Business news from Ukraine

REITER HALL by NEST developer received outstanding award

The REITER HALL project by NEST developer was awarded in the category “Historic Environment Renovation Project” at the UKRAINIAN SPECIAL BUILDING AWARDS IBUILD 2023.

IBUILD is the main construction award in Ukraine, which recognizes the best representatives of the construction industry – companies that have survived in the market, support the economy and contribute to the reconstruction.

This award is a recognition of the company’s philosophy, as NEST cares about the history of Kyiv and contributes to its preservation. NEST developer builds professionally and responsibly today, and creates real estate that will become a real landmark of the city in the future.

REITER HALL will become the future center of the city, where the past meets the future, creating a unique cultural space for the development of the boldest ideas of many generations of Kyiv residents.

Special attention was paid to the idea of REITER HALL, where, in addition to Ukrainian architects, a well-known Swedish architectural firm worked, because Sweden is rightly called one of the models of modern city planning – streets, public spaces and architecture. They like to turn such objects into comfortable spaces for their contemporaries. And medieval castles harmoniously coexist alongside masterpieces of modern architecture.

Another similar project of the developer is the HILLFORT Business Mansion, which also received a valuable award on December 11, 2019, and won the “Discovery of the Year” category in the “Best Historic Environment Renovation Project” nomination.

Each object of the NEST developer is valuable both now and in the future, as it is an architectural art.

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Trends in Ukrainian construction market during martial law from Rauta

The full-scale invasion radically changed the geography and size of the construction market, caused personnel changes, influenced the legislation and also opened up new business segments for Ukrainian construction companies.

Rauta director Andriy Ozeychuk told about trends and changes in construction during 2022-2023.

To date, total amount of losses is more than $150 billion, including the largest losses suffered by the housing stock ($56 billion), infrastructure ($37 billion) and industry ($12 billion). During the two years of the full-scale invasion, about 15% of the production facilities of construction materials were destroyed. At the same time, the segments of rolled steel and dry gypsum mixtures experienced the greatest losses.

Demand

In 2022, the size of the Ukrainian construction market decreased by approximately 65%. In 2023, there is a tendency to consumption growth of construction products and services, and according to the yearly forecasts, the market is expected to increase by 20%. At the same time, the size of the residential real estate market in hryvnia equivalent will remain at the level as it was last year, non-residential construction will grow by 15%, and infrastructure will show an increase of 40%.

The demand structure for new residential real estate in Ukraine has changed dramatically. Front-line regions experienced the biggest drop in construction market to almost 90%, the central part – a decrease up to 70%, and in the west, construction increased by 15%, which is associated with the relocation of businesses and internally displaced persons, as well as the active development of real estate resorts in the Carpathians.

The primary real estate market was reoriented mainly to the west of Ukraine. Developers in other regions are mostly focused on finishing current projects, which were started before March 2022. Currently, most investors do not dare to start new construction projects and take a wait-and-see attitude.

In the Centeral, Northen and Eastern Ukraine, the demand for the reconstruction services of destroyed buildings and structures has significantly increased. A business that has suffered the destruction of real estate needs the reconstruction of buildings in order to resume functioning.

Currently the fastest-growing construction segments are the infrastructure reconstruction, primarily bridges and social buildings, at the expense of state budget and donor funds.

In response to wartime threats, new segments of the construction market appeared: structures for the protection of critical infrastructure facilities and modular reinforced concrete shelters designed to protect people during air raids, artillery fire, etc.

Prices

In 2022-2023, the cost of construction increased by 53%, which led to a similar price increase for the primary real estate market. The construction cost price will continue to grow, which is determined by objective processes, including increased demand and inflation.

Import reorientation

Suppliers of construction materials, which previously imported products from the russia and belarus (glass, bitumen, rolled steel, cement, sandwich panels, etc.), were forced to reorient themselves to supply goods from EU countries and Turkey.

Due to the closure of Ukrainian ports, the import of construction materials by sea (rolled steel, chemicals, decoration materials, etc.) became impossible. Today, the import of these materials to Ukraine takes place mainly through Romania, which has led to an increase in their cost.

At the end of 2023, complications arose with the import of raw materials and construction materials due to blocking by Polish and Slovak carriers of checkpoints on the border with Ukraine. It also caused an increase in prices and delivery times of imported construction materials.

Personnel

During the full-scale invasion, the reduction in the number of the working population of Ukraine amounted to about 35%. The mobilization and emigration of qualified specialists caused a shortage of personnel in the construction industry, which is felt even against the background of a significant market decrease. In the future, this may lead to an increase in wages, which will further increase the cost of construction, but still it will not solve the problem of the lack of qualified personnel.

