AVRA Sold 21,000 m2 of Land for Social Housing in Córdoba in 2017

31 January 2018 – 20 Minutos

That is according to a statement by the Ministry of Development and Housing, which noted that four operations were closed in total for around €6 million. Most of the land sold by the Ministry in the province of Córdoba was assigned for residential use, for the development of homes for social housing purposes, up to a total of 21,258 m2 with capacity for the construction of almost 400 VPO homes in the capital’s expansion area of Huerta Santa Isabel.

The plots were awarded to the municipal housing company, Vimcorsa, which will undertake the upcoming construction of almost 300 subsidised homes, which will be added to another 78 units that the regional Administration is also planning to build in this enclave.

Moreover, plots with a total surface area of 688 m2 were awarded in the municipality of Obejo, for the construction of six private market homes, for €68,923.

Most of the plots sold were owned by the Agency for Housing and Rehabilitation in Andalucía (AVRA), which took the decision at the start of this legislature to focus again on selling land as one of its strategic lines. It had slowed down that activity in previous years, during the most critical period of the crisis, according to the regional delegate from the Ministry of Housing and Development, Josefina Vioque.

The delegate indicated that “the drive to manage the properties owned by AVRA has become a priority. The objective is to put these assets on the market to serve business initiatives that promote economic development and the generation of employment in the construction sector, one of the hardest hit during the crisis”.

Vioque expressed that “the decision to recover this activity, involving the sale of regional land, was taken in light of the fact that the market was starting to show signs of recovery in terms of real estate activity. The main objective is to generate revenues to allow us to resume other activities, such as the construction of social housing for families with housing needs and scarce or zero possibilities of affording a home in the private market, like the ones we are now promoting in Córdoba”.

The VPO activities that are going to be promoted, in addition to the developments in Córdoba, will be located in Cádiz and Málaga, where the Ministry is already working to draft the technical plans, whilst the process to obtain the necessary financing to undertake these activities is being finalised.

The land sale activity resumed by AVRA since the beginning of this legislature has resulted in the award of almost 300,000 m2 of land, of different types, at the regional level, for a total amount of €50.7 million, over the last three years.

The sum of the industrial land sold during this period, 183,055 m2, once again places that use as the one that generates the best results in terms of awarded surface area. Residential land awarded over the last three years spans almost 110,000 m2. Those plots have the capacity for the construction of 1,476 homes, of which 891 will be subsidised housing and the remaining 585 will be private homes.

Original story: 20 Minutos

Translation: Carmel Drake

Madrid’s Town Hall is Blocking 105,000 New Homes in SE of the Capital

11 December 2017 – Idealista

Madrid has the potential for a large urban development at its disposal in the form of the PAUs located in the southeast of the city, covering a surface area of almost 37 million m2 and with the capacity for the construction of up to 105,000 new homes over the next 15 years. The plans have already been sketched out, and they have been approved by the Supreme Court, but clashes between property developers/landowners and the Town Hall led by Manuela Carmena have frozen the permits and licences for completing the development of the area and, therefore, the construction of affordable new homes, which are so necessary and so sought-after in the city.

The most worrying thing is not that the future of so many thousands of homes is up in the air, but rather that they are homes that would go to middle-class families and vulnerable groups: primarily young people and people with limited purchasing power, through social housing schemes, and with prices ranging between €160,000 and €240,000. Los Berrocales, Los Ahijones, Valdecarros and Los Cerros, known in the real estate sector as land destined for the construction of the most affordable housing in Madrid, are PAUs that find themselves on this journey through a desert. And the impasse has already lasted for more than a decade.

The strategy for the southeast started to take shape with the PGOU of 1997, under the PP Government when José María Álvarez del Manzano was the mayor, with the intention of joining together all of the potential in the towns to the south of Madrid, such as Getafe, Leganés, Alcorcón and Móstoles, with the Corredor del Henares.

After completing the PAUs policy in the north of Madrid, with Sanchinarro, Montecarmelo and Las Tablas, and also the PAU of Carabanchel in the 1990s, the municipal border of Madrid was reaching its limit in terms of developable land capacity. To the north, expansion had already reached Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes; to the west, the buildable land in Madrid was already bordering on Pozuelo and Majadahonda; and in the south, the PAU of Carabanchel already reached Alcorcón and Getafe. The only free area left in the capital was to the east.

And so the initiative to develop the southeast of the capital was launched, although it has been suspended for years by the courts and has been held back by the economic crisis. But now, when the economy has started to recover and the Supreme Court has approved the project, the building work has come up against a new problem: the position of the Municipal Government.

