Moldova residential sector2011

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Moldova residential sector2011

  1. 1. Residential real estate market in Moldova, 2011
  2. 2. - A look into the future - Trends, Drivers, OpportunitiesAuthor: IAMBLA Vitalieiambla.v@gmail.com
  3. 3. Country OverviewMoldova is situated in South Eastern Europe, north of the Balkans, at the crossroads of commercial routes that joinWestern Europe and the CIS countries. It stretches 350 km from North to South and 150 km from East to West, andhas a total area of 33,846 sq.km. (about 12,600 sq.mi.). Booming remittances, FDI, and banking sector have propelled the local economy over the last decade. GDP growthis projected to continue its strong pace in the future, supported mainly by the projected recovery in externaldemand from the major trading partners Russia and Ukraine, by the expanding commercial balance with EU,accelerated remittances and by the ongoing liberalization and deregulation of the economy. 3
  4. 4. Market OverviewReal Estate market in Moldova experienced a boom period during the last decade and manydevelopers have benefited greatly from soaring property prices.The fastest development pace has been achieved by the residential sector, almost entirely beingdeveloped in Chisinau. From total new living space completed yearly in urban area over the lastdecade, more than 90% have been deployed in Chisinau.This boom has been fueled almost entirely by a huge inflow of foreign capital, mostly remittancesfrom Moldova citizens working abroad, and to an insignificant extent by mortgage financing.Captivated by increasing prices and fast returns, majority of developers have prioritized residentialprojects over long term commercial initiatives.Highly rewarded opportunities in residential real estate have attracted many suspicious anduntrustworthy market players. The crisis positive consequence was the markets sifting out, ridingof the weakest developers and leaving real professionals in the business.Today, the local housing market is going through a bust cycle. The mass of external investmentcapital left the country, leaving the housing market chiefly to local demand.Even though before the crisis the market had been almost entirely driven by investments of localpopulation, in most cases speculative ones, foreign investors had enlarged considerably theirattention for this market, mostly attracted by the highly rewarded dwelling rent segment. 4
  5. 5. Market OverviewAfter a free fall during 2009 and first half of 2010, prices appear to bottom out in the second half of2010, showing weak recovery signs. However, it is too early to assess the current situation of themarket as a turning point upward.In some cases, on the edge of a swift supply decrease and new projects in the pipeline, somedevelopers have started to follow a more optimistic scenario, trying to increase prices. However, inthe luxury segment, a slight price decline was reported.Currently, local developers are not able to gain strong profits from apparently favorable demand-supply dynamics. On one side, a modest increase in demand is being complemented by lowsupply, as a result of strong reserve from Moldova’s banking sector to lend real estate developers.On the other side, highly difficult access to mortgage financing continue to favor renting andimpact home-buying decisions.Recent crisis has shown how vulnerable is the housing market in Moldova to changes in thefinancial and economic situation in countries where most Moldova citizens temporarily emigrated.The local market weakness is reflected by the exposure of the economy to external factors, thedomination of money transfers from EU countries and Russia, and the residential markets smallscale compared to the potential force of speculative investors.Before the global financial turmoil, price dynamics on the local residential market had used tofollow the dynamics of money transfers from abroad. 5
  6. 6. Market OverviewCurrently, the situation is changing. Even though the volume of these increased by 5.1% in 2010,the average price per sq.m on the secondary market has decreased from a level close to 700euro/m2 in January to about 630 euro/m2 by the year end.As a consequence of the lack of cash-flow through sales, developers reacted on the pricing side.However, local developers are less flexible in terms of price movements than secondary marketplayers.It is worth to mention that despite significant price drops on the secondary market, demand did notreturn to a sufficient scale. This result is a clear sign that local real estate market during the pre-crisis period became overheated by speculative investments.Concerning new residential segment, in most cases developers have attempted to maintain pre-crisis asking price levels, even when it was clear that transaction prices on the secondary marketwere regularly lowered.Currently, most transactions are done with one and two-room apartments, mostly on the secondarymarket. Even though most of these apartments need additional investments in modernization,these are cheaper, more affordable for long term investors.If during the pre-crisis period the market had been driven mostly by speculative investors, currently most of real estate transactions are done primarily by long-term investors, which do not look for speculative gains. 6
