Agnieszka Hryniewiecka- Jachowicz, Director and Board Member of PINK Association: Delivering smart and CO2 neutral buildings is a challenge for the commercial real estate market
How was the Polish Chamber of Commercial Real Estate established? What are the main activities of the Association?
The PINK Association was created in 2016 at the initiative of, among others: EPP, Echo Investment, Klepierre, Griffin, HB Reavis, Crido and Hines, who saw the need to create an organization that could, on behalf of the commercial market, discuss with the Ministry of Finance, among others, the issue of VAT refunds in real estate transactions. With time, we decided to expand our activities to all sectors of legislation related to commercial real estate, not just tax. Currently, the Association has 55 supporting members.
Our mission is to represent the entire industry, that is all sectors of commercial real estate (developers, investors and advisers) before the legislators. Our activities are based on giving opinions on changing legal regulations and reporting problems with their interpretation to legislators. The aim of PINK is to build a good image of the industry, conduct educational and networking activities, as well as integrate the industry in matters concerning its representatives.
How has the commercial real estate market changed over the years?
The condition of the real estate market is most often considered based on figures regarding demand, supply, vacancy and rental rates, the volume of investment transactions or yields published by real estate agencies.
For example: In Warsaw, the demand for office space in III quarters of last year, before the pandemic, amounted to more than 689,000 m2, while in the same period of this year it was about 398,000 m2. Office vacancy accounted for 8.2% of the space and had a downward trend, while this year it averaged 12.5% and was up 2.9% from last year. Rents in the office sector are fairly stable and the number of m2 of subleased space has increased.
The retail market suffered the most during the pandemic, resulting in a lockdown, but the pandemic only accelerated certain trends seen earlier, such as the growth of e-commerce and environmental awareness. A definite winner in recent years has been the logistics and warehousing market, where demand and supply are growing steadily and yields are the only ones to have fallen in the last two years. The good condition of this sector is influenced, among others, by the e-commerce demand for smaller warehouse spaces located closer to city centers.
How is the structure of demand for office space changing in connection with the spread of home office?
Analyzing the data contained in the reports of consulting companies, in particular those published by PINK, concerning the office space rental market, a decrease in demand for office space predicted before the pandemic is visible. Definitely, the uncertainty associated with lockdowns has changed the perception of the market. Decisions about relocations or space expansions are being made more carefully and more slowly than in 2019.
In the first three quarters of 2019, new leases in Warsaw accounted for 59%, in the same period of 2020 47.9%, and 53.5% this year, which may suggest that decision-making regarding new space has increased. It seems that there will be no return to working entirely onsite, but with the right choice of working model for a given company, leased space does not have to decrease. It is possible to relocate between different spaces, for example the growth of flexible office components called coworking. When choosing a satellite model (see the guide “In the office 2021. The new normal”), the company can rent offices in multiple locations, thus reducing the share of its original office space. There’s no denying that the pandemic has exacerbated the trend of increasing remote work. Despite this, however, the number of industries for which the total remote working model is suitable is limited. Investor interest in the office market continues to persist, which is why confidence in the sector continues to hold up against changing work models.
What is the current year like for PINK? What plans does the Association have for the near future?
Due to the next waves of pandemics, as well as the multitude and variety of changes in legislation, or in the practices of administrative bodies, the year 2021 is a challenge for both our members and our entire organization.
In 2021 PINK addressed, among other things:
– the issue of the transformation of perpetual usufruct into ownership, including the consent of owners in the division and consolidation of land,
– problems of owners and managers of commercial buildings arising from the so-called “mega-law”,
– the draft law on FIN (REIT), which is the key regulation aimed at reviving the investment market and enabling Polish entities to participate in this market,
– New Deal (submission of comments).
