Barcelona’s Town Hall has Shut Down 2,355 Illegal Tourist Apartments in 2 Years

11 July 2018 – Inmodiario

After launching the emergency plan against illegal tourist apartments (HUT) in July 2016, the Town Hall of Barcelona has closed 2,355 properties and is in the process of shutting down another 1,800.

Moreover, this summer the “Fair Tourism BCN” campaign is being promoted once again to inform and raise awareness amongst citizens and visitors alike about the dangers of this illegal activity for everyone.

In total, 10,635 files have been opened and 5,503 fines have been imposed, five times as many as during the period from 2014 to 2016. The number of termination orders rose from 663 in 2014 to 4,148 in 2016.

By area, the files opened have been located primarily in L’Eixample (3,193) and Ciutat Vella (2,920), followed by Sant Martí (1,220), Sants-Montjuïc (1,042) and Gràcia (939).

In addition to this activity, inspections have been conducted of: 81 entire buildings where it was suspected that illegal tourist activity was being undertaken; 21 student halls, also suspected of tourist activity; and 61 illegal B&Bs, under the umbrella of rooms for rent, which were leasing all of their rooms.

Besides the fining activity, the team comprising more than 100 inspectors and visualisers is continuing to work to ensure that closed down apartments do not reopen, to identify new illegal properties and to hunt down the organised networks that are managing more than one property.

In parallel, work is continuing with holiday rental platforms through a joint roundtable that has been working for some time with Homeaway, Booking, TripAdvisor, Rentalia and Apartur, and which has recently been joined by Airbnb.

Work is currently on-going to allow the Town Hall to have access to data about users who have joined the platforms since 1 June 2018.

Original story: Inmodiario 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain No Longer Features in EU’s Top 10 Home Ownership Ranking

23 March 2018 – El País

77.8% of citizens resident in Spain own their own homes. In this way, the country was placed in 13th position in the ranking of European Union (EU) countries in terms of this parameter in 2016, one place below its position the previous year – after being overtaken by the Czech Republic – according to data from the European statistics institute Eurostat, and well outside of the Top 10. Compared to the European average (69.2%), the Spanish figures are still high, although each year, the percentage of homeowners is decreasing slightly to the benefit of the rental market. Ownership fever dominates in Eastern Europe, in particular, where the percentage exceeds 90% in many countries.

In 2007, the first year for which Eurostat compiled data for Spain, the country was ranked in 9th place in terms of the number of citizens owning their own home, with a percentage of 80.6%. Thus, between then and 2016, the rate has been decreasing slightly at the same time as the rates in other countries have been increasing, relegating Spain to lower positions in the ranking.

“In Spain, home ownership is decreasing slightly each year due to the economic conditions and the difficulty in accessing a mortgage”, explains José García Montalvo, Professor at the Universidad Pompeu Fabra, who points out that nowadays you need to have a permanent (employment) contract to be granted a mortgage, whereas, in 2007, you could have been a temporary worker. García Montalvo also argues that society has changed and young people – who are finding it harder to access real estate loans due to their employment conditions – regard the purchase of a home as a “problem” (…).

The professor says that the price of rental homes is rising due to greater demand, and he does not think that the decrease in home ownership is a phenomenon that is going to reverse despite the rent increases. In 2017, the price of rental homes in Spain recorded its third annual rise. The average price grew by 8.9% in 2017, the highest ever increase in the historical series of the real estate portal Fotocasa’s index, which has been compiling data since January 2006.

Eastern European countries lead the home-ownership statistics

In 2016, Romania was the country where the highest percentage of citizens owned their own home, with 96%. It was followed by Lithuania, with 90.3%; Croatia and Macedonia, with 90%; Slovakia (89.5%); Hungary with 86.3%; Poland, with 83.4%; Bulgaria (82.3%); Estonia and Malta, with 81.4%; Latvia with 80.9% and the Czech Republic with 78.2%. “The countries where citizens are most committed to buying their own home are primarily those in Eastern Europe. This is partly a result of the fact that many of those regions were communist countries and that when the market was opened up, it was shared out and everyone got involved”, says García Montalvo.

By contrast, the data from Eurostat shows that the citizens of countries with more consolidated economies back the rental market to a greater extent over the acquisition of home. Thus, Germany leads this category with 51.7% of its citizens owning their own home, followed by Austria, with 55%; and Denmark with 62%. Nevertheless, none of these countries fall below 50%, although the percentages are decreasing every year, opting for a rental model. The EU average stands at 69.2%, more than 8 percentage points below the figure in Spain.

“Rental is favoured in countries where labour mobility is higher such as in Germany and Austria. In Spain, it would be great if that was the case to boost labour mobility because ownership ties people down a lot (…).

