New RE Record: 450m2 Luxury Apartment In Barcelona Sold For €10M

29 June 2017 – Expansión

The Spanish real estate market is starting to reflect clear signs of a recovery after years of decline. These first indications of revival are already a reality in some areas of the large cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona and, above all, in a particular type of product: luxury housing.

An example of this boom can be seen in the record prices that have been achieved over the last few months in the high-end residential market. “The trend in the last three years has been a gradual increase in residential prices. If we focus on prime products and areas, we see that this increase has been considerably greater. Last year, nevertheless, was a year of transition due to the political uncertainty, and so, although prices continued to rise, in general, they did so at a more conservative pace, whereby stabilising. This year, the increase is continuing to display a bullish trend”, explained Carlos Zamora, Residential Director at Knight Frank in Spain.

The latest example is a home measuring 450 m2, located in the L’Antigua Esquerra neighbourhood of l’Eixample, alongside Barcelona’s famous Paseo de Grácia. The new owner has spent €10 million to acquire this 4-bedroom apartment, which has four bathrooms and a terrace measuring 250 m2 with views over La Pedrera and Paseo de Gràcia, explained the real estate agency Coldwell Banker Prestige Barcelona.

The home, which has been completely refurbished, includes an intelligent home automation system and a Zen garden located in an inner courtyard. In addition to the habitable surface area of 500 m2, the flat comes with five parking spaces for cars, two parking spaces for motorbikes and a storeroom in the basement, according to the estate agent’s advert.

Its price per m2 amounts to: €16,500/m2. “This price is due primarily to the fact that it is a unique property, located in the most prime area of Barcelona, which has been completely redecorated and furnished”, explained François Carriere, founding partner at Coldwell Banker Prestige Barcelona, who highlights that the average price of apartments in the area stands at around €12,000/m2, whilst the price of penthouses and ground floor apartments with gardens increases to €15,000/m2.

“An apartment with these characteristics in London would be sold for around €25,000/m2”, according to Carriere.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

UNIQ Residential Hits The Ground Running

13 May 2017 – Press Release

Two and a half years after the creation of UNIQ Residential, its first project is in the process of being handed over in the heart of Barcelona.

RS257 (, a project in the “Mayfair” equivalent of Barcelona located between the prime streets Paseo de Gracia, Diagonal and Rambla Catalunya was always going to be in high demand due to its location, but in addition, the thought that the UNIQ team has put into efficient layouts, flexibility of design and sustainability make this one of the most emblematic residential projects of 2017 in Spain.

The building had a protected facade originally designed by Robert Terradas, a Catalan rationalist architect who developed the original building in 1958, which OAB, the award-winning architectural office of Carlos Ferrater, managed to further enhance by keeping the original spirit, but creating bespoke windows which allow the apartments to have 14m of uninhibited light entering the living spaces.

RS257 is a project with 15 units, including 3 penthouses with unparalleled views of Barcelona overlooking the Tibidabo mountain, and the main streets of the Eixample district. The ground floor unit of RS257 is currently under negotiations to be let to an exciting global retailer and the project has received the first LEED silver certificate for a multi-residential building in Barcelona.

While UNIQ Residential is young as a company, the team has a vast experience in development projects. Its creation was the result of merging an executive team that over 40 years had developed over 100 projects in their prior life, with Urban Input, a boutique real estate asset management firm focused on commercial real estate for institutional investors and Mario Chisholm, a real estate investor who had spent his time in London previously, often focusing on the Spanish market.

“We are extremely excited by the completion of this unique project” says Mario Chisholm, one of the co-founders and board members of UNIQ, “We knew we were buying in a great location, but the success has exceeded expectations as we bought the building before the perception of Spain had changed, in early 2014. Since then, the economy has strengthened, banks are lending again and demand is strong for well-designed and well-delivered products in good locations. We are also thrilled about the progress UNIQ has made since its inception; the integration of the different teams has been incredible and the positivity, energy and drive UNIQ has to deliver future projects sets out an exciting future.”

Other than RS257, UNIQ is developing another 4 prime residential developments in Madrid and Barcelona. Keep an eye out, more to come soon!

About UNIQ Residential

UNIQ Residential is an urban developer founded in 2014 with a strategy and purpose to respond to a more informed flat buyer by focussing on the quality of projects through design. UNIQ’s management team has a breadth of experience in all areas of real estate development, from conception to completion and have been working together for 20 years, building over 100 developments. Currently, UNIQ has 6 live developments in Barcelona and Madrid and is looking to expand further across Spain.

