Dunwell is the first Romanian agency to specialize in industrial real estate and land brokerage. It was founded in 2017 and until now brokered 1 million sqm of land and 200,000 sqm of warehouse spaces.
How did Dunwell come to life and what does the company’s footprint look like on the local industrial market?
Having a combined and solid experience in real estate, offices, and industrial, we decided to put our minds together and founded Dunwell – a real estate brokerage company to answer the needs of a rapidly growing market four years ago. Soon after our debut in 2017, we grew our team to roughly 10 brokers & support staff. After the first year we reached and went over the EUR 1 million threshold, and since we are a young company, we have easily managed to always come on top in terms of number of done deals and number of new leased square meters in the market. We are in top 2 within the industrial brokerage market and up until now leased over 200,000 sqm of warehouse spaces and brokered over 1 million sqm of land.
The industrial segment has always been bountiful and during the pandemic it became even more profitable, what should investors on the Romanian market watch out for nonetheless?
While retail and office gained constant speed during the past 15 years, industrial properties took off only later on, around 2015. The market evolved immensely in the past few years, and it's absolutely true that in 2020 the need for warehouse spaces intensified due to the shift towards e-commerce. Even though some players might disagree, Romania has an incredibly varied offer of land plots that are not that hard to get ahold of. We know that international developers are intimidated by the hypothetical challenges that are found here, but once they get a taste of local know-how they are always reassured.
In simple terms, there are two main aspects to be taken into consideration when investing on the Romanian market: intention & financing. From there on, investors can find support with everything, from finding the land to obtaining building permits, and even contracting tenants.
In the wider context of the market, how does the warehouse portfolio look - are there any specific industries that prevail?
In Romania, 90% of the warehouse spaces are leased to distribution and retail companies. Production companies are concentrated in the Western part of the country, closer to the border, for easy access into the EU. During the past three years, the market matured harmoniously, with Romanian companies understanding the value of class A warehouses and choosing quality over affordability more often than before.
Thinking about challenges - what are the most ardent issues on the Romanian logistics real estate market?
When we say "challenges", everybody thinks about corruption and the relationship with the local authorities, but with the correct know-how of rules & regulations, the system can work surprisingly well. There is a twisted perception than in Romania it’s difficult to obtain permits, but from our experience we can assure you that we've long surpassed those issues. The ultimate proof that things work is the fast and solid evolution of the real estate market; all these amazing projects were developed in collaboration with the authorities. From a purely rational perspective, there's no reason for the authorities to refuse a project that brings funds to the local budget, so with a lot of tact and a transparent approach, things get done.
However, dedicated infrastructure projects meant to facilitate access for new companies (e.g., bridges or roundabouts) can have a longer development process due to the multitude of decision makers involved; but in the end, even these projects are completed successfully. Also, compared to Poland, buildings cost more in Romania due to the higher seismic risk, but even with this factored in, the ROI is still quite high.
Taking a look into the future, what are Dunwell's priorities for the next two-three years?
The main goal is to consolidate our team and to significantly increase our market share. If at the moment we are in second place, we intend to leave that position behind and become the most important player on the industrial market. We are also working on a new line of business that by 2024 should become part of our portfolio, but this idea is still in an incipient phase.
Do you have a final message about the industrial sector of the Romanian real estate market?
Contrary to popular belief, the main message is that the Romanian market works extremely well! There are no insurmountable challenges, the yields are much more attractive than on foreign markets and it's easy to develop functional projects with bigger returns than countries like Germany, Austria, France or the Czech Republic. Bottom line: if there's a will, there's a way, so every investor who has their eyes on the Romanian market should wait no more and take that leap of faith!
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