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Friday, February 19th, 2010

EREN take important decisions at annual meeting in Estoril

EREN teamThe Palacio Hotel, Estoril’s famous classic venue, played host to the annual meeting of the European Real Estate Network (EREN) this September past. Just as autumn was setting in across Europe, the 20 member agents from nine countries arrived to the welcome sun and mild climate of the Estoril coast – still the original Portuguese Riviera.

At just a stone’s throw from the famous casino, stylish Belle Epoque villas and the promenade that skirts beaches running all the way to neighbouring Cascais, the members of EREN met to assess the year and discuss the immediate future. Other distractions included nearby Lisbon, the beautiful mountain town of Sintra, and the stylish coastal towns of Cascais and Estoril themselves, but in spite of these inspiring surroundings – or perhaps thanks to them – the delegates ensured that this was to be a highly productive annual conference.

2009 in review

2009 European Real Estate Market Update – the European Real Estate Network issues a market update for luxury residential sales in Europe on a bi-annual basis.

2009 meetingIn general, this summer saw some confidence come back to the property market. Although the lower end markets were hit severely, high-end residential tourism and primary residence markets remained steady throughout – particularly in certain pockets of Europe. In these areas sales have been steady and continuous, though often fuelled by realistic price levels.

Our affiliate in Austria, Peter Marschall from Marschall Immobilien, is not sure if the bottom of the financial crisis has been reached and expects new opportunities to arise.

In Switzerland both affiliates, WETAG Consulting and CGI Immobilier, have signaled that prices remained steady this year, while in the Lake Geneva area there was even an increase due to strong demand and the limited supply of prime real estate. For Wetag Consulting, specialists in Ticino, 80 per cent of buyers were international. Taking advantage of new tax laws that offer great benefits to foreign buyers, they came mostly from Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

In Spain, Diana Morales of DM Properties, who cover Marbella and the Costa del Sol, has seen a slight recovery since February 2009 although prices have come down. This opened a market for bargain hunters looking for new opportunities.

The affiliates from Mallorca, Balearic Properties, similarly saw an increase in 2009, though it was still a recovery from the sharp downfall in 2008. German and Swiss clients are now predominant, while in 2007 the main buyer in Mallorca was British.

In the Milan area, Giorgio Viganò Real Estate noticed that a lot of sellers withdrew their property and started to rent them out because of price decreases in certain areas. Marco Argentieri, the director of Cofim Immobiliare, specialists in Lake Garda, Trentino Alto Adige and Veneto, enjoyed a relatively good spring and summer, though they agree that the market is not yet stable.

From Tuscany, Paolo del Chicca Immobiliare recorded a trend of increasing demand for specific properties such as established wine-producing farms with a well-know brand, castles, villas and apartments close to the sea. Immobilsarda from Sardinia experienced a large and sudden increase in inquires this summer. The price of the high-end properties remained stable, drawing Italian buyers back into the market.

IRG International Realty Group in Portugal observed that off-plan buying in resorts and developments has effectively disappeared. As in Mallorca, the British and Irish markets diminished in importance and it now takes far more time to convert leads into a sale. This summer the number of inquires gradually rose and now the market is slowly recovering after reaching bottom in Q1 of this year.

The Danish Estate Group encountered price drops of up to 25% in the past year and a half. Many developers filed for administration and so did banks. As in many other markets, the summer had a stabilising effect, and for Estate Group August and September were very good months as professional buyers started entering the market again. With the mortgage rate decreasing by 50%, good opportunities are opening up for young couples wanting to buy their first property.

According to Von Poll Immobilien, the German market remains solid, benefitting from real estate price levels that are far more realistic compared to other European countries. Not having experienced such a property boom in recent years, the country now benefits from a remarkably stable housing sector. Resultantly, prices are still increasing steadily and clients continue to buy as they don’t expect to see any dramatic price falls. In Berlin, there is limited movement of properties over €2 million yet in the segment up to €1 million demand is strong. The situation is aided by the fact that the German press is positive about real estate because of the stable history of the German market.

In general, although the year produced varying results in different markets and for different companies, many actually reported an improvement on 2008. Among them was Rimontgó, whose year was bolstered by three record sales of 4 million euros in the last quarter. “In Spain companies and individuals are facing great financial problems due to the lack of liquidity and oversupply of homes,” said Ribes. “However, this is bringing great opportunities to the market, as reflected in the fact that in 2009 Rimontgó enjoyed a better year than in 2008. It is a great time for those with cash to acquire assets at great value.”

Looking forward to 2010

And so, many of EREN’s members had good reason to look forward to the new year with interest. Seizing on this mood, the agents agreed that now is the time to be proactive and take initiatives that will move EREN and its individual members forward – strengthening their position in the market and enabling them to provide an ever-improving service.

“Many people across the different economic sectors are taking on a defensive posture,” said Mr. Ribes. “Naturally, it is important to get your affairs in order during a recession, reducing costs and ensuring that there is no wastage, but when the worst of the storm has passed you need to look to the future again, and that is what we are doing now.”

He and the other members feel the time is ripe for action. “Although these are difficult times economically they also present great potential to investors and entrepreneurs with vision, a time when those with enterprise and daring stand to gain. Such people are establishing new ventures, moving on the real estate market, investing shrewdly and following their dreams exactly at a time when others live in fear. While not all will succeed, it is those with the ambition and enthusiasm to move forward now who will be tomorrow’s success stories.”

New initiativesNew initiatives

A new Executive Committee, elected after the tragic passing away of Giorgio Viganò, just months after he was elected Honorary President of the organisation he did so much to make a reality, presided over many new proposals.

Among the new initiatives agreed upon are steps to further develop and improve the EREN website – to the benefit of agents and their clients – publish EREN’s luxury magazine Villae twice a year (in Spring and Autumn), and embark upon new marketing, networking and training programmes to be implemented during 2010 and 2011.

This desire to move on when others may be standing still reflects the confidence of EREN’s members in the future and in their ability to overcome difficult times – and given the fact that most are longstanding firms that have weathered many an economic storm before you wouldn’t bet against it.

“We all are in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”

Oscar Wilde.

www.europeanrealestatenetwork.org

The European Real Estate Network is the only truly pan-European network of independent, top quality, boutique brokerage companies. It brings together their considerable expertise, international contacts and resources to the benefit of their clients, be they buyers, sellers, investors or developers. The network is an international platform at the highest level for the acquisition, marketing and sale of premium real estate.

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