WITH euro cash on bank deposit now providing all-time low returns, property as an investment asset class maintains its attraction. A lack of borrowing capacity and continuing market uncertainty at home is forcing Irish investors to look elsewhere for wealth-protecting assets.
Contrary to popular opinion, some property investments over the past decade have done quite well. Investors in Sweden, in particular, have had a very positive experience. Values have held stable, the economy has remained strong so vacancies are low and rental returns continue to be attractive.
It's a complex market. One way of getting into the market is Swirish Property AB which was formed in 2005 by Youghal-based Sam Roch-Perks and his Swedish wife Petra.
The company sought to capitalise on considerable knowledge of the stable and secure Swedish market offering exposure to a strong kronor – a viable hedge to the struggling euro.
Following considerable investigation the company concentrated on the western coast of Sweden, in satellite cities around Gothenburg.
Some peers took on investments in Stockholm but Roch-Perks and his partner Des Quigley knew from their due-diligence that Stockholm and surrounding areas were, and still are, too expensive to provide sustainable returns.
In retrospect, investments in Stockholm have not performed in any way satisfactorily whereas western Sweden has continued to flourish. Swirish has successfully sourced, and continues to manage, a profitable investment portfolio along Sweden's western coastline.
This includes 500 residential units, over 100,000sqm of commercial space, and a number of development opportunities.
Since 2005 Swirish has sourced over €170m worth of property and, following some recent profitable sales crystallising capital gains, it now manages portfolios valued at over €115m.
Where Swirish differs from its peers is a strong commitment to being hands-on with proactive management. The property is sourced, managed and eventually sold if the client wishes to crystallise gains.
According to Roch-Perks: "We personally check every property to make sure it fits our criteria. Many more properties fail the tests than pass them."
Roch-Perks initially sourced and managed their own property portfolio. Word spread and investor demand saw them acquiring and managing property for a range of clients – individuals, groups and institutions included.