Original story: Press Release

Edited by: Carmel Drake


Eurostat: 78.2% Of Spaniards Own Their Homes

21 March 2017 – El Mundo

78.2% of Spaniards own a home, a figure that puts Spain amongst the countries with the highest percentage of home ownership in the whole European Union, according to data from Eurostat corresponding to February 2017, compiled by the Institute of Economic Studies (IES).

The percentage of Spaniards that own a home is almost nine points higher than the EU average, which stands at 69.5%.

Nevertheless, some countries in the EU have an even higher ownership rate than Spain – all of them are recent accession countries.

Romania leads the ranking with 96.4% of people owning homes. It is followed by Croatia (90.5%), Lithuania (89.4%), Slovakia (89.3%), Hungary (86.3%), Poland (83.7%), Bulgaria (82.3%), Estonia (81.5%), Malta (80.8%) and Latvia (80.2%).

Countries that fall below the average include the Netherlands (67.8%), France (64.1%) and the UK (63.5). Those countries with the lowest home ownership rates include Germany (51.9%), Austria (55.7%) and Denmark (62.7%).

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

The Real Estate Recovery Takes Hold In Portugal

15 December 2016 – El Mundo

After several years in crisis, the Portuguese real estate market is booming once again thanks to public auctions of properties and the arrival of overseas buyers, attracted by the tax exemptions and the quality of life.

In Lisbon, Luis Morais, a 43-year old IT teacher, has just acquired an 80 m2 apartment in Sintra, a city close to the capital, for €49,000 in a public auction. The bidding started at €33,000. “It is a bargain” said the IT teacher. “We are not going to live there, we just want to rent out the apartment to supplement our income”, explained Teresa, his partner, aged 36, who teaches mathematics.

The property was confiscated from a family with lots of debt and was owned by the public bank Caixa Geral de Depositos, which decided to auction it off. Like Luis and Teresa, many Portugese people are now choosing to invest in property rather than leave their money in the banks, which are still fragile following the crisis.

Overseas investors are also buying properties in public auctions, such as the case of a three-storey office building in the entre of Lisbon, which was put on the market for €5.1 million.

From recession to recovery

After several years of crisis, the real estate market in Portugal began to improve in 2013 and the recovery accelerated in 2015, thanks to low interest rates, which drove up sales by 27%. Between 2008 and 2012, house prices fell by 30% in Portugal, but they are now soaring again thanks to overseas buyers, attracted by the quality of life in Portugal and the tax exemptions on offer.

The phenomenon is being felt in Lisbon above all. “In two years, prices have risen by 20% and they are still increasing, there is still room for growth” said Pascal Gonçalves, President of Libertas, a property developer.

Recently, a 160 m2 apartment in the popular neighbourhood of Alfama was sold for €420,000, which is twice as much as it was worth ten years ago. And in the heart of the capital, in the neighbourhood of Chiado, a 100 m2 2-bedroom home was recently sold for €900,000, a price that would have seemed very high just a few years ago.

No risk of a bubble

In Oporto, the largest city in the north of the country, the real estate sector is also performing well. “I have doubled my turnover in a year, and I now earn four times as much as when I worked as a biologist”, explained Isabel Leitao, aged 33, who has been working as an estate agent for six years.

During the first nine months of 2016, the activity of the network of real estate agents Century 21 has soared by 36%. Its President for the Iberian Peninsula, Ricardo Sousa, expects “prices to stabilise in Lisbon because they are out of step with the incomes of Portuguese people”.

Nevertheless, according to the Minister for the Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral, there is no risk of a real estate bubble. “Prices have increased in Lisbon, but they are still much lower than in Paris or London”.

The average price of an apartment in Lisbon has increased to €3,607/m2, according to the ad website Imovirtual. (…).

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

More Than 1,000 New Homes Are Being Built In Sevilla

17 October 2017 – ABC

(…) In the last twelve months in Sevilla, the main initiatives that had been suspended following the decline of companies such as Novaindes, Navicoas and Habitat, have been reactivated. With a few exceptions, the large plots of buildable land in good locations now all have new owners. The clear sign of this trend is that between 2016 and 2019, more than 1,000 new homes will come onto the market in the most sought after areas of Sevilla.

