The year behind us was marked by a global pandemic of unprecedented proportions and consequently with an almost complete halt in all economic activities that ceased abruptly due to restrictive measures, which led to the total collapse of nearly all sectors.
And it is precisely in 2020, an unprecedented year in many ways, that the real estate market experts faced significant challenges. The key to success was in their rapid response and adapting to market conditions and trends that were changing at a relentless pace.
Despite negative statistics and economic indicators that were by no means promising, Sotheby’s International Realty is very proud to announce that our brokers and sales representatives have achieved a record sales result of $150 billion at the global level, marking a continued increase in sales growth year over year.
“Thanks to innovations we pioneered nearly a decade ago, our affiliated companies and agents made the impossible possible. Their adaptability to serve clients safely further extended our position as a leader in luxury real estate,” said Philip White, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty.
Modern Technologies and Trends in Property Viewings
As the luxury real estate sector leader, Sotheby’s International Realty guarantees global marketing reach and high advertising standards for both sellers and end buyers looking for their new home or dream vacation villa and constantly offers innovative tools for its loyal customers. At the peak of the pandemic, clients were unable to travel and view real estate in person, and agents were faced with the daunting task of finding new solutions that could replace traditional ways of real estate viewings.
Facing unenviable circumstances, sales representatives invested much energy to fully exploit all available brand tools to present real estate to prospective buyers in the best possible way through virtual platforms. New technologies and innovative marketing solutions that Sotheby’s International Realty is continuously improving have certainly contributed to these record results. The numbers are supported by more than 43 million views on the brand’s official YouTube channel and more than 6,000 properties on the global website that have video materials or provide the possibility of a virtual tour.
Global Trends in the Local Market
As the leading luxury real estate agency in Croatia and a representative of the brand synonymous with a professional approach and commitment to each client, our team of professionals is constantly working to improve their skills and replicate global trends in the Croatian market. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that clients remained loyal to our brand even in extraordinary circumstances, keeping their expectations high as always. Our real estate experts readily accepted the challenge and provided unconditional support to clients by organizing their arrival in Croatia despite restrictive measures and carrying out virtual tours of properties.
Despite the unfavorable global situation and strict measures that were eagerly implemented in almost all countries, our Croatian office followed the global trend of Sotheby’s International Realty and achieved a record sales result. Comparing global trends with the local market situation, we can conclude that clients worldwide increasingly value privacy and isolation and prefer secluded real estate surrounded by large plots, which allows them to enjoy a peaceful stay far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Regardless of skeptical forecasts, the corona crisis leads us again to the conclusion that foreign investors gladly invest in exclusive real estate in unique locations. Given the limited number of properties in premium locations, our offer of such properties very often does not satisfy the clients’ demands. One can easily deduce that this type of real estate arguably does not undergo large oscillations in the asking price, regardless of the current market challenges.
Global Expansion and Strategic Brand Growth
In 2020 Sotheby’s International Realty continues its constant growth in the global market by opening more than 50 new offices worldwide, further enhancing the brand’s global network currently present in more than 75 countries in nearly 1,000 offices with approximately 24,000 sales associates. In addition to opening new offices in existing markets, the brand has expanded to key international markets, establishing offices in seven new territories.
“I am very proud of our brand and the whole team in Croatia. It is a great success that we followed the world trends in the local market and achieved a record sales result in these difficult times”, concluded Marko Pažanin, managing director of Croatia Sotheby’s International Realty and a global partner.
As we are still evaluating the direct and indirect effects of the coronavirus outbreak on the global economy, there has been increasing speculation over the future of the tourism sector in general since it has suffered a huge setback from this crisis and all the challenges it inevitably brings.
Considering that the Croatian economy is extremely dependent on tourism, which directly generates a significant share of the country’s GDP, it is not surprising that investors and rental property owners found themselves in an unenviable situation overnight, facing numerous inquiries from concerned guests who wanted to cancel their reservations or inquired about the current epidemiological situation in the country, as well as the procedures that would be implemented at border crossings. A fierce battle for each and every reservation ensued since the confirmed reservations could have been canceled at any moment due to the introduction of quarantine in certain emitting markets, or the recommendation to postpone travel until further notice, but also due to a number of new rules introduced on a weekly basis.
