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Poland It's a comfortable life

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Ziv Zviel, the CEO of Atlas Estates, tells ‘Eurobuild’ about the company’s plans for the residential sector, top investments and the future of the market

Recently, your company bought a plot for a residential project in Warsaw’s Białołęka district. Could you give us some more details about this?

The new project is located on a plot of app. 4 ha, where ten intimate residential buildings are to be built. Most of these carefully designed apartments will have 3–4 rooms, each with their own parking spaces in the underground car park. The cascading design, of 3 to 4 storeys, is ideal for buyers who value comfort. The entire estate is designed to provide a large amount of space and a range of amenities for its residents. We want to create a project for more demanding and sophisticated people who value qual- ity and a comfortable life. The existing trees on the plot and the potential rede- velopment of the Kanał Żerański canal (as laid out in the plans of the local authorities) will ultimately add significant value to the estate.

You are known mainly for projects in the premium segment – Platinum Towers on ul. Grzybowska and the Hilton hotel on the same street in Warsaw, as well as residential estates in the city’s Wola, Mokotów and Żoliborz districts. How does your latest project fit into these investment plans? Or maybe you are tempted by the boom in PRS?

We will definitely continue to focus on high-quality products – the plot I was talking about is situated in Białołęka, in a great location near Kanał Żerański and surrounded by forest. We want to use these natural advantages offered by the location to create a modern and friendly place to live for people looking for comfort and who appreciate a comfortable life guaranteed by high quality buildings. Our project will be a premium investment addressed mainly to families who are looking for larger residences.

Are you going to focus only on Warsaw, or is it also possible to expand further afield? And is there still any room left for profitable residential projects on the Warsaw market?

Currently, we are focusing on the War- saw market, which we know best; but as for Atlas’s future plans, I haven’t ruled out the possibility of expanding our activity to other large cities, such as Kraków, the TriCity, Wrocław and Poznań. At the moment we are actively looking for devel- opment sites in Warsaw and intend to significantly increase our land bank over the next few months.

What advice would you give to people planning to buy real estate? Which residential product provides the highest returns for an individual investor?

Any investment in residential real estate usually has a long time horizon, and in- vestors expect not only to receive monthly income from renting out a flat, but also an increase in the price of the property. Investors should carefully analyse the de- tails of their business plans and consider a number of ‘what if’ scenarios, as I advise investors to be prepared for any adverse turn of event, such as falling rental in- come or a depreciation in the value of their investment. In this respect, I also advise investors not to take out a loan with a value exceeding 60–70 pct of the apartment’s value, since a high LTV ratio will result in high interest payments and a higher risk of not being able to meet your obligations towards the lending bank.

Finally, we would like to know your personal point of view on the direction in which housing prices are moving. Considering the recent price increases, do you think that there is still any room for them to grow further?

This is a really difficult question because I don’t have a crystal ball, and such forecasts depend on many factors, some of which are global. However, I can see that, especially in large cities, planning processes still take a long time and the supply of land for development is limited. At the same time, the demand is increasing, as people want to be close to the amenities that big cities offer. This means that in order for housing prices to fall, the market would have to undergo some drastic, fundamental changes.

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