Spain’s Banks Are Queueing Up to Finance Rental Housing

4 July 2018 – El Economista

One of the major challenges facing Spain in the residential market is the organisation of the rental home segment in light of the fragmentation that exists and the boom that is currently underway. There is currently a great deal of demand, but there is also a distinct lack of supply, and the new Housing Plan approved by the Government is not proving sufficient to incentivise the supply with the granting of aid to property developers that build rental housing. In light of this situation, we ask ourselves whether the opportunity that currently exists in Spain to organise the rental market is being taken advantage of?

“I think that the professionals and investors who have launched portfolios thanks to the creation of Socimis are taking good advantage of the opportunity, but I believe that some important players are simply not supporting the sector, such as the Public Administrations. Both nationally and locally, but above all locally, they are failing miserably and this is generating price tensions due to a lack of supply”, explains José Luis Ruiz Bartolomé, Director General of the consultancy firm Chamberí Asset Management.

Along the same lines, José María Cervera, Corporate CEO of Renta Corporación agrees and states that the public sector has been left on the sidelines. “Private capital has taken the initiative in this new segment of the market because it has seen a business opportunity and is looking for returns. And the public sector is going to have to enter, but now the arbitrage and those who are institutionalising it are in the private sector, and so they are going to place more rental properties on the market”.

For all of these reasons, during 2018, we are observing the creation of a new industry. Given that in Spain there are 18.5 million households, according to the latest figure from the Active Population Survey (EPA), and of those, 22% are rental homes, there are 4.7 million rental homes in total. Of that portfolio, only 5% are owned by institutional companies; the remaining 95% are owned by individuals.

“The Public Administration has done something important, which is to reorganise the real estate sector and separate property promotion and development activities, by creating Socimis that operate under a special framework. That has brought us closer to a situation that is more similar to those seen in other European countries. Now, we will have to see how the different players that are emerging in this market position themselves, and in two or three years, we will see the consolidation of this sector, which means that the Public Administrations will have to continue refining their regulations so that the sector can develop and be brought into line with those of other European countries”, says Nicolás Díaz-Saldaña, CEO at Témpore (Socimi of Sareb).

Nevertheless, not all of the experts in the sector concur. David Botín, Director of Real Estate Development at the ACR Group, says that this opportunity is not being leveraged. “It is possible that we are seeing the beginnings of a new rental market, but to date, just 22% of our households are renting and that supply is being provided almost exclusively by individuals. As such, it is very hard to fathom how we will reach the percentages seen in other countries such as Germany, where rental properties account for 48.3% of the market or the United Kingdom (36.6%). It is really hard to increase the stock in Spain because there are 19 million homes, and so a 1% increase means placing 190,000 more homes on the rental market, and that would take between three and four years (…). At that rate, nothing is going to happen quickly. No market works if there is no equilibrium between supply and demand. We need a large and varied supply for this market to work effectively”, he adds.

It is true that, historically, Spain has been a country of property owners, but the cultural and socio-economic changes that have been happening in recent years are drawing some new business lines, where the rental market is taking centre stage and is starting to become institutionalised. The new players in this market are: on the one hand, the Socimis, which are listed companies that serve as investment vehicles with tax benefits. The largest of them is Testa, which will debut on the stock market soon and which is owned by Santander, BBVA, Acciona and Merlin Properties. There are also others such as Azora, Vivenio (Renta Corporación), Témpore (Sareb) and Fidere, amongst the largest. Within this market, we can also include the servicers, which although they do not own properties, manage them, such as Solvia (Sabadell), Anticipa (Blackstone), Haya (Cerberus), Altamira (Apollo and Santander). And then, there are companies owned by the banks, such as Building Center (Caixabank) and other types of companies such as Alquiler Seguro, family offices, etc.

Therefore, now that the new players required to institutionalise this market are starting to be created, the next step is to develop a portfolio of assets. “We are going to need to reach agreements with property developers to build homes for rental (…), and at Sareb, we are going to use some of the land that we have for the co-development of rental homes (…)”, says Nicolás Saldaña.

That is a formula that is starting to spark interest. According to the experts, property developers have always been reluctant to enter the rental market, because they didn’t see it as their business, but in the end, the market trend has changed and whilst the sale and purchase segment will continue to exist, so too will the rental sector and property developers will have to participate (…).

The rental segment is a market that has always existed in the hands of individuals, but now, it is being professionalised, thanks to the arrival of overseas capital. “Investors have contributed many things, besides capital. They have contributed methodologies, rigour, professionalism (…). The banks were not open to this business before, they only financed promotion, but that has changed. For six months now, everyone has been wanting a piece of the pie and now there is a queue of financial institutions wanting to finance this type of business (…)”. Says José María Cervera (…).

