International Funds Reactivate Residential Development Market

7 July 2016 – El Economista

After several years away, cranes are appearing on Spain’s landscape once again. Their return has come thanks to several large international funds, which have managed to reactivate the property developer market in record time and just at the right moment. Thanks to their presence, property developer activity in Spain grew by 30% last year, with 50,000 new construction permits; and the experts are certain that the residential business is now unstoppable.

The financial capacity of the new players is overwhelming in some cases. They have liquidity surpluses that the historical property developers would have envied, but, nevertheless, they do not know the ‘ins and outs’ of the local market, and their experience in terms of land is practically non-existent. For this reason, their entry into the Spanish market has been undertaken through the purchase of property developer platforms and through partnerships with local companies (…).

In light of the high profile partnerships that have been signed in the last two years, involving players such as Lone Star, Värde and Kennedy Wilson, the experts predict that the high level of activity will continue this year with the purchase of plots of land. In fact, they confirm that sales of non-developable land are starting to accelerate and that demand for land purchases will increase, especially those in the final stages of development, due to the high level of competition that has been generated between the key players in the sector – property developers, investment funds and cooperatives.

All of these players have realised that the opportunities that the residential development business is now offering “have yields that are considerably higher than those of other investments”, according to Solvia’s Market View report, which states that transactions have grown by 8.6% and prices have risen by around 4.5%. With these positive indicators, the development figures being talked about now include 150,000 new homes and 50,000 secondary residences per year until 2020.

Most of these homes will come onto the market thanks to Neinor Homes, which is looking to become the largest property developer in Spain. This company will be one of the most active over the next few years, given that according to its own forecasts, it expects to build between 2,500 and 3,000 homes per year. The firm, led by Juan Velayos – the former CEO of Renta Corporación – is the largest residential real estate company created in Spain following seven years of recession.

Its potential was proven last year, since between its creation, in May 2015, and the end of the year, it invested own funds amounting to €800 million on the purchase of land, on which it plans to construct 10,000 homes over the next few years, bringing together the largest bank of high-quality developable land in Spain (…).

But Lone Star is not the only fund that has made a long-term commitment to the Spanish residential market. The US fund has had a major competitor for several weeks now, in the form of Värde, which after acquiring 25% of the real estate arm of San José from Banco Popular, has now created a new property developer.

The company is called dospuntos and its Business Plan for 2016-2012 forecasts an investment of almost €2,000 million in the Spanish real estate market over the next six years, to complete the construction of 2,000 homes per year on average from 2019 onwards. For the time being, the group already owns a sizeable bank of land for the construction of more than 7,000 homes across Spain.

Inmobiliaria Habitat is another company with history in the sector, which in 2015, after finding itself in a very delicate financial situation and incapable of paying its debt, ended up in the hands of a group of funds – Bank of America Merril Lynch, SP101 Finance Ireland, Capstone and Goldman Sachs, amongst others. In this case, although the commitment by the funds has been key, it is nonetheless a temporary measure, given that they plan to exit the group within two or three years.

The latest residential report from the consultancy firm CBRE highlights other partnerships between international funds and domestic developers such as: Grupo Lar and Pimco; Renta Corporación and Kennedy Wilson; Momentum Real Estate and HMC; Aquila Capital and Inmoglaciar; Mina Inmobiliaria and Eurostone; Aelca and Värde; and Q21 Real Estate and Baupost. (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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