Icon: People-centered Approach, Expertise Keys to Success in Property Management

Office Market

Gábor Nagy

Icon Real Estate Management is a dynamically developing player in the Hungarian market, and its rapid growth has drawn the attention of competitors. The company currently manages more than half a million square meters of office, retail, industrial, and logistics properties and expects further expansions in its portfolio. We spoke with CEO Gábor Nagy about the reasons behind the success and plans for further growth.

BBJ: With the property sector facing a labor shortage, we hear from many in the market that this can be at the expense of quality service; how does Icon ensure there will be enough people to do the work? How do you assess the current state of the market?

Gábor Nagy: The volatility of the real estate market is following the rapid changes in the business world as well as in the office, industrial and retail sectors. So, from my point of view, the market is in anything but status-quo. That is why we saw the time as ideal to enter the with a new approach that offers a new way of thinking to our customers. There are several factors driving change in the property management business. Uncertainties in the energy market and the rise in energy prices are significant variables that are also affecting the real estate market. This change is amplified by the impact of energy commodity price changes on inflation. Even in a relatively stable market, the conflict in our neighboring country also creates uncertainty.

After the two-year coronavirus pandemic, tenants have only returned to offices in the recent weeks, but their space requirements have changed significantly. There is less demand for large, single-occupancy offices. At the same time, recreational and regeneration spaces with proper services have become more valuable in the office market. Property managers need to respond flexibly to these needs. There is also a growing demand for sustainability, green thinking, and environmentally conscious solutions in both our property management and facility management business units. At Icon, we strive to consider ESG in our external and internal operations. We strongly feel this at the management of the Well-certified Corvin 5 office building, which justifies the existence of a work environment that ensures the employees’ well-being. This is why we invest in innovative solutions such as the Hungarian-developed waste processing robot, Compocity.

In such a situation, a close, balanced partnership based on professional knowledge and experience is essential both on the owner- and the tenant-side, as well as with subcontractors and construction partners. This is one of Icon’s strengths; we believe it is vital that our partners feel they can always rely on us. The success of this philosophy is not only proven by our business results but by the fact that the appreciation of our existing employees, the recognition of their professional excellence, and Icon’s growth prospects make us attractive to the best professionals in the labor market.

BBJ: How is Icon different from other players in the market?

GN: As I mentioned, the property management market is a relatively stable area; characteristically, there are few and slow changes. However, the appearance of a new player always generates waves in the market.

The uniqueness of Icon is, first and foremost, that we serve both our real estate investment partners with our property management business and our tenants with our facility management business. We provide financial services to all our partners on demand, with the flexibility to meet their needs. This is unique in the domestic market. This complexity enables us to manage properties with a genuinely owner-centric approach to international standards to make them more valuable and develop them from year to year. With all these values, we can assess the real needs of our partners and respond to them in a flexible, efficient and rapid manner.

But it’s also the people-centered approach we take to our work that makes our team’s commitment unique in the industry. This ensures our professionalism, our efficiency, and the quality of our customer service in a changing market environment. In the property management market, there are few senior professionals, and those with experience are mostly absorbed by the landlord side. Icon’s unique asset is the professional knowledge of our colleagues, and our priority is to maintain, develop and expand this knowledge, as their experience and professional contacts are irreplaceable values. At Icon, we believe that in addition to professional excellence, nurturing human relations with both our partners and our employees is essential to achieving our goals.

In a market dominated by international players, the fact that Icon is domestically owned and has grown rapidly in recent years is an important factor.

BBJ: What do you consider the most important regarding your business results?

GN: Icon Real Estate Management Ltd. was founded in 2018 with a domestic ownership background, which means that our focus is on the Hungarian market. Initially, we specialized mainly in property management of premium office buildings and shopping centers, but we quickly saw the potential for growth in providing an integrated service to our clients and not only serving our investor partners as good landlords, but also being able to serve the needs of our tenants within the company. Therefore, in 2021 we acquired the operations business of CD Hungary Zrt. to provide property, facility, project management, and financial services to our clients. Icon currently manages nearly 500,000 sqm of real estate, including the BSR Center, MoM Park, Roosevelt Office Building, and the Budapest Dock Freeport.

BBJ: How do you see Icon’s development in the coming years? Where is there room for further development?

GN: I am convinced that our progress will continue unabated in the coming years. We are aiming to significantly increase our current portfolio in the property management market, while I would be satisfied with an even more significant expansion in our facility management business. We are already prioritizing digital solutions in our operations, providing efficient solutions to individual needs, and considering sustainability both for our own operations and for the properties we manage.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of May 6, 2022.

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