In this regard, rapid construction technologies, which require a minimum number of workers, are becoming more and more popular. For example, the construction of buildings from sandwich panels requires much smaller number of specialists than in case of installing building from small pieces of materials.

During reconstruction, Ukraine will need a large number of construction specialists, therefore, in the future, we are likely to expect labor migration of qualified personnel from the EU and labor specialties from Asia.

Legislation

Among the main legislative innovations in recent years, there is a notable trend to improve people’s safety and improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Thus, the adoption of amendments to Law No. 2486-IX regulates the requirements for the arrangement of bomb shelters during the construction of new buildings. Also, DBN B.2.6-31:2021 changed the requirements for the minimum permissible values of the reduced heat transfer resistance of the envelope structures of buildings, which increased by an average of 28%.

Preparation for reconstruction

Currently, most Ukrainian investors are preparing for reconstruction and are actively calculating the cost of construction, but as a rule they are waiting for the end of hostilities to start new projects.

International financial institutions are also planning to get involved in reconstruction and are gradually entering the Ukrainian market. The key criteria for financing post-war construction in Ukraine will be transparency and speed of project implementation, so international organizations are already starting to establish partnerships with reliable Ukrainian construction companies. At the same time, priority is given to companies that work with European materials and technologies, which allows to create modern architecturally attractive and energy-efficient buildings.

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Prices for residential real estate in Germany fell by 10%

Residential real estate prices in Germany in the second quarter of 2023 fell by an average of 9.9% compared to the same period last year, according to a report by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany (Destatis).

The rate of decline has been the highest since the data began to be tracked in 2000.

In April-June 2022, housing prices in Germany reached a record level, according to Destatis.

Meanwhile, the decline in the value of residential real estate in quarterly terms continues to slow down, indicating that the market downturn caused by the general weakening of economic activity and rising mortgage rates may be nearing completion.

The house price index fell by 1.5% in the second quarter compared to the first quarter. For comparison, in January-March 2023, the decline was 2.9% compared to the previous quarter, and in October-December 2022, it was 5.1%.

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Activity on office real estate rental market in Kyiv increased by more than 50%

In the first half of 2023 concluded lease deals for 69 thousand square meters of offices in Kiev, which is 51% more than the same period of 2022, follows from the research of CBRE.

“These are not the volumes we saw before the war. But tenants have increased their activity in the market on the background of attractive discounts and the opportunity to improve the quality of their offices,” said Anastasia Kachan, Senior Office Real Estate Consultant at CBRE, at the conference “Ukrainian Real Estate Market Analytics: first half of 2023”.

According to her, most of the tenant categories have reduced activity in 2022-2023. – FMCG, business services, wholesale, medicine. At the same time, there is an increase in inquiries from public sector companies and non-government public organizations. Before the war, these tenants gave up to 5% of lease transactions, now they have almost 30%. As for the IT sector, it managed to keep its leading positions, last year its share decreased from 45% to 32%, now it is about 47%.

New supply is insignificant: in the first half of the year the office real estate market was replenished with only 13 thousand square meters, which is 86% less than the volume of new supply in the first half of 2022.

“Now only the objects started before the war are being completed, and this situation is likely to last for quite a long time, given the vacancy rate,” Kachan said.

As of the end of Q1 2023, 26.4% (+0.4% vs. the beginning of 2023) are vacant. At the same time vacancy in Class B office centers decreased from 29.2% to 28%, in Class A increased from 22.3% to 24%.

The expert explained the growth of vacancy in class A primarily by a significant amount of new supply of class A at the end of last year.

The effective prime rate has stabilized at $21/sq. m/month.

As for the timing of contracts, Kachan noted the willingness of businesses to plan for the medium term in a war-torn environment.

“Last year, contracts were more often renegotiated for three to six months with the expectation that the war would end soon. In 2023, the terms are fixed “until the end of wartime,” where the “war rate” is prescribed and there is an agreement that after the war it will be revised to reflect market conditions,” Kachan said.

In the spring, CBRE conducted a survey of companies’ plans for their offices. Most of them, 56%, intend to keep the volumes, some are negotiating more favorable lease terms, some are doing nothing. 13% reported that they will partially reduce the office, 12% are considering moving to a co-working space, 12% are closing/canceling the office, 4% are thinking about sub-tenants, 3% want to move to a cheaper office.