What is the problem?

(…) The Town Hall believes that the urban development proposal for the southeast does not meet the current needs of the city. The first main stumbling block is over the number of homes to be built.

Although the Supreme Court gave the green light in September last year to the plans that involve the construction of 104,737 homes, of which approximately 53% would have some degree of protection (subsidy), as well as to the building of offices and industrial warehouses (35% of the surface area will be destined to those developments), Manuela Carmena’s team considers that the capital will not have sufficient demand to justify the construction of so many homes (…).

Specifically, the Town Hall calculates that the city will have demand for approximately 6,000 homes per year over the next few years – that figure is well below those forecast by other researchers in the market. The IESE business school, for example, estimates that the Community of Madrid will need more than 25,000 homes per year until 2025, at least (…), a figure that falls to 12,000-13,000 in the case of the capital itself (…).

Another reason that the municipal government cites against the progress of these urban developments is that the city still has a significant stock of empty homes. But, again, research and official figures exist that call into question its claims (…).

The discussions are set for the long-haul.

A 10-year paralysis that could go on for another 10 years

(…) “Regardless, if we suppose that we obtain the necessary licences and that construction starts immediately, the first homes would not be ready to be handed over until 2022-2023. If to that timeframe, we add the years needed to change the General Plan (PGOU), in the end, we are going to be talking about another decade gone to waste”, said Javier López Linares, Manager of the PAU for Los Cerros (…).

Original story: Idealista (by Ana P. Alarcos, David Marrero and Alejandro Soto)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Airbnb Pulls 1,000 Listings From Barcelona In The Wake Of Fraud Claims

10 July 2017 – El País

On Tuesday, Airbnb, the short-term home rental site, announced that it has taken down 1,000 listings in Barcelona’s downtown district of Ciutat Vella over the last week. The move comes just days after news emerged about cases of fraud involving homes listed on the popular vacation rental website.

It is also a follow-up to a pledge made by company officials in February, when they said they would introduce a one-host, one-home policy in a part of the city that is under increasing pressure from high levels of tourism. The gesture, meant to reduce the supply of short-term rentals in the area, was also viewed as an olive branch for Barcelona city authorities, who have been critical of Airbnb’s practices.

Back then, Mayor Ada Colau dismissed the gesture as “a joke” and said that what the city wants is for Airbnb to pull all the illegal listings from its site. Local authorities note that tourist apartments require a special license to operate as such, known as HUT under its Catalan acronym.

Now, Airbnb has released an open letter to Barcelona City Hall entitled: “Here’s why City Hall is wrong to turn its back on local families who share their homes.”

“Airbnb wants to be regulated in Barcelona, and we have zero tolerance for bad actors,” states the message. “We want to work with City Hall to clamp down on business operators who break the rules, while protecting local families who share their homes to boost their income and support their families.”

The letter is signed by Sergio Vinay, of the company’s public policy department, which is in charge of negotiating with local and regional authorities.

“In Barcelona, this guiding principle hits a roadblock. Unlike other major cities across the world, Barcelona has no rules for local families who occasionally share their homes,” the letter goes on to say. These rules are currently being worked out at the regional level.

“In the absence of such a collaboration, Airbnb has already taken steps to tackle issues facing Barcelona,” says Vinay in the letter. “In the last week alone, Airbnb has removed more than 1,000 listings that could affect long-term housing availability, as part of our ‘One Host, One Home’ policy. For context, that’s almost double the number of tourist dwellings that have ceased to operate following City Hall action.”

Vinay also takes issue with City Hall urban planning official Janet Sanz, who has been critical of Airbnb: “Janet Sanz is wrong to say that City Hall ‘is not fighting home sharing’ or local families who share their homes. It is – and by choosing to promote a campaign of fear and confusion over workable solutions, it’s local families who stand to lose most.”

The San Francisco-based firm claims that the average Airbnb host in Barcelona is a homeowner who makes an extra income of €5,500 a year on average for “sharing their home” around 70 nights a year. “More than two-thirds of hosts say they share their primary residence and almost a quarter say that sharing their home has helped them avoid eviction or foreclosure.”

Last month, it emerged that a Barcelona woman had rented out her apartment to a long-term tenant, who then illegally listed it on Airbnb and began subletting it. Unable to reach her tenant, the woman was forced to rent out her own place through Airbnb, at which time she changed the lock and reported the case to the authorities.

