Both by clients and candidates. Of course there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty in the market. Things have fundamentally changed within the last 18 months and we are therefore unable to reply without some ambiguity…“Yes and no!” Of course there are still less real estate transactions in the market – relative to the heights of 2007/2008 market and of course there are fewer positions in investment management or asset management that need to be filled.
In terms of transaction values and volumes there is some naivety in terms of what constitutes a healthy market. Many of the younger professionals in the market are looking back at the economy of 2007 as the norm rather than the exception. The transaction market was, with the benefit of hindsight, over-inflated, as was the recruitment market. A candidate with two years’ of experience within real estate investment does not have to earn a basic of €75.000 plus discretionary bonus linked to the volume of transactions they were working on. It is probably good that we don’t see employers paying ridiculously high signing fees in order to pull out even the most mediocre candidates from the competitor’s payroll list.
Is a market really “bad” if companies are more careful before they invest in properties paying 20 times the yearly rent? Is it a problem if LTVs of 90 or more are not available any more? Is it a good or a bad sign if candidates are forced to stay with their employers longer than two years due to a lack of other opportunities?
EXPO REAL ’09 in Munich is coming up in early October and the industry is excited about what it will bring. The Expo last year took place exactly three weeks after Lehman went down and we all knew that the nearer future was going to be tough. One year later Germany is already seeing signs of recovery and at a much faster rate than expected by many. The German economy is robust and stable and that strength insulated it from the worst of the excesses seen in other economies. Hiring is now again on the agenda and there are opportunities to be grasped.
Fewer companies will have stands at the Expo Real this year. After the Expo there may be more of a consensus view as to where we are at. What we already know is that the real estate sector in Germany is in recovery and with time for investors to rethink their strategies it will be maybe even more stable than it ever was.
By Timothy Rowe (Additional reporting by Richard-Emanuel Goldhahn, Head of Cobalt Recruitment Berlin)