Argia’s Bankruptcy Leads to Oviedo’s Largest Ever Land Auction

10 December 2017 – El Comercio

The bankruptcy of the property developer owned by the businessman Blas Herrero, Argia Inversiones Inmobiliarias, and the lack of interest in most of its assets from its banker, Liberbank, have made way for the city’s largest-ever auction of private land. In total, 159 lots worth more than €30 million will go under the hammer, ranging from buildable estates in Cerdeño, to buildable land in Prados de la Fuente, to around fifty finished homes also in Prados de la Fuente.

In reality, the investments are very recent. Herrero did not seek to obtain any returns from the land and housing sectors in Spain until 2005 when he took control of Inverural Capital and turned it into Argia Inversiones Inmobiliarias. After a few years of activity, the company stopped filing its annual accounts – in 2009 – and went off the radar.

In Oviedo, the firm had promoted one of the largest plots of land in Prados de la Fuente, under the commercial name Galana Residencial. The work on that group of buildings…did not go well…The first buyers reported problems with the finishes, as well as humidity in the garages and the poor quality of the padel court.

Eight years after the homes were handed over, 51 apartments in different parts of the development are now going on the market, with appraisal values ranging from €155,484 for a first floor 3-bedroom property to €250,000 for homes that are bigger and higher up (…).

House prices in the city of Oviedo in Q3 2017 amounted to €1,264/m2, according to the appraisal company Tinsa. In YoY terms, they rose by 1.5%, but the number of transactions was still very low and, in 2016, prices fell by 0.8% in YoY terms. Since the middle of 2008, each homeowner in Oviedo has lost 37% of his/her property value, on average (…).

Volatility and low returns are two of the factors that have ended up causing the Asturian businessman Blas Herrero to surrender his real estate ambitions just ten years after launching them and after more than five years of unremarkable activity. In 2015, Argia Inversiones Inmobiliarias filed for voluntary creditors’ bankruptcy. The liquidation plan…was approved in January.

A peaceful end is anticipated with the voluntary auction that is due to be held on 20 December. The 159 lots, which will be bid for independently, include some mortgage charges in favour of Liberbank, who has most at stake in terms of the success of these disposals (…).

Prices and lots

The data is not encouraging. In the last year – between July 2016 and June this year – 633 homes were sold across the whole of Asturias (…). The figures indicate that the crisis is still on-going. A decade ago, the General Council of Notaries recorded three times as many real estate transactions per year. Moreover, some of the lots are far from the reach of most (…). Specifically, three plots from the special plan are together worth €10.5 million (…).

Original story: El Comercio (by Gonzalo Díaz-Rubín)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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