Castellón Plans on Approving New General Plan in 2019

7 October 2018

The version including the resolution of contentions will be completed before the end of the year.

The government of Castellón’s team has set December as its deadline to send the new version of the General Structural Plan to the Regional Ministry of Territorial Planning, including the resolution of contentions, with the expectation that the city may have its new urban planning ordinance approved in 2019, after four years of planning rules – extended to 2021 – and after years of litigation to comply with the Supreme Court ruling that had cancelled the PGOU of 2000 in 2008.

According to the Councillor for Territorial Planning, Rafa Simó, the government’s technicians are continuing to study the more than 500 contentions presented. Without specifying yet which ones may be accepted and which ones may not, he stated that their goal is to resolve them “prioritising the general interest”, and write a second version of the General Structural Plan with the accepted resolutions, including the sectoral reports, to take it to an ordinary plenary session in November or December, without ruling out an extraordinary one.

PROCEDURE // The document will then be sent to the Ministry, which will demand as many modifications as it deems appropriate and will return the General Plan to the City Council, which will have to resolve them and open the second phase of exposition and contentions. After that, it will be able to write the definitive General Plan and send it back to Territory, which will then have to authorise it. “We hope that the Ministry will be agile because they have been monitoring the General Plan since the beginning,” said Simó.

In parallel, progress is being made on the detailed plan, which only requires the City Council’s approval. After the six briefings in the last weeks, the public exhibition will continue until November 8. With the deadline in hand, Simó declined to reveal how many contentions have been submitted, nor their content. The procedure for this includes the resolution of any contentions and a new phase of public exposition, which is to coincide with the second exhibition of the structural plan.

Original Story: El Periódico Mediterráneo – Estefania Moliner

Translation: Richard Turner

Urbania Developer: Panamanian Capital Promotes 20 Developments in Valencia

31 July 2018 – Eje Prime

Numerous Spanish real estate entrepreneurs crossed the pond when the Spanish property sector crashed at the end of the 2000s. One of the property developers who got on a plane when the walls of the real estate sector were starting to crack in Spain was Juan Antonio Claveria. That Valencian businessman is now back on his home turf with Urbania Developer, a Panamanian real estate company that is planning to “have up to twenty projects under development over the next three years in the Community of Valencia”, explained Claveria to Eje Prime.

The Spanish businessman is the CEO of Urbania Developer, a company listed on the Panamanian stock market, which he created last year together with his partners, the local investors Yasser Williams and Omar Fricentese. “The company’s share capital is 100% private”, highlighted Claveria.

The three have recently teamed up with the Valencian builder José Vicente Roig, who has included the assets of the former property developer Patrimonios del Levante in the group. With those, the real estate company has launched its growth plan in the Community of Valencia, where the firm already has eight projects underway or on the verge of being executed.

“We are interested in towns with between 200,000 and 300,000 inhabitants”, explains Claveria, who is also attracted to “those suburbs that have between 40,000 and 80,000 inhabitants, which are well connected by metro”. Public transport links and the proximity to the capital of Valencia are the key aspects of the investment policy that Urbania Developer is going to carry out. It is turning its back on the overheating of prices that is being recorded in the centre of the city.

Torrent, Paterna, Mislata, Benimamet and Paiporta are the towns on the outskirts of Valencia where Urbania Developer has residential projects underway at the moment. Nevertheless, “we are now finalising the purchase of new plots of land”, said Claveria, who indicated that his company could close around half a dozen operations soon.

Moreover, the property developer has already expanded its business to the south of Valencia with the purchase of a “small plot” in Alicante. Size is important for the company, which projects developments comprising “between eight and thirty homes”. “In Castellón, we are also looking at plots”, said the businessman, who wants to focus solely on the Community of Valencia in this first phase of his arrival in Spain (…).

Currently, the property developer has more than 5,000 homes built or under construction in Panama, the epicentre of the company’s business,  as well as in Paraguay and Nicaragua. In the Panamanian market alone (“the Switzerland of Latin America”, according to Claveria), the property developer manages 2.2 million m2 of residential land spread over 18 projects.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

House Prices Decrease By The Most In Castellón In 2016

13 December 2016 – El Mundo

House prices are still falling in the province of Castellón, despite the fact that they are rising in Spain as a whole (by 4% over the last 12 months) and have now recorded 10 consecutive quarters of increases.

