8 May 2015 – El Confidencial
We can see cranes and bulldozers on the horizon in Spain once more. And although players in the real estate sector would rather talk about prudence than euphoria, stabilisation than recovery, the outlook is very encouraging.
Mortgage lending is increasing, more new homes are being built and more homes (in general) are also being sold. And, although the second-hand market is still winning hands down – even though the statistics are distorted by the foreclosures of homes by banks – demand for new builds is returning once more. Thus, purchasing a home off-plan, a practice that became almost anecdotal during the crisis, is returning to the fore once again, seven years after the real estate bubble burst.
There are several advantages to purchasing off-plan. You buy a new home that, for the most part, does not need any work doing to it. Some developers even allow future owners to adapt homes to their needs and likes – to convert a 4-bedroom home into a 3-bedroom property with a larger living room, for example – but, undoubtedly, the main advantage is that purchasers are not obliged to make a major outlay (of cash) in one go, but rather, they make small contributions until the keys are handed over, and those amounts are then deducted from the final price of the home. The main drawback is that new builds are not yet finished, which means they are not available immediately. And construction work can last for between 18 and 24 months.
Recently, several dozen people queued up overnight to reserve one of 62 homes that Solvia will soon build in Barcelona. It will be the real estate platform’s first development in the regional capital. (….) “There was a great deal of interest because it was a well-located product, with great features and reasonable, attractive prices”, said Augusto Monte, Director of Sales and Transactions at Solvia. “Clearly, it was an exceptional case and you cannot make wider generalisations about what happened with this development”. Nevertheless, Monte acknowledges that the fear of buying off-plan has declined in recent months.
(…) Other recent examples include the actions of housing cooperatives – for example, the plot of land in Raimundo Fernández-Villaverde or the old engine sheds at Cuatro Caminos – which obtained 100% of the partners in record time to sign up to purchase homes that will not be built for another two years.
Property developers, banks and servicers are conscious of this change and have come to the largest real estate fair in Spain (SIMA) with this type of product. Thus, for example, Solvia has a 75-home development of Alcalá de Henares. Between July and September last year, 64% of the development had already been purchased. And it is not the only one.
“We still notice considerable uncertainty amongst prospective buyers. Many of them come to the stand to ask us when the construction work will to begin. They are quite afraid that the building work will get delayed or that it will not happen at all”, says Inmaculada López-Gasco, sales manager at Magnum & Partners, which started to sell 63 homes in San Sebastián de los Reyes in April. “We have already sold 16 – i.e. 25% – and we will have the licence to start the construction work in June. We hope that sales will accelerate once the bulldozers start work.
Original story: El Confidencial (by Elena Sanz)
Translation: Carmel Drake