International agencies still at bay

Top international agencies operating in neighboring countries say they have not yet seen a marked rise in client inquiries for property in Slovakia since last year's elections, but they believe recent political changes bode well for the coming years.
"Undoubtedly, companies were waiting," said Omar Sattar, a real estate manager for DTZ, one of the leading agencies in Prague. "They're probably looking at [the new government] as a fresh start for Slovakia."
More interest in Slovakia on the part of clients could induce international agencies to open an office in Bratislava, according to Richard Lemon, the Vienna office manager for Jones Lang Wootton, one of central Europe's biggest real estate agencies.

Top international agencies operating in neighboring countries say they have not yet seen a marked rise in client inquiries for property in Slovakia since last year's elections, but they believe recent political changes bode well for the coming years.

"Undoubtedly, companies were waiting," said Omar Sattar, a real estate manager for DTZ, one of the leading agencies in Prague. "They're probably looking at [the new government] as a fresh start for Slovakia."

More interest in Slovakia on the part of clients could induce international agencies to open an office in Bratislava, according to Richard Lemon, the Vienna office manager for Jones Lang Wootton, one of central Europe's biggest real estate agencies.

"I could imagine an office in Bratislava," Lemon said. "It would depend on more inquiries, more leasings, sales, and developments. Especially if international players get more involved in developing there. For now, we manage to service our Bratislava inquiries out of Vienna. There would have to be enough potential business to make a profit. It could happen any time, but I'd say in two to four years."

Currently, the only large international agency with a presence on the ground in Bratislava is Healey & Baker, which has an association agreement with Spiller Farmer, a British-Slovak joint venture.

If international agenices and their clients are looking for encouragement, they need look no further than Bratislava's mayor-elect, Jozef Moravčík. Moravčík, a former Prime Minister who won the mayoral race on December 18, says he is eager to attract investors to develop commercial property in the city. "Private developers will have wonderful opportunities this year," he said. He said several zones, including Petržalka and Pribinova Ulica, will be "paradise" for commercial developers in the coming months and years.

As for whether his administration will favor foreign or domestic investors, Moravčík said, "I am a Europolitician, so no restrictions. There is only one capital, not foreign and domestic."

While this open-armed welcome may sit well with many potential investors, Lemon of Jones Lang Wootton said, "There is little restriction on development [in Bratislava], which is worrisome. There may end up being too much space available. Prices have dropped from a level where they were overpriced. Now prices are less than in Vienna - it shouldn't be more than Vienna."

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