HUNTING REAL ESTATE TRENDS

Mexico 2018 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Luca Piccolo, CEO of Venit Investments, on trends in the local housing sector, the growing spectrum of rental housing, and the changing nature of Mexico's informal student housing.

What are Venit's strategies for expanding in Querétaro and other cities of similar size?

Querétaro has been taking up a great deal of our time, and it is growing steadil, in fact, faster than most of the country. We have been developing projects in the city faster than we thought. We started four projects in 2017 just in Querétaro alone, so there is still a great deal of room here, and it will not slow down for at least the next five to 10 years. The service, technology, automobile, and aerospace industries are experiencing strong growth in Mexico and Querétaro. Querétaro will be one of our main places to develop for the mid-term. However, we are not abandoning the other cities; we did start several small projects in a few cities, and Monterrey is coming back to us with some exciting opportunities, along with exciting projects in León, Zacatecas, and Mérida.

What trends do you notice in the local housing sector?

As the population that wants to rent increases and becomes more mainstream, the rental business will be more institutionalized. Currently, there are mostly 'mom-and-pop' type rental businesses. The entire business of student housing was informal a few years ago. Now, there are projects being developed and tailor made just for that. A few years ago, we did one in Monterrey and are currently working on one in Querétaro. As more and more people move to cities, almost the entire spectrum of rental housing will grow. This is an interesting trend that is just starting, though I do not see it booming in the next year or so.

How have you seen the office segment increase in sophistication?

Office space is still exciting. In terms of sophistication as a real estate market, more people want to have their offices in corporate buildings with security and amenities. Just as more people want better housing or better commercial space, more people seek better office spaces, which gives us great potential. Mexico City is seeking to pass a law to allow buildings to be built without any parking space. It seeks to encourage people not to use cars, which is a great thing; these changes will be interesting for the real estate sector in the coming years

How would you assess the current investment climate in real estate?

The investment climate has changed significantly. The Trump factor and the rising costs due to a stronger dollar caused many investors to wait. However, more people have faith in real estate as a long-term investment. There is a great deal of cash in the market, and not just in Mexico; real estate is an interesting place for investment. Fibras and the growing sophistication of the market are coming together to make the real estate market boom.

What are your expectations and priorities for 2018?

Apartments will make up a large portion of our market share and our business model, and we will develop many apartments for the next three years. In the coming year, we are starting between four and five projects that are solely focused on apartment buildings. We are also looking at more opportunities in office space. We have two business models in office for rental and sales. In Monterrey, many people do not want to rent and prefer to buy so we are looking into it and working out something truly great. Hopefully, we will start a couple of new projects around 1H2018, one in Monterrey and one in Querétaro in office space. Housing and offices will be our main focuses as they are not impacted as easily as retail; the growing business climate creates a need for office space and we are looking forward to fulfill that supply-demand gap.