Original story: El País (by Clara Blanchar)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Losantos Buys 20,600m2 Plot In Madrid To Build 200 Homes

29 May 2017 – Expansión

The investment firm Allegra Holding, owned by the Losantos Ucha family, has completed a new acquisition in Spain. The company, which last year sold its last remaining property in London to focus on the Spanish market, has acquired a plot of land measuring 20,600 m2 in the new Pau El Cañaveral, to the east of the capital.

On this plot, Allegra and its partner, the real estate group ACR, will construct a development containing 196 social housing properties, specifically, basic price homes (VPPB). Each one of the 2- and 3-bedroom apartments will be sold with a parking space and store room, and their prices will be set in accordance with the VPPB prices established by the Community of Madrid. Despite comprising affordable housing, the development will have a swimming pool, padel courts, children’s areas and a common room for the community.

“We will work to give a modern approach to this official protection development. These homes, in addition to fulfilling their basic integrative social function, may also be built with cutting-edge, high-quality architecture: a careful design, latest generation materials and a wealth of details in the common areas and façades”, say the developers.

In this way, Allegra and ACR are backing the development of this new PAU in Madrid, where 14,000 homes are expected to be built (the first developments were released in 2016). The forecast investment in the project amounts to €28.4 million.

This is the third residential project that the Losantos family has undertaken in Spain since its return to the market, after years focusing overseas, in cities such as London and New York. For its return to Spain, the family office led by Mario Losantos chose to team up with the ACR Group to buy residential land and construct homes. In 2014, the alliance invested €19 million on the development of 96 homes in the north of the capital. A year later, it launched 42 exclusive homes in Puerta de Hierro (pictured above).

Beyond the residential sector, Allegra has invested in offices, logistics platforms and a retail store on Paseo de la Castellana. The partners are currently also considering new projects in Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga and Levante.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

RE Investment Worth €13,000M At Risk In Madrid East

23 May 2017 – El Mundo

Landowners with town planning and real estate projects in the south-east of Madrid, represented by Compensation Boards in the new neighbourhoods of Los Berrocales, Valdecarros, Los Cerros and Los Ahijones, warn that the Town Hall’s failure to define the development of the area could put at risk investments amounting to more than €13,000 million.

It is estimated that this investment, relating to urban planning, property development and the construction of housing, business and retail parks, public spaces and green areas, would generate 965,000 direct and indirect jobs in total over the next few years.

The Compensation Boards, which are grouped together under the Madrid East brand, have issued a statement in which they denounce that, with the establishment of the so-called working groups for the analysis, evaluation and assessment of the alternatives for the development strategy for the south-east, the Town Hall “is doing nothing but delaying the development of projects that have already been granted the necessary legal and town planning support and that have now been suffering delays for more than 20 years”.

For Madrid East, the urban planning activities in the south-east of Madrid “are essential for facilitating access to housing at affordable prices, given that an increase in the supply would help to contain the house price rises that have been seen in the capital in recent months, in both the ownership and rental segments”. In addition, in its opinion, these developments would allow the Community and Town Hall of Madrid to boost their social housing plans aimed at supporting those groups most in need.

“Failure to respond to the increase in demand that is expected, given the forecast growth in households over the next few years, will put upwards pressure on prices, whereby restricting effective access to housing. In the context of the high prices of the available housing stock in the north of the city and inside the M-30, Madrid East’s strategy would allow the construction of new homes at accessible prices for young people and families with the least purchasing power”, said the statement.

“We have the opportunity to resolve the housing problem for the next 30 years. We cannot repeat the same mistakes that were made in the 1980s when the Town Hall of the time considered that Madrid would not groanymorere and then promoted the urgent development of the PAUs”, it said.

Sources at the Compensation Boards believe that the Town Hall “must ensure that public investment is made in the developments to the south-east of Madrid, guaranteeing the best services for citizens, but at the same time, respecting the plans that have already been approved, as well as providing legal certainty for investors”.

In this sense, the landowners in these areas say that private investments in the main activities in Madrid South-East “already exceed €300 million, with mortgage commitments acquired over the medium and long term for their execution” and they warn of possible “legal consequences for the city of Madrid in the event of any stagnation in this regard”.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

VBare: Rental Prices Are Rising Most Rapidly In Madrid & Barcelona

23 November 2016 – El Mundo

The Socimi VBare Iberian Properties, which specialises in the rental housing sector and which will soon make its debut on the MAB, has conducted a study whose findings show that, on average, it takes between 2.5 and 4 months to rent a home in Spain’s largest cities. “The current high level of activity in the rental market in Spain’s major cities is manifesting itself not only in terms of rising rents, but also in a reduction in the time it takes to let out properties”, say sources at VBare.

