Speculation Returns To The Market For Land In Madrid & Along The Coast

11 April 2016 – ABC

During the years of the crisis, investors regarded land as one of the least attractive assets. In fact, in the face of scarce demand and the paralysis in the construction sector, land values fell to historic lows. (…).

Sales of urban land, the substratum of real estate developments, are growing again after nine years of consecutive decreases. And they are doing so at a healthy – and on occasion, vertiginous – rate in certain areas of the country where the housing market has already started its recovery, such as the more illustrious areas of major cities, including the north of Madrid and established areas along the coast (Málaga, Palma de Mallorca and the Canary Islands). So much so that a warning is now spreading amongst analysts and agents in the sector: the scarcity of developable land – which does not require land planning approval – in certain areas, and renewed interest from investors is generating a new “overheating” in the price of transactions, something not seen since the burst of the real estate bubble.

The latest “Market Trends” report prepared by Solvia, the real estate arm of Banco Sabadell, warns that the expectation of a strong recovery in value is incubating operations of a speculative nature. “The fact that the supply of well-located land is scarce in areas with demand, that there is widespread liquidity in the market and that there is fierce competition to acquire assets, means that land purchases are being made for speculative purposes, in certain specific cases, for subsequent resale at significantly higher prices”.

In this sense, the study, which does not cite who is behind such transactions, highlights the cases of the Madrilenian neighbourhoods of Valdebebas and Montecarmelo. In the case of the latter, the price of land has risen by between 40% and 60% to €2,400/m2.

Montecarmelo and Valdebebas

Fernando Rodríguez de Acuña, Director General of Operations at the consultancy firm RR de Acuña y Asociados distinguishes between three players in the race for land: the financial entities and large investors, who have put their assets up for sale “in stages” and the small and medium-sized funds, which are more prone to speculative operations given that they seek high short-term yields. The confluence of these players has given rise to a situation in which both the activity and value of these real estate assets have increased significantly, if we exclude the statistical effect of operations carried out by financial entities foreclosing unpaid debt. Thus, the number of transactions carried out by operators in the sector (developers, funds and cooperatives) increased by 37% in 2015 compared with the year before and by 60% in terms of transaction volume. (…).

According to the experts, two operations in particular have caused prices in the land market in the Spanish capital to sky-rocket: firstly, the sale of 14 plots containing more than 93,000 m2 of buildable space, by the Valdebebas Compensation Board to the property developer Pryconsa for more than €55 million and secondly, the acquisition of a plot of land in Montecarmelo by Cogesa, which belongs to the Dragados group, for more than €20 million. (…).

Original story: ABC (by Luis M. Ontoso)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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