Goodman, the real estate group from New-Zealand, made its first move in the Romanian market in last year’s fall with a primary focus on developing storage rooms near Bucharest. Bucharest-based office is headed by Muler Onofrei, the former Country Manager of ProLogis, for whom the basic principles of the real estate market have a critical change of course. Therefore, the big question today among many players is “how to stay alive in 2009?”.

With over 371 real estates under management, Goodman is one of the biggest listed real estate groups worldwide, with over 1,200 employees in the 39 subsidiaries from 19 countries. Muler Onofrei was appointed at the helm of Romanian subsidiary in September 15, three days before the collapse of international financial markets.

“Once the Lehman’s collapse, the entire real estate market took a 180-degree turn, including the local one, due to the financial market deadlock. The residential market slid into a complete resting point, where nobody can sell anything, anymore. The office market, however, remained mildly active. We can still see lease-agreements concluding, but many developers are hesitant on whether they should continue their projects or block them, amid rising financing costs. The only special segment is the industrial one, where products evolve against the trend”, said Mulen Onofrei (photo).

There are many orders now, Onofrei added, compared to last year or two years ago. Compared to last year, there are 20-30% more orders now for areas of over 10,000 sqm.

“The large logistic companies have phenomenal orders. Two years ago, when Romania was enjoying a real estate boom, there were no such demands and the median ranged between 3,000 and 4,000 sqm, but now, the surfaces in demand are up to 40,000 sqm. I think that by yearend, the growth speed of demand will cut pace, even down to zero. However, I see no major declines”, said Goodman’s representatives.

As for the attitude of industrial developers, they will be more selective, while small players will face serious difficulties, casting off investment projects, or even preparing exit from Romanian market.

The rising market in 2007-early 2008 has changed radically, and the fundamental aspects, such as rents, land prices and constructions changed and keep on changing dramatically.

“The level of the rents tends to remain steady, but the stability trend was been superficially maintained, due to developers with projects under constructions. However, now all data have been changed and I think the rents will surge upward in industrial segment”, Muler Onofrei.

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