Cologne, 04/03/22 - The GBI Group has received the 2022 immobilienmanager Award. The project developer received the coveted industry award in the "Investment" category at yesterday's awards ceremony in Cologne. The award recognises the successful development of the investment-ready product line in the field of subsidised housing, whereby the project developer plans and builds affordable residential properties that are state-subsidised by means of grants or loans. This in turn facilitates discounted rents for decades. "In view of the situation on the real estate market, expanding the supply of affordable housing is a central challenge of our time. We want to make a contribution in this area," explains Dagmar Specht, board member of GBI Holding AG.
The immobilienmanager award ceremony singled out the GBI concept as worthy of an award because the Group has not only successfully completed numerous projects, but has also decisively advanced the development of a completely new asset class. In doing so, GBI has served as a pioneer for the entire industry. Back in 2015, the company was quick to recognise the need to provide more and higher-quality accommodations in the subsidised housing sector. These also had to be sustainable, dependable and calculable.
Central to the development of the new investment class was the implementation of an exit scenario designed from scratch. "In order to create a sufficient volume of affordable housing, it was necessary to devise a structured product," explains director Specht. Intensive negotiations with authorities in various federal states were required, because no explicit regulations existed for this purpose in the funding guidelines of the federal states. Specht: "Despite these difficult starting conditions, we succeeded in establishing the new asset class. Nowadays, subsidised housing is referred to as "core-core-plus" due to the prospective returns - which are almost as good as those of privately financed projects - as well as the extremely low risk of rent default. In the future, it will be impossible to imagine the German market without this property category."
The success of the GBI strategy to date is clearly apparent thanks to the many investments of well-known institutional investors. The following names have already invested in subsidised project developments of the GBI Group: Industria Wohnen (Fokus Wohnen Deutschland fund), Commerz Real (for the open-ended real estate fund hausInvest), HanseMerkur Grundvermögen, Catella, VR Bank Metropolregion Nürnberg, VW-Belegschaftsstiftung and a number of family offices. "Private money, which often comes from the retirement provision of German citizens (for example via insurance companies and pension funds) can be securely invested in this way," says Simon Hübner, GBI Holding AG board member responsible for residential construction, when explaining the concept. "Because much-needed affordable housing is created in this way. It's an excellent win-win situation." Social change is also having an effect on the sector. "An increasing number of institutions and private individuals want to invest their money in a sustainable way and with social benefits," Hübner goes on. "But only impressive, sustainable and ESG-compliant investment opportunities like those of GBI make that possible." Subsidised projects have now also been realised in the area of student accommodation. Hübner: "Due to higher plot prices, it is also necessary to start more subsidised projects in this field, alongside freely financed projects."
GBI is presently primarily successful in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia; but GBI intends to persuade other federal states to participate in projects like these in the future. Based on its experience, the GBI Group also offers comprehensive subsidy management for all buyers of these products. GBI Capital GmbH, founded in 2021, can provide assistance with all services in the context of subsidised housing, from project development to fund management.
For board member Hübner, it is particularly important that subsidised housing is not visibly concentrated in peripheral locations of cities, as was often the case until the 1980s, but is integrated into vibrant neighbourhood developments. "The aim is to realise subsidised housing insofar as possible within the framework of vibrant neighbourhood developments, for example through combinations with care services, privately financed housing, assisted senior living, student accommodation, daycare centres, serviced apartments, offices or hotels. As a comprehensive project developer we can always plan and realise the right property combination, no matter what the needs of the individual town or city," says Simon Hübner.
There is almost no difference in quality between subsidised and privately financed apartments in terms of amenities either. In addition to the standards stipulated by the funding regulations (such as barrier-free access) the apartments delivered by GBI are usually also equipped with such facilities as level-access showers, floor-to-ceiling windows and high-quality floorings. The outdoor spaces are also attractively designed with play areas, seating and garden spaces. In some cases, daycare centres or day nurseries are also being built.
GBI also wants to further develop the subsidised - and thus affordable - housing product and adapt it to new challenges. Reiner Nittka, board spokesperson for GBI Holding AG: "In the future, subsidised housing will be required to satisfy the demands of senior citizens. The baby boomer generation, with the historically strongest cohorts, is now entering the age when smart, modern and subsidised living developments will become indispensable - with pension levels also set to decline in the future. Society, politicians and the real estate industry must all be prepared for this."
Yesterday's presentation of the immobilienmanager Award 2022 to GBI is the Group's second award of this nature. In 2019, the Group received the award - also in the investment category - for the development of the SMARTments family (SMARTments student, SMARTments business, SMARTments living) as an attractive and contemporary option for investors. "We have once again made a real estate segment investment-ready. This showcases the innovative, productive and forward-looking nature of our employees. Something the company can be proud of," enthuses GBI board spokesperson Reiner Nittka. "Because with this, the GBI is once again living up to its name as an ideas developer."