Fotocasa: 20% of Investors Rent Out Their Properties as Tourist Apartments

2 December 2017 – Expansión

In the last three years – which have seen the consolidation of the current upward trend in the housing market – an unusual situation has arisen: rental prices have risen by more than property (sales) prices; at the same time, demand for rental properties has soared and hundreds of thousands of homes have appeared on the market, which has resulted in an impasse of high yield and low risk. Given that the returns on traditional investments, such as debt and deposits, are at historical lows, property is shining once again. Without falling into the excesses of the bubble, housing is providing investors with shelter and revenues once more.

Not only that. The appearance of new real estate models has spurred on the financial potential of residential assets, in such a way that 20% of real estate investors are now using their properties as tourist apartments. In other words, one out of every five, according to a study by Fotocasa, to which Expansión has had access.

That high percentage – which is expected to continue growing – is due to the fact that new short-term leasing platforms, such as Airbnb, allow investors to obtain even higher returns than from traditional rental arrangements. In any case, 65% of investors still prefer the stability of having a long-term tenant. The remaining 15% buy homes but do not let them out, instead, they wait for them to appreciate in value before selling them for a profit.

“Now is a good time to buy to let, be it long-term or holiday rentals, given that both formulae are generating returns that, in the current context of low interest rates, cannot be found in any financial product or on the stock market”, explains Beatriz Toribio, Head of Research at Fotocasa (…).

11% of all house purchases are bought for investment purposes. In other words, around 50,000 homes this year. That means that around 10,000 dwellings (the aforementioned figure of 20%) will be used as tourist apartments (…).

More revenues

(…) According to data from Fotocasa, 74% of the owners that in the last year have put a tourist home up for rent through the online portals and platforms say that they obtain more revenues through their tourist rentals than from residential letting. 66% of those calculate that they obtain between 5% and 15% more; 16% say that they receive between 15% and 20% more; and 12% state that they can earn 20% more than from long-term rentals.

It is a buoyant time for savers and investors. Almost half of those who buy a home that is not going to be their primary residence, do so as an investment (45%), whilst 55% acquire, in theory, to have a second home. But, almost 40% of the latter group consider putting that home up for rent for short periods of time – for example, during the summer when they are not on holiday there – whilst 7% end up opting for long-term rentals (…).

Rental prices are currently increasing at a YoY rate of around 10% and second-hand house prices are rising by around 5% YoY, according to Fotocasa. Those figures increase to 10% and 20% in certain districts of Madrid and Barcelona, the two major investment centres (…).

The saturation of tourist apartments in Madrid and Barcelona is causing a great deal of political debate. The Town Hall of the Cataluñan capital, led by Ada Colau, first fined Airbnb for its 6,000-7,000 illegal tourist rental properties, and at the same time announced “more forceful legislation”. Then, in the summer, it reached an agreement to make a list of the apartments that were breaking the law. This week, the platform has withdrawn 2,500 advertisements in Barcelona, 1,200 thanks to that agreement with the Town Hall and 1,300 after a limit of one home per person was placed on the number of entire houses that a single owner may have in Ciutat Vella.

Controversy aside, which are the best homes for investing in a tourist apartment? The price and the number of rooms are the basic requirements that buyers look for, but “those who are looking to invest prioritise aspects relating to the area, such as transport links (44% vs 31% for the overall purchasing population), a nice neighbourhood (46% vs 38%) and the services in the area (37% vs 30%) (…).

Tourist rentals have one fundamental disadvantage: “They require more effort and time, due to the high turnover of tenants, especially if the owner manages that side of things him/herself, without the help of a professional”, says Toribio. “That is the main reason why two out of every 10 lessors abandon this type of rental arrangement after giving it a try”, she reveals.

Original story: Expansión (by Juanma Lamet)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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