Castellón closed the third quarter of the year as the province where house prices decreased by the most in the last year, with a YoY decline of 4%. Only in La Rioja have house prices fallen by more than the average for unsubsidised homes, with a decrease of 5%, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Development.

At the moment, the average unsubsidised home in the province of Castellón costs €1,027/m2, which represents a decrease of 3.3% compared with the previous quarter and of 4% compared to a year ago.

Castellón is the cheapest place to buy an unsubsidised home at the moment, based on average prices. And the province not only offers the lowest prices, it is also where prices are continuing to decrease despite the increase that they are experiencing across the rest of Spain and also in the rest of the Community of Valencia.

The highest increase in house prices was recorded in the province of Valencia, although Alicante registered the highest prices. In this sense, it is worth noting that, according to the statistics from the Ministry of Development, the average cost of an unsubsidised home amounted to €1,117.1/m2 at the end of Q3 2016. This figure represents an increase of 1.9% with respect to the second quarter of the year and a rise of 4% over the last 12 months. Meanwhile, the average price of unsubsidised homes in Alicante amounted to €1,240.6/m2, having risen by 1.3% during the quarter and by 1.4% in the last year, according to the same sources at the Ministry of Development.

And as house prices continue to decrease in the province of Castellón, so too do the number of home purchases. In this sense, it is worth remembering that Castellón is the province where the number of new home sales has fallen by the most in the last year. Nevertheless, and despite the 46.50% decrease in new house sales across Castellón in the last year, the volume of total transactions is positive due to the vortex experienced in terms of demand for second-hand properties.

In the province of Castellón, 6,043 homes have been sold in the last year, which represents an increase of 6.92% YoY. Despite this rise, with a total of 696 transactions involving new homes in the last year, the province has registered a decrease of 46.50% in terms of the number of operations involving new homes, the highest in all of Spain. Meanwhile, second-hand homes account for the majority of the transactions registered in the province of Castellón, with a total of 5,347 sales, which represents 88.48% of the total, according to the latest data.

Original story: El Mundo (by Berta Ribés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Marina d’Or Has Sold Off Assets Worth €330M

14 June 2016 – Expansión

The real estate empire constructed by Marina d’Or in Oropesa de Mar (Castellón) is changing hands, but for the time being, its new owners have little to do with the Chinese group Wanda, despite the rumours that were rife just a few months ago.

The company into which the owner of Marina d’Or, Jesús Ger, has grouped together his real estate business, Comercializadora Mediterránea de Viviendas (Comervi), disposed of properties and land (in 2014), worth €330 million at the time. In most cases, banks were involved in these transfers, given that Comervi filed for bankruptcy in 2014.

The most notable operation to date affects the subsidiary Platja Amplaries, a company created in 2011 with Banco Popular to hold properties and land financed by that entity. In December 2014, two companies headquartered in Luxembourg, created just a few months earlier, Ecol Investment and Trans Investment, took control of the firm, owned until then by Comervi (75%) and the bank, through Aliseda (25%).

The two companies acquired a 49.73% stake each and Comervi retained just 0.54%, following a capital increase that did not involve the contribution of any new funds, but rather the transformation of a €27.7 million loan, granted by the former shareholders, into capital.

Apartments and debt

Platja Amplaries is the owner of assets including apartments in Marina d’Or worth €91 million – which the group rents out or has put up for sale – and land that Marina d’Or acquired in different areas of the province of Castellón worth €163 million. Its debt amounts to €266 million, and is all borrowed from Popular.

None of the vendors has revealed the identity of the owners of the Luxembourg-based companies. Comervi’s financial statements for 2014 reflect the transfer, which allowed the company to increase its net equity by €147 million, according to the audit report, which was not prepared until April 2016.

This was not the only transfer that took place. The financial statements also reflect the sale of properties worth almost €80 million to a bank in exchange for debt. Thanks to these operations, Comervi reduced its total liabilities from €528 million in 2013 to around €240 million by the end of 2014, of which €194 million corresponded to bankrupt liabilities. The creditors include Public Administrations, owed €68.5 million, and Sareb, which has called for the rescission of certain corporate transactions, according to the financial statements.

