The RE Sector & Its Challenges For The Future

14 April 2016 – Cinco Días

“Few countries in the world have as much regulatory complexity as Spain”, said Alfonso Benavides, Chairman of the Urban Land Institute in Spain yesterday, at the Sustainable Urban Development Forum organised by the newspaper El País and sponsored by Distrito Castellana Norte. According to experts, the diversity of legislation hampers growth in a sector that has great potential for expansion. The politicisation and lack of a roadmap for management plans represent another obstacle”. “There is no strategic vision”, said Eduardo Fernández-Cuesta, Chairman of RICS in Spain.

The system is so complex (and hard to interpret) that it generates more questions than it answers. The continuous updates to the regulatory framework resolve one set of problems and create another. “The private sector can work with complexity, but not with uncertainty over timings”, warned Benavides, who pointed out that the first draft of an urban planning request alone can be up to 2,500 pages. The proposed extension of the Castellana being managed by Distrito Castellana Norte has been in the pipeline for more than 20 years, awaiting the various approvals.

“The fundamental concept is legal security, something which we currently lack”, said Ricardo Martí-Fluxa, Chairman of the Spanish Association of Real Estate Consultancy Companies. It is estimated that for every €1 million of real estate investment, between 18 and 20 jobs are created. In his opinion, we should stop demonising the economic gains of projects because the private sector, which has to drive these processes, must be able to generate a return from its investments and he noted that Town Halls in other European capital cities, such as London, are determined to give companies facilities so that they can execute such investments.

Juan Antonio Gómez-Pintado, Chairman of the Association of Real Estate Developers in Madrid, expressed the same views. He noted that the first people who are interested in putting an end to speculation are property developers. “It is absolutely essential that land is available, when it is restricted, a natural speculative process occurs. By the law of supply and demand, when land is restricted, its price increases”, he complained. (…).

The big question is, following the burst of the real estate bubble, whether Spain needs to continue building homes. The Ministry of Development, which prepares an annual report, estimates that there are 43,000 empty new homes in Madrid alone. Sources in the sector dispute those figures. “The report is prepared using a valid methodology, but it does not reflect the reality because, for example, it does not take account of the fact that the owner of a new home may not want to sell it”, said Juan Fernández-Aceytuno, CEO of Sociedad de Tasación. The actual number, if we look on a promotion by promotion basis, does not exceed 8,000 homes in Madrid. “One of the major problems is that we have run out of stock”, said Gómez-Pintado.

Nevertheless, the experts agree that, a new bubble is unlikely, especially due to the lack of available mortgage financing. In 2006, around 1.3 million loans were granted. In 2014, that figure barely reached 350,000. “There is no risk of a bubble”, said Fernández-Aceyuno. “We expect a period of stability in terms of house prices across the country”.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Carlos Santana)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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