“Basically, our position in the real estate business is that of a lessor. Therefore, our income comes from the lease of and the provision of services in real property. However, we must first find and buy the right piece of real estate. Then, we take it completely under our management and clear all problems,“ explains DRFG Real Estate Division Director Patrik Tuza. By “clearing” he means complete maintenance, order in lease relationships, energy expenditures, services, insurance and other issues.
As a rule, DRFG purchases real property at a time when the basic lease relationships have already been established. “We take them over and keep the right ones. On the other hand, whenever a tenant is not satisfied, we try to come to an agreement on a change or we look for a substitute to replace such a tenant so that the occupancy rate is as high as possible,” says Tuza, adding that “It is also important to maintain the right mixture of services and goods in a centre so that it is attractive to as many customers as possible.” Tuza believes that the prosperity of a food seller, whose services may be supplemented with a fashion and a footwear outlet, sporting goods, a hobby market and a drugstore, is crucial for a retail park on the outskirts of a town.
For DRFG, cities like Prague or Brno offer minimal investment opportunities. “Regional and district towns such as České Budějovice, Liberec, Vyškov, Jindřichův Hradec, Trutnov and other towns like these are much more interesting for us. This market is really interesting—investments of 200 to 750 million are too small for large Western European funds, but at the same time, too big for local entrepreneurs.” According to Tuza, even though DRFG also explores the markets and the legal environment in countries such as Poland and Slovakia, the Czech Republic continues to be the priority. “As long as we can find opportunities here, we are going to stay. This gives us an interesting competitive advantage. The thing is that certain shareholders in the Czech Real Estate Investment Fund like to visit particular pieces of real property and want to see them. Simply put, for them it is an investment which, unlike other investments (such as stock or bond funds),they can actually touch, which is attractive for a conservative Czech investor,” concludes Tuza.