Spain’s Real Estate Sector Closed 2014 With A Record High

02/01/2015 – Expansión

The arrival of international funds and the implementation of large REITs have increased investments, with respect to previous years, up to 9 billion euros. Both the total figures and number of operations have skyrocketed. Well-located large shopping centers and office buildings have been the most desirable assets in 2014.

After more than five years of decline in business, the Spanish real estate sector predicted that recovery would arrive in the year 2014. However, the more optimistic reality has exceeded all expectations.

In anticipation of the year-end figures, this is already the second best year in the last decade, surpassed only by 2007, in the boom of the Spanish economy. “The market this year has been proportionally more active than in 2007. A higher number of assets have been purchased, and the prices, when compared with 2007 figures, are much higher,” explained representatives from the research department of JLL Spain.

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 soars to 9 billion, according to the consultancy group, Aguirre Newman, if we take into account multiple debt portfolios whose securities were real estate assets, and the sale of land and housing.

These figures are double those recorded in 2013, 2012 and 2011, and are explained by a combination of several factors. “2014 was a year in which all the elements were present to favor real estate investment: the improvement of the overall economic situation, the emergence of new players with liquidity and the pressure to invest (the REITs), the return of funding and the need to sell certain closed funds,” says Javier Garcia-Mateo, director of Deloitte Real Estate.
New investors

The new players in the real estate sector, the REITs, are among the most influential reasons for investment growth. Only four major listed real estate companies, Merlin Properties, Hispania Real, Lar España and Axia Real Estate, have invested over 2.4 billion euros. Among their investments was the purchase of Marineda City, a shopping center located in La Coruña (Galicia), by Merlin Properties for 260 million euros, the largest purchase of a shopping center until December 24, 2014.

A few days ago, the British real estate company, Intu Properties, beat this record by paying 451 million euros for Puerto Venecia in Zaragoza. With these last transactions, investment in shopping centers in 2014 amounted to 3 billion euros, the same amount invested across the real estate sector in 2013.

Shopping centers are not the only commercial properties to be the star of large operations. Street storefronts have also been key players in investments. Thus, companies such as Mango bought property in Madrid and Bilbao to create large retail stores; while international funds, such as Axa Real Estate and Deka, bid for being the landlords of the main brands along the Gran Via in Madrid.

As for office buildings, investment has soared over 200% from January to September to 2.4 billion euros, according to CBRE. These figures are due to the purchase of portfolios such as the four buildings located in Barcelona and Madrid held by Blackstone, in addition to the other four buildings that the same fund bought from SAREB a few days ago.

Also noteworthy is the purchase of two properties in Barcelona — Torre Agbar and Paseo de Gracia 111 — which will be transformed into luxury hotels, and the numerous buildings sold by public administrations such as the Generalitat.

“A year of great investment activity has closed and the market should expect the same level of activity for the next year, albeit with some changes in the profile of investors,” says Jaime Pascual, Executive Managing Director of Aguirre Newman.

Original article: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)
Translation: Aura REE