The panel discussion on the future of asset and property management, held as part of the Future of Real Estate 2023 conference in Warsaw, showed that proper management and use of data can be key to maintaining the value of real estate assets in tougher investment times. The November event was co-organized by Property Forum and RICS.
As the panel's moderator, Seweryna Afanasjew, Board Member, RICS Europe World Regional Board, pointed out at the very beginning of the discussion, those responsible for asset value management are currently facing two main challenges - the lack of financing due to high interest rates and the need to bring buildings into ESG compliance. „We have a huge drop in debt, which impacts all of our activities from the asset management side. According to the EU Building Stock Observatory, 97% of standing assets are not compliant with ESG. So this is a huge jump for asset managers – how do we do that to be compliant pretty soon? We need to balance two things - bringing revenues to our owners and funds and answering to the long-term needs of the society and the environment at the same time”, said Afanasjew.
It is a realistic view of the current market situation that was shared by other panellists. „We are in quite a tough time. But we need to move along if we want to still operate in the real estate market. Virako is an investor and developer - we decided to stay active in the market of high-class offices and mixed-use projects. We know that it is not a good time to sell, it is rather a time to make more investments. So, from my point of view, we should keep the operation costs at a reasonable level, and plan to make some investments, mainly in ESG, so the value of our investment will be higher. And I hope that this approach will be very welcomed both by our tenants and investors”, claimed Anna Celichowska, Member of the Board and the Rental Director at Virako.
“Currently, investors are pretty reluctant to invest in real estate as such. But it seems that real estate is still a stable market, and will be for the long term perspective. Currently, we are facing challenges at the fund management level, at the asset management level and at the property management level. We have to really be broadly thinking in an out-of-the-box manner, how to adapt and how to change the things we have been doing for the past years. Because simply copy-paste is not a solution anymore - we cannot not use the processes, which were working two or four years ago. We are facing a lot of financial challenges - we are talking about inflation, the cost versus income side, and what kind of initiatives can be taken in order to protect the value. Because now nobody's talking about increasing the value, we are talking about preventing the value and one of the options is also ESG. It's slightly neglected right now, it's not such an easy topic because of the lack of investment and who will pay for this”, said Ewa Parys, Executive Director, Head of Asset Management Poland and Fund Manager at AEW.
One way to maintain the value of real estate assets is through proper data management. Only with a complete set of reliable information can personnel managing the value of a property make accurate, market-responsive decisions. „Data is the new oil. But the raw oil is not good for anything and you need to refine it so it will suit your needs. Whether you need the jet fuel or the diesel or the property data, you need to refine to achieve your goals and to make sure that the quality is there”, said Andreas Kozma, Founder & CEO, iREMS International AG. His views were shared by Ewa Parys of AEW: “From my company's perspective, we are thinking of implementing the tools, which will let us in the readable way to get the data, whatever we want and however we want. We are aware that it's a must right now, but it's a challenge to create a tool which will be useful for all the asset managers. No shortcuts can be taken here, even for the sake of the greatest simplicity. When we are talking about retail, for example, it's one of the most complex, complicated real estate classes. There are so many important factors there, including service charges conciliation, etc. so sometimes the asset manager will have to accept that the data in the system may not be complete. So this tool should not be the database, but rather the active property management tool. Whenever there is a change in the asset, whenever someone signs the new lease agreement, it has to be reflected in the system. Because if it's not, then nobody can rely on this and then we are back to the simple Excel files. The implementation is one thing, but also the proper management, the clear definition of who is in charge and who is responsible for what, from my perspective is crucial in this respect”, said Parys.
The panel was wrapped up with an interesting punchline by Tamás Méri, Co-Founder and Business Development Director at Access4you, who pointed out during the discussion the need to make real estate as accessible as possible. „The three keywords today are planet, people and profit. The profit is last but not least, of course, we are constantly delivering profit for our investors. But the world has changed. Today, if you have to deliver performance, you cannot think only about the money”, said Méri.
Sign up today for the latest news