TBY talks to the heads of two firms in the real estate sector on their own unique projects and expectations for 2012.
How do you assess the evolution of the real estate sector in Ecuador?
TOMMY SCHWARZKOPF The real estate sector has been very stable, and we haven’t been affected by any crises. Now that the government is working to improve the credit lines, we believe that this stability will be maintained.
What is your assessment of the government’s policy to address the housing deficit and attract investments?
EDUARDO CRESPO President Correa will be remembered for his landmark housing policy. He has injected a large amount of funding into the construction business, and the benefits have been excellent. The local construction industry is based on hand labor, which boasts the largest employment multiplier effect but is the least-favored option. What the government has done concerning construction is spectacular; we have enjoyed incentives and bonuses to support the down payments our customers make. This funding has not been consistently strong due to a lack of liquidity, but the government has a clear vision to support construction. We have seen the construction of excellent roads that have improved transportation and shortened distances. We have also been thrilled to seen the government support housing and the labor force, as credits are being granted for longer periods of time. People now have solutions to credit history problems; creditors analyze an applicant’s history for up to three years as opposed to the previous 10-year policy. People can now recover their credit faster and in a better way. This is part of the government’s strategy to make it easier for potential homeowners.
What was behind Uribe & Schwarzkopf’s innovative “housing express” idea?
TS The concept of vivienda express (housing express) reminds the public that it is very easy to purchase a house, and our company can both handle the customers’ credit and complete the paperwork needed to make the transfers. We have agreements with several banks that qualify the client for a loan, and we have a credit team that rates clients and matches them with the right bank. Our firm has different products that suit every budget. The high demand from the middle class is a result of our system. Houses can be purchased with anywhere from $40,000 to $200,000, depending on the number of members in each family. In 2010, we sold more than 1,000 residences, and in 2011 we completed around 1,300.
What makes FERROINMOBILIARIA’s Ciudad Jardín project different from other real estate developments in Quito?
EC We are located next to the Metropolitan Park, which makes the project very attractive. It is the largest park in the city. We call our complex a “city” because it provides every service needed. A park is one of the most important things a city can have, and the project surrounds the park in the shape of a horseshoe. The complex also has a spectacular school with green areas and adequate climatization. As 85% of the Ecuadorean population is Catholic, we also included a church in our design plan. We are building a day hospital that will have 12 specialties and an operating room for emergencies. Furthermore, we are including a daycare center or preschool. Finally, we are building a shopping mall that could be the largest in Quito, hosting a variety of stores from car dealerships to supermarket chains. We will also have several recreational and leisure areas such as playing courts distributed across the complex. Residents will not have to leave Ciudad Jardín to visit the doctor or attend school. This translates into increased quality of life.
What is your forecast for 2012, what can we expect to see from your company?
TS If growth stays the same it will be a great year. We have a number of interesting projects planned for 2012. The opening of a new airport will present a whole spectrum of new real estate and tourism opportunities. As long as the oil price continues to rise, Ecuador will register growth across the board.
EC Our expectations are to increase our pace of construction to two houses per day, keep the quality standards in our houses high, and be recognized as a company that provides full services in the financing area as well as legal and administrative. To buy the “best house in the market,” our customers only need to spend two hours in our offices.
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