  7. 7. Market OverviewThis strong interest for residential sector investments shown by speculative investors have beendriven primarily by the lack of viable substitutes on the market.Banking sector is permanently exposed to risks, as most credits are contracted by agri-food sectorcompanies, which are regularly threatened with embargoes on the Russian market, majorconsumer of Moldavian agri-food products.Concerning investments on the financial markets, these opportunities still look like SF options forthe local population.In addition, along with local speculative players, foreign investors have been attracted by therelatively lower prices compared to those in other CEE countries. Currently, the situation ischanging dramatically.During the last couple of years speculative investors have redirected their interests to othercountries, with a much higher purchasing power, that were hit hard by the global crisis and realestate prices plunged to levels equal to or close to those in Moldova.Before the crisis, the development of local residential landscape had been fueled primarily byopportunistic factors, like skyrocketed remittances, positive economic climate on the global level,housing boom in most countries. Most of local developers had strongly believed that every newsq.m developed would be sold, easily and with soaring return. In the end, the fairytale hasvanished. 7
  8. 8. Market OverviewIn Moldova, remittances still remain the major economic driver, particularly for real estate sector.As average monthly nominal wage is about 180 EUR, while official monthly average subsistencelevel per capita is about 80 EUR, and the mortgage financing system is highly underdeveloped,housing transactions have to rely mostly on other external funding.As I mentioned, in Moldova mortgage lending remains highly subdued. Most local banks offermortgage funds for 15-20 years period, at an interest rate of about 15%. In addition, providedfunds cover at best only 60-70% of the total value of acquired property. It is worth to point out thatbefore the crisis, mortgage funding had been offered mostly for a 5-10 years period, at an interestrate of about 20%.It is obvious that in these conditions, mortgage financing system in Moldova has very limitedpotential to succeed.From the potential perspective, residential market in Moldova is most appropriate to be comparedwith those in Baltic states. These former Soviet republics have many common demographic andgeographic characteristics: number of population, population density, average living floor perinhabitant, lack of natural resources.Along with the above, the housing stock has many similarities as well - Soviet-era apartments. Inthese countries, most of apartment buildings were deployed in the Soviet era, and in almost allcases these had been built according to several building plans across the Soviet Union.Thus, analyzing the potential of residential real estate market in Moldova, it seems to be highlyuseful to look closer on the recent development trends in this sector in Baltic states. 8
  9. 9. SWOTStrengths ● Sustainable development during the past years and promising prospects for future growth support the increase of residential real estate ● The idea that “every family must have his own dwelling” strongly supported and promoted by most Moldavians will not disappear in the near future ● A large part of Moldova citizens who earn money abroad will continue to consider investments in real estate as the most promising investment option. ● Rapid development of chains of building materials stores and tough competition provide customers with a wide choice of goods at affordable prices ● There is a considerable number of construction companies in Moldova which are able to build decent-quality houses according to the complecated projects provided by the customers ● Local population puts strong emphasis on quality, trendy products and services related to the construction sector 9
  10. 10. SWOTWeaknesses ● The purchasing power of population is far behind those of EU countries ● The mortgage financing system is underdeveloped ● Lack of public sector investments in new residential projects ● High exposure of the local economy to external factors, like remittances and energy resources ● As a result of emigration of qualified construction workers, there is a lack of highly skilled labor force for building, renovation and repairs ● Currently, in Moldova most residential developers are highly leveraged ● Difficult access to financing or refinancing sources ● No clear vision of urban development ● Some projects are being developed without complete set of documents, which causes corruption ● Population lost confidence in real estate developers which demand upfront payments ● High bureaucracy and under the table payments during the startup phase 10
