Oleg Ossinovski: Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences biggest European investor in Georgia

Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences is a unique place in Georgia where one can live in harmony with nature only 15 minutes away from the noisy city center of Tbilisi. 

The general concept of the project can be described as a harmony between nature and one’s self. This is one of the first real estate projects in South Caucasus which takes every detail into account, providing a blend of unique environment, European standards and infrastructure created for an active sporting or social lifestyle. The main challenge with regards to the construction of the complex is to preserve the region’s rich nature and biodiversity.

 Property Georgia spoke to Oleg Ossinovski Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences biggest European investor in Georgia and Skinest Group’s (www.skinest.eu) Head and Founder, who talked about the Georgian real estate market, his own target segment, as well as the existing risks and trends.

 -  What is your assessment of the real estate market in Georgia?

 - I think that at this stage, the Georgian real estate market is not as diverse as in many other European countries. We immediately saw that there are many untapped segments. I believe that Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences taps into each of these segments, which is naturally a very attractive proposition for investors.    

 -  Which specific segments are missing from the real estate market today?

 -  I would say that companies are offering customers the same products. Nobody is offering a different lifestyle. This lifestyle can be subdivided into various segments, be it the economy class, medium range or luxury category. 

 From our point of view, people in Georgia are currently buying apartments before they even start thinking about finding work. Buying property is of primary importance here. In contrast, Europeans tend to find work first, and then decide what kind of real estate is suitable for them based on their income. In Georgia, everyone wants to live in the capital, even if they do not have a job and have to suffer from the discomfort caused by traffic jams andpollution. All of this will have to change over time. There is simply no other possibility.  

 -  Is real estate a long-term investment?

 -  I do not believe that a business can make a massive profit in a short period of time. If there are exceptions, then they are very short-term. When a sector becomes successful, many people will wish to take advantage of it. Increased competition leads to a decrease in prices. The pricing policy in the real estate sector has been more or less stable. A sharp increase in prices is of no benefit. It is more advantageous to have an affordable product and a broader segment of customers.

 -  Why did you decide to invest in Tbilisi Hills? What is special about this project?

 -  This is a unique product on the Georgian market. We arecurrently the only ones offering customers new approachesand a different lifestyle. Here you can find peace, clean air and a green environment situated only 15 minutes away from the city centre. Our planning allows residents to avoid contact with neighbours altogether. Safety is another one of our priorities. The complex will also have all the necessary infrastructure. This will be a small city within a city. I do not think that we will see another complex of this type in the future, since all territories of this kind in Tbilisi have already been developed. I therefore believe that Tbilisi Hills will remain a unique project.   

 -  How would you assess the competitiveness of the Georgian real estate market? Why should people invest here, rather than elsewhere?

 -  I would find it difficult to provide such an assessment. Real estate is not much different from the stock exchange, where the price of shares is always fare at any specific point in time. The current real estate prices in Tbilisi are fair under the existing circumstances, and any changes in either direction will also be fair. If real estate is very cheap, it means that there are also more risks attached to it. Accordingly, the more you pay, the lower the risks.   

 -  How do you see the future for luxury-class residential real estate in Georgia? 

 -  I believe that this is the strongest segment. Historically, it has been least affected by crises. One does not usually make a loss by investing in luxury-class real estate. The problem in this case is liquidity. There are not many people who can afford this type of property. Naturally, demand is therefore quite low, which renders the sales difficult. For every 10,000 economy-class apartments, you can build around 100 luxury-class properties. 

 - Do you have any specific expectations regarding the development of the real estate business in Georgia over the next few years?

 -  As long as there is no major geopolitical crisis and Georgia avoids domestic problems, the country is on the right track. Georgia will develop, people’s income will increase, and they will be able to afford to upgrade their apartments. Economy-class residents will move up to the medium-class segment, and the medium-class segment will move up to the luxury class. This is a continuous chain. Another current global trend which will probably affect Georgia is for wealthy people to move out of the cities and settle far away from the noisy and polluted environment. Only the lower-income segment remains in the cities. Another noticeable global trend is that people prefer to rent, rather than own their apartments. The properties in question are mostly owned by companies. I am not sure if this trend will find its way into Georgia, but across the world, the number of such people is growing all the time.