress test", to evaluate the credit refund capacity in inauspicious circumstances. The draft issued by BNR is opened for public debate until July 16. Banks may have to adopt the new rules within 45 days after they are approved.



Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bucharest apartment prices continue to drop

Apartment prices in Bucharest continued their downward trend in June this year, dropping 6.2% as compared to May, according to a private report set up by, Romanian news agency NewsIn informs. The system supervises real estate ads published by private people both in newspapers and on the web. On Tuesday, real estate company Colliers International announced that apartment prices in Bucharest dropped by 1%. Both monitoring systems report that prices, even so, are higher than the ones registered in the same period last year.

Most apartments on sale in Bucharest are two room apartments which on average are sold with 114,000 euro, a 2,000 euro decrease as compared to May. Even so, apartments are still 34% more expensive than a year ago.

Colliers International data show significant price decreases in June this year. Their Bucharest Real Estate Index registered a value of 1834 euro/sq. meter, a 9 units drop as compared to its value in May.

Thus, despite the fact that prices decrease, apartments are still expensive. According to the real estate company, as compared to last year, apartments are 15% more expensive.