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What was 2020 like for the housing market? What challenges will this year bring for developers? What impediments to doing business do they see in the new conditions? The poll was conducted by the real estate website dompress.pl.
Mirosław Kujawski, member of the board of Develia
The first half of the year was particularly demanding for the real estate development industry due to the uncertainty related to the development of the pandemic, which certainly influenced the decisions of clients and made the process of obtaining building permits more difficult. The situation improved in the second half of the year and we saw a gradual increase in sales in the third and fourth quarters of last year. The current interest on the part of customers, as well as the sales results themselves, indicate stabilisation. The residential market in Poland is still not saturated, which is why we will be launching more projects in the coming months.
Despite the improvement in the market situation, the pandemic is not over and we will undoubtedly have to deal with its effects for some time to come, such as the decline in GDP, rising inflation, or the exclusion from the group of potential buyers of people working in industries most affected by the lockdown. Additionally, further difficulties in obtaining administrative decisions will be a significant challenge this year.
Zbigniew Juroszek, CEO of Atal
The year 2020 was an unpredictable time, dominated by the epidemic situation and the lockdown caused by it. The development industry, like many others, was forced to adapt to the new reality. Developers had to make a number of additional organisational efforts to maintain business continuity and produce satisfactory results. Despite the unpredictability and challenges that 2020 brought, we carried out property development projects without any significant deviations from the assumed plan. We also started new projects, thanks to which we maintained the high level of our offer.
We worked out satisfactory sales results. In the past year we contracted 2 892 units. We had a successful year also in terms of handovers. In 2020 we handed over the keys to 3 002 units to customers, which is a record result in the history of the company.
The biggest challenge for entities in the development sector invariably remains the administrative factor. The unpredictability of procedures related to the issuance of approvals and decisions in offices, such as building and occupancy permits, or formalities related to the purchase of land adversely affects the real estate sector and is the biggest barrier that the industry has faced for years. Importantly, the uncertainty in the administrative aspect has a direct impact on the level of developers’ offers, the costs of running investments and the ability to efficiently launch new investments and release completed ones for use. The industry is also burdened by the rising costs of construction materials and the decreasing availability of plots for multi-family development.
Cezary Grabowski, Sales and Marketing Director, Bouygues Immobilier Polska
Under the influence of the pandemic, some changes have taken place in the housing market, but its negative effects have not been felt as much as in other industries. Construction was carried out, new investments were put on sale, prices were relatively stable. Of course, we had to adapt to the new conditions and meet sales targets despite the difficulties, but fortunately we met these challenges. We introduced new remote tools for communicating with employees in sales offices and presenting flats, and we launched a new website.
Thanks to these innovations, our potential customers and flat owners were kept up to date with all the information about the housing developments we were launching and the ongoing construction work on the estates, which translated into satisfactory sales results. Despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic, we ended 2020 with many successes and entered the new year full of optimism.
Sebastian Barandziak, CEO of Dekpol Deweloper
Each of us can count the past year as one of the most specific in history. The pandemic has also changed a lot on the real estate market. In 2020 we noticed many changes in terms of customer preferences. Large flats with a garden or terrace started to become more popular. Buyers also paid special attention to their functionality. They were looking for flats with the possibility of an additional workspace, as well as with spacious living rooms. The offer in some of our projects, such as Foresta, Osiedle Zielone among others, already included the last large flats, so the changes caused by the pandemic contributed to faster sales of these projects. We also successfully sold all flats in the Verano Residence project in Jurata. The main purpose of buying these flats was to be able to live freely in an attractive tourist location, despite the imposed COVID-19 restrictions. Owning a so-called second home is becoming more and more popular nowadays.
Małgorzata Ostrowska, Director of Marketing and Sales Division in J.W. Construction Holding S.A.
Many experts predicted that due to the decline in demand, the housing market would slow down or even stop in 2020, which would result in lower prices. These opinions have not come true. After a period of radical spring lockdown, which reduced sales, the situation began to stabilise. Buyers quickly realised that they could not wait for the “better moment” announced by analysts. Housing prices, contrary to expectations, even went up. Due to low interest rates, the most numerous group of clients were people with cash, as flats are still one of the most beneficial and safe forms of investing financial surpluses. Despite the tighter lending policy of banks, the value of disbursed mortgages was basically similar to the record year 2019.
Given the problems on the labour market and the troubles of companies, the housing market defended itself surprisingly successfully in 2020. I think developers will feel the change in customer preferences caused by the pandemic this year. Units with gardens, terraces or locations near green areas and single-family homes will be in greater demand, as we have clearly seen in the past year. In 2020 and at the beginning of this year, we registered a higher number of clients visiting Villa Campina located near the Kampinos Forest, where we have on sale ecological houses with a garage and a garden. We predict that the trend related to energy efficiency will deepen in 2021, hence we plan to launch the sale of ready-made houses, which customers will be able to build on their own plots. The future of the Polish housing industry seems to be stable.
Bartosz Kuźniar, CEO of Lokum Deweloper S.A.
The year 2020 is a time of unexpected changes caused by the appearance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The pandemic has somehow forced us to introduce modifications in the functioning of offices and the whole company. We have partially switched to remote working. We adjusted the forms of communication with clients so that they could also contact our advisors online. Changes in the organisation of work of public offices resulted in longer waiting time for administrative decisions, which was already a considerable obstacle in the process of realisation of development projects. Consumer preferences have also changed. The interest in larger flats with gardens or large balconies and in units near green areas has increased. Buyers began to pay attention to additional space, where, depending on their needs, they could work, study or relax. The attractively landscaped common areas with abundant vegetation and a place to relax, characteristic of our estates, were particularly appreciated. Due to low interest rates, the trend of purchasing flats for investment purposes and to protect capital against inflation and as an alternative to long-term deposits has strengthened.