Investing in residential properties is profitable. The gross return from investing in rental homes has increased to 7.3% from 6.3% a year ago, due to the strength of demand for rental properties, according to the real estate portfolio Idealista (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Luzmelia Torres)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Villar Mir Teams Up With ACR To Build Homes Through Its RE Firm Espacio

14 September 2017 – Expansión

Inmobiliaria Espacio, the holding subsidiary of Villar Mir, and the ACR Group have announced the joint purchase of a plot of land measuring 15,000 m2 (buildable surface area), where they plan to construct 160 homes.

The operation, whose consideration has not been revealed, forms part of a joint venture that the two companies have closed to construct homes in different parts of Spain.

In fact, the plot of land in Valladolid is the second purchase made by this joint company, which acquired another plot of land a few months ago in Madrid, specifically in Avenida Daroca, for the development of 32 homes.

“This new acquisition demonstrates the success of the collaboration between both companies and reinforces our idea of continuing to promote homes in those areas where we observe increasingly more demand and where both companies have an outstanding track record”, explains David Botín, Director of Real Estate Development at the ACR Group.

Sources at the company have said that they will continue to look for investment opportunities together with Villar Mir’s subsidiary. Moreover, ACR also has another alliance, with Allegra, the real estate arm of the Losantos family.

At the beginning of the year, Espacio announced its return to residential development, after several years away following the burst of the bubble. At the time, it announced that it planned to construct 241 homes along the coast (specifically, in Málaga, Alicante and Mallorca), whilst it looked for opportunities to buy land in Madrid. Espacio owns approximately 325,000 m2 of land in the urban development of Valdebebas, in the north of the capital.

Moreover, the real estate division of Villar Mir is the co-owner of Torre Caleido, the fifth skyscraper that is being constructed in the ‘Business Area de la Castellana’ complex in Madrid. It also owns a stake in the luxury Canalejas complex, which will soon be home to the first Four Seasons hotel in Spain.

According to the latest results corresponding to the year 2015, Villar Mir’s subsidiary recorded turnover of €114 million in 2015, up by 52% compared to the previous year.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Property Developers Accelerate Their Land Purchases

31 August 2017 – Expansión

Spain’s large real estate companies have launched ambitious investments plans with the aim of starting to build thousands of homes over the next few years, whereby benefitting from the upwards cycle that the housing market is currently enjoying.

The most active players include some of the new property developers led by investment funds such as Neinor Homes, Vía Célere and Aelca. These companies, the first of which is listed on the stock market and the latter two which have plans to make their stock market debuts within the next few months, have accelerated their land purchase plans in recent months, backed financially by their owner-shareholders and loans from the banks.

Such is the case of Neinor Homes. The property developer owned by Lone Star has invested €157.5 million so far in 2017 on the acquisition of various plots of land spread across locations such as Valencia, Málaga and Madrid. These purchases will allow it to build 1,750 homes, in addition to the around 4,000 units that it already has underway.

In the case of Vía Célere, acquired in February by Värde and five other funds, its land purchases so far in 2017 amount to €100 million, which has allowed it to increase its portfolio of land by 212,016 m2 to 2.7 million m2.

Another one of the companies that has invested a lot in land in recent months in Aelca. The company led by Värde and its founding partners, Javier Gómez and José Juan Martín, has spent €170 million so far in 2017 to increase its buildable portfolio by 362,000 m2. Following these purchases, it plans to build around 3,900 homes.

New leader

But the leader of this growth is Metrovacesa. The property developer led by Jorge Pérez de Leza has started a new phase this year, following the transfer of its rental assets to Merlin, with the ultimate aim of recovering its leading position in the sector, this time, focusing on the residential market. To this end, its main shareholders, Banco Santander and BBVA, have transferred it land worth €1,108 million, covering a buildable surface area of 3.1 million m2.

Metrovacesa’s plans for these plots, which have capacity for 24,000 homes, include the sale of some of the asset to competitors, which are eager to expand their portfolios. Currently, the property developer owned by Santander and BBVA is the second largest landowner in the country, with land spanning 6 million m2, exceeded only by Sareb.

Meanwhile, the ACR group (which has invested in some projects together with Allegra, the investment arm of Mario Losantos, the former owner of Riofisa) has purchased land worth €43 million, with a buildable surface area of 88,000 m2, where it plans to build 810 homes. (…).

Amenabar has a similar investment policy. The Basque real estate company, the current leader house building ranking in Spain, with more than 4,000 units underway, has acquired land covering more than 352,000 m2 this year, which will allow it to build another 2,976 homes. (…).

Another of the classic property developers, Quabit, has undertaken 13 operations involving buildable land in just two months, allowing it to incorporate almost 120,000 m2 into its portfolio. (…) The listed company will build 1,097 homes with a forecast revenue of €196 million.

Meanwhile, the Inbisa group has invested more than €80 million in the residential market over the last 18 months and plans to spend another €30 million before the end of the year.

Another fund that has made a significant commitment to the housing market in Spain in ASG. That firm, which also invests in commercial properties, has spent €200 million this year on the acquisition of 16 urban plots of land.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake