Mia Zečević, Director, Novaston Asset Management

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Real estate management is the basic area of activity and expertise of Novaston Asset Management, which also provides additional consulting services for major purchases. Thanks to their cooperation with large companies and investment funds, the real estate market in Serbia is again experiencing its own golden years

“In just two years, we have participated in transactions with a value exceeding a billion euros, while we are currently with foreign and domestic investors on the development of new attractive projects in all former Yugoslav republics.”

In just five years, Novaston Asset Management has succeeded in setting new standards in the commercial real estate market. Are you satisfied and what are your further plans?

– We can’t help but be satisfied, because we have excellent cooperation with almost all of the important investors in the Balkan market, both when it comes to retail parks and shopping centres, but also office and residential buildings ranging from 10,000 to 15,000m2.

Based on complete insight into the state of the market, we consider that we should create a unique real estate platform, and alongside that, we are currently working on developing new attractive projects with foreign and domestic investors in Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Slovenia. With this, we will cover absolutely every part of the former Yugoslavia.

Under the Novaston brand we have established and developed new platforms for marketing, project management and facility management. Clients already recognise and value them, due to the quality of the services we provide

Despite the purchasing power of Serbian citizens being low, the country has a very lively real estate market. Is it profitable to build new retail parks and shopping centres in Serbia?

– We are favoured by the fact that other markets in the region are saturated, so major investors are shifting their focus to Serbia. Three new shopping centres have been built in Sofia since 2013, with 177,000 square metres of leasable space, while in Romania in 2015 there were more than 200,000 square metres of total space available to lease and Croatia has had more than 400,000 square metres of space available to lease since 2012.

In our city, there is currently growing demand for high-quality business premises, and the construction of two large shopping centres is underway – BW Gallery and Ada Mall Shopping Centre – which will bring 130,000 square metres of new luxurious retail space to Belgrade by the end of 2020. By year’s end, we will see the opening of the new ‘Promenada’ shopping centre in Novi Sad, which will have 50,000 square metres of space available to lease. Investors are also interested in smaller cities, though there they want to build retail parks.

When this period of expansion passes, there will be a calming of the market in order to absorb everything that’s on offer.

Which cities and locations are generating the greatest interest among investors? Does that coincide with the demands of tenants?

New Belgrade is again experiencing its own golden years, due to a large number of residents, the fact that it is home to the headquarters of many companies and its orderly infrastructure, while we believe that interest in Belgrade’s Old Town and Dorćol neighbourhood will increase among investors in a couple of years.

Tenants usually want the best locations and the best possible commercial conditions, but they also accept high leasing costs.

On the other hand, investors strive to have a hundred per cent of their capacity filled and long-term leasing costs fixed at a high level.