  11. 11. SWOTOpportunities ● New constriction projects can be developed in the suburban area of Chisinau, as well as in regional towns ● Such indicator as floor space per head in Moldova is much lower than in EU member- states (21 m2 in Chisinau, 20.1 m2 in urban area of Moldova, 23.3 m2 in rural area, and more than 30 m2 in most EU countries), therefore it can be increased ● More residents will move to suburbs because of improving transport services, changing attitudes to the distance from home to work or city centre as well as their need for healthier environment ● The problem of the growing unemployment in the regions caused by the population migration to large cities will sustain demand for dwellings in urban areas ● On the road to EU integration, old dwelling houses are being renovated in order to reduce their maintenance costs and to ensure energy saving ● The well known affinity of Moldavians for housing sector will not disappear. A large part of Moldova citizens who earn money abroad will continue to consider investments in real estate as the most promising option 11
  12. 12. SWOTThreats ● New development projects lead to disappearance of green zones and causes more jams traffic ● Lots of bureaucratic procedures and difficult access to commercial debt may cause the present investors in housing projects to leave and to scare away new investors ● High dwelling prices do not allow many people to buy dwellings ● Recent crisis has decreased significantly the volume of money transfers from abroad ● The financial and economic turmoil has created many attractive investment opportunities in real estate sectors of many EU countries ● Political uncertainty in Moldova increases costs of financing and refinancing sources for real estate developers ● In terms of demographic factors, Moldova is expected to experience a negative natural growth balance over the next decade ● Permanent emigration of Moldova citizens in EU countries and Russia is expected to accelerate once fears and suspicions of another crisis in these regions will vanish, as well as when Moldova will get visa-free regime with EU countries 12
  13. 13. Market OutlookMoldova’s recovery is underway, but it is hard to feel confident about the economic picture in thenear future, as a result of political uncertainties, fragile macroeconomic environment, etcIn addition, internal business climate is still very sensitive to opportunistic factors, like remittancesand weather conditions. A sustainable economic growth in Moldova in the future could beachieved through the transition from growth based mainly on consumption and imports to aneconomy based on production and exports. In the near future it looks unlikely that there will beachieved sustainable progress in this direction.Moldova has always been and will remain an agro-industrial country. The secondary sector of theeconomy is almost entirely linked to agriculture. Food processing, leather, and tobacco relatedindustries are the main in terms of added value and exports, and with agriculture these officiallyemploy nearly half of the country’s labor force.During the Soviet era, Moldova had been developed as one of the major food and beverageproviders. Its related industries had been built up based on access to cheap energy, lack ofcompetition, and emphasis on quantity rather than quality. Currently, local companies have tolearn how to perform in an environment governed by high energy costs, quality standards andfierce competition. Local farm sector and agriculture-linked industries are barely able to competewith imports on the local market.As a result of the transition from labor intensive economy to current realities unemployment andemigration skyrocketed. Estimating the number of Moldovans abroad is a difficult exercise.According to many sources, estimates range between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people. 13
  14. 14. Market OutlookThe future potential of the local residential sector is strongly correlated with the future evolution ofmigration processes and economic development in Moldova.Concerning emigration, it has all the potential to increase further. Improvement in Russian and EUbusiness climate will generate new opportunities for local population.Regarding future economic perspective of Moldova, all development plans are focused mainly onagriculture and agriculture-linked industries revival. Taking into account that these are mostlydeployed in rural areas and regional towns, it is most probably that in the future the lion share ofnew jobs will be created outside Chisinau, thus, it is unlikely that the demand for residentialproperties in Chisinau will boom in the future.Caught in a climate of uncertainty, confusion, fear, mistrust, and difficult fundraising Moldova’sresidential real estate sector is in the process of redefining itself.Currently, even though price movements downward appear to reach the bottom, limited number ofnewly launched projects on the market and an increased stock of completed and unsold units willtend to maintain prices at current levels with a limited potential upward during 2011.Worsened access to construction loans, restricted own equity and a wait-and-see attitude ofresidential developers are expected to limit the amount of new housing developing in the shortrun, at least.Limiting factors, like permanent emigration, populations weak purchasing power, underdevelopedmortgage financing system, rising energy and food prices, as well as painful lessons of the crisis,all these will delay the residential market recovery in Moldova. 14