In this sense, the Socimi said that Barcelona and Madrid lead the ranking of cities for the time it takes to lease a property. On average, it takes less than three months to rent out a home in both cases. In other cities, such as Valencia, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Bilbao, La Coruña and Alicante, it takes less than four months, whilst in Zaragoza and Sevilla, it takes around 4 months. “Nevertheless, those averages are significantly shorter in neighbourhoods with significant demand and limited supply”, say sources at VBare.

Specifically, it takes less than two and a half months to rent out a home in Barcelona. In areas such as Vila de Gràcia, Poble-Sec, Sant Antoni and Sants-Les Corts, it takes around two months on average, whereas in Diagonal Mar, it takes around three months and in Vallvidrera, the Urquinaona-Arc de Triomf-Gran Vía triangle and the area to the south of Paseo de Gracia, it takes more than four and a half months.

“There is a certain amount of positive correlation between the time it takes to lease a property and the rental cost in euros per month, as well as with the independent price of the surface area (in euros/m2/month)”, explain sources at VBare. “Thus, broadly speaking, it takes longer for landlords to find tenants in areas with larger homes and higher rents than it does for landlords in more affordable neighbourhoods with smaller homes”. “Nevertheless, demand is high across the city and the average deviation between the different micro-markets (by post code) in terms of the time it takes to find a tenant is less than two weeks”.

In terms of Madrid, it takes slightly less than three months for landlords to find tenants. Like in the case of Barcelona, the average search times are shorter in peripheral neighbourhoods, where prices are more affordable, such as in Villa de Vallecas, and areas to the south of the M-30 (Puerta del Ángel, Usera, Vista Alegre, etc.), whereas it takes between three and four months to lease a property in the more exclusive areas of the city, such as the southern quadrant of the neighbourhood of Salamanca, Cortes-Jerónimos and along the Paseo de la Castellana.

“Nevertheless, unlike in Barcelona, for the group of post codes analysed, there is no significant relationship between the time it takes to lease a property and the price per m2 per month, although there is a link between the time it takes to lease a property and the average surface area homes in each neighbourhood: the smaller the home, the easier it is to find a tenant, and vice versa”, explain sources at VBare.

A similar phenomenon is being experienced in cities such as Bilbao (3.3 months on average) and, to a greater extent, Palma de Mallorca (which has a similar average time to Bilbao) and Alicante (3.6 months): it takes longer to rent out homes in central areas with high rents per m2, whereas it is quicker to lease more affordable properties in peripheral areas.

By contrast, in Sevilla (where it takes just over four months to rent out a home on average), there is an inverse relationship between the two variables, given that homes located in the centre of the city – which are more expensive per m2 per month – are leased out more quickly than homes in peripheral neighbourhoods (with exceptions such as Sevilla Este, where supply is limited and demand is steady) (…).

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

Economy And Banks Increase The Number Of Social Housing Flats To 9,000

10 September 2015 – Expansión

SOCIAL PLAN / Luis de Guindos has convinced financial institutions to increase the stock of 6,000 flats for social rent, as it is advisable regarding the situation of many families.

The Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, has used the summer break to hold individual meetings with presidents and CEOs of major national banks to develop a plan on strong increase in social housing fund, initiated in January 2013 with 6,000 flats for rent at very low prices for families in difficulty. Banks have committed to raising up to 9,000 the number of homes assigned to this plan.

Today a technical meeting is expected, in which will participate the Economics staff and the heads of AEB and CECA, to finalize the details of the agreement, which will be made known next week through a conference call to the media.

Sources familiar with the development of the last weeks negotiations, say that at the time the expansion to 9,000 flats assigned to the plan is announced, they want to point out that it is done because the first 6,000 are already either occupied by their beneficiaries or in large part awarded to individual families.

This last statement contrasts with some facts published early in summer, according to which only one third of the flats selected for the fund were really already occupied/let or were about to be, awaiting the relevant contract to be signed. Some banks recognize that an effort has been made in recent months to allot a larger number of homes and that their particular commitment grew in just a few weeks.

Social fund

The social housing fund arose from the public pressure existing at the time and established the rent payments range between 150 and 400 euros per month, with a maximum limit of 30% of total net income of the family unit. The family was guaranteed the rent for the next two years, with a possibility to have it extended for a third.

