ST: House Prices Will Rise By 3% In 2017

18 January 2017 – Cinco Días

House prices will grow by 3% on average this year, driven by the improvement in the economy and employment, but also by the pseudo boom that is happening in the rental sector, in particular in large cities. That is according to Sociedad de Tasación, one of the largest appraisal companies in the sector.

The year that has just started will continue to be favourable in general terms for a real estate sector that, in the words of the Director General of Sociedad de Tasación, Juan Fernández-Aceytuno, is “recovering its sense of judgement”.

Thus, the volume of transactions will continue to grow, the rate of construction will intensify and more mortgages will be signed (although that figure will always fall below the number of house sales); and all of that means that house prices will end the year 3% higher, on average. Nevertheless, Sociedad de Tasación warns against certain risks and key factors that will determine the extent of this improvement in the real estate sector.

The first is what is happening in the rental market. Fernández-Aceytuno again highlighted the large group of potential buyers, such as young people aged between 25 and 35 years old, who are unable to buy a home because of their low wages and because of the precariousness associated with the majority of the new jobs that are being created. Since those people are not buying, many are choosing to rent, which has caused demand in the rental market to soar, along with rental prices. Sociedad de Tasación believes that if no response is given to this insolvent demand, rental prices will continue to rise and that will, in turn, drive up the prices of homes up for sale.

The Director General recalled that the average yield on rental properties in large cities stands at around 6.1% at the moment, which means that the increase in real estate prices in the major cities will be higher than the 3% forecast for the country as a whole.

Moderate pace

Other decisive factors, in addition to the improvement in employment, will be everything relating to financing. The new accounting standards, which the banks must comply with this year, together with the cost of recent court rulings, such as the judgement regarding floor clauses, and the forecast increase in interest rates may have an impact on the conditions for accessing credit over the medium term, which will determine the behaviour of much of the demand.

In any case, the good news, according to Socidad de Tasación, is not only that the main indicators in the sector are going to continue to stabilise, but also that they are doing so in a much more balanced way than in the past. In this sense, the firm gave the example that house prices are growing at more moderate rates now than they did during the previous boom, with rises in line with the number of new Social Security members. Moreover, it highlighted that land prices have not soared by more than house prices, which was also common during the early 2000s.

What’s more, property developers have not started to build homes in an uncontrolled way, even despite the expectation that more new homes are going to be sold. A study compiled by the appraisal company shows that the supply of new homes in Madrid and Barcelona is actually scarce, which means that it will run out within 10 months in the capital and within 14 months in Barcelona. Finally, it describes the rate of property construction along the coast as “very reasonable”.

Original story: Cinco Días (Raquel Díaz Guijarro)

Translation: Carmel Drake

La Caixa: House Prices Increased By 2.65% YoY In Q1 2015

6 July 2015 – Cinco Días

The recovery in the housing market is strengthening with rising sales prices, an increase in the volume of mortgages and a decrease in the number of mortgage foreclosures. In parallel, major transactions are being signed in the market for offices once again.

The official statistics show that house prices increased by 2.65% YoY during the first quarter of 2015 and by 1.88% with respect to the end of 2014 – property prices fell by 31% on average during the crisis -. Furthermore, growth is being seen across all regions, with the País Vasco and the Balearic Islands leading the charge.

Between January and March 2015, 16.2% more house sales were registered than during the period from October to December 2014, and 9% more were recorded than during the same period in 2014. The sale of used homes rose by 23.8% during the first quarter.

Transactions involving foreigners – who are driving the sector – increased by 8.9% with respect to the same quarter in 2014. Certificates for mortgage foreclosures decreased by 4.3% with respect to the first quarter in 2013 and have now fallen by 14% since their peak in 2010. A report from La Caixa says that supply, demand and prices are all adjusting accordingly. The inclusion of Spaniards (as buyers) will happen in due course, supported by the “improved labour market and easing of access to credit” thanks to the ECB’s program and the clean up of the banking sector. There is still a high level of stock to sell and lease, and the market for the construction of new developments is only just beginning to recover. The study warns that we should continue to monitor the market for signs of a possible bubble.

Furthermore, activity is returning to the segments for offices, warehouses and commercial premises. During the first quarter, there was a five-fold increase in transaction volumes with respect to the same period in 2014, say Savills, and four purchases alone amounted to €1,340 million in total.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Madrid is one of the European cities with the best investment prospects; that is reflected in the “surge in capital inflows, which began in 2013 and is not showing any signs of receding”. And the money is coming from all sources, including global funds and tycoons such as Warren Buffet. Spain is a good place to invest.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Carlos Gómez Abajo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

The AHE Urges Banks To Sell Their Remaining RE Assets

12 June 2015 – Expansión

The Spanish Mortgage Association (‘Asociación Hipotecaria Española’ or AHE), whose members are all banks, believes that the sector must sell off its real estate portfolio so that it can, progressively, focus its resources on its core banking activity once more. According to the economic report issued by the General Assembly of the AHE, the real estate market is now showing its first signs of revival and recovery, after its “significant adjustment” since 2007.

