THAT HELPING HAND

Colombia 2014 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Clemencia Parra, Executive President of Unifianza, on the services rendered and expectations for 2014.

Clemencia Parra
BIOGRAPHY
Clemencia Parra graduated in Economics from the College of Our Lady of the Rosary, as well as Advanced Studies in French Language and Civilization, at Sorbonne University, Paris and Advanced Studies in Oriental Culture, from Sophia University, Tokyo. She has been a professor, and has lectured at universities, national forums, and seminars, as well as international events in Spanish and English. She has worked in real estate for over 25 years having, among other senior positions, been CEO of the Association of Realtors. She is currently Executive Chairman of Unifianza SA and Union Properties of Colombia SA. She is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, RICS-ARFs, permanent adviser to the National Board of Valuers, Director of the International Affairs Committee of UPAV, and member of the Global Valuation Forum of Appraisal Foundation.

What was the focus of Unifianza over the past year?

We have worked over the past year to educate people about the rental market. We publish rental studies every four months and release statistics to show people how the real estate market is developing and functioning, how rentals are performing, what the yield is, and where real estate investment in Bogotá is more attractive. In Medellín, as well as in Barranquilla, we are studying the rental market, so the information we send to potential clients includes three of the most important cities.

What do you expect from 2014?

Many developers from Bogotá are looking to alternative destinations, and the construction sectors in Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cali, and even Medellín are huge. Construction of real estate projects in those cities is on the rise, and Bogotá is going to face less supply, especially in social housing. This is directly influencing developments in 2014. Many find housing prices high in Bogotá; this leads to speculation that prices sill shortly decline. Yet this is not our view. When you have supply with demand, the demand absorbs it, and prices remain unchanged. We predict that over the next couple of years, housing supply for medium- and high-income families will exceed demand. In Colombia, the real estate market plays a key role in our economy. It is dynamic and has been growing consistently. There were years during which the annual appreciation rate was between 8% and 10%, while now it is nearer 6% to 8%.

What functions does Unifianza perform?

We work mainly with real estate agents and companies, and warranty tenant rent defaults. Management property in Colombia is different from other countries in Latin America; it is big business for real estate companies. They manage the property for the owner and warrant that their investment is going to grow through the years. In Colombia, the real estate companies are the lessors of the property, not the owners. If there is a problem with the lease contract and rent is not paid, the real estate company sends a report informing us about it, which takes place three days after the first month of non-payment. Next, we send a letter. After that, the lawyers start calling, and finally we go to the Chamber of Commerce. Thus, the owner relies on us to ensure that rent is paid, and the real estate investment is protected. Our services also include warranty for rents, maintenance, water, telephone, and electricity provision, and we pay for any damage if the tenant is responsible.