Who is behind these projects? The most spectacular moves have been made by the Murcian property developer Monthisa, which has completed five operations in just ten months to purchase plots of land on which it plans to construct around 350 homes. In February, it signed an agreement with the company Gestión de Inmuebles Adquiridos – which belongs to the Unicaja group – to construct 150 homes in Kansas City 36; a month later it purchased the plot of land in Pagés del Corro 122 from Solvia (the real estate subsidiary of Banco Sabadell) with capacity for 52 apartments; in September, it acquired the Correos warehouses on Calle Fernando Tirado (which will house between 35 and 40 properties) and it signed an agreement with Sareb (also known as the bad bank) to develop the plot of land on Calle de la Florida, where it will build another 84 homes.

The bad bank has been one of the most active players in the real estate sector in Sevilla. Whilst in La Florida, Sareb chose Monthisa, in Carretera de Carmona 43, it appointed Solvia to regenerate the plot of land that used to be home to Tysa Ford. That alliance was signed at the end of 2015 and the construction work (of the more than 200 homes) is due to be completed in March 2019. In parallel, Solvia is also responsible for another one of the star projects in the city centre: 30 homes in the Puerta de Nervión building on Calle José Luis de Casso, opposite the Sánchez Pizjuan stadium.

These projects are different from those seen before 2007. The majority of these developments involve large apartments, with prices of less than €3,000/sqm. According to experts in the sector, the demand for housing now comes from established families in stable economic situations and so the most successful products are those with several bedrooms. According to Ricardo Pumar, Chairman of Inmobiliaria del Sur (Insur), “nowadays, only projects that are well designed, with innovative solutions, high quality finishes and very competitive prices have a chance of success”.

Insur was one of the first companies to detect this change in the cycle. At the end of 2013, it acquired the former Cuartel de Intendencia and there it has launched Pineda Parque, a residential complex that contains three twelve-storey towers and another two eight-storey towers that will house 158 homes (measuring between 140 sqm and 228 sqm, with three, four and five bedrooms). In 2014, it started the construction of Edificio Miraflores, on a plot purchased from Sareb where it is now finishing the construction of 64 homes.

And the final example of this trend is Dospuntos (a group controlled by the American investment fund Värde Partners), which is going to begin the construction of 87 homes soon on a plot of land on the corner of Calle Enramadilla and Avenida de la Buhaira. This plot originally belonged to Pontegran (a company jointly owned by Osuna and San José).

There are still a few projects pending sale, but most of the large plots of land in the city have now been bought up.

Original story: ABC (by Luis Montoto)

Translation: Carmel Drake

17 Luxury Homes Go Up For Sale In Madrid

7 October 2016 – El Economista

The luxury housing market in Madrid is booming, however, the supply of newly built homes is very limited. In fact, José Abascal 48, located in the sought after Madrilenian neighbourhood of Chamberí is marketing itself as the only luxury development in the centre of the capital with an occupancy licence.

Knight Frank and Lucas Fox will be responsible for marketing the 17 homes that comprise this exclusive development. The properties will go on the market priced at between €600,000 and €5 million.

“Four units have already been reserved and we have 65 visits booked for the next few days”, explained Humphrey White, the CEO of Knight Frank in Spain. Given the product shortage and the high quality of these apartments, both consultancy firms expect that these homes will be sold very quickly.

The project, which comes onto the market today, is not what was originally designed for this nine-storey property, which was initially going to contain twice as many homes. “We have adapted the building to the current needs of the market, given that the previous plans were designed during the real estate boom”, explained Frédéric Mangeant, Director of Shaftesbury Asset Management in Spain. The fund is the owner of this property, which was constructed in the 1940s and will now set the bar for prime house prices in this area of Madrid.

The properties in José Abascal, 48 will be sold for between €6,000/sqm and €12,000/sqm following a comprehensive renovation, carried out by the architect firm Touza. It contains apartments ranging from 100 sqm properties with one bedroom to two- to five-bedroom attics and duplexes measuring more than 400 sqm in some cases, as well as some four-bedroom homes.

Behind the protected, neo-classical façade, which represents the bourgeois scenery of the street, the homes contain living rooms measuring between 70 sqm and 100 sqm, with large terraces, bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, dressing rooms and large kitchens with islands.

The common areas represent a particularly important part of this project. The building has a gym and 160 sqm of water, with a spa comprising a jacuzzi, sauna and Turkish bath. The new residents will also have a very large atrium with natural light, thanks to the skylight, and events may be held there on the ground floor.

The luxury of this development is also evident in the garage. With a robotised parking system, managed by the company Integral Park Systems (IPS), the residents of this building will not have to park their own vehicles and may also request their cars from their living rooms, because the homes are all automated.