In 2021, the process of obtaining the necessary administrative decisions is invariably a major barrier to introducing new projects. Purchasing land in good locations for new investments is also a growing challenge, as the stock of attractive plots is getting smaller and smaller.
Monika Perekitko, Member of Matexi Polska Management Board
It was obviously a year full of challenges, mainly connected with adapting to working conditions during the COVID 19 pandemic, but I can say that despite many hardships and challenges it was a very successful year for our company in Poland. We increased both the volume of sales and the portfolio of realized products. Also noteworthy is another record transaction in the PRS segment involving the sale of the 186 Pulawska building.
Edyta Kołodziej, Sales and Marketing Director Nickel Development
Our company has not succumbed to the changes that 2020 has brought. After the initial slowdown, which was characterised by the first period of the pandemic, we have noted an increase in interest in our offer from month to month. The third and fourth quarters were particularly fruitful, enabling us to meet our sales plans for 2020. What surprised everyone the most was December, which turned out to be better in terms of sales than the year before.
We believe that 2021 will be at least as good or even better than the previous year. The vaccination process that has started allows us to hope that the increase in the general immunity of society will translate into activity in most industries, and this is always a good signal for our business as well. Society has accepted certain limitations in interpersonal contacts and this no longer has a major impact on the efficiency of customer service. Meetings are held both online and in the office. Customers have no reservations about going to the notary and are even more eager to make an appointment at the construction site.
Joanna Chojecka, sales and marketing director for Warsaw and Wrocław at Robyg SA.
The most important success of 2020 was the fact that despite the pandemics, restrictions, lockdowns, economic crisis, the Robyg Group continued its activity, obviously observing all the sanitary guidelines. We did not have a single day of downtime on our construction sites. We introduced new investments in 2020, as well as launched further stages in projects already in progress. We acquired the Wroclaw Building Company (WPB) and new land in Warsaw, Wroclaw and Gdansk, together increasing our construction potential by more than 170,000 sq. m. PUM. We also introduced a new housing format – Modern Space micro-apartments in the vicinity of the City Sfera project in Włochy in Warsaw.
In addition, we undertook numerous activities related to the outbreak of coronavirus. We actively supported the needy, senior citizens and insurgents as well as medical institutions. The Company also made no redundancies during the epidemic and preserved jobs in a sense of responsibility for the approximately 3,000 families to whom it provides income.
In 2020, we provided PLN 258,000 in support and subsidies. We supported those in need in all the cities where we operate, in Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw and Poznan.
Janusz Miller, director of sales and marketing at Home Invest
Despite the pandemic, we evaluate the year 2020 on the housing market very well. We have managed to achieve comparable sales results to 2019. This year we plan to introduce several new investments to our offer in the Warsaw area. We hope that in 2021 we will be able to increase sales compared to previous years, as we continue to see unrelenting demand for flats. Certainly, the biggest challenge this year will be acquiring new land and obtaining all administrative decisions if the pandemic situation continues.
Sylwester Śniadecki, President of Śniadecki Development and Śniadecki Investment Group
The year 2020 clearly proved that the real estate industry is one of the most stable on the market. Despite the unfavorable financial situation caused by the pandemic, the need to adapt the development business to new realities, flat sales remained at a satisfactory level.
We anticipate that the greatest impediment in the daily operation of the company will be the extended time of issuing administrative decisions and the temporary paralysis that is visible in offices or courts. The challenge that 2021 brings us, therefore, is adjusting the projects to the new expectations of customers and the development of investments offered by Śniadecki Investment Group.
Wojciech Chotkowski, President of the Management Board of Aria Development
It was a year completely different from any other. The first lockdown caused several weeks of downtime. However, an interesting product in pandemic times, i.e. flats on the outskirts of Warsaw surrounded by greenery with gardens and balconies at prices several dozen per cent lower than in the city, and reductions in interest rates brought in many cash customers who wanted to put their savings in the investments we were making in Wieliszew and Łomianki.
The challenge for 2021 will be to maintain sales at last year’s level and to start new projects. It is also a priority to maintain the high quality of the flats under construction at the current level of 90 per cent of premises handed over faultlessly and to systematically improve the level of customer service.
The biggest obstacles may be another lockdown and global economic turmoil. Tightening of credit policy by banks may also be a negative factor affecting the real estate market in Poland.
Aleksandra Goller, director of marketing and sales at the housing company Skanska
The first quarter of 2020 was very good, customers showed great interest in our flats, which of course had a direct impact on the sales of investments. The following months were the beginning of a pandemic and a temporary slowdown in the market. I think that for most companies this was a time that was associated with a kind of uncertainty – after all, we found ourselves in a new situation that required us to create a model for achieving business objectives, adapted to the pandemic reality.
We worked out the necessary solutions very quickly, and as a result, despite the restrictions and the highest sanitary regime, we were able to reopen the sales offices quite quickly and work on the construction sites proceeded without delay. In the summer the market situation was already stable. Very quickly we noticed that the perception of buying property by potential buyers has not changed, they still consider it a safe and secure investment of their capital.
After the experience of 2020, we see changes in consumer trends. For example, that people looking for flats pay even more attention to such elements as, among others, adjustable, separate balconies, well-kept and lush greenery, places to spend time outdoors within the estate, flat layouts that allow for arranging a place to work remotely and many others. At Skanska, we have been using them for years, so we are all the more pleased that our standards and the quality of our investments meet with increasing recognition from customers.
We expect that 2021 will also bring many challenges. The world is still facing a pandemic. This situation requires us to be flexible and attentive to the changing needs of our customers so that we can always offer the best solutions for them.