Housing built 20 years ago and now – how do they differ and where do you see the biggest shift?

The conception of construction was quite different 20 years ago. Projects were designed differently from how they are today. Affordability was the foremost concern, with low apartment prices. Projects were designed to be cost efficient, so little money was left for quality architecture; paying for an expensive architect was simply not a thing. 
While architecture in the West had enjoyed a long tradition, here it was not customary to care much about the aesthetics of residential architecture; rather, pragmatism ruled. 
Nevertheless, the efficiency of apartments was addressed to some degree at that time. The layouts were decided by the construction firm (note: at that time, the developer and the construction firm were in many cases one and the same) and later by the “early developers” building at that time without significant experience and using the materials available. 

It is the experience and approach of many current developers, as well as the use of higher-quality materials in construction, which have enabled a tremendous advance in the market and a shift towards better architecture. Today, it can largely be said that developers have good architectural taste and use a number of quality materials, something that is reflected in the overall quality of projects, which translates into better housing for residents. This may be sensed in the environment in which they live, and the current housing is comparable to the quality of housing in the West. Likewise, it helped that the market has professionalised over the years, leaving only the best who want to build quality projects for commercial success. 

This is certainly true for Mint, too. What has helped Mint Investments in achieving its current standing? 

It is due particularly to the general growth of the entire asset management business focusing on real estate management and becoming more professional. If we look worldwide, asset management 20 years ago was a small sector compared to what it is today. It became established as a type of business only 25 to 30 years ago, i.e. at a time when construction firms were the main constructors and there were not that many developers. But that has all changed and today the whole real estate market is a much more prestigious industry, attracting people with greater qualifications and professionalism. Now, real estate investment and management are essential for everyone. For people, families, institutional funds specialising in real estate as well as other large investors such as pension funds. 

At Mint, we have specialised in selected business segments from the beginning, and as a result we are still one of the best players on the market. We have more professionals coming to the firm from different horizons; we work as a team. We are constantly striving to improve and looking for new opportunities. We are closely monitoring the market and considering its direction, we are monitoring its development, which helps us make the right decisions. We are able to respond flexibly to changes, market situations. We are able to effectively redirect “our investments”, e.g. recently from the retail more to the residential market.

Which factors affect your sector the most? How have you been impacted by the crisis of recent times? 

The real estate sector is directly affected by macroeconomics and microeconomics. In terms of microeconomics, I view it positively that Slovakia has coped with the pandemic very well, and that people have money and want to invest in housing in good locations. As far as macroeconomics is concerned, I am most worried about the uncertainty of the past 2 years due to the constant changes in the prices of building materials, which creates uncertainty regarding development and construction. And lately, it is also the war in Ukraine that is deepening uncertainty and concerns. The latter is having a huge negative impact, not just on our sector. Growing uncertainty will affect the availability of materials, construction firms and their willingness to build new projects. I think that due to the conflict, many projects will not go into the construction phase in the next 24 – 36 months. Analysts already now predict global stagnation associated with high inflation, and it can be expected that this will negatively affect everyone. 

On the other hand, despite it all, what brings you the greatest joy in terms of your work? 

Especially when I see that a common vision is being applied commercially and that our project is clearly well perceived and is selling well. That’s what makes me happy from an investor’s point of view. Also when the team working on the project does not make mistakes, but on the contrary, manages to capture the product and its timing, and that together we succeeded in launching it in time, despite the uncertainties that perhaps pale by those today. I am very pleased with this team who are working on the Metropolis project, personally I am very glad about how well the team is working. For me, it is very important and unique that everyone works together, which can be seen in the nice results.