Original story: Expansión (by A.C.A)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Supreme Court Cancels Plans For Marina d’Or Golf Macro-City

26 February 2016 – Expansión

The Supreme Court has ratified an earlier decision to cancel the urban plans for a second macro-city, known as Marina d’Or Golf, in Castellón. The project covers a surface area of 18 million m2 and negotiations were being held with several overseas investors.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

The Housing Stock Is No Longer A Problem In 36 Provinces

9 February 2016 – Cinco Días

Improvement of the housing situation goes on. The increase in housing sales continues to drain the stock of new homes for sale, though perhaps at a slower pace than might be expected. The latest data of the Confederation of Construction Products Manufacturers Associations of Spain (Cepco) states that at the end of the third quarter of 2015 the surplus for sale amounted to a total of 507,477 homes, 5.14% lower than at the end of 2014.

In aggregate terms it still seems a figure too high to think that in 2016 many homes will be built, although we must remember that from the peak reached in 2009 (when it amounted to 687,953 homes) the stock has decreased a 26,2% in six years.

But in the real estate market what is of importance is the analysis by territory, since while in some provinces the increase in transactions have been reflect double digit figures for months, in others the activity remains still quite weak.

This is one of the factors that explains how – if those data are currently analysed by province stock, we can see that there are already over 36 of them below 1,500 houses per 100,000 inhabitants, a level considered by sector experts to be acceptable. Among them we find Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, the three major population and activity centres in the country, but the three Basque provinces, Navarre, where there is no longer a housing surplus, the four Galician provinces, and other areas washed by the Cantabrian Sea also lead the classification

Likewise, the stock volume in all the Andalusian provinces (except for except Almería) in both Extremadura (Badajoz surplus has no surplus) or five of the nine provinces of Castilla y León and the two archipelagos is not worrisome.

The ‘crown’ of Madrid

On the contrary, where there is oversupply of new homes is in three of the five provinces bordering Madrid: Toledo, Ávila and Cuenca, while Guadalajara y Segovia are below the psychological limit of 1,500 houses per 100,000 inhabitants. Precisely this proximity to the capital and the construction of new transport infrastructure were the factors that spurred housing construction in these three provinces, when it was thought that the locations closer to Madrid could end up becoming dormitory towns for thousands of citizens working in the capital.

Not that close to the big city, but also influenced by the construction maelstrom, Ciudad Real appears as one of the provinces with more stock, at the same level as Teruel or Lérida. However, no province comes close to the alarming situation of Castellón which with 4,650 homes per 100,000 inhabitants leads the ranking made by the building materials manufacturers.

These differences in supply of new homes from one province to another is what has favoured that while building cranes have reappeared in the landscape of some large cities, neither have they arrived nor are they expected in others due to oversupply of new construction still for sale or rent. Nevertheless, in the absence of knowing the closing data published by the Infrastructures Department, 2015 will be the first year of the last seven (since 2008) in which the volume of homes started exceeds that of finished homes. This is because Cepco confirms with figures from the colleges of surveyors how from past January to October the building of 39,781 homes was started and 37,497 were finished. The areas with more economic growth and better jobs are the ones concentrating the higher volume of building certifications, which has made both variables to cross again.

A year to strengthen the sector’s recovery

Developers, builders and ultimately all subsectors that depend to some extent on the real estate business, have started this 2016 with the hope that it will become the year in which the recovery takes place. The main research services made their projections for 2016 and 2017 with a focus on labor market performance, the financing flow and the evolution of interest rates.

In this scope, except in the event of major surprises derived from a global catastrophe, all estimates agreed that the purchases of homes continue to rise at moderate rates, prices would not increase far beyond what is considered reasonable (between 3% and 5% except in places with occasional shortages of supply) and certifications to start promotions would focus on areas with less stock.

In such market analyses, only a few remember that 2016 would begin after an electoral process, so that the composition of the new government was mentioned as a risk factor, although it is not defined as a determining factor. Now, 50 days after the elections, given the direction the negotiations between the parties are taking, some experts are beginning to recognize that perhaps the political factor in making the projections was underestimated. The figures for the next few months will tell.

Keys and data

Housing Lists: Visiting each of the new building developments and quantifying the supply of homes would be the best method to calculate the stock, but it is certainly the most costly in human and technical resources. TINSA is the only company that has so far made such an ambitious study, although not a pure housing list.

Calculations: Cepco uses the methodology of the Infrastructure Department, which is subtracting sold homes from finished homes.

Population: To calculate the rate per 100,000 inhabitants, the data quarterly published by the INE are taken into account.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Raquel Díaz Guijarro)

Translation: Aura Ree