Private Companies Start Building VPO Rental Homes Due to Lack of Public Resources

11 June 2019 – Idealista

Housing and the need for public-private partnerships to build affordable homes was one of the hot topics during the recent election campaigns. But the reality is that the public administrations do not have the resources to fund any substantial residential programs.

In addition, Spain has traditionally been a country of homeowners and so most of the few affordable homes that the state has been building have been sold rather than put up for rent. This represents a major problem for the growing population of renters in the country, which some estimate currently account for 23% of total demand, compared with the European average of 34%. The Bank of Spain’s official figure for 2017 was 16%. Regardless, private companies are entering the market to fill the gap.

One such example is Azora, which has been managing social housing for rent since 2004 through its fund Lazora. It estimates that Spain needs 2.5 million mostly affordable rental homes to bring it in line with the European average. That would require an investment of approximately €300 billion over the next few years, a mammoth figure.

Azora actually sold its Lazora portfolio, containing almost 7,000 homes (private and social) to CBRE and Madison in 2018. They committed to continue investing capital in the sector and have already committed more than €200 million in various projects to build 1,200 more homes.

Azora still manages almost 14,000 social and private rental homes across the country and has recently been joined in the sector by the property developer AQ Acentor, the real estate arm of the German fund Aquila Capital. Specifically, AQ Acentor is planning to build 1,450 VPO rental homes in Villaverde, Barcelona, Valencia and Málaga. The numbers are not huge but they will go some way to plugging the gap.

Meanwhile, in the public sector, according to data from the Ministry of Development, 5,167 VPO homes were built in 2018, of which just 353 (6.8%) were dedicated to rental. In 2017, 4,938 VPO homes were constructed, the lowest absolute number since records began, of which 355 (7.1%) were dedicated to rental. Madrid accounted for most of the new VPO homes in 2018 (2,418, of which just 78 were dedicated to rental).

Azora considers that more institutional investment is required to make up for the housing deficit and that “to attract such capital, we need solutions and policies that promote and facilitate the construction of new rental homes”. It remains to be seen whether the politicians can put their ideological differences aside and come up with a clear and consensual housing policy for the benefit of the country at large.

Original story: Idealista (by P. Martínez-Ameida & Ana P. Alarcos)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

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