  15. 15. Market OutlookLack of interest from banks promises to keep most developers unemployed for the near future.The recent crisis have changed significantly financial requirements demanded by banks from realestate developers. More equity and collaterals are required. If a leverage of more than 60% hasbeen something usual in the sector, currently local developers have to be prepared to go with50%, at best.Real estate developers will have to redefine their return profiles as well. Accustomed with strongdouble-digit returns (at least 30%), most local construction companies hardly accept that the era ofeasy made profits has gone. The average rate of return in light of new realities has decreasedsignificantly.In the near term, the local residential real estate market will be driven almost entirely by localdemand, as foreign investors appear to be more interested in other CEE markets potential.Reasons because over the next 3-5 years foreign investors will be reluctant to deploy large-scaleprojects in Moldova, stand mostly on political issues. Local politicians will have to convince foreignpartners that changes on the local political landscape will have limited repercussions on businessenvironment.Improving political and economic relations and visa-free regime with EU will increase confidence in both domestic and foreign demand.The theory of the property cycle and its history support the idea that housing booms precederecessions only to be followed by another boom. However, recent crisis outcomes are moredifficult to forecast. As a result, the question is when will the next upward trend start. 15
  16. 16. Market OutlookAs a comparison, at the end of 2010, according to Ober-Haus Real Estate Advisors, the sale pricesof standard, Soviet-era apartments in Vilnius, depending on their size and fit-out, range from 600 to1250 EUR/m2, in Tallinn most of the similar transaction were conducted at a price range of 640 –830 EUR/m2, in Riga these varied from 575 to 650 EUR/m2. These prices are similar to thosepracticed in Chisinau.Concerning prices for new apartments in residential districts, these range from 800 to 1,500 EUR/m2in Vilnius, 1,150 – 1,600 EUR/m2 in Tallinn, and 800 to 1,600 EUR/m2 in Riga. Comparing to pricesfor new apartments in Chisinau, in Baltic states these are higher by 50% on average.hComparing the purchasing power of Moldova and Baltic states population, for current macroeconomic parameters, Baltic region offer more promising opportunities for real estate investments over the short run.For medium to long term period, Moldova is expected to become a priority market for foreigninvestors, and construction is expected to be one of the most demanded sector. However, majorquestion over the near term will be the population emigration dynamics after Moldova will get visa-free regime with EU.Other major issue over the last 5 years has been the permanent emigration of Moldova citizens,mostly young people, to EU countries and Russia. This trend is expected to continue over the next3-5 years, at least.It is unquestionable that the economy is entwined with shifts in the housing market. In the sametime, the development of the housing market could not be achieved without a decent support fromthe banking sector. 16
  17. 17. Market OutlookIn Moldova, the banking sector has been reluctant to support real estate investments, primarily asa result of still weak purchasing power of population. Without a stable economic environment, withlow inflation and steady economic growth, there is highly difficult to offer affordable, long-termmortgage debt. Significant improvements regarding this situation are unlikely in the near term. Asa result, over the short term, prices on the residential market in Moldova will hover mostly aroundcurrent levels.Easy access to mortgage loans played a major role in overheating global economy and generatingrecent economic and financial turmoil. Local banking sector has learned this painful lesson, thusmortgage financing is unlikely to boom over the near term.For the medium to long term period the development of the sector will accelerate, however it isunlikely that the market will achieve a growing pace similar to that during the pre-crisis period.It is clear that while the economy will continue to grow, prices on the real estate market willmaintain upside potential. A gradual increase appears more realistic than a rapid rebound.Even though Moldova is a developing country, with promising prospects for future growth ofdisposable incomes, it is questionable if the local market is sufficient in size to support solidgrowth prospects of the residential sector in the future.During the pre-crisis period prices on the real estate market in Moldova have been stronglycorrelated with the evolution of money transfers from abroad, reaching yearly double-digit growth.In the future, these will be mostly correlated with the performance of the GDP. 17