To obtain a housing like that, the family must have been evicted from an apartment by an enforcement action for not having paid mortgage loan, after the first of January 2008 and meet other requirements, such as: not having other home ownership; total income not exceeding 1,597 euros per month; being a large family or with an underage child; having one family member with a disability of at least 33%; the debtor being unemployed, having exhausted benefits, or someone who has suffered gender violence.

Banking sources hope that the specifics of expanding the fund will be finally determined in today’s meeting, although it is not to be expected that the growth of flats will have large differences from the initial 6,000. At the moment the banks from former savings banks provided 3,500 homes and other banks — 2,500.

“What we want,” say industry sources, “is to point out that since the first fund is virtually exhausted it is advisable to have it extended” because the economic situation of many families is still very fragile and continued efforts made so far are still necessary not to leave them neglected.

It is possible that the access conditions soften somewhat on this occasion and even new limits on duration of the agreement are established, because it is unclear that those who gained access in the early stages, and are about to meet the first two years, are in conditions to obtain a home on the open market.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Lee La

La Caixa’s Social Housing Stock Comprises 30,000 Homes

19 August 2015 – Expansión

La Caixa’s stock of social housing comprises 30,047 homes, located all over Spain. The entity’s first initiatives in the social housing sphere began ten years ago, and according to the President of CaixaBank, Isidro Fainé (pictured above), it is a line of business that he expects will increase.

“Our commitment to social housing, which is a clear example of our commitment to people, has proliferated in recent years and will continue to strengthen”, he said.

Through its programs ‘Alquiler Solidario’, ‘Alquiler Social’ and ‘Vivienda Asequible’, La Caixa makes 27,420 homes available to groups with fewer resources.

The ‘Vivienda Asequible’ (‘Affordable Housing’) initiative was launched in 2005 and facilitates access to new homes for young people, elderly people and families, who all pay rent that is substantially below market prices.

The ‘Alquiler Solidario’ (‘Subsidised Rental’) and ‘Alquiler Social’ (‘Social Housing Rental’) plans, which were launched four years ago, are targeted at groups at risk of social exclusion. The ‘Obra Social’ (or ‘Social Works’ program) finances half of those rental contracts, which range between €150 and €500 per month.

Social Housing Fund

Meanwhile, CaixaBank has allocated 2,627 homes to the Social Housing Fund to date. Its supply exceeds the amount assigned to it by the central Government (1,085 homes) by 142%, according to a statement issued by the entity yesterday.

Original story: Expansión (by D. C.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

ACR Collaborates In Residential Projects With Mario Losantos

14 May 2015 – Expansión

With a history spanning more than four decades, the Navarran company ACR doubled its turnover last year through the sale of high-end housing at reduced prices. The key to ACR’s (business) model is the purchase of land, namely foreclosed plots from banks, Sareb or public administrations, at affordable prices. “We look for a lot of land and we design the appropriate product. House prices have a limit at the moment, which varies by area and development, and therefore, the price we pay for land also has a limit”, explains Francisco Santiago, CEO of ACR.

The Navarran company is currently promoting 700 homes across developments in Madrid, Barcelona, País Vasco and Navarra.

They include two projects known as “Nature”, which ACR is undertaking together with Allegra Hólding, a company founded by Mario Losantos, following the sale of Colonial. “We have a very strong and frank collaboration with our partner. We are enjoying a lot of success with our developments in Plaza Castilla and Puerta de Hierro (both in Madrid) and there will soon be a third “Nature” development”, says Francisco Santiago.

ACR generated turnover of €91 million in 2014, compared with €77 million in the previous year. “We expect to increase (turnover) by 40% this year but that will depend on the delivery rate of our (housing) developments”, he says. “The first homes that we will hand over will be 176 apartments in Bilbao, during the final quarter. We also want to launch other new developments in 2016, whereby taking advantage of the opportunities that exist in the market”, says the CEO.

In order to achieve this objective, ACR will have to face the wrath that exists between large funds and managing agents for central plots of land in Madrid, which has resulted in an increase in land prices in many cases. “When there is fierce competition for a plot of land, we do not participate”.

In addition to its (property) promotion business, ACR is also active in the areas of construction and refurbishment. “The construction business accounts for 65% of our global turnover, including our projects in France and Colombia, and refurbishments represent 15%, but that is a sector that is growing significantly”.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake