«My brokerage — more than half a million square meters of commercial real estate, I am the leader in my segment.» Interview with Andrey Smolka
More than 18,000 real estate objects in Belarus are posted on the REALTING platform. The percentage of commercial property is only 10% of the total.
Despite the fact that the majority of the Belarusian real estate companies specialize in residential real estate transactions, the employees of «Silvan-Invest» decided on their development vector 8 years ago: now they work only with commercial properties.
To find out why it is profitable to invest in non-residential properties, we’ve interviewed Andrey Smolka, one of the most famous realtors in Belarus who has eight years of experience in real estate.
— Andrey, tell us about yourself. How did you start your career? Why did you choose real estate?
— I have a positive outlook on life. On Facebook, I write not only about real estate, but also about the person — the collective image.
I got into sales in 2000 — back then I had some retail outlets in the markets. With the advent of a large number of shopping centers, this type of business became less profitable.
I have been working in commercial real estate transactions for more than 8 years. I have joined «Silvan-Invest» at the time of its founding, I am the partner. I have a certain mindset: «If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.» I consider myself a loyal person: I try to build decent and long-term relationships with everyone.
My brokerage — over 500,000 m2 of commercial real estate, I am the leader in my segment. The total financial portfolio is about $ 800 million. Dealing with such a large amount of commercial real estate, being in close connection with business, I feel the heartbeat of the business city.
There is a wise quote: «One wins only when he does what he loves.» We are the reflection of our life experience. I like people. Our world is a world of relationships. I want to find out more about the people, get to know them better, remove the mysterious halo. There is a certain standard of what a person can be in terms of energy, mind, education, upbringing. It is a very difficult and at the same time a very interesting task.
— Have you encountered any difficulties in your professional experience? What helped you not to give up and keep going?
— The ability to look at things from the perspective of others is just as useful as looking at them from your own perspective. I’m interested in the information processing mechanism. It’s not always a service with a smile.
Since I do not work with real estate, but with people, I have made a conclusion long ago: «If you do something that a computer can’t, you have an advantage.»
One will never know what they are capable of if they fixate on the hardships that are often just the result of our imagination. The easiest way to get what you want is to help other people get what they want. You need to be able to combine your thoughts. Stagnation will come when new ideas and new meanings are not generated, and then tomorrow will be the same. The most valuable thing is a simple human attitude.
— What kind of real estate do you specialize in? Why did you choose a commercial one?
— Commercial real estate is my thing. Here you will find businessmen full of ideas, with a desire to create. People are multi-faceted, smart, round-the-clock. In my networking, there are thousands of different bright businessmen with their own critical view.
— Andrey, in your opinion, will the pandemic affect purchasing power?
— I’ll tell you the joke. Instructions in Krasnaya Polyana say the following: «If the bear is coming at you — ring the keys. A bear doesn’t deal with someone who has property.»
In order to feel calm you need to have real estate. The vacancy rate has increased, but not critically.
You need to be able to adapt to the circumstances, change your shape, take steps towards each other — that is the easiest thing.
If we are talking about buying real estate, it is not some fictional characters who are paying for it. Any purchase is a seriously considered step. Be able to properly assess the risks. In the real estate business, the risk is an added value.
it is important to understand that wealth and success are out of reach for those who do everything on their own. In addition to the internal analysis, you need to get to the external one. We need professionals who can not only find what we need but also be able to reach an agreement, find a balance that suits both sides. And here the meaning of actions is hidden in relationships, not in money. Success is never undeserved.
If we are talking about renting, there are dozens of tactics for dealing with rentals, empty spaces, or tenants. A professional will always tell you what is the best course of action in a given situation.
You can drive the tenant up the bid and remove the ladder. Believe me, if you do not know how to analyze, if you do not feel the market, the tenant will find a way to evacuate. You need to send a strong and kind signal to the tenant letting him know: «I see you! And I’m glad to see you!»
— There are many opinions regarding the negative impact of coronavirus on business development in the country. Can you give any comments regarding this topic? Have you noticed this trend?
— Many brilliant people lived in times of restrictions.
Adequate analysis and correction of errors must be done. The attitude of a person to his mistakes speaks volumes. Each person has a certain limit of faith, the main thing is not to lose it.
The most important thing in life is character. A real businessman is someone who doesn’t run away from life. In some cases, it is necessary to fix losses, without a fatality. In some cases, it is necessary to continue, to decrease. It is necessary to know your strengths and weaknesses.
— What should a Belarusian do to make a good living in the country? What should one invest in?
— I treat Belarus as a financial haven of Eastern Europe. If we are talking about buying, the entry threshold at the moment is low. Here you can invest, for example, in shopping centers and have a yield of 10% or more per annum. In these challenging times, it is better to keep money not in banks at 1-3%, but to invest it in real estate.
By the way, many of my business friends are currently engaged in construction. This is the right time — materials and labor are cheaper now. You can also get reasonable loans. Real estate speculation is generally the pinnacle of real estate skills. Here, profitability can go higher than 25% per annum.
Long ago, I have understood that there is no shortage of money in the world — actually, it is in abundance. It’s just that it is kept by those who accept and understand the world. Everything is on the surface, everything is simple. At the moment, I am working with a large number of rich, well-off businessmen, with whom we are working together towards a common goal.
— What are the interesting projects that you had? Is there a new project that you are currently actively working on?
— I have a lot of different projects. We cooperate with the main figures in the capital market. The result of our efforts is the range of objects we are currently working with. I will list only a part of our iconic objects: IFC «CENTROPOL», SEC" Palazzo«, business center Capital Center, business center DANA CENTER, shopping center «Secret».
It is important to believe in yourself and your partner. We are proud of each of our partners!
— In previous interviews, you’ve mentioned that you have read more than 1,500 books on self-development. What advice could you give to our readers?
— For me, as for someone who works in commercial real estate, it is important that more businessmen appear on the market.
Healthy ambition is crucial. If you want a bike, you will have challenges, the ultimate goal of which will be the purchase of that bike. If you want a factory, the challenges will be more exciting.
The world is a big gym where all of us need to exercise in order to become spiritually stronger. There are two main factors that determine your transformation in five years: the people you communicate with and the books you read.
We all need to realize that acquiring knowledge and intelligence is hard and tedious work. However, in the end, it will bring huge benefits and an amazing feeling of being a full-fledged person. In everyday life, it manifests itself in the following character traits:
- the desire to grow and improve,
- the desire to learn about the world and people around you.
Such a person is truly happy and successful. It is important to understand that rich people and people with money are not the same things. We are all rich. Love should be the main artist of life. If there is no love, then the person is likely to be unhappy.
Leo Tolstoy has a good expression:
«One must be happy. If he is unhappy, then he is the one to blame. And he is obliged to take care of himself until he eliminates this inconvenience or misunderstanding.»