Who’s Who in residential real estate – The secret of longevity in the consultancy industry

In modern times, people are constantly looking for new experiences and challenges, and nothing seems to keep them in the same place on the long term. It seems utopian to work your whole life in a certain industry or company. Mihaela Pană, Partner, Residential Agency Cushman & Wakefield Echinox, is part of a different, bohemian world, with stories of the old history of Bucharest, families of lords, heirs and residences that came back to life out of the effort and passion of people with a certain set of values.

“It happened by chance …

…that is how my journey began in this fascinating, completely new, yet so exciting world in 1996. Back then, the residential market represented 90-95% transactions with apartments in buildings built during the communist period, located centrally. It was quite unusual for a villa to appear on sale. Time changed and educated the market, preparing it for everything that is now real estate.”, says Mihaela Pană.

Later on, Mihaela dedicated herself to the premium residential segment because each property had a story. The old villas in the center of Bucharest and in famous neighborhoods such as Dorobanți, Aviatorilor or Kiseleff belonged to well-known Bohemian families. When Mihaela had the privilege to enter such villas, as a real estate consultant, she set a personal goal to find the right owners to restore their former beauty.

The vast pages of history

Selling such impressive houses is not easy: the client has to be passionate for art and history, willing to allocate impressive amounts for the purchase, and especially for the renovation of the property. Most of them are historical monuments and require authorization from the Ministry of Culture and architects specialized in restoration.

“I was deeply impressed by the renovation of a villa located in the Dacia area, which was built around 1890 and belonged to General Heraclie Arion. The renovation of the ground floor involved the refurbishment of every single architectural element: embedded wooden doors, decorations, stained glass windows and spectacular ceilings, impresive marble columns. This process restored the air of the late 19th century, an extremely flourishing period for the Capital’s architecture.

We had residential properties for which the new owners allocated a four-year restoration process. Not easy at all, but the results have been spectacular. A property which was almost lost and ready to collapse because of the difficult years of nationalization became a reborn beauty with a perfectly renovated facade and interiors, which takes you back to the old times’ sake.”

Some of the properties traded over the years have been transformed into respectable residences of ambassadors or embassy headquarters. In the last 24 years since joining the real estate industry, a long period spent in the same company, Mihaela collected transactions and countless stories, which can be gathered in Bucharest real estate and history book of Bucharest.

“I remember the case of a house that belonged to the Lahovari family. During the signing of the documents, the heirs came from all over Europe. Elegant and refined people of a respectable age, saw each other after many years and told stories as if they had never been apart.”

What is the secret of longevity in career? “I still have that sense of joy for every house I am about to sell. You really have to love what you do for a living. And I got to do what I love out of a very happy event.”

The entire interview can be read in the printed version of Luxury Magazine Special Edition, nb.108, available for sale at Inmedio, Relay and at magazine and press stores in Bucharest. www.luxury.ro