  18. 18. SummaryvProspects of economic fundamentals still remain uncertain.The expectation gap between buyers and sellers will maintain the market at current price levels fora while.The era of exponential growth in the local housing market is over. Real estate developers will haveto follow a more realistic approach.The demand for new apartments will not vanish in the near future, it has a real potential to grow,supported by increasing disposable incomes and by the fact that large share of apartmentbuildings from the legacy of the Soviet past are in poor conditions.One and two-room apartments will be the most demanded residential properties, as most of futurebuyers will be newlyweds, single persons, and investors acquiring apartments for rent, whichcurrently is a highly rewarding business in Chisinau.Apartments with three and more rooms are more expensive, in addition these have to competewith the single-family housing market.Chisinau is a relatively compact city, lying within an area of about 130 km2. As a result, thedistance from home, and even from the suburban area, to work or city center is less time-consuming that in most European capital cities or other regions.On the edge of these issues, families with two and more children with limited financial resources,will continue to be tempted to invest in single-family houses in the suburban area, which in mostcases is a less expensive option than purchasing a three room apartment in Chisinau city. 18
  19. 19. SummaryIn addition, improving transport services as well as increasing need for healthier environment willonly support this option.Even though the demand for new dwellings exists, without financial support this demand will hardlybe satisfied.According to recent surveys on the market, more than 80% of the respondents have mentionedthat without an external financing they will not be able to purchase a dwelling.Taking into account that the mortgage financing system in Moldova is low developed, residentialreal estate developers which will be able to provide similar financial support options as mortgagefinancing, will take the lion’s share of the market.Until recently, almost all developers demanded upfront payments, not being able or not willing todeploy their projects with own financial resources.Many of these projects have been “frozen”, and many clients are tempted to believe thatdevelopers have defrauded them. As a result, this practice will hardly be accepted by potentialresidential real estate investors in the future. 19
  20. 20. - Market Performances -
  21. 21. Source: Agency for Land Relations and Cadastre of Moldova
  22. 22. €/m2 Source: Market research
  23. 23. €/m2Source: LARA Real Estate Agency
  24. 24. Source: National Bureau of Statistics
  25. 25. Average useful dwelling stock per resident in major EU citiesSource: Housing Statistics in the European Union 2010
  26. 26. * Data includes outstanding debt for residential, construction and development projects, including mortgage financing, offered by local banks to local companies and population. According to estimates, the amount of residential mortgage debt is less than 10% of total outstanding residential, construction and development debt in Moldova.Source: National Bank of Moldova, National Bureau of Statistics
  27. 27. Source: European Mortgage Federation
  28. 28. * Data includes outstanding debt for residential, construction and development projects, including mortgage financing, offered by local banks to local companies and population. According to estimates, the amount of residential mortgage debt is less than 10% of total outstanding residential, construction and development debt in Moldova.Source: National Bank of Moldova, National Bureau of Statistics
  29. 29. Source: European Mortgage Federation
  30. 30. Source: National Bureau of Statistics
  31. 31. Source: Agency for Land Relations and Cadastre of Moldova
  32. 32. Source: Agency for Land Relations and Cadastre of Moldova
  33. 33. € million Source: National Bureau of Statistics
  34. 34. $ million €/personSource: National Bank of Moldova, National Bureau of Statistics
  35. 35. * Data includes only remittances via formal channels. The official calculations of remittances inflows are underestimated, because of a sizeable share of informal inflows, which are misreported and are difficult to measure.Source: National Bank of Moldova, National Bureau of Statistics
  36. 36. Source: National Bureau of Statistics
  37. 37. 5,402 3,604 3,308 3,309 2,689 1,777 1,649 1,159 1,141Source: National Bureau of Statistics
  38. 38. Source: National Bureaus of Statistics
  39. 39. Source: Eurostat, National Bureau of Statistics
  40. 40. Source: Market research
  41. 41. Source: Ober-Haus Real Estate, ARCO Real Estate
  42. 42. Source: Ober-Haus Real Estate
  43. 43. Source: Ober-Haus Real Estate
  44. 44. Source: Ober-Haus Real Estate
  45. 45. For more information, please contact:IAMBLA Vitalieiambla.v@gmail.com

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