Nevertheless, our biggest project this year was a guidebook containing a set of tips for managers of various types of organizations, which suggests how to prepare to return to the office, what model to choose and points to good examples of how others do it. Behind the initiative is a group of 17 companies from the real estate industry, which for the first time in history have joined forces to give support to their business partners. The guide for companies “In the office 2022: The new normal” (https://wbiurze2022.pl) presents possible work scenarios in the near future, presents six ideal-typical models of work organization in terms of the appropriate use of space, indicating their advantages and disadvantages. The guide is complemented by expert columns from various fields: health, design, labour law, psychology and futurology.
Certainly, in the next year we will continue our observations and activities related to the office real estate market and ways of working in the office. Other activities will focus on sustainable construction and new practices and trends in the market, including non-financial reporting (ESG), as well as innovation in the commercial real estate sector. Our ambition is to further develop the organization by, among others, expanding the list of members to include players from the hotel and PRS sectors.
What direction will the real estate market take? What are the most likely trends that will shape the commercial real estate market in a few years?
I think forecasting especially in a period of constant change due to a prolonged pandemic is very difficult. There are some general trends and phenomena occurring around the world that affect all sectors of real estate. These include: global warming, the dramatic course of which has reinforced the need to introduce sustainable building principles as soon as possible, the implementation and use of new technologies to ensure energy efficiency and zero net emissions. Delivering smart and CO2 neutral buildings is a challenge for the commercial real estate market. This is a new trend in this sector. The importance of sustainable building is not only due to climate issues, but also to the accelerated trend of building a “well-being” individual as a result of the pandemic. Convincing employees that a green office providing great working conditions and the possibility of satisfying other needs is a place where they want to stay is a challenge for developers and managers in companies.
What is changing from an outside observer of the commercial market?
Good question. There are several points to make here. First, there is a growing number of mixed-use facilities that combine workspace with meeting other needs and leisure activities. Secondly, office spaces are being adapted to the constantly changing reality and work models, so they need to be flexible, allowing for reorganization, depending on the chosen work model, which may also change. Thirdly, there is a high probability of real estate development outside the city center. This is to provide employment close to home and to decarbonize transportation. The same is true for smaller commercial properties. Secondly, the fastest growing warehouse sector is gradually increasing its involvement in Small Business Units (SBS), i.e. small warehouses often located in cities or on the outskirts, which is due to the need to reduce the transport route for some products.
In your opinion, are green solutions and offices complying with the philosophy of sustainable development the future of the commercial real estate market?
In no sector of the economy, including real estate or even the living zone, there is no escape from such issues as care for the environment, sustainability and employee welfare. Consumer behavior is increasingly dependent on whether a product has a smaller carbon footprint, whether it is made of friendly materials, whether slave labor is not used in its creation, or whether a company positions itself as responsible. Such a product is also an office, a store, a café, a shopping center, a warehouse, a hotel or, more and more often, an apartment. A well-designed office which helps the employee in his work and ensures his safety is a part of the company’s philosophy. Nowadays such expression of care about employees is also an additional point helping to keep or gain employees from the market.
Agnieszka Hryniewiecka- Jachowicz
Director and Board Member of PINK Association (Polish Chamber of Commercial Real Estate)
Since 2018 director and board member of PINK association (Polish Chamber of Commercial Real Estate) has about 30 years of experience in the Polish real estate market in people management, asset management, investment transactions, and valuations. Since 2017 she runs her own business (PROHUB Property Advisor). Between 2004 and 2016 she managed Arka BZWBK real estate funds with an asset value of over 1.5 billion PLN. 1995-2004 – director of valuation and advisory department in DTZ Poland, before that a rental agent in Henry Butcher Poland and working in the construction industry. He has an excellent knowledge of the real estate market and companies operating on it.
Education: M.Sc. in construction, real estate appraiser’s license and broker’s license, member of the State Qualification Commission for granting licenses in the field of real estate appraisal. Graduated from Warsaw University of Technology, postgraduate studies in property valuation and management at Hallam Sheffield University, member of RICS, RICS accredited mediator.