INE: Land Sales Increase By 10.5% In 8m To Aug

27 October 2015 – Cinco Días

This week has seen the conclusion of the two major annual events in Spain’s real estate calendar: the Real Estate Trade Fair in Madrid (SIMA) and Barcelona Meeting Point. In addition to a sharp increase in the number of private visitors, this year more companies have wanted to be present at both events, because the figures clearly show that more houses are being sold, at higher prices (the price decreases have now come to an end across most of the country) and most importantly, new properties are being constructed once again.

Given that land is the raw material required to launch new developments, it was crucial for funding to return to this segment of the market as well, and the statistics show that the trend there is now reversing. Not only are more mortgages being granted to acquire homes and complete developments abandoned due to the crisis, loans are also being granted once more to buy land. (…)

According to the latest available statistics, compiled by INE, for the period from January to August 2015, 48,905 plots of land were sold in Spain during the first 8 months of the year, an increase of 10.5% compared with the same period in 2014 (when 44,237 plots were sold). If this trend continues, 2015 will close with a significant increase on the number of plots of land sold last year (65,821), breaking the downward trend that began in 2007 (the first year this data was collected) when 195,269 plots of land changed hands.

What are investors looking for?

In terms of whether more or fewer mortgages are being granted on the plots of land being sold, the figures do not yet reflect an overwhelming improvement (…).

Again, according to INE, between January and July (the data for August is published today), 4,897 mortgages were granted for plots of land, a decrease of just 1.6% compared with the same period last year, when the number amounted to 4,979. Like in the case of land sales, if the trend in mortgages granted for land is maintained between now and the end of the year, then 2015 will close with an increase in the number granted for the first time since 2009.

For the experts and everyone now working in the real estate sector (including the banks, the Socimis and the new servicers), the fact that financing has returned to the land segment is very good news, since this will revive the construction of new builds. Above all, we are now starting to see studies that show that one of the imbalances on the horizon in the market is the lack of offices, developable land and industrial warehouses in prime and other good locations in cities, which is what exactly national and international investors are looking for.

Finally, if this trend continues and improves, it will be a great relief for the banks, since 37.8% of the almost €80,000 million in foreclosed real estate assets that last year weighed down on the balance sheets of the main Spanish financial entities (Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Sabadell, Popular, Bankia, Bankinter, Kutxabank, Unicaja, Ceiss, BMN, Liberbank, Ibercaja-Caja3, Novagalicia and Catalunya Banc) related to land, the same percentage as for finished homes, which accounted for 37.1% of the total, according to a study by the Department for Research and Economic Analysis at La Caixa.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Raquel Díaz Guijarro)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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