At the same time, actual office attendance ranges from 15-20% to 50+%, depending on the business model.

Factors in choosing a new office remain unchanged. Top requirements: equipped bomb shelter, distance from critical infrastructure, energy autonomy.

“Given the uncertainty of energy supply during the 2023 heating season, we anticipate an increase in fall/winter attendance,” Kachan reported.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, CBRE is the world’s largest commercial real estate advisory and investment company, with revenues of $30.8 billion in 2022, according to Fortune, a Fortune 500 list of the world’s largest companies.

Shares of CBRE Group Inc. are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

CBRE’s Ukrainian office was opened in January 2008 and is part of the company’s affiliated network.

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FinCEN urged banks to monitor investments of sanctioned Russians in US real estate

Wealthy Russians subject to U.S. sanctions may try to evade them by investing in the U.S. commercial real estate market, the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) warned. The regulator urged U.S. banks to be vigilant, noting that the complex financing schemes and opaque partnership structures used in this market can help hide funds, writes The Wall Street Journal. FinCEN is the recipient of suspicious activity reports that financial institutions are required to file when they detect signals that a transaction is potentially illegal. The warning for banks issued by the regulator on Wednesday is another attempt by the U.S. Treasury Department to prevent wealthy Russian citizens from circumventing financial sanctions, the WSJ notes. “Thanks to international pressure and economic restrictions imposed on Russia by more than 30 countries, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for sanctioned Russian elites to move and hide their ill-gotten gains,” said Himamouli Das, acting head of FinCEN. The regulator outlined a number of signs and “red flags” that should alert banks. For example, sanctioned Russians may try to use investment pools or offshore funds to avoid inspections, he warned. Banks are usually not required to identify people who own less than 25% of shares in the funds. Thus, sanctioned individuals can reduce their stakes to avoid scrutiny while still retaining control of the fund, FinCEN says. They may use front companies and multi-level schemes involving multiple legal entities or trusts, as well as transfer assets to other family members or business partners to hide their involvement, the regulator warns. It notes that sanctioned individuals may not only invest in high-end and luxury real estate. In some cases, they may look for more discreet investments that provide a stable income without attracting unwanted attention. Using such strategies to evade sanctions is just as likely in small and mid-sized U.S. cities as it is in metropolitan areas, FinCEN notes. Last year, the regulator issued a similar warning to banks, advising them to pay close attention to transactions involving art, luxury yachts and jewelry.

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WE NEED TO START LARGE-SCALE RESTORATION OF UKRAINE NOW – IGOR STAKOVYCHENKO

On July 4, an international conference for the restoration of Ukraine started in Lugano, Switzerland. Among the main decisions taken on the first day of the conference, one can single out the approval of a plan to provide Ukraine with macro-financial assistance in the amount of $750 billion. Of this total, from 150 to 250 billion is expected to be directed to the restoration of infrastructure and housing damaged as a result of hostilities.
At the same time, the mechanisms for the practical implementation of this project remain unclear in the context of the ongoing war and the need to adapt legislation to it and establish partnerships between the state and private companies. Portal Open4business turned to Igor Stakovychenko, an expert in the field of construction and real estate, for a comment.
In his opinion, the practical implementation of the project should be started now at all levels, since delaying the process can lead to negative consequences in the autumn-winter period.
“Mechanisms for allocating funds from the confiscated assets of the Russian Federation and its large businesses are already being implemented by individual countries. We, in turn, need to implement the conversion of these financial assets into specific infrastructure and construction projects by creating representative offices in donor countries and coordination centers in Ukraine,” said Ihor Stakovychenko.
The expert also stressed that the regional principle of recovery, now promoted by the country’s leadership, when a separate partner state is engaged in projects in a separate Ukrainian region, is the most effective at this stage.
In addition, Igor Stakovychenko suggested creating a system of decentralized funding for the implementation of individual projects at the local level.
“But we must not forget about our responsibility to our partners. It is necessary not only to minimize, but to completely exclude the possibility of misuse of foreign aid by local officials. To do this, it is necessary to create a separate trust fund for each individual restoration project, the activities of which will be as transparent and controlled as possible by both the Ukrainian anti-corruption authorities and the donor country,” Ihor Stakovychenko emphasized.
According to the expert, the basis for the creation of such funds should be existing budget programs, as well as amendments to the main financial document.
“In fact, now we can receive funds both in the form of direct assistance and in the form of investments from partners. Here it is important to successfully implement and present the first major restoration projects, which will help increase investment attractiveness even in the current conditions,” added Igor Stakovychenko.

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