These are times of danger and uncertainty, but I think it is worth remembering that the darkest hour is before the dawn. More than any other time in recent history we are open to paradigmatic and disruptive shifts that will reshape the real estate landscape.
Confident in our future and in the opportunities that lie ahead, Bondstone has just hired a chief financial officer, António Dias, signalling our full commitment to the success of the company. In addition, our main financial sponsor, Universtone, has reiterated its trust in us, by providing ‘dry powder’ to be deployed when the right opportunities arise.
I am glad we chose to be in the real estate business and built the base of our new company during difficult and uncertain times. We cannot control property prices, but there has been a market for residential and commercial real estate for centuries; the current business environment is challenging, but not an unprecedented one. I recall that, with a master’s degree in hand, I enthusiastically started my professional career in 1991 during a global recession. So far, I have been through four recessions, three financial crises, the dotcom bubble, three economic cycles, the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York and a few oil shocks. However, the COVID-19 outbreak is unlike any previous crisis I have ever witnessed. No one knows when it will stop posing a threat to Portugal and to the world and, equally, how bad the resulting recession will be and for how long.
There is no certainty on future residential and commercial demand, exit prices, land and construction costs, possible government relief measures and banks’ short-term behaviour towards our industry. All things considered, we remain cautiously optimistic. We believe this crisis will generate compelling opportunities to invest in the Portuguese real estate market and acquire select assets at depressed prices. While acknowledging that the real estate market could suffer severe valuation adjustments in the short term, we remain of the view that the fundamentals of the country and the medium-term demand for new housing and office space will remain supportive, providing attractive openings for value-add and opportunistic players such as Bondstone.
This crisis brings into sharp relief that it is our collective efforts, commitment and sacrifice, coupled with the trust and loyalty of our investors, that will see our firm through these extraordinary times. This COVID-19 darkness shall be over at some point, but we all have some work ahead of us. In the interim: stay safe, healthy and hopeful.