Mia Zečević, Director, NOVASTON d.o.o.:

Young Company, Big Possibilities

Novaston offers a wide range of professional services in the field of commercial real estate, from support in the development of projects and Property and Facility Management, to intermediary services in the sale and issuance of real estate and property value appraisals

novastonDespite being a relatively young company, Novaston succeeded in creating its own market space in a short period of time, which is based on professional people, a high quality service, the complete monitoring of the flow of investments, timely responses and global standards and procedures.

You have an enviable portfolio of companies, funds and investors with whom you work on the real estate market in Serbia. After several years of depression, how wold you now evaluate this market in Serbia and the region?

– Even though the countries in the region are often perceived as one market, it is important to stress that countries in the region are at different levels of development. Serbia is now finally at the level where the market is open enough to attract foreign investors and new brands. There are still significant obstacles and challenges (purchasing power is still low, property relations, legislation still needs improvement), so knowing all of the market factors is essential for the successful realisation of projects. In comparison with developed countries, Serbia offers a relatively high return on investments in the real estate sector, and that is what brings higher interest among foreign investors.

What specifically can investors interested in investing in real estate in Serbia expect from “Novaston Asset Management”?

– We offer both foreign and domestic investors a comprehensive platform for the development and management of commercial real estate, which connects the best world standards in this area with deep knowledge of the local market. That means that investors can, in one place, receive good, high quality support in all phases of the “life” of their investment. From the very concept of the project, which needs to be adjusted to local conditions and requirements, through construction project management and space leasing services, all the way to managing the final project. Working together, our teams form a synergy and enable our clients to get a quality product that is ready to respond to all market challenges from the start.

We offer both foreign and domestic investors a comprehensive platform for the development and management of commercial real estate, which connects the best world standards in this area with deep knowledge of the local market

What have your results been like this year and what are your plans for the period ahead?

– We are very satisfied with what we accomplished in the previous period. Novaston is a relatively small company, but we managed to gain a unique position in the market, precisely because of the services we offer to our clients. Through the year we helped or client IMMOFINANZ to open two very successful STOP SHOP projects in Niš and Valjevo, and we will continue with new projects in the coming year. We continued our cooperation with Vivo Shopping Park – a very attractive project in Jagodina. Alongside the NEPI investment fund, we participate in some of the biggest acquisitions in Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria. We have open cooperation with one of the biggest consulting firms in the world – Cushman & Wakefield, which rely on us in covering the local market. We also consider cooperation with banks, which hold a huge number of real estate properties in their portfolios, as being of great importance. Throughout the year we developed a professional marketing team, which enables us to also offer this type of service to our clients. We are satisfied with our company’s growth dynamics, but we are primarily focusing on continual improvement of the quality of our services.

Novaston is a relatively young company, but we have managed to gain a unique market position, precisely because of the services we offer our clients

Serbia probably made one of the biggest breakthroughs in the economic reform process precisely in the area of regulating planning and construction. How has this shift impacted on increasing interest in investing in Serbia and, in your opinion, what else has yet to be regulated in this sector?

– The shifts that have been made are really important, but the majority of the work is still ahead of us. Legislation for obtaining permits has been improved greatly, but it is still necessary to improve the use of new legislation at the local level. The main obstacle is still property laws, especially as they relate to the problem of land conversion and the problem of restitution. Only when certainty in the process of conversion is enabled can we expect investments to grow significantly, because that will enable the development of some investments that are dependent on this process, along with the entrance of new investors – those who still don’t want to invest in land that is in the process of conversion.

In Serbia you are developing the extremely popular global concept of a network of retail parks, places for gathering, shopping and entertainment. How does this system operate in Serbia?

– We work with our clients on the development of retail parks, but also shopping malls. The concept choice is conditioned by the needs of the local market (local population, purchasing power). Shopping malls are more suitable for larger cities like Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš, while somewhat smaller cities require a different approach. The retail park concept is taken from other markets, but it is significantly improved and adjusted in Serbia, so its contents and offers do not deviate much from shopping malls, which are a more complicated product. We have recognised that people from small cities also want a complete experience and not just a place to shop. That is why our projects are intended and realised so that they contain not just shopping options, but also entertainment, restaurants and cafés. We have organised marketing events and try to give our customers all the services that they can usually find in shopping malls, although here that is under the open sky.