Independent, professional valuations

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Independent, professional valuations

To explain the role of the Valuations and Advisory department at CEUSTERS, its head, Vincent Gommers, explains what his department does both nationally and internationally. To achieve its objectives, he can call upon a rapidly growing team of dedicated professionals.

The main activity of the department is to deliver valuation reports for all types of organization, both private and public, from SMEs to multinationals…It is typically the potential buyer of a property who approaches CEUSTERS for an independent (an important factor) report on the asset in question, which is subsequently often used as a basis for discussions with the seller and/or one or several banks in order to obtain a loan. Along with the example above, these reports can also be used for accounting (and tax) purposes, or as part of M&A transactions, among others. Also important to note is that alongside the objective valuation report, CEUSTERS provides advisory reports to assist companies with their strategic decision-making with regards to real estate. This type of advice can help clients to see where they are in terms of the pre- vailing market conditions such as rental levels, support ‘stay or leave’ options or identify (re)development opportunities. Being predominantly known as a commercial real estate services provider, for its valuations, CEUSTERS covers all main asset classes (offices, industrial & logistics, retail, residential etc.) and their reports comply with RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Valuation – Professional Standards and are in accordance with financial and tax regulations.

Past and future

Vincent Gommers then moves on to speaking about the achievements of his department during 2023 and prospects for 2024, both internally and in terms of business. “I would say that internally, having been able to boost the team and developing a pathway for internships has been an important step forward towards the further expansion of the department”, he explains. Where client business is concerned, he goes on to say that most of the work is confidential and therefore – by contrast with agency services – it is less common for valuation teams to proclaim their successes or delivered volumes. However, Vincent Gommers was able to say that there was a substantial and promising increase in the number of reports delivered to clients in 2023, and he emphasized the team’s ability to service a wide range of client demands, from small residential units to large offices and vast industrial and logistics premises.

“In 2024, the market is expected to be challenging, with increasing regulatory demands and continued pressure on deliverables and timing. CEUSTERS is still going for organic growth, by building on existing relations and expanding business with other corporate services providers.”


In market terms, while remaining cautious, 2024 is expected to be more stable, particularly with regard to inflation and interest rates. Vincent Gommers believes that stability means that for investors, real estate will be more ‘top of mind’ again. Hopefully, investment volumes will pick up under the impulse of the closing gap between sellers’ and buyers’ expectations. In the office market, he sees the flight towards higher quality continuing, probably implying smaller surface areas but more in line with companies’ ESG needs, which will be determining in the selection of their choice of offices. “In retail, most of the realignment of the market – such as rental levels – took place during and just after Covid, and is now behind us”, he states, “with room for growth again”. The logistics market is still very strong and while he does not expect to see it growing at the pace that it did in 2020-2022, he believes “it will remain a very strong segment, hopefully accompanied by industrial activity on small and large scale, both of which are still important engines of our economy”.


On the question of older or obsolete offices – victims of the desire for high quality modern premises in combination with sustainability requirements – options include redevelopment into new offices, along with transformation into other uses. Redevelopment from and to offices tends to be expensive, often constrained by technical issues and only worthwhile in sought-after locations. But on the other side of the coin, the current lack of brand-new buildings in and around major cities meeting the required standards, does make this type of redevelopment attractive. These upgrades can be a solution for outdated but well-located properties, embracing new paths towards real estate circularity.

When such ‘intraclass’ redevelopment is not possible and urban planning regulations allow it, some obsolete offices are transformed into residential use. If technical constraints make this impossible, demolition and new build becomes the natural solution. In any of these cases, it is clear that dealing with the increasing volume of these partially let older buildings is going to be one of the major challenges for the coming years.

External factors

To the question as to whether external factors may influence the market, Vincent Gommers has this to say: “I believe regulations (EU Taxonomy for instance) will have an increasing impact over the coming years. They have already heavily impacted offices (renewable energy, certifications), but retail, industry and logistics will follow. “However, I think that for the next twelve months, as stated above, inflation and interest rates will be the most influential factors, together with the evolution of geopolitical situations. Whether the expected turning point towards greater activity will be quite soon or a little later, is difficult to say in these volatile times. But we are positive about our capacity and motivation to tackle the challenges ahead.”

Finally, Vincent speaks about innovation and technology. With the importance of comparable data in valuations to support making decisions, Artificial Intelligence (AI) increasingly plays a part. It helps companies to gather and process more information in a shorter period of time, boosting accuracy and efficiency and thus positively impacting business. However, the human input remains indispensable, as professionals perceive the whole and it is often more than just the sum of (individual) parts. “Fortunately, there is still work to be done for valuers.” Automated Valuation Models (AVM) may already be very useful for small residential valuations for example, Vincent goes on to say, but for larger and certainly more complex and mixed use properties, in our opinion, AVM don’t have the reach (yet). It will definitely be interesting to see how the further evolutions of AI will influence our services and how it will complement us in our aim to further improve the services we deliver to our clients.

At an international level, CEUSTERS is the Belgian member of the Praxi Valuations network, an international network of independent advisors which originated in Italy with the company of the same name. The network offers a wide range of consulting services, characterized by the in-depth knowledge of local markets, built on the specialization and experience of its partners.

This international reach enables CEUSTERS to assist its clients with their real estate needs abroad, an essential advantage in the increasingly international real estate business, while guaranteeing the objectivity and independence of its services, thanks to its autonomy from institutions and industrial and financial groups.

Some recent examples include valuations in Germany and France for Belgian clients, as well as a valuation of the HQ of an Italian consulting group in the European capital.

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