16 May 2019 – El Confidencial
According to the experts, on the basis of the rate of formation of new households and for a healthy residential market, Spain needs to produce between 120,000 and 150,000 new homes per year. Those figures are a far cry from the 650,000 units that were constructed in 2007, just before the outbreak of the real estate crisis. Nevertheless, the latest data reveals that even 150,000 homes is too ambitious a target, at least for the next few years.
That is according to the latest Real Estate Pulsometer, compiled by the Cátedra Inmobiliaria in collaboration with the University of Málaga, which estimates that 70,400 new homes will be finished by the end of this year and 77,100 by the end of next year. In other words, half the number needed. The reason? According to José Antonio Pérez, Director General of the Cátedra Inmobiliaria, “In simple terms, the sector does not have sufficient manpower to build that many homes. There are sufficient numbers of qualified people – such as architects and surveyors -, but there is a distinct lack of basic labour, such as workmen and builders”.
Tens of thousands of jobs were destroyed in the construction sector during the crisis. At the height of the boom, the sector and its related segments employed almost 2 million people, but by 2017 (latest available data), that figure barely exceeded 800,000. In other words, almost 60% of the workers had disappeared. Most have either left the country (many were foreigners) or reinvented themselves in other sectors and are reluctant to return to construction now.
Employment in the construction sector has recovered slightly over the last three years, with almost half a million people working in the sector. But that figure is not sufficient to build the homes that the country needs, which means delays and higher construction costs.
Lack of bank financing
The situation is compounded by the lack of available land and the shortage of bank financing to launch those 150,000 homes. The banks are willing to finance just 65,000 homes per year, according to Juan Antonio Gómez-Pintado, President of Asprima (the Association of Property Developers of Madrid). Several alternative financing funds are trying to cover the gap but they are not enough.
It is also true that stagnant salaries and problems of affordability for young people are other factors at play against the construction of so many homes.
Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)
Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake