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Insolvency of Real Estate Project Development Companies - Danger of Contagion

In recent weeks, four renowned real estate developers have gone bankrupt. What impact do the construction project insolvencies have on the industry and which players are affected? Find out more in SCHUMANN Insights.
Schumann Insights, Blog Post
27.09.2023, Prof. Dr. Matthias Schumann

Wave of Bankruptcies in the Real Estate Sector

In recent weeks, four well-known real estate developers - the Projekt-Gruppe, Gerchgroup, Euroboden and Development Partner - have had to declare insolvency. This development is closely connected with the big increase in building costs due to rising prices and stricter regulatory and environmental requirements. These difficulties have been added to by the higher cost of credit due to increased interest rates. All of these factors need to be confronted.

At the same time, a clear reduction in interest from investors in the real estate market can be seen. Rental property is increasingly unprofitable as the rental income can no longer be increased to the level necessary to cover refinancing. Many potential property purchasers are no longer able to afford an investment in this sector. It is therefore likely that further property development companies will face financial challenges.

The Consequences of Building Project Insolvencies

So is it only the project development companies that are suffering under these circumstances? If the building project has been pre-sold at a fixed price and the building company becomes insolvent due to a lack of interim financing, often due to contracts that do not cover the cost of completion or through the sale of part-ownership units, then the owners are forced to demand their rights to the property and to pay for its completion with additional money of their own. Taking such measures is cost-intensive and usually means paying significantly more than the originally agreed purchase price, so this is not affordable for everyone. If the financing took place through real estate funds, this generally means that investors lose a large part of their investment.

Building tradesmen are also affected. Their invoices often remain unpaid. Defaults like this are on the increase. Especially in large projects and when there is a lack of new work, these defaults can be catastrophic for building trades companies and ultimately can lead to bankruptcy. Currently, there still seem to be enough contracts available in the building industry, but some companies are already complaining about financial difficulties. It can be expected that the situation will get worse as competition is increasing and the prices that can be achieved will no longer be as profitable as in recent years.

If the project developer relies on interim financing from banks, there is a possibility that this financing will not be available, which in turn may increase the need for write-downs at the lending institutions. This makes it clear that the financial stability of building companies must be closely monitored by both purchasers and investors, but also by companies that work with these building project companies. In general, this shows that in the building industry careful creditworthiness evaluation of all participants is of great importance.

About the Author
Prof. Dr. Matthias Schumann

Since 1991, Prof. Dr. Matthias Schumann has held a professorship in Business Administration and Information Systems (Chair of Application Systems and E-Business) at the University of Göttingen. He also heads the joint computing center of the Faculty of Economics and the Faculty of Social Sciences. He is a shareholder of Prof. Schumann GmbH.

Prof. Schumann's research interests include information systems at financial service providers and systems for credit management, as well as issues related to knowledge and education management. Prof. Schumann has a wide range of experience in consulting companies, extensive lecturing activities and more than 350 publications.

University of Göttingen

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