About 10 years ago, the global economy was coming to grasp with the aggravation of the global financial crisis, which culminated with Lehman Brothers’ collapse on September 15 in 2008, the biggest corporate bankruptcy in history; a deep recession would ensue in several parts of the world, including Romania, with ripples and echoes from those tense moments felt to this day. With this in mind, we see a useful exercise in thinking about past mistakes, looking at the present and peering a bit into the future.
10 years older, 10 years wiser?
Economy: consumption does not look as excessive as it did back then as it is much less reliant on bank loans and more on wages. Also, productivity has improved greatly in the past decade.
Office: vacancy decreased only gradually in the recovery phase of post-crisis period even as the stock expanded quite significantly, which highlights the increased caution among developers.
Industrial: rents have started creeping up in recent years, but they can be a quarter smaller currently that a decade ago. Also, this sector is probably the only sector to see deliveries comparable to the pre-crisis period (if not higher).
Retail: Bucharest’s high street retail scene has become a pale shadow nowadays compared to its heyday as local consumers have become much more accustomed to go to shopping centers.
Investment: today’s market is a bit more challenging than a decade ago and it seems noticeably more difficult to close a deal than in 2007, as investors want to make sure they are not overpaying.
Land: in certain areas, prices likely remain lower than half of their level in 2007-2008, while buyers seem much more cautious.
Residential: the market seems to have matured to a certain extent as both Romanians and developers have been through an economic cycle with an exceptionally strong downturn.
The outlook for the next decade is clouded by the rapid changing backdrop amid geopolitical challenges and frequent technological disruptions. That said, there are reasons to remain optimistic about the Romanian economy and its real estate market, which will continue to offer an attractive risk/reward profile.