Exposed to a large amount of often contradictory information, and the recommendation of global booking platforms counseling implementation of high-risk cancellation policy without any penalties for last-minute cancellations, vacation rental owners and travel agents had very modest expectations for the so-called ‘new normal’ tourist season in unprecedented circumstances.
Given that the epidemiological situation in the country has been stable, and that the spread of the virus has been kept under control, Croatia has been recognized as a safe destination, and despite skeptical announcements and cautious forecasts of expected numbers and results, there has been an increased interest in luxury holiday villas.
Tourists’ expectations and demands
What conclusions can be drawn about the profile of travelers who were not discouraged by the Covid-19 and who decided to take their seaside vacation nonetheless?
First of all, it is clear that new time brings new expectations and standards that property owners must successfully meet in order to gain the trust of customers and provide them with absolute security that they can spend their vacation carefree regardless of the challenging circumstances we are currently facing. According to the latest inquiries and trends, most clients seek to book luxury villas in prestigious locations and oftentimes tend to book longer stays and additional services such as daily cleaning, grocery procurement, and a private chef who will take care of all meals during their stay. Such requests were more easily accommodated by the owners of prestigious villas who had previously been in contact with clients who want a little something extra for their vacation and by that, we don’t mean just modern amenities or a picturesque sea view.
A new era of travel – trends, and opportunities
Current trends again lead us to the conclusion that these extraordinary times have not by any means seen a downfall in demand for the most luxurious properties in exclusive locations. Moreover, the demand for facilities of this type seems to greatly exceed the supply, so customers are often compelled to change their plans and choose another destination that can meet their expectations. The largest number of confirmed reservations has been made by guests from neighboring countries who, thanks to the favorable geopolitical position of Croatia and excellent infrastructure, traditionally arrive on vacation by cars, and due to shorter trips prefer to choose holidays in the northern parts of the Adriatic and Istria.
It is very difficult to predict future developments in the global market and the dynamic world of the travel industry, but we are certainly at the dawn of a new era of travel that will be defined by adaptation to a new lifestyle promoting strong awareness of values such as health safety, environmental protection, and socially responsible behavior.
With growing awareness of the effects of mass tourism, clients are nowadays looking for more ecologically sustainable destinations and accommodating facilities, therefore we are presented with a unique opportunity to position Croatia as a destination that can meet new challenges and readily accept new conditions that might potentially result in a more responsible and innovative offer tailored to the current market needs.
After the measures are relaxed and the borders are opened, we are again able to organize a tour of the real estate for our clients, of course respecting the minimum security measures. In the past period, not only have we all been eagerly waiting for it to pass, but international clients have also been eager to come to Croatia and continue their search for their dream real estate.
The foundation of our business is nurturing customer relationships and investing in those processes. We have built their trust over the years, always keeping in mind a relationship that will one day, to our mutual satisfaction, be much more than just business. All this will become even more pronounced in the coming period.
A high level of professionalism, correctness, trust, and work ethic will be crucial factors in sales. Why? Primarily due to the offline offer.
Customer relationships are the key
Agents are the ones who will be the critical factor. Buyers ’trust in their agent is endless, as is the seller’s. Agents have all the information in addition to the privileged ones, such as offline real estate offer, real estate for sale on preferential terms – which is not available to the general public … If the owner wants to sell the real estate under confidential conditions, which only he and the agent know, trust is an extremely important factor.
Likewise, the buyer is the one who is willing to wait and patiently search for the property. He believes that the agent he has chosen will share with him information about the property from the offline offer, which for him is an exceptional business investment or an opportunity to buy a property ideal for enjoying and relaxing in a dream location.
Croatia Sotheby’s International Realty has access to unique international clients, we have proven to be a highly professional agency that can be relied on with full confidence, we have successfully cooperated with world-renowned athletes, businessmen, but also ordinary people who absolutely do not want their relatives, friends, and neighbors know they have sold a property that has been kept for generations.
All of the above are the values that guide us in business and the benefits we have invested in for many years. We continue to develop and grow and we want to let all current and future clients know that we are there for them and that they can rely on us with full confidence. Customer relationships are and shall remain a priority to us!
