01 Feb Ensuring safety and quality in competitive prices
Eduardo Netto de Almeida, President, Lantia, is optimistic regarding the company’s ability to achieve a successful relaunch after the pandemic
How would you sum up the key ingredients that Portugal boasts that make it such a competitive destination for real estate investors?
One of the most important aspects of Portugal in this global investment destination sector is that it is new. Our country is also very small, although very diverse and it has a lot of character. Investors really like our country and the first impression they get is very positive. As we all know first impression is extremely important. I believe that in this country the positives are much more obvious than the negatives. That creates a dynamic that keeps most of those investors with us for the future.
Real estate investors have been a driving force of the Portuguese economy in recent years with a contribution of 15 percent to the GDP. Can you please provide us with your current view an overview of the state of the real estate sector and Portugal?
I think that after a few very dynamic years, we are using the COVID-19 crisis to take a breath. However, I really believe that we will come back more mature, professional and capable to launch even larger projects. I also believe that those elements can already be found in the market.
The taxation regime is a contested topic in any jurisdiction and any industry. What is your current interpretation of the current tax regime and how can it be altered to favour in relaunching the economy?
Our tax regime is very unstable and irrational. I also think that it is completely out of date. It has been amended so many times that is really difficult to navigate in it. The most important thing is not to make any more amendments. The sector has to work with the government and really help them to produce something new that makes sense for the Portuguese economy. I hope that we can make it in the upcoming years and unlock all those kinds of opportunities that are currently blocked.
Lantia’s focus has been on acquiring buildings in Lisbon and neighbouring cities with potential and value add on opportunities. Would you give us an overview of the company itself and a little bit of a walkthrough in regards to the most emblematic projects to date?
Over the last 5 years we have been developing residential projects in Lisbon. We are talking about medium-sized projects with 25 and 50 apartments. So far, we have been quite successful. I would say that the two best selling projects in Lisbon over the last 18 months have been developed by Lantia. The AEG Project was developed before the COVID-19 crisis and 35 Praça de Espanha was developed after this crisis. Both of them were innovative and ground-breaking. I would say that we took the innovation risk and we succeeded. I see that this defines Lantia very well, as we try to be ahead of the game.
From the interviews that we have conducted with several other players in the sector, there a noticeable interest at expressing the increase in demand to build assets for the Portuguese middle class. What ambitions does Lantia have to get involved with more ground up development?
For us, ground-up or renovation is not an issue. Our target is to bring to the market houses that the clients want to buy at competitive prices, with quality and safety. For instance, the AEG Project was a renovation and was bought by 100 percent Portuguese clients. Our aim is to bring to the market products that the Portuguese want to buy and can afford, that also may interest international investors as well. So far, we have had a very good mix on our projects.
Construction sustainability is no longer just a flag, but a necessity and a condition for doing more and better business. Can you comment on the prevalence of sustainability across all businesses globally? Has it changed Lantia’s operation in any way?
I would say that it is not very significant yet, because we are very limited due to out-of-date regulation. I see that the government will soon be under heavy pressure to update this regulation from the European Union. We have been trying to improve on energy, mobility and e-commerce. We are trying to introduce new solutions on those fronts. We need to see how much progress we can make in the future, but we think that future clients will be demanding us to progress on those fronts.
The real estate sector is currently on a price discovery stage, following the pandemic with a second wave further deepening speculation in the marketplace. Co-working, co-living and student or assisted residencies make up the paradigm shift in real estate and new alternative investment markets in the sector. How do you envision the dynamics of the marketplace in the next five years? Where do you think that may be interesting opportunities?
We a residential developer and we will stick to that. For the next 5 years, we will stay in the Lisbon region and doing residential developments. I do not see ourselves getting involved with those new products anytime soon.
On the other hand, we are paying even more attention to terraces and living areas. This is very much on the continuity of what we have been doing over the last years. I think that this is one of the reasons why our projects have been so successful recently. I believe that we have been ahead of the game.
Are you catering for the international marketplace? What is the majority mix of your clients?
I would say that in our projects we have more than 50 percent international investors. In some projects overall the majority of clients are international, in others are Portuguese clients. Then, you have projects like the AEG which is 100 percent Portuguese. Our strategy always revolves around the idea of building units that can attract both types of clients. We have experienced in the past, very volatile foreign demand. If the foreign investors are uninterested, we want to tap into the Portuguese clients.
What would be your final message of optimism and trust on Portugal for our readers of Newsweek?
I believe that Portugal is entering a very interesting period. We have had a difficult time after joining the Eurozone and then being hit by the financial crisis. The initial 20 years of this century have been very difficult for us. Now we have great infrastructure in the country, a remarkable educational system and well-educated population. I think that the entrepreneurial spirit has developed a lot over the last few years in Portugal. With a little bit of work, the EU funds will help us modernize the country. With some improvements in the public administration sector, I believe that we are going to have a very good decade. I am fairly optimistic, but I see some very good reasons to be this way.