(…). In this way, the software records the activity of each car and if several users tend to pick up their cars at 8am, the system will move the vehicles so that they are as close as possible to the pick up point at that time.

That is the icing on a cake that has already whetted the appetite of many potential buyers of luxury homes in Madrid.

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Sells 25% More Tourist Homes Than It Had Forecast

5 September 2016 – El Mundo

This summer, Sareb has taken advantage of the fact that savers have limited alternative investment options and that its assets are well priced…to boost property sales.  (…).

Unlike other commercial companies, the aim of Sareb (in which the State holds a 45% stake) is to reduce its balance sheet by selling off all of its assets, which primarily comprise non-performing or risky real estate loans and involve more property developers than individual borrowers, inherited from the former troubled banks.

In this case, the typical clients of the company chaired by Jaime Echegoyen (pictured above) are large financial investors specialising in generating profits from assets that the banks are unable to maintain. Nevertheless, with the activation of demand in the second-hand real estate sector, the bad bank is trying to take advantage of every opportunity and in April it put 2,237 homes up for sale (to private investors) along the coast.

The commercial objective is much lower and the bad bank does not intend to liquidate 100% of its supply. Nevertheless, between sales and reservations, the company has managed to offload 330 homes this summer for a total amount of €31 million, which represents a 25% increase with respect to its budget. The company has not revealed the prices at which it acquired these assets from their original owners.

Sareb, which uses sales companies belonging to or related to Bankia, Banco Sabadell, CaixaBank and Santander, will extend the campaign that it launched in April by at least another month to try and maximise the returns from savers interested in acquiring properties at good prices. The prices of the homes put up for sale in 20 provinces across nine autonomous regions started at €32,000 for a flat in Torrevieja (Alicante) and went up to €866,000 for a 342 sqm family home in Calviá (Palma de Mallorca) with five bedrooms, four bathrooms and a swimming pool.

Neither of those properties have been sold yet. Half of the homes in the portfolio are located in Valencia, where several now extinct entities, such as Bancaja (Bankia) and Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo (CAM, nowadays part of Banco Sabadell) undertook very intense activity in the run up to the burst of the real estate bubble. Specifically, the province with the highest number of properties up for sale is Castellón, with 791 homes. (…).

Last year, Sareb owned 105,000 properties, 80,000 loans and 375,000 collateral properties. Nevertheless, the Bank of Spain issued new regulations, which come into force in October, requiring the bad bank to individually value each asset on a regular basis using a methodology validated by the supervisor; that forced the bad bank to update the value of all of its assets. Sareb was thus required to perform an additional clean up amounting to €2,044 million, an operation that followed other similar measures already undertaken in 2013 and 2014, amounting to €968 million.

For that reason, the entity needed a recapitalisation, which its shareholders undertook converting €2,170 million of subordinated debt into capital, which it used to finance the acquisition of toxic assets from the rescued banks. (…).

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ministry Of Development: Housing Permits Rise By 42%

1 July 2016 – El Economista

The number of permits granted by the College of Technical Architects for the construction of homes shot up by 42% during the first four months of the year to 21,577, the best figure recorded between January and April since 2011, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Development.

Despite the increase, the number of housing permits granted still falls well below the maximum levels recorded in 2007, when at the height of the real estate boom, 276,588 permits were granted during the first four months of the year, 92% more than in 2016.

The number of permits granted started the year with an increase of 44%, at 4,943. In February, the YoY rise amounted to 35%, with 5,663 permits; meanwhile, in March, the number doubled to 6,176 and in April the increase moderated to 6.5%, with 4,795 permits.

In total, the number of permits granted for new builds, renovations and extensions during the four months to April stood at 30,236, which represents an increase of 27.6% with respect to 2015.

By type of property, permits to construct housing blocks rose by 45%, to 15,843 licences, whilst permits for family homes grew by 34%, to 5,730. In terms of surface area, the average size of family homes stood at 201 sqm, whilst the average size of apartments was 117 sqm.

Since the Ministry of Development began compiling these statistics in 1991, the number of permits granted reached its historical monthly low in August 2013, when just 1,585 licences were granted. The series maximum was recorded in September 2006 with the granting of 126,753 permits.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake

Servicers, Banks & Sareb Fuel Madrid With New Homes

15 April 2016 – El Mundo

The four servicers, Altamira Asset Management (which was created by Banco Santander), Servihabitat (La Caixa), Solvia (Banco Sabadell) and Anida (BBVA) currently have a portfolio of 2,277 new homes up for sale (or about to come on the market) in the Community of Madrid alone. This supply is spread across 30 residential projects (10 in the capital), all launched in 2015 and 2016. These high figures make these companies the main sellers of new homes, along with cooperatives, investment funds and a small group of private property developers.

