Just Four Socimis Own Almost 20,000 Rental Homes in Spain

22 July 2018 – El Diario

The debates over rental housing, rising prices and the risk of a new real estate bubble are all continuing to rage. Whilst Pedro Sánchez’s government has started to outline its new policy to avoid a hike in prices, investors are not letting up in their frenzy to take positions in the sector. Proof of that is the continuous trickle of new listed Socimis specialising in the residential rental sector.

One of the latest entities to hit the headlines in this regard is Testa Residencial, whose General Shareholders’ Meeting approved its debut on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) this week. That secondary market, specialising in Socimis and companies with smaller market capitalisations, will have 19 companies that either specialise in housing or own a significant portfolio of rental homes. Together they own a volume of assets that now comprise almost 24,000 homes, with a combined value of just over €4.1 billion.

Specifically, Testa is going to make its debut on the MAB as the largest rental home real estate company on the secondary market. Following its most recent operations, the Socimi now has 10,573 homes. The entity is owned by BBVA, Santander and Merlin, amongst other shareholders. It is followed, in terms of the number of assets owned, by Albirana, Fidere and Torbel, the three residential Socimis owned by the vulture fund Blackstone, which together own more than 9,300 homes.

Those four companies alone own almost 20,000 rental homes, according to data registered by the companies themselves in their issue brochures or annual accounts. That figure coincides with the plan outlined by the Minister for Development, José Luis Ábalos, which includes the creation by the Government of a stock of public housing for rent over the next four to six years.

Another of the most important Socimis in this field is Témpore, a subsidiary of the bad bank, Sareb, in which the company that owns the toxic assets of the rescued savings banks has placed some of its best homes and which made its stock market debut in March. It owns almost 1,400 homes and announced recently that it will be increasing its portfolio with new assets from Sareb.

Madrid is the province that is home to the most homes owned by the almost twenty Socimis that are listed on the MAB, accounting for 47% of the total (…). It is followed by the province of Barcelona, with 22%, and to a lesser extent, Valencia, with just over 4%. Together, those three provinces account for almost three-quarters of the assets owned by those entities.

Rising yields

The real estate consultancy firm JLL justifies this interest from the Socimis in rental housing by the significant returns that they generate. According to that firm, over the last year, rental homes generated a yield of 11.4%, compared with 10-year public bonds, for example, which generated a return of 1.6%. “Our forecasts indicate that yields will grow by 6.1% over the next three years”, they add, although they highlight that there are differences by region.

JLL specifies that the market is “highly fragmented” despite the “profound transformation” that is happening in the rental housing sector due to the development of Socimis and the arrival of institutional investors. The consultancy firm points out that these types of real estate investors are faced with the limitation of a shortage of entire buildings available for rent, a model that they prefer because it allows for a more efficient management. For that reason, they say that investors such as Testa and Azora are looking to grow their portfolios by building new rental homes in collaboration with property developers and construction companies.

Another noteworthy point about this growth in the number of Socimis dedicated to rental housing is the ownership of the companies. Almost half of the real estate companies that are listed on the MAB, eight to be precise, are controlled by companies that have their headquarters in Luxembourg. Such is the case of Albirana, Elaia, Elix Vintage, Fidere, Hadley, and Torbel, a company that is also indirectly controlled from the Cayman Islands. Another of the companies is located in The Netherlands (Barcino) and two others, Galil and VBare, are linked to Israeli investors (…).

Original story: El Diario (by Diego Larrouy)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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