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residential Market News: Spanish Real Estate Intelligence

Blackstone Publicly Criticises the Government's Rental Housing Plan

13 November 2018 - Voz Pópuli

The company that has invested the most money in the Spanish real estate sector over the last five years, Blackstone, has publicly criticised the Government regarding its rental housing plan, which includes several measures that will directly impact the US company's business in Spain.

Blackstone’s most senior representative in Spain, Claudio Boada, has warned that he views with “concern” the plans unveiled by Pedro Sánchez's Government in this regard. Boada was speaking at a breakfast meeting this morning organised by the United States Chamber of Commerce in Spain (Amcham Spain) with the Minister for the Economy, Nadia Calviño, in attendance, at the Villa Magna Hotel in Madrid.

Claudio Boada, Senior Adviser at Blackstone for Spain and Portugal, was speaking after Calviño’s presentation, at a symposium led by Jaime Malet, President of Amcham Spain, and attended by more than fifty representatives of US companies in Spain. He warned that the US group regards with “concern” the plans unveiled by the Government for rental housing, and he pointed out that his company has invested €25 billion in the country in recent years “backing Spain during the worst years of the crisis”.

In particular, Boada referred to the project to return the duration of rental contracts to five years, versus their current duration of three years (as a result of the Urban Rental Law, dated June 2013), which will be applicable for physical persons. In those cases where the lessor is a legal entity, the minimum duration will be seven years.

The most senior representative of Blackstone in Spain, who attended the meeting together with Eduard Mendiluce, who leads the investment firm’s real estate business, requested channels of dialogue with the Minister for the Economy to address the matters.

The plan from the Government regarding rental homes affects the buoyancy of Blackstone’s core business in Spain. The company chaired by Stephen Schwarzman has been purchasing large packages of mortgages corresponding to more than 100,000 rental homes from Spanish banks over the last five years (…).

The group has taken advantage of the financial and real estate crisis to acquire those homes and mortgages at significant discounts, but it has taken the risk of making the operations profitable by trying to improve the management of those properties.

For Blackstone, whose motto is “buy, fix and sell”, its business involves renting out homes purchased at the most profitable prices possible taking into account the large discounts that it typically obtains upon acquisition. It also gets rid of tenants who do not pay their rent.

For this reason, the plans announced by the Government regarding rental homes affect the US group so much, given that far from making the rental sector more flexible, they would actually slow it down. Problem tenants, those who refuse to pay or leave a rental home, will presumably be given more time to dig their heels in (…).

Royal Decree on the horizon

“Blackstone has not threatened to stop investing in Spain”, said sources close to the investment company consulted by this newspaper at the end of the symposium organised by Amcham Spain. They added that the firm's intention is very much to continue investing.

Nevertheless, the same sources indicated that Blackstone does require the possibility of entering into talks with the Administration to express its view regarding the rental policy, and that they believe that the Government will approve the new measures in this regard by Royal Decree this month. The company considers that there could be several alternatives reflected in the parliamentary procedure for the new regulation.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Alberto Ortín)

Translation: Carmel Drake

 
Congress Agrees that the Banks will Pay All Mortgage Costs, Except the Appraisal

13 November 2018 - Expansión

The political parties today agreed by majority that the new Mortgage Law will establish that notary expenses linked to the signing of mortgages will be paid by the banks and that the appraisal costs will be paid by customers.

Moreover, the notaries will carry out a questionnaire with each borrower to ensure that he/she understands all of the clauses in the mortgage contract, at no additional cost.

The Mortgage Law was presented again today at the Congress’s Economy Committee after the Government approved a royal decree law which stipulates that the Documentation Registration Tax (AJD) will be paid by the banks and not by customers.

The new Mortgage Law reflects that decision and makes it clear that the financial institution will pay for the first copy of the notary deeds; the customer will cover the cost of any copies he/she requests. Meanwhile, the registry costs will also be paid for by the bank; and the borrower will pay the appraisal expenses since he/she will be able to choose the appraisal company freely.

Nevertheless, several other important issues still need to be agreed, such as those relating to early repayment fees, late payment interest and the early termination clause of mortgages and which allows the foreclosure of homes depending on the debt that has been acquired by the borrowers (…).

On the other hand, the political parties will also have to decide about the entry into force of the new standards, given that the financial sector is asking for a margin of 6 months versus the 15 days that the draft bill is proposing.

The Mortgage Law, which is a transposition of a European directive, seeks to provide greater protection for consumers and promote transparency in the granting of mortgages, which is why the political parties have agreed that appraisal companies can be independent physical persons or legal entities (…).

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

 
BBVA Research: Building Permits for New Homes Double in 3 Years

12 November 2018 - Cinco Días

The recovery is being boosted by construction activity in the real estate sector. 2018 is going to close with the granting of more than 100,000 permits for the construction of new homes, which represents twice the number of permits granted in 2015, according to estimates from BBVA Research. During that year, activity in the sector started to recover, after years in free fall. The real estate construction segment is whereby returning to six-digit figures, something that has not been seen for eight years.

Until August, the most recent data available from the Ministry of Development, just over 68,000 permits had been granted, up by 26% compared to the same period last year. The data from that month reflects that it was the best August on record since 2008.

The sector may be recovering but it is still light years away from the property fever experienced a decade ago. To give some perspective, the 100,000 new build permits that are going to be granted this year are eight times fewer than the figure recorded in 2006, when the highest ever number of permits was issued (865,561). In April of that year alone, 126,753 permits were granted, a figure that comfortably exceeded the number expected to be issued during 2018 as a whole.

The exact opposite was seen in 2013, when the number of permits hit rock bottom: during that year, just 34,288 permits were granted, the absolute minimum in the whole historical series (whose data goes back to 1992). The following year, there was a slight increase in permits (of 2%) but it was not really until 2015 when the figures started to recover with any strength, up by 43% that year. Since then, the number of construction permits granted has followed a stable growth path, with YoY increases of around 25%.

According to the research from BBVA, the increase in permits forms part of the favourable context in which the market is developing. During the third quarter of the year, employment in the construction sector grew by 1.3%, loans for home purchases increased by 16.8% YoY and house sales in August were almost 10% higher than during the same month last year.

A large part of the still moderate and stepped growth in terms of construction permits is due to the fact that the number of leftover homes constructed during the bubble, which still have not been sold, is still “high and disproportionate for the levels of demand in six out of every ten provinces”. There are 1.2 million leftover homes in total, according to the statistical yearbook for the real estate market compiled by the consultancy firm Acuña & Asociados.

Nevertheless, that stock of homes is very dispersed throughout the country: the consultancy firm calculates that one third of those homes are located in areas with zero or very low demand, whereas in the main cities, new build homes are needed, something that is being confirmed by the significant increases in house prices.

Madrid is the city that accounts for the most building permits (both for new construction and renovation or refurbishment). So far this year, work has started to build or renovate 7,000 homes in the Spanish capital. It is followed, at a distance, by Barcelona, with just over 2,200 homes. Next in the ranking are Valencia (1,640), Málaga (1,400), Zaragoza (1,060), and Sevilla ( 830). Those six cities – which account for almost 20% of the population – account for 17% of all of the permits granted so far this year (…).

Original story: Cinco Días

Translation: Carmel Drake