Making Money in the Real Estate Business Requires Good Thinking and Hard Working

13.11.2018   |  Real Estate

My first investment in real estate dates back to 2012. I then purchased 50% of a building located on Bulevardul Buzesti in Bucharest with the intention of reselling at a higher price after two or three years. Maybe because I have entered this market after the boom and recession in Romania, to me real estate is no easy business where you can strike gold immediately. However, that is exactly why the satisfaction of making money is far greater. I shall give an example so that you may understand how the market works. I have recently sold a 3000-sq.m. asset, with a Return on Investment of 95%. How did I make that profit? It was a so called distressed asset. It carried debts and it lacked tenants. I made it work through reorganization, which include an aggressive commission for the agents who brought me tenants. The buyer is a well-known investment fund.

1. Never buy a turn-key building

It might seem cool to buy an attractive property, pay for it and resell it in a short while for good profit. However, the real estate business does not work like that. At least not after 2012, when I entered this market. My guideline is never buy a property that looks great from the start. In other words, a beautiful office building, well finished and full of tenants is not the most attractive investment, because you will pay somebody else’s profit – or the work done by that business, instead of booking earnings in your own P&L.

On the contrary, if your intuition tells you that a non-renovated and unoccupied Cinderella will be an attractive princess in one or two years, then you have what it takes for real estate. However, there is something else you will need: work.

2. How to make profit

It is just work that makes business something else and not what the communists said business was: some sort of sweet idleness and exploitation. If you buy a property in a poor condition, you will have to invest in it. It took me two years to bring that 3000-sq.m. building where I wanted it to be: housing quality tenants, good internal organization and cost effectiveness. It is only then that the property becomes attractive to, for instance, an investment fund.

3. If you want to be an investor, buy with the bank

I cannot disclose the amounts, but for the property I am talking about the financing was only 35% from own sources. The rest of 65% I got from a bank. If you are worried about the interests, you should know that in such a business they are covered by the profit. Keep your eyes on the costs, as they say, and you will see that it adds up.

It is true, in order to obtain loans, you need a track record of professional investor. You can’t simply walk into a bank without collateral. The amounts you need have at least six figures.

Also, improving a property requires specialized teams, from builders to lawyers. That is why real estate is a self-standing business.

3. Can you buy just any wreck? No. Then, what really matters? Location, Location, Location!

This is how the real estate developers in the USA call it. Anyhow, the place where a building is located is the one that makes the difference between a wreck pure and simple and an asset with amazing prospects. Any city has so called top locations, which will remain as such, simply because you can no longer build on them. If you know how to spot them, all you need is the money to start off, which is, as I said, quite a lot in real estate.

4. Conclusion

From my point of view, real estate is a business involving a lower risk than others, but it requires time and energy. Maybe I am lucky enough to have become a businessman after the real estate boom in Romania. However, this is exactly why I like to build on long term and it seems to me I still have a lot to learn.

Octavian Pătrașcu  |   13.11.2018   |  Real Estate

Three things to test and maintain in HR: hard skills, soft skills, and motivation

25.04.2019   |  News  |  Startup
The quality and efficiency of an employee mainly depend on their professional qualifications, but the modern human resources theory refers to this only through a partial term, namely "hard skills". In terms of evaluations and professional management, these “hard skills” are supplemented by a range of different qualities defined as "soft skills", such as the motivation that an individual demonstrates or chooses to develop.

Hard Skills: Easy to identify, necessary, but not enough

The term "hard skills" applies especially to fundamental professional knowledge, skills, and abilities, but not only. For example, if a programmer has to write code in Java, he will obviously have to know the programming language. In the field of hard skills, however, complementary skills such as foreign languages ​​or driving licenses also come into play. If the job description is not IT-related, the computer skills - quasi-generalized today - are also in the same complementary category. Upon hiring, hard skills can be easily tested or proven. Basically, all the skills in this category can be certified through a diploma or a certificate of qualification. These skills are the basis for the future work of the employee, but in the vast majority of cases, they are not enough to ensure good performance at the workplace.

Soft Skills: harder to test, especially required for higher positions

These are somewhat social qualities, relating especially to people-interacting abilities. Soft skills include teamwork skills, communication skills, leadership qualities, and the ability to solve problems as they come. From simple politeness to a nonconflictual attitude, a whole range of attributes can be added here, including good time management or the desire to conform to strict professional ethics. If hard skills are easy to identify, in the case of soft skills, the stereotype enumerations present in CVs are never enough proof of their existence. They can somehow be felt when hiring, during their interview or, possibly, through psychological tests set up by human resources specialists. As they mostly focus on human interaction, soft skills are increasingly needed as the position of the employee in the hierarchy is higher, but the situation differs from one job description to another. If the programmer we had as an example earlier does not necessarily need soft skills when writing code, a sales or marketing specialist will interact with the top management and thus cannot work without them.

Motivation: differs from case to case

Motivation is a problem that concerned psychologists way before Maslow's Human Pyramid of Needs. There are many hypotheses and models that relate to this theory. I will just state that a first classification refers to financial and extra-financial motivations. The former refers to material compensation and are accepted unanimously. However, since the beginning of the 20th century, it has become clear that there is no direct link between payment and the efficiency of a person. 100 years ago, however, besides the famous $5-a-day salary, Henry Ford offered land lots, kindergartens for their children and, in the case of immigrants, English courses to help them integrate into the mass production processes. Today, large companies provide health insurance, relaxation areas, various educational classes, physical activity facilities. All of these include career plans and contract terms that offer job security and much more. Perhaps, the first thing to remember is that motivation differs greatly from one employee to another. Effective management should be as flexible as possible, in accordance with the needs and incentives of employees, beyond the standard packages.

The Employer’s Perspective

From what we described above it seems that that the employer will consider the three components as we’ve structured them. Hard skills are easy to identify and absolutely necessary to ensure performance in a particular position, so these are the first ones that will be tested. Soft skills can be identified to a certain extent in the midst of the employment process, but initial perceptions can be confirmed or denied later on. What’s more important is sustaining them at the workplace, often as a necessity for promotion on a higher hierarchy level. As final words, motivation has qualitative rather than quantitative aspects. Employers should be less concerned about the answer to the question "how motivated is an employee?", but rather show concern towards the type of motivation that employees are most responsive to. Schematically speaking, if hard skills are mainly the employee's concern, soft skills relate to a process that takes place between the employee and the company, and in the case of motivation, it should meet the needs of the employee. Only by paying attention to all the three components, the employer and the employee can have a mutually satisfactory and productive relationship.
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