The IAHSP®EU President, Sanja Radovanovic, had the pleasure and honor to interview the newly elected CEPI President Jan Boruvka. The respective Presidents meet in person on June 24th in Sofia, Bulgaria during NREA’s Yearly Conference where CEPI’s General Assembly was also held.
S.R.: How has the pandemic changed the overall real estate market in Europe? Which European country has best performed in terms of volume of transactions in the past 2 years?
J.B.: The pandemic has changed many aspects of the real estate sector in Europe. If we look particularly at the residential segment of the market, it is safe to assume that what changed the most is the clients’ behavior in finding a home (virtual tours and interviews, virtual stagings…). For the letting market, one should note the increased importance of personal relations with landlords. It does not come as a surprise, in fact, that clients are now looking at slightly different types of properties than pre-pandemic, although some differences remain in different European countries.
Although some of the data regarding the last years are still being processed by some of the national authorities charged with this task, and I am hence unable to compare all EU country’s markets’ performances, it can probably be said that the European real estate market has proven to be very resilient. Some would even say that the market did better in Covid-times than before. The long-standing effects of the pandemic, both on the market and on our professions though, will probably be evident only later on. On the one hand, the current inflation and energy crisis will probably also have an impact on transactions, but on the other hand, we do also know that in times of uncertainty, for example, investors and families look at real estate as the safest investment. Also, if there is something that these two difficult years have taught us, it is that the market is able to easily adapt and keep on a good trend in the most unexpected times. In the end, the pandemic and the long lockdowns have underlined the importance of your home, and real estate professionals are the ones to help consumers find that home.
For this, trust in real estate professionals is hence more important now than ever. With CEPI, we are continually working on, for example, quality labels like for example “MMCEPI” by which consumers can easily find a trustworthy real estate professional who is a member of one of our trusted national members.
S.R.: In the recent few years, how beneficial was digitalization for the Real Estate sector?
J.B.: Digitalisation is and will remain a huge opportunity for the sector overall, from professionals to clients. In CEPI, it has been a few years now that we are working very closely, also with a dedicated Working Group and an additional group of proptech experts from the private sector, our so-called “digital sherpas” to guide our members through the digital transformation now happening in the sector. Changes, in this case, aren’t a challenge, but a huge opportunity.
We are aware that digitalisation, especially for some generations, still poses some challenges, and that education and skills in this field are essential. In fact, this is also something we are working on. We will soon launch a European Digital Index developed by CEPI together with one of our digital sherpas and by which we will be able to measure the level of digitalisation of real estate professionals all over Europe, shape our European strategy and hence take members by the hand when diving into the new digital world and trying to master all the necessary digital skills for this!
S.R.: What is CEPI’s main objective for the current year?
J.B.: We have many. One of the most important topics on our agenda at the moment is Energy and Sustainability, but we do not leave out policy/legal priorities such as regulation, anti-money laundering, the above-mentioned matter of the digital transition of the sector, inclusion and diversity and many more…!
As the leading voice of real estate professionals in Europe, our work has an emphasis on policy and lobbying. Therefore, our work at the EU institutional – and non-institutional – level remains pivotal to ensure that the needs and concerns of real estate professionals are taken into account by the EU decision-makers. At the same time, we give much attention to assisting our members directly, be it by promoting digital tools that will make their life easier, or by for example promoting their image and activities nationally, providing them with in-depth analysis and solutions to European and international developments, or by assisting them in finding easy-implementable solutions to relevant issues.
Last, but definitively not least, our strategic and knowledge partnerships like the one with your prestigious association, remain a very high priority on our agenda. It is by working together that we are stronger and can achieve our common goals!
S.R.: How important are the educational aspects and the ongoing education to CEPI?
J.B.: Education has always been a top priority for CEPI.
This of course also includes lifelong learning. In fact, in addition to our educational programme, Eureduc, dedicated to universities, colleges and high schools that offer real estate programmes for the real estate professionals of tomorrow, we also have a special programme called “Attestation of Recognition”, which aims at promoting and recognizing the importance of professional training and lifelong learning offered by our members and their training institutes.
Many of our members have already been part of this Attestation of Recognition and we are increasing the number of participants, even more, this year!
On this, it is important to mention that we also offer help to all those associations that are aiming to set up their own training, by providing direct assistance and exchange of knowledge and best practices.
It is worth noticing that CEPI has for many years now both a Permanent Technical Committee and a Special Working Group directly dealing with all matters related to education and skills.
S.R.: How important is it for CEPI to advocate for inclusion, diversity, and equal rights opportunities?
J.B.: It is very important, vital even I would say. The attention to all ESG (environment, social, governance) matters is increasing, and rightly so. Ensuring a safe, diverse and inclusive work environment is a matter close to our hearts.
On this, CEPI has released last year its official statement on its commitment to a more inclusive sector. It isn’t something new though, we always promoted this also in our European Code of conduct and require that all our members have a Code as well. We stand by that recent statement and our commitment starts in our Brussels office, where we ensure a safe space and equal opportunity for all.
President, of CEPI, the European Association of Real Estate Professions
Originally an architect, he began working in real estate in 1991. He completed numerous domestic and international specialized courses focused on the field of real estate. Since 1991, he has been repeatedly elected as Secretary-General of the Association of Real Estate Offices of the Czech Republic. Since 1994 he is Managing Director of Information Center ARK, Ltd., and is active as a real estate consultant. He was one of the founders of the company Czech Development Invest and he is a member of numerous national and international professional organizations and focused Advisory Councils. Past president of FIABCI CZ, and past president and founder of CEREAN (Central Association Real Estate Network).