The changes caused by the current pandemic of the new coronavirus have not only affected our daily lives. The effects have been felt by numerous markets and economies, including the real estate market in Croatia and the world. Croatia Sotheby’s International Realty Director Marko Pažanin takes a look at the current state of the luxury real estate market in Croatia, as well as expectations of real estate sales in the near future.
These days I have had some really interesting conversations with my colleagues about selling luxury villas by the sea. For a large number of investors, the main motive for the construction of such facilities was the tourist rental, and only then the sale.
The popularity of the Croatian coast, both among foreign and domestic guests, has enabled a real boom in tourism in Croatia, which records year after year records in the number of visitors, and thus the amount of revenue generated. The rise in average prices of tourist rent on the Adriatic and the development of cultural, entertainment and sports offerings have brought excellent income to owners of luxury properties during the season and even beyond!
We could also feel the impact of tourist growth on the purchase and sale of luxury real estate.
So far, we have frequently encountered a price formed by sellers that could not be accepted by potential buyers as being realistic. Therefore, the sale of these properties often failed to take place. The owners, more than satisfied with the income they earned through the tourist lease, were not ready to lower the sale price of their villas and apartments.
Luxury real estate in unique locations is a safe investment for foreign investors
This year, we expect much lower tourist rental revenue in the season than in previous years, which will have an effect on adjusting the sales prices set by property owners.
I may be wrong and that may not be the case, but it is certainly the most likely scenario given the logic of business, supply, and demand.
In this uncertain situation, there is another scenario involving the most important rule when investing in real estate, which is “Location, location, location!”. This scenario benefits all owners of properties in unique and exclusive locations.
If you have high-end real estate in a unique location it will not be compromised in a market context.
The drop in prices will be felt the least in the top locations, of course, if the starting price was based on the estimation of a specialist who had the experience to sell this type of real estate.
Foreign buyers are still interested in ultra-luxury real estate
In contact with the clients for whom I seek so-called “trophy real estate”, almost everyone has confirmed their interest in them, even in these conditions. This is a great indicator that investments in luxury real estate will not stop, and that exceptional real estate will always have its buyers, which will not hinder global change.
World-class luxury exists in Croatia, but in limited quantities. Personally, I can hardly wait to have real estate on offer again, such as the famous Villa Castello, as buyers of such properties are ready to make a purchase regardless of the new situation, in which unfortunately the fall in prices for most properties is unavoidable.
The sun, the sea, beautiful weather, and Mediterranean lifestyle, combined with great properties in great locations, are the recipe for a successful business year when it comes to Croatia’s luxury real estate market. The numbers have gone up and are expected to continue growing throughout the following year.
Retrospective of the luxury real estate market in 2018
2018 has generally been kind to Croatia’s luxury real estate market since demands for this sort of property were up by 25 percent compared to 2017. At the same time, the prices of luxury real estate in Croatia rose by 10-15 percent. The average price for a villa ranges between 5000 to 6000 euros for a square meter.
Clients opting for these properties are mostly foreigners, coming primarily from Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, England, and Scandinavian countries. Also, some inquiries came from Russia and China. The average age of property buyers varies between 45 and 60. Russians and Chinese want the property they buy to match the highest standards, while Europeans are more open to redecorating and reconstructing the property themselves.
Clients have their preferences regarding location, choosing mostly properties at the coastline between Primosten and Trogir (especially in Split) and around the town of Dubrovnik. Besides their beauty, these areas owe their popularity to the proximity of airports, motorways, and marinas. When it comes to the islands, the most popular ones in 2018 were Brac and Hvar.
Despite great results, the market has its issues. The most prominent ones are the somewhat closed banks towards supporting investors and the lack of offer suited for clients aiming at luxury properties.
Predictions for the luxury real estate market in 2019
Still, positive market trends are expected to continue in 2019, with expected price growth of up to 10 percent, followed by even greater demand for luxury real estate in Croatia. The start of construction of several tourist resorts with 5-star hotels is expected in 2019, along with some world-class hotel brands to the Croatian market, such as 4seasons and Marriott.