The founder of Idea Buildings, on the special approach to clients in the real estate business
Silvia Veselinova welcomes us to the new offices of Idea Buildings where she is surrounded by smiling colleagues and a multitude of tulips. The construction company she runs has just moved into a new space in a modern office building "to shake up some energy" and to mark the beginning of a new phase in its development.
Silvia Veselinova started to invest in real estate as early as 1998. In 2004 she founded Idea Buildings. Since then she has succeeded in developing the company into a reputable and desired label. As of today the company has constructed over 100,000 sq m in 33 housing estates, combining modern design with location, communications and well thought-over conveniences.
To do that one needs to be able to see the bigger picture, to be patient and to take into consideration what your customers need, Silvia Veselinova told Vagabond, and went on to expound on the road so far, the new energy and the projects designed to make buying new real estate even easier.
What are your new ideas after almost 17 years on the real estate market?
New ideas are often developing old ones. At the moment we work on four different projects. We aim to expand. We have had a period of having to deal with many projects and construction sites, then there was a slight slump, now we are striving for expansion.
Our new projects are in their very early stages so disclosing any details will be conditional. We aim to continue with purely housing estate buildings and projects, but that depends on the sort of plots we can negotiate. We would like to try in the area of gated communities that seem to be quite popular at the moment.
You are now in new offices. Is there any symbolism in this?
We spent 10 years at the King Boris Boulevard address. Now we have decided that we would be better positioned in an office building. Construction and selling real estate is a business, so its office should be in a business building. Many people keep asking why we haven't constructed a building for ourselves, being a construction company. The answer is simple. We are engaged in housing construction. We are not in the office building business.
And how do you feel at the new location?
Despite the stress and some issues with transit – we have been here only a short time – I feel very well. I feel as if I have put on a shoe that fits perfectly. Most of my colleagues are very positive despite the little comforts they had created for themselves in the old office. The only way to move forward is to leave your comfort zone. That will enable you to get a breath of fresh air, to stir up your potential, to start thinking from new standpoints and ultimately to make new beginnings and start doing better things.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you during the past two years?
There was some turbulence as far as we are concerned, but the market turned out to be quite good, which can be explained with our national psychology. As soon as there is any upheaval, a crisis or a period of uncertainty Bulgarians rush to buy real estate, thinking it is the only relatively sure way to preserve the value of their cash. Of course this is true. Real estate is a sure but slow market. It gives you the opportunity to step back and think. You have the time to make a proper decision. You are not in a rush.
One of the safest investments?
I would say yes, at least in this region.
What sort of housing are your customers after?
There is no big difference compared to the pre-pandemic times. Two-room apartments are desirable, mainly as an investment, especially when the customers are really after preserving the value of their money. Three-room flats tend to be popular for living. The new development with the pandemic is that rack as well as gated community houses or houses in the vicinity of Sofia have become more popular. In the city there are houses like that mainly on the outskirts, which is logical. It makes little sense to live in a house unless you are surrounded by nature.
Are customers looking for bigger residential apartments?
There is such a tendency. I think it can be explained with the fact that many people have started working from home. People started to look for apartments that could accommodate an office space or be at least used as an extra bedroom.
What has been your company's response?
So far we have received no proposals for houses but we do work on projects in excellent locations and also projects in areas with abundant nature. We can offer apartments with small yards. Another option would be apartments with large terraces that can be modelled as green areas. These are the two directions we are moving into: residences with good locations and communications designed for customers who desire flexibility and residence where they can stay the whole time in direct touch with nature.
Is location all that matters?
The idea of a good location differs with each customer. For me the best location is a place with a view, peace and quiet, conveniences and good transit opportunities. Others may think a good location is in the middle of a busy city. Location is very important but each client has different ideas about it. Therefore each building has its customers.
In what way are your residential apartments different form everything else on the market?
I am not sure that our apartments are our most visible feature. What makes us different is that we have a strictly individual approach to our customers and treat every project we work on with the greatest care and attention. In addition, we have very well developed after-sale services and warranties. We are very flexible about payment methods and other agreements we have with our customers. We are always willing to tailor our products for specific customers and treat each customer individually and with special offers. We have been doing this for many years and I think our customers really appreciate it.
One new thing we are planning on developing is setting up a credit centre to service both our and outside customers. It will be a well structured centre providing access to a variety of banks offering many options to make our customers feel at ease. The idea is to make our customers rest assured that as long as they want to buy a new property and sign a contract our credit centre will take on from there. We have a good relationship with the banking sector, so our job to make the customers feel satisfied will not be very difficult.
In fact we already assist our customers with credits and so on, without having a credit centre. But I think setting up such a centre will make things easier.
What is the biggest stumbling block in real estate transactions?
Stumbling blocks emerge if there are middlemen in a transaction. This applies not just to real estate, it applies to most other businesses as well. Middlemen sometimes make communications more complicated. At times a deal may even fall through if it has to go through too many hands. Having just a seller and a buyer makes things fast and easy.
After so many years in business what is your recipe for success and sustainability?
Patience, patience, patience. Everyone demands patience: the customers, the contractors, the controlling entities. The construction business as such demands patience. It creates products that take their time. Applying patience and calm is my best advice.
What brings you satisfaction?
When I go through a street and see a building we have constructed I feel happy. I say to myself, we will be leaving something behind. This cheers me up, inevitably.
What is your vision for the future?
The future must include a vey well selected team. We have worked together for many years now. I think the individuals who now represent Idea Buildings are good professionals and nice people. I think this is what it takes to expand and enlarge.
Is it difficult to put together a successful team?
It is extremely difficult, but that does not apply to the construction sector alone. In our area it takes half a year to train a new recruit. I admit I learn new things every day, even after 17 years in business.