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“Space as a service”, key concept for alternative investment segments
24 June 2019 | Ana Tavares

“Space as a service”, will be an essential concept for the success when investing in the alternative segments of the real estate market such as col-living, coworking and student and senior residences.

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This was one of the conclusions at the latest APPII workshop, «The brave new world of alternatives», focused precisely on this type of investment in Portugal. The event took place this week at Victoria’s offices, in Lisbon.

Williams Johnson Mota, Co-Liv’s ambassador in Portugal and B-Hive Living’s CEO warned the sector that this «space as a service» concept must be etched in the market players’ minds from now on.

This is a type of investment which is still at the early stages in Portugal, but which is quickly gaining ground, both in our country and globally, representing an increasingly larger part of the real estate sector. Too many students for the beds available, lack of offer, price increase in real estate or the increasing amount of foreign workers moving into Portugal are some of the circumstances which motivate investment in co-living, coworking and student residences, «all these segments can work in Portugal, and they are all part of a global trend», comments Arthur Moreno, co-founder of Stone Capital.

Nickolas James Dugerdil, director for Iberian Expansion at Medici Living Group, believes that with the growth in demand for cities, «prices increased significantly and people want to connect more with each other and traditional real estate doesn’t address that».

One thing is certain, the market must change quickly: «we will never be fast enough as an industry, but we know that co-living is the future and we must work on these products», commented Pedro Vicente, Board Member at Habitat Invest. 

On the other hand, investment in the senior segment also promises to be a success. Jorge Fonseca, Memmo Ville’s founder, focuses part of his business on this segment and explains that «people don’t want their parents to be alone, at a time when we live longer. This a sustainable segment in real estate and there are many niches», he gives as an example a centre the company is developing in Beloura specialized in dementia.

 

Market demands specific legal frame

Co-living «doesn’t want to change the rules, but to adapt them so that they better address the needs of the housing of the future», stated Williams Johnson Mota.

The need for legislation adapted to the new housing segments was highlighted by all specialists present at this debate. Miguel Santo Amaro, from Uniplaces, believes the restrictions «may kill investment», but that «the public sector must define limits so that there are no abuses while maintaining the investors’ trust».

On the public sector’s side, Filipa Roseta, councilwoman at the Cascais City Hall was present at this event, sharing that for now municipalities only license buildings, not services and it is necessary to find a compromise: «we can’t license smaller areas which are simply cheaper, we can’t just have poor quality housing, we need to follow a model that we know works abroad. Licensing can’t be an act of faith; we must know whether that community will actually be created or not». And she questions whether co-living will be an effective solution for the middle class, in a context of difficult access to housing.

Williams Johnson Mota considers services can and must be licensed, «inspected at least once a year to guarantee the industry’s standards and adequate living conditions».

Representatives from companies such as Round Hill Capital, Idea Co-Working, Morais Leitão, Impact Hub, Smart Studios and JLL also took part in this workshop.