Prime Yield: A prime player in property consultancy
Nelson Rêgo is undoubtedly one of the giants in the Portuguese real estate consultancy landscape. Born into a property development family, he started his own consultancy in 1999 and went on to found Prime Yield in 2005. Since its partnership with the Spanish Gloval, it is now one of the big players on the Iberian peninsula.
Interview: Chris Graeme
Essential Business: When and why did you start Prime Yield?
Nelson Rêgo: We were established in 2005. Our focus is on consultancy and asset valuation services for companies and other institutional entities, aiming to provide the best tools to support our clients’ decision making. We wanted to create value-added services to make the decision process of all stakeholders in real estate easier.
How has the company expanded from a relatively small Lisbon-based real estate consultancy to a major player on the Iberian peninsula?
We have grown considerably since 2018 when we became part of the Gloval Group. Today we have over 300 professionals working in seven countries: Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Greece, Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique.
Our approach was different from our competitors precisely because it was based on a development matrix that focused on the Portuguese-speaking countries since we have this shared language bond. However, we approach every single market in a totally independent way, while at the same time using a matrix of common shared standards based on the certifications obtained in each market and on a global level by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
The company’s vision through this business model is to enable its clients to analyse operations using the same criteria, regardless of geography, but with full recognition of the cultural aspects and specificities of each country. This was key for our internationalisation project strategy.
What differences and similarities have you noticed working in these different countries to Portugal?
Looking into Portugal and the other Portuguese-speaking Countries, I would say that the only common factor is the language. The real estate markets in the African Countries, and even in Brazil, are totally different from those in European countries such as Portugal and Spain. The major challenge in those countries is the difficulty for the populations in these countries getting access to the residential market. Also, mortgage financial systems and interest rates are a challenge. The level of maturity, professionalisation and the way those markets work are completely different from Portugal and Spain. Between Portugal and Spain, I would say there’s a difference mainly in the dimension of the market.
Angola has had a rough time over the past few years. Is now the right time for construction companies and real estate investors to invest in this and other African markets like Mozambique and Cape Verde?
Despite being severely hit by economic adversity, and also having social and political instability, these are countries with huge potential for the real estate markets. There’s a lot to do both in the residential and commercial segments, and the companies that have the ability to remain active in these markets, even if with a more cautious approach for the time being, will be the ones leading the way when these economies reset.
What is Prime Yield’s main ambition?
Our main goal is to become the reference in valuation & advisory services in Southern Europe and Latin America.
What makes you different from the larger international real estate consultants?
I would say we are a boutique concept that creates a customised experience for our clients and have a very personal and close contact between our teams and all of the company stakeholders.
Besides, we have an approach to our clients that focuses on providing intelligence Services for those who want to achieve excellence, building trust between the company and the client, based on independence and competence.
Prime Yield/Gloval has built a strong reputation on the back of meticulously researched market studies. Was this part of your initial strategy?
This is a key strategy for our company and an important point of differentiation. Since the very beginning, we have been proud to make an active contribution towards a more transparent market. So, we have always invested strongly in research, providing to all the parties free information about prices, values, occupation, trends and outlooks.
This free access is very important for us, as it is our way of contributing towards a better market. Most of our team has worked with us since 2005, and this long-term commitment is one of the reasons why our studies have been so successful. All revenues from our market studies research department come from the advisory side of the business.
What makes a good real estate consultant in your mind? What are the essential qualities?
Someone that is very well informed but always wanting to learn more, proactive, professional and always paying rigorous attention to accuracy and details.
You lived and worked through the Great Recession in 2008-2015. How did you survive and what is different about the current crisis in the way it is affecting, both positively and negatively, the consultancy segment and the commercial and residential real estate market?
The days we live in are really uncertain, and not even interest rates are relevant to the current market at present because they have reached their lowest levels ever. You can’t even bank on management strategies based on an internationalisation and diversification diptych in the short and medium-term because we are all faced with a global pandemic that affects everyone and everywhere at the same time.
This is why this paralysis in economic activity which has lasted a whole year to March will unequivocally have a negative impact on the real estate market. In a more detailed and focused analysis of each of the segments, it is easy to draw some conclusions, but we believe that the different segments of the real estate market will recover more quickly than the previous crisis that began in 2008.
Against this backdrop, information will be the key for companies that want to keep up on top of their game and consultancy can have a key role in providing intelligence.
As for the markets, generally Portugal is now a much solid and mature market. Its real estate market is very internationalised and this has been very important for the market’s resilience.
What are some of the big-ticket deals Prime Yield was involved in, in 2020?
We had been involved in the most important hotel transaction of the year (Real Hotels Group) and in the valuation and advisory of one of the most important resorts (Quinta da Ombria).
Prime Yield has launched a new service to help in company restructuring.
Is that because you can see a growth in this area after the moratoria end in September?
Up-to-date and accurate information is an essential tool for successful companies. This is even more important in times of uncertainty. Putting information in context is, at such moments, especially critical for decision making and for the positive development of companies.
The end of moratoria will be a challenge for many companies, but, in general, the present time is one of increased challenges, with a pandemic that is disrupting economic and business activity transversally and will go down in history. Many companies will have to rethink their business plans and/or need to re-evaluate their assets, including real estate assets and other ones, in order to face the future better prepared.
By providing our assurance services we want to actively support companies in improving the quality and timeliness of the information that supports their business and consolidate their relationship with their stakeholders, considering the nuances of this time of unprecedented challenges.
Our expertise allows us to advise and help companies. Assurance services will help businesses mitigate risk, preserve liquidity, renegotiate and restructure financing, preserve assets and anticipate opportunities. We have a comprehensive and accurate approach that will enable companies to make strategic decisions in several business areas, supporting their needs through a multidisciplinary team of experts.
Prime Yield is part of Gloval which is a leader in integrated valuation, engineering, consultancy and real estate consultancy and analysis. Has the partnership been successful?
We have been part of Gloval since December 2018 and the outcome has been very positive. It enabled us to explore new markets in Europe such as Spain and Greece, while our partner Gloval entered the Portuguese-Speaking Countries where we operate.
How did you start out in life? When did you begin working in the real estate sector and was it something you had always wanted to do?
I was born into a real estate development family. From the very start, I was familiar with the construction sector. I graduated with a degree in property management and development and after that, I start teaching in a university and set up my first valuation and advisory company in 1999. Since then, I have never looked back!