Savills’ new captain on deck

June 11, 2012 | 10:14
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It is important for property consultants to be able to weather downturns as well as in the good times”.

VIR spoke with newly appointed Savills Vietnam managing director Neil MacGregor about how he will drive the company amid the challenges of a real estate market in the doldrums.

Do you feel pressure leading Savills Vietnam with the real estate market  in a slump?

We are fortunate at Savills to have a very special team of people with around 900 staff and strong offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.  I am very excited about leading this team to new heights and taking advantage of the widely expected market recovery in 2013 and 2014.

I have been working in Vietnam for 11 years and have witnessed multiple property cycles during my career. In addition I have been a member of the board of directors at Savills Vietnam for five years and acted in the position of deputy managing director throughout this period.

Savills strength across property sectors and service lines put us in a very strong position to maintain our strength during the downtimes and maximise the opportunities during the market recovery. For these reasons I feel less pressure and more excitement entering into the role of managing director.

What are the major challenges facing foreign property consultants in Vietnam like Savills and what will you do to overcome these challenges?

It is important for property consultants to be able to weather downturns as well as in the good times.

Savills is strong in all service lines, including core agency roles such as leasing and residential sales, as well as property management, valuation and research which are less affected by the current market downturn.

We are also very strong in investment brokeraging and we are able to assist clients to take advantage of the current downturn to secure good quality assets at reasonable prices. Our property management team now manages around 70 buildings in Vietnam and this department is relatively unaffected by the current market situation.

Savills is very well positioned for the market improvements that we expect in 2013 and 2014.  Indeed we are working with many of our key clients now to prepare for the market turnaround.

And what do you predict for Vietnam’s real estate market during the rest of 2012?

The government has won the battle with inflation and the widely anticipated fall in interest rates has begun.  We expect the lower interest rates to trigger renewed buying from owner-occupiers who can now afford to enter the residential market. In addition, access to cheaper financing will allow many developers to recommence projects leading to a wide range of products available to buyers.

The office market is likely to remain challenging through 2012. However, we are expecting rents to increase again in 2013 and 2014 in central Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

The remainder of 2012 is likely to see significant interest from foreign investors and developers resulting in an increase in M&A transactions.

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