Real Estate Sector To Close A Record Year In Spain

30/12/2014 – Expansión

BOOM INVESTOR / The arrival of international funds and launch of large investment REITs have increased investment over previous years to 9 billion euros. Both number of operations and total figures have soared. Large shopping malls and prime-location office buildings have been the most sought-after assets in 2014.

After more than five years of business decline, it was forecast that recovery would come to the Spanish real estate sector in 2014. However, the most optimistic scenario has played out in reality and exceeded all expectations.

Awaiting the year-end figures, this is already the second best year over the past decade, surpassed only by 2007, amidst the boom of the Spanish economy. “The market this year has been considerably more active than back in 2007. A larger number of assets and in higher volumes have been purchased, when compared to the 2007 prices,” explained experts from the Research division of JLL España.

So far this year, more than 6.18 billion euros have been invested in real estate for tertiary use (i.e. non-residential), according to Deloitte Real Estate.

This figure goes even further up to 9 billion, according to the Aguirre Newman consultancy, taking into account various debt portfolios secured with real estate assets as well as sale of land and housing.

These figures are double those recorded in 2013, 2012 and 2011 and attributable to a combination of several factors. “2014 was a year in which we had all the factors to foster investment: overall improvement of the economic situation, the rise of new players with liquidity and willingness to invest (the REITs), the return of funding and the need to sell certain close-ended funds,” says Javier Garcia-Mateo, director of Deloitte Real Estate.

New investors

Among the factors which most influenced the increase in investment are the new players in the sector: the REITs. Only four major listed real estate companies – Merlin Properties, Real Hispania, Lar Spain and Axia Real Estate, have invested over 2.4 billion euros. Among those investments made by December 24 was the purchase of the largest shopping mall in 2014: the Marineda City in La Coruña, by Merlin Properties for 260 million euros.

Just three days ago, the British realtor Intu Properties beat this record by paying €451 million for Puerto Venecia in Zaragoza. With these transactions, investment in shopping malls in 2014 amounted to €3 billion, the same amount invested in the entire real estate sector back in 2013.

The malls are not the only type of commercial property that has defined large-scale transactions. Street locations have also been blue-chip investment. Thus, companies such as Mango bought properties in Madrid and Bilbao to open large stores, while international funds, such as Axa Real Estate and Deka seek to be the landlords of the major brands on Gran Via in Madrid.

In the case of office space, investment has soared from January to September over 200%, up to 2.4 billion, according to CBRE. These figures are due to the purchase of portfolios, as for example, in addition to its four buildings in Barcelona and Madrid, Blackstone has acquired other four from SAREB a few days ago.

In terms of offices, it’s worth noting the purchase of two properties in Barcelona — Torre Agbar and Paseo de Gracia 111 — that will be turned into luxury hotels, as well as the numerous buildings sold by public administrations like that of the Generalitat.

“We are at the close of a fiscal year of a great deal of investing activities and we should expect the same level of activity for the next year on the market, though with certain changes in the investors’ profile,” states Jaime Pascual, CEO of Aguirre Newman.

Original article: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Aura REE