The three large independent servicer platforms (Altamira, Servihabitat and Solvia) have managed to accumulate a juicy showcase of new homes thanks to the fact that they are selling products from the main financial entities, in other words, the major land owners; and from Sareb, which took ownership of the real estate assets previously owned by the banks that received state intervention. In other words, these platforms own the majority of the country’s new homes. All of these projects are characterised by having been studied in detail in accordance with three key parameters: locations in demand, prices that reflect the market and homes and common areas tailored to suit buyers.

In terms of their ways of working, each servicer is different, although their modus operandi involves the complete management of property developments, on behalf of their clients and themselves. Their activities range from the submission of projects to after-sales services, as well as the search for developers and construction companies (if they don’t have in-house teams), requests for permits and the sale of properties. A comprehensive service that they offer by themselves and in partnership with other firms. In return, these companies generate profits through commissions, from both the construction and sales processes.

As such, the servicers (some of which are owned by funds) are rising up as major players in the new build market, where traditional property developers are unable to get started due, in particular, to a lack of financing. (…).

Why are the servicers turning their hand to the sale of new homes?

“This business, which focuses on satisfying the needs of its users, is and will be long-lasting and profitable”, says Fernando López, Commercial Director at Altamira, who is convinced that the residential market is taking off again after seven years of almost no activity. “During that time”, he says “pockets of unsatisfied demand has been growing”. (…).

In total, Altamira has 217 developments under construction across the whole of Spain – many of which are sold out – and it expects to hand over almost 8,000 homes between now and 2018, figures that make it the largest property manager in Spain and one of the largest in Europe.

Juan Carlos Álvarez, Director General of Servihabitat’s Real Estate Business, also extols this product. (…). Only one of the six developments that his company put up for sale in Madrid in 2015 has units still for sale (in Cuatro Vientos, where apartments are going for as little as €212,000). It will put another six projects on the market soon.

According to Francisco Moreno, Director of Business Development at Altamira, the new developments “respond to and better satisfy the real needs of potential buyers in terms of design, quality and price”. He adds, “Now, most homes have three bedrooms, and there is also demand for four bedroom properties”. These types of homes dominate the supply of the servicers and banks in the Community of Madrid, which include high-rise flats and detached houses with asking prices from €120,000.


Francisco Pérez, Director of Promotion and Development at Solvia says that “all of his company’s developments offer customisation options to future owners. They also offer large common areas, green spaces and most have a swimming pool”. Meanwhile, Solvia does not predict any aggressive rise in prices, but rather a slight increase of 3.3% in 2016. (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by Jorge Salido Cobo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Renta & Kennedy To Buy & Renovate Building Nr Callao

12 June 2015 – Expansión

The US investment fund Kennedy Wilson and the Spanish real estate company Renta Corporación will invest €11 million in the purchase and renovation of a residential building in the centre of Madrid.

The property is located at number 3 on the pedestrianized street, Calle Póstigo de San Martín, in the area between Puerta del Sol, Plaza Callao and Plaza de Isabel II. It has a surface area of 4,083 m2, spread over five floors, plus an attic and a basement.

In total, the building contains 19 apartments and 2 shops (which each have a basement) and it is partially occupied. The buyers intend to try to free up as much of the property as possible, so that they can completely renovate it and then sell it as separate units.

According to the agreement signed last year between Kennedy Wilson and Renta, the US fund will contribute 90% of the capital and the real estate company, chaired by Luis Hernández de Cabanyes, will finance the rest. Moreover, Renta will also be responsible for negotiating the departure of the current tenants and for renovating and marketing the building, which has always been its traditional business.

The owner of the property on Póstigo de San Martín was a local individual. It is expected that the number of homes will be retained but their distribution will vary. The property will continue to be used for residential purposes, although it may (legally) be converted for other uses, such as for public services or as a hotel.

Renta Corporación, which overcame a corporate bankruptcy last year to return to the stock exchange, has resumed its traditional business involving the purchase, renovation and sale of residential buildings.

Last year, the real estate company generated income of €79 million, compared with €10 million a year earlier and it turned its back on the losses of €13 million it had recorded in 2013, to generate a profit of 5.2 million. Its shares are trading at around €1.50 per share.

Original story: Expansión (by Marisa Anglés)

Transaction: Carmel Drake