Meanwhile, the trade association also analyses whether the recovery in mortgage lending is happening in the right way, after some bankers raised concerns. In this regard, the AHE notes that the recovery in terms of mortgages is positive, and so too is the competition between entities, as that is leading to lower prices, which is in turn facilitating access to credit for families. Nevertheless, the association draws attention to the fact that “we cannot highlight enough the importance of properly assessing the risks in order to avoid malfunctions such as those experienced in recent years”.

The risks are particularly high during periods of extraordinary economic stimuli and/or when interest rate curves flatten out.

Original story: Expansión (by M.R.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Fitch: House Prices In Spain Have Bottomed Out

12 February 2015 – El Mundo

The ratings agency expects prices to stabilise at their current levels, 40% below their peak.

It also predicts that the increase in house prices will be “marked” by the greater availability of credit and a substantial improvement in the labour market.

The credit rating agency Fitch Ratings expects house prices in Spain to stabilise at their current levels, 40% below the peak levels recorded before the crisis. The agency notes that the data now shows that an equilibrium has been reached and prices will not decrease any further.

According to its report about the mortgage market in Spain, the theoretical benefits of greater access to credit are still a long way off from compensating for the over-supply (of homes) and the lack of confidence caused by high unemployment. Similarly, Fitch adds that the increase in house prices will be “marked” by greater availability of credit and a substantial improvement in the labour market.

In this sense, it stresses that interest rates are currently low and that it expects debt servicing to continue to be manageable in the medium term, but it warns that households that are in the process of deleveraging remain sensitive to interest rate rises.

On the other hand, it considers that banks are more willing to grant mortgages to solvent customers and are gradually reducing their margins, as a result of their own lower financing costs. Nevertheless, the low forecast Euribor rates for 2015 will restrict any further decline in these margins.

The agency notes that, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (el Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas or INE), house prices rose by 0.2% in Spain in the third quarter of 2014, the first time they had risen for two consecutive months since the third quarter of 2007.

Finally, Fitch notes that unemployment decreased by 2.3 percentage points year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2014, to 24.2% and it believes that the “less bad” conditions in the labour market are reflected in a decrease in the number of loans falling into arrears.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

AEV Less Optimistic About Real Estate Recovery In 2015

4 February 2015 – Cinco Días.

House construction will not be revived until the upwards trend in prices grows stronger.

Analysts believe that the crisis “has cleaned up” the sector.

The macroeconomic recovery will come first, driven by increased activity and job creation, and then an improvement in the real estate sector. That is the expected path of recovery for the house building sector, one of those hardest hit by the recent crisis.

Paloma Taltavull, Head of the Department for Applied Economics at the University of Alicante explained this yesterday. She is one of the experts that has participated in a study conducted by the Spanish Association of Value Analysis (AEV), which represents more than 90% of the appraisers that operate in the market.

Thus, unlike the forecasters that resolutely claim that the real estate market will recover in 2015, the members of this organisation are much more cautious.

“Construction activity is still at historically low levels, with house prices now bottoming out, having been in decline since 2008”, state the conclusions of the study. However, for how long will prices remain at these low levels? That is the million-dollar question that all of the experts are asking themselves and to which investors, developers, vendors and buyers want the right answer. The problem is that getting the forecasts right with everything that still might happen seems, at the least, very complicated, according to the Chairman and Secretary of the AEV, Gonzalo Ortega and José Manuel Gómez de Miguel, respectively.

Two variables, in particular, always determine the future of this market: employment and access to credit. Although the official statistics for 2014 still need to be corroborated, it seems that there were more house sales in 2014 than in the previous year for the first time since the crisis began. And prices showed a clear trend towards zero growth or stabilisation.

Less property, more rent

And that was because last year was the first year in which Spain created jobs again, rather than destroying them. Moreover, financing terms were relaxed, thanks to the lowering of interest rates and the overall improvement in the banking sector.

However, according to the experts who prepared the AEV’s report, this recovery in employment is still insufficient to boost the housing market. Furthermore, the report highlights the “precariousness of the new jobs that have been created, along with wage deflation and mass youth unemployment” as the three most important factors that give us “few reasons to be optimistic”.

In this context, and given that the restrictive conditions surrounding access to credit for those that do not have a stable job and/or a certain level of income, the appraisers and experts at the AEV are unanimous in their view that “it will take a real and prolonged recovery for young people to be able to buy their own homes. Therefore, everything suggests that the majority of young people will opt to rent homes, whereby aligning with the European average”.

This is causing a build up in the back-log of demand from buyers, who still do not meet all of the requirements to make buying a house a reality. The appraisers’ report reveals that the most recent census data (2011) shows that almost 900,000 nuclei of new homes could have potentially been formed, but were not. If the improvement in employment continues, a large part of this potential demand will become effective and house prices will start to rise slowly as a result, “although we do not expect them to do so on a widespread basis or across the whole country until the end of this year”, predicted Taltavull.

And as for the construction of homes, the experience of past crises indicates that the return to previous levels of construction will be very slow over the next few years and will not become a reality until prices have recovered.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Raquel Díaz Guijarro)

Translation: Carmel Drake