HOF Awards & Forum 2020 -- Day 4: Residential unleashed, Services awards, and the Grand Prix
On the fourth and final day of HOF Awards & Forum 2020, the online webinar event featured a discussion on what's arguably the region's hottest real estate sector. If the question posed by the panel discussion's topic "Are residential prices immune to COVID-19?", the answer from around the region was unequivocal: Yes. There appears little that any government, virus or economic downturn can do to halt the constant grinding upwards of prices for residential real estate, or at least to drive them down. To some extent, this is a self-fulfilling cycle, since one of the reasons consumers and investors are so attracted to real estate is that it's retained its value so successfully over the year. As Petr Hana of Deloitte noted in his opening presentation that began the 60 minute session, prices for residential product in Prague dipped during the last recession. But this was short-lived, and they continued their march upwards until March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
The question for the rest of the panelists of this webinar panel discussion concerned the potential for prices to drop as a result of the general panic, or from fears of a coming recession. Antoanela Comsa, Managing Director of Gran Via Real Estate in Bucharest said her company had managed to continue selling apartments, though the process was slowed by the need clients continue to have to see their future flats in person. David Musil, Director of Real Estate Residential (Penta Real Estate) echoed Comsa's remarks, adding that his company had to strengthen its staff to field questions coming in from potential customers. Neither developer, however, saw any room or reason for prices to fall, if for no other reason that projects nearing completion were being built at prices agreed more than a year ago. And with apartments selling at an acceptable pace, there are no apparent motivations to do provide discounts.
Prokop Svoboda, Managing Partner of Svoboda & Williams, said that interest had been quite strong on the client side, though he described the overall nature of the market at the moment as manic/depressive. At the moment, he said that demand for residential properties had reached manic levels and was pushing his team to cancel their summer vacations in order to take advantage of the mood. However, in the fall he warned, events could conspire to dampen the enthusiasm, an apparent reference to the potential for a second wave of the coronavirus that experts warn could happen.
First up was the Best Bank category, which was won by Erste Group, a powerhouse in the region with experience on the HOF Awards stage. Following the banks came Best Contractor Performance, a prize that was claimed by the seemingly invincible Bog'Art company that dominates the market in Romania. CMS, which won its category in both Hungary and Slovakia, was the HOF Awards 2020 winner of the Best Law Firm.
The announcement of each award was preceded by a video showing the nominations for the category, followed by an official envelope opening and a short speech by the winner. So it was Atrium Property Services’ turn next to make their way to the virtual stage to accept their award for Best Facility Management Company. This was followed by the announcement of the winner of Best Project Management Company, which was Optim Project Management. Best Property Management Company for the CEE region was won by the professionals at CBRE, after which Petr Hana of Deloitte returned to the online broadcast to accept his company's victory in the category Best Tax & Financial Advisor. The penultimate award handed out at the HOF Awards 2020 was Best Architectural Company, which this year was won by APA Wojciechowski. This left only the final prize to be revealed -- the Grand Prix -- which goes to the project judged to be the Best of the Best. This year, that honor went to Liebrecht & wooD Polska for their project Centrum Praskie Koneser.