During this period we have seen those investors who had aggressively invested in high risk/return regions suffer quicker and deeper than those with more limited financial exposures. However, the cross border and global nature of modern markets has meant that nowhere has been isolated from the suffering.
Some believe that in the US and UK “the bottom” is close and that a period of relative stagnation for another 12-18 months will be followed by the cogs of lending turning again and investment markets kicking into gear. It is obvious, though, that the more emerging real estate markets are still looking for a floor and investors and developers are continuing to withdraw from the once “hotbeds” of European real estate.
One group of casualties from “the withdraw” are the expats. Over the last 10 years we have seen the influx of speculators in regions such as Central, Eastern and Southern Europe creating a hive of recruitment and the relocation of experienced professionals from mature markets such as Germany, France and the UK. These foreign professional have been tempted by considerable remuneration packages, immediate career progression and the entrepreneurial thrill of being involved in an emerging market. With the recent financial and economical turmoil, though, they have been left redundant.
It might be argued that, following the injection of talent for the last decade, local skills have developed to such an extent that the expats will not be required when the upturn arrives. Certainly in the last 5 years we have seen an increasing number of high level positions being filled by local talent in these markets as a generation of property professional has emerged. It has also become apparent that the relocation offers made to potential employees have not been of the inflated levels of earlier years.
However, countries in Central, Eastern and Southern most Europe will, once again, be looking for Western investment to significantly bolster their real estate investment and development markets. Naturally, investors moving into new territories not only require indigenous talent but also need employees who are used to their own methods of working, reporting etc. The overseas professionals will also remain an important part of the advance of emerging markets in Europe due to the skills gap which still exists. Agreed, this gap has lessened in the last decade but the industry’s old and traditional centres have developed a breed of professional that can understand the intricacies, pattern and mood of real estate markets and so still provide hugely valuable knowledge and experience.
The global recession is causing isolation. The rapid growth of some smaller/younger real estate markets in Europe has created a highly skilled local professional. However, with green shoots the return of cross border movement of personnel will continue and remain an important catalyst to emerging real estate markets in Europe.
By Timothy Rowe