You can't represent both sides at the same time
Valter Kalaus is admittedly a superhero-like figure of the Hungarian real estate market: daytime he’s the managing director of Cresa Hungary, a significant player in the Hungarian commercial real estate advisory market, while at dawn he’s training for the next continental race as a professional swimmer. Without sport, he would not be where he stands today, thus Cresa Hungary successfully represents a unique business approach on the Hungarian market.
Valter gets up at five in the morning to complete his weekly 15–20- kilometer swimming training, then heads to the Cresa Hungary office. He returns home from work around 6-7 p.m. to spend the rest of the day with his family. His “self-time” comes after 10 pm, however he has to get up again at five am the next day.
The Cresa Hungary MD has been swimming since the age of 5. He was a member of the Seoul Olympic swimming team of Hungary and still competes in the masters category, wining several world-, and European championship titles. Last year he became a board member of the Hungarian Swimming Association strengthening further the Hungarian swimming platform.
He began his career as a real estate advisor in the US and continued back in Hungary. Cresa Hungary is the Hungarian office of the world’s largest real estate consulting firm representing tenants only, which he has been leading since 2014, becoming one of the 50 most influential domestic real estate professionals in 2020.
‘How can you keep the balance between sports and professional career? In brief, it is quite hard.’ admits Valter Kalaus, yet he is certain that without sport he would not have reached the same business success. ‘I’m deeply grateful to my parents that they took me to the swimming pool when I was little, because the professional sport is a perfect mirror of the business world. You learn to win, to lose, you encounter fraudsters and fair situations as well. But primarily, it gives you tremendous self-discipline, willpower, concentration, thus you don’t collapse under pressure.’
In the domestic real estate advisory market, Cresa Hungary is the only one who represents tenants only. Other real estate agencies serve both, the landlord and the tenant side at the same time, however according to Valter, it is impossible to represent a tenant effectively, by representing the landlord as well.
‘We offer to find the best real estate solution to fulfill the business needs of the tenants, including if you face a lease renewal, through achieving more favourable lease terms,’ says the managing director. Cresa Hungary represents tenants from the assessment of their needs and expectations, through the competition of properties and the negotiation with the landlord, until the handover of the property, and even beyond.
Landlords always have a competitive advantage over tenants, as tenants do not have an extended knowledge of the real estate market, unlike landlords. Cresa Hungary not only puts the tenant in a winning position during the negotiations when planning to move through his expertise, but by thoroughly surveying the company’s functions it can give a more accurate picture of the company’s real business needs, that they could ever map.
According to Valter Kalaus, there is a growing demand for this type of expertise. ‘Many have already realized that the relocation of a company of 100-200 people, the rent of the new property, the cost of conversion/refurbishment is a multi-million-euro decision that requires the help of a professional advisor. Employers understand more and more that apart from financial facts marketing and HR aspects also need to be considered in the real estate decisions. The office space serves as a place of socialization as well, and the appropriate and suitable office boosts the company’s productivity, success, and competitiveness.
‘Companies cannot identify all of these aspects, as this is a separate profession. They can describe their needs, which we can explore, analyze, and translate into the language of the real estate market by a thorough due diligence. Companies often wary of screening, but in the meantime, they also need it – it is easier to highlight factual findings by an external help that would be a hard task for internal communication,’ says the managing director. Valter Kalaus is proud that 95% of Cresa’s clients are returning on the next move, and communication is always mutual with partners even during the out-of-business period.