Build to Rent: “How can it work in Spain and not in Portugal?”

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“Portugal’s fundamentals are solid, but there is a spirit of ‘wait and see’,” says Nelson Rêgo, CEO of OGER, to idealista/news.

“How is it possible for Build to Rent (BTR) in Spain to work within a perfectly defined legal framework, where it is possible to attract institutional investors to help solve the housing problem, and not be able to do the same in Portugal?” Nelson Rêgo, CEO of investment manager OGER, posed this question in an interview with idealista/news.

Nelson Rêgo, who has “more than 25 years of experience in the real estate sector and credit risk management”, founded OGER in 2008, and the company was born “with the acquisition of a stake in Prime Yield”, he explains. Now, 15 years later, he is CEO of the company, which is positioned “as the ideal partner for investors with interests in the real estate and NPL&REO markets, who are looking for a ‘hands-on’ coinvestor with the ability to deliver value and a ‘skin-in-the-game’ approach, i.e. investment with high company involvement.”

In this written interview, the expert talks, among other things, about Portugal’s attractiveness as a real estate investment destination. He believes that “the investment market has fallen across the board in all southern European countries” and, with regard to Portugal, he is clear: “The fundamentals continue to be solid, but there is a spirit of ‘wait and see’ due to the international climate, as well as the most recent changes to legislation, which are impacting all stakeholders in the sector.”

He founded OGER in 2008. Now, 15 years later, you’re taking over as CEO of the investment manager. Why this decision and/or new challenge?

Following the completion of the investment cycle of a company in which OGER had a stake (namely Prime Yield, whose investment cycle ended with the completion of the sale to Gloval), I decided to take on the challenge of boosting OGER’s investment area, going beyond the real estate services business. As a hands-on leader with more than 25 years’ experience in the real estate sector and credit risk management, from the beginning of the year I focused on the growth of OGER’s subsidiaries and, in particular, on each of the operations in the countries where we operate, combining my know-how and that of my team with co-investment with partners.

Tell us a bit about OGER. What are the company’s main activities? In which segments does it operate?

OGER was born in 2008 with the acquisition of a stake in Prime Yield, followed by a series of other real estate acquisitions and investments, as well as credit risk management solutions, with operations spanning three continents. With local partners or private equity, it has created value over the years, continuing to invest consistently and consolidating itself as a holding company.

Currently focused on four investment areas – Property Development, Property Income, NPL&REO and Proptech – OGER has positioned itself as the ideal partner for investors with interests in the real estate and NPL&REO markets who are looking for a hands-on coinvestor with the ability to deliver value and a skin-in-the-game approach. In other words, investment with a high level of company involvement.

OGER has the capacity to:

  • Identify the best opportunities, in line with the investment strategy (‘Core+’, ‘Value-add’ or ‘Opportunistic’) adopted by its partners;
  • Choose the management team best suited to the specific nature of each investment;
  • Developing and monitoring the execution of the business plan, which will generate a return for the investor, sharing with them, through co-investment, the risk and success of each operation.

These are the company’s four business areas:

  • Real estate development – for which it has a comprehensive approach to projects, with involvement from the acquisition of the land to the sale of the development. This area includes investments in premium housing projects in the Algarve and Greater Lisbon;
  • Income-generating real estate – generating returns on consolidated properties in the residential and commercial sectors, adopting a core plus strategy and the turnkey concept. Of particular note are the investments in the Imoslen projects, a BtR brand for housing and services active in the municipalities of Oeiras, Lisbon and Porto, and CityOffice, a brand of office space with associated services, present in Angola and Mozambique, with expansion scheduled for Portugal, Greece and Spain;
  • NPL&REO – investment in the sector of non-performing loan portfolios and collateralized real estate assets. Capitalization of the know-how acquired through subsidiary companies whose operations cover the entire credit risk management cycle;
  • Proptech – investment in R&D projects for the real estate sector, including the Mister software and the iPY app, platforms that are committed to digitizing processes.

What is your assessment of the company’s activity since it was founded and what do you expect this year?

The balance sheet to date is extremely positive, but the boost we intend to give it will undoubtedly be a decisive step towards its growth. This year we expect to close a real estate development operation in Portugal and one in Greece, which together represent a total sales volume of around 30 million euros.

OGER is preparing to enter a new phase of the business, also acting as a co-investor in its strategic areas, the company said in a statement. What is this new phase of the business? What is the reason for this decision?

The new business phase involves increasing the investor base and geographically diversifying the investments made. To this end, we are studying the best way to structure the most appropriate investment vehicles for each geography.

Are there any deals/investments in the pipeline that you can reveal to us first-hand? In which segment? What’s in the pipeline?

We recently completed the acquisition of a stake in a real estate project in the licensing phase in the municipality of Oeiras and were chosen for the final bidding phase for the acquisition of an unfinished building in Athens (Greece), which we intend to convert intoserviced apartments.

“In addition to the direct investments we make, we are very attentive to collaborative investment opportunities,” he said. What are these opportunities? What are these opportunities?

Under a co-investment regime, we study real estate development opportunities, with a special focus on projects that we can develop tailored to the needs of investors. We take on the role of coordinating investor in the residential and commercial real estate sectors in which we develop turnkey projects.

In the specific case of investment in the non-performing loan and collateralized real estate assets (NPL&REO) sector, an area you know well, can you expect anything new in 2024? Why? Are there big portfolios for sale, big deals in prospect?

We’re quite active in Spain and Greece. Less so in Portugal, because there is no real secondary market for NPLs. That’s why, in Portugal, we are analyzing transactions with a ticket size of up to 10 million euros. In this area we have two bilateral negotiation processes underway and we hope to conclude a transaction by the end of the year in Portugal. In Spain and Greece we are analyzing secondary market operations.

In recent years, Portugal has been on the radar of real estate investors, particularly international ones. Is the country still attractive? Why is it so?

The investment market fell across the board in all southern European countries. Portugal’s fundamentals continue to be solid, but there is a spirit of ‘wait and see’ due to the international climate, as well as the latest changes in legislation, which are impacting all stakeholders in the sector.

High inflation, despite the fact that it is falling, high interest rates, conflicts in Europe and, at a national level, legislative and political instability. What impact do all these factors have on real estate investment in Portugal?

The impacts are significant on the supply and demand side, since we are facing constant pressure on production costs and, for the first time in recent years, a reduction in demand. This situation will have an impact on the price of the assets most vulnerable to the credit effect, which will become increasingly difficult in the current climate. That’s why we’re working on operationalizing alternative real estate credit solutions.

With regard to the real estate sector, what would you ask of the new government? Which measures do you think are important to keep? Which would you eliminate? What would you do differently?

I think there is a consensus among all those involved in the market that the existence of a real tax incentive and its predictability over a long period of time would be the main thing to unblock the production of housing, which is the most serious problem in the real estate market that I identify in the current panorama. How is it possible for the BtR to operate in Spain within a perfectly defined legal framework, where it is possible to attract institutional investors to help solve the housing problem, and not be able to do the same in Portugal?

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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