Metrovacesa Explores Entering the Rental Home Sector

21 February 2019 – El Confidencial

Selling new build homes is still proving to be too much of a challenge for the times that are approaching. As such, another of the listed property developers, Metrovacesa, is evaluating its entry into the rental home sector, an option that its competitor Neinor (advised by Goldman Sachs) also has on the table. According to market sources, it is the first of the large players determined to take that step to fulfil its business plans.

Since the end of last year, the large owners of residential land have acknowledged that they are open to entering the rental market, either as owners or as turnkey suppliers for investors. The challenge, nevertheless, is disembarking in this segment without their margins being affected and therefore being forced to revise their business plans, like Juan Velayos already had to do with Neinor.

For the time being, the real estate company controlled by Santander (49%) and BBVA (21%) has recognised that it is considering rental housing as “a valid strategic option”, although it has not made any firm decisions in this regard, according to public declarations made by the property developer’s Head of Corporate Development. In its case, it will always be as a business to sell to a specialist third party operating in the residential property business.

This strategic reflection affects everyone, although the speeds of adoption will vary. In the case of Aedas, it has been working for some time on different scenarios that may open the door following the end of the current cycle, in which property developers with large land portfolios have been constituted, boosted by investment funds, because its not all about land in the main markets, nor are there infinite buyers for flats costing more than €400,000.

In the case of Metrovacesa, its numbers are the most chunky, since it has the largest liquid land portfolio in Spain, worth almost €2.7 billion, on which it estimates that around 38,000 homes could be built, according to official data. In its case, like with the rest of the listed firms, the largest volume of homes will be handed over in 2020, a short-term horizon, for which conservative estimates are beginning to be made.

The lower economic growth in Spain (2.8% in 2018 and 2.2% in 2019, according to the Bank of Spain) is another indicator of the macro-economic environment that is looming. In this situation, the potential impact that it may have on sales forecasts means that “many value alternative (rental) products as options for offsetting a likely slowdown in sales”, say sources at one of the large real estate consultancy firms.

Original story: El Confidencial (by C. H.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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