Original story: El País (by Nahiara S. Alonso)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Valencia is Awarded 200,000 m2 of Land by the Port for Conversion into Green Space

26 February 2018 – Inmodiario

The mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, and the President of the Port Authority, Aurelio Martínez, have jointly presented an agreement for the use by citizens of 195,000 m2 of Port Authority land in the neighbourhood of Natzaret. The site will contain a park (el Parque de Desembocadura) measuring 63,800 m2, a large sports area spanning 88,000 m2, a tertiary use area and the concession of land to allow the Jardín de Túria to be extended to reach the sea.

“Construction work on the future ‘Parque de Desembocadura’ will start soon. Until now, it has been all about the paperwork and negotiations, but people are going to be able to start strolling through here very soon. It is a very important step for the neighbourhood of Natzaret and for the city as a whole, and very important for the redirection of the seafront, which is the main large project that remains outstanding in terms of town planning in Valencia (…)”, said Joan Ribó, after the approval of the agreement by the Board of the Port Authority (…).

The immediate work that the mayor refers to will begin on a plot measuring 22,000 m2, which citizens will be able to enjoy as soon as possible. The granting of the total space spanning 195,000 m2 in the Natzaret area is going to be the city’s third green space, of which the Parque de Desembocadura will occupy 63,802 m2.

At the same time, the plan is to create a sports area, spanning 88,000 m2. “It is going to be an area between the Natzaret and Puerto neighbourhoods, which I think is really important; it is going to have a lot of positive consequences for boosting the neighbourhood and also for mobility and connections between the neighbourhoods and the city (…)”, said Ribó (…).

The agreement also provides for the creation of a tertiary area (located on part of the site of the former Moyresa factory) which will have a surface area of 19,500 m2 and a buildable surface area of 25,000 m2 (…).

Meanwhile, Aurelio Martínz, President of the Port Authority, expressed his satisfaction “about this agreement, which has required lots of months of work and effort to achieve and to which the mutual understanding that exists with the mayor of Valencia has contributed” (…).

He added that it is a former port space, “which is being made available to the Town Hall and to its citizens” and also that “the fence is going to be maintained for reasons of security just like in other parks that are open for use by citizens during the day”.

Original story: Inmodiario

Translation: Carmel Drake

AGV: Almost One Third Of Madrid’s Citizens Think More New Homes Are Required

20 November 2017 – Observatorio Inmobiliario

Almost one third of Madrid’s citizens believe that there is not sufficient housing in the city to meets their needs in terms of prices and features. This perception increases as the respondents’ annual salary and age decrease. Similarly, more than half of future buyers believe that there is not sufficient supply to allow them to choose the most appropriate home and almost 45% think that more housing needs to be built. Those are some of the findings of a study conducted by the Association of Housing Managers (‘Asociación de Gestoras de Viviendas’ or AGV) amongst citizens of the capital, which reveals the needs of house buyers in the city of Madrid.

The people surveyed, of whom 3 out of 4 were buyers aged between 31 and 39, revealed that buying a home or apartment in a building is their preferred option. The vast majority confirmed that they would choose to buy a private home (rather than a subsidised property). In fact, almost 80% stated that they are most tempted by that type of home; 90.5% of them are aged 40 or over (86.3%), compared with the younger population, where only 56.7% said that they would be able to buy a private home.

The youngest people who do not own their current homes stated that they will invest less than €160,000 in the purchase of a home as they cannot afford more expensive properties. Moreover, only 11% of the respondents said that they would spend a maximum of €300,000 to buy a property in Madrid.

Price and location are the top priorities

Both price and location stood out as the main factors to take into account when it comes to buying a home. More than half of Madrilenians (63.4%) rank price as one of the most important considerations, along with the characteristics of the home. The study confirmed that price and the lack of help or tax incentives are the main obstacles preventing the majority of Madrileños from affording to buy a new home.

In terms of the housing market, potential future house buyers claim to be those who have planned their savings (29.6%), have good prospects in terms of employment (23.9%), and monthly earnings that allow them to afford the expense (35.7%). Of the latter, the population aged between 31 and 39 stands out, with annual earnings of more than €36,000.

Limited information and a sensation of complexity when accessing social housing

The survey confirmed the existence of a firm interest in social housing properties in the city of Madrid, even though only 30% of those surveyed said that they were informed about subsidised housing, and 61% consider that the application procedures are too complex. In fact, almost 60% of women and 63.3% of young people (under 30) consider that they will have to go down this route.

Juan José Perucho Rodríguez, President of AGV, declared that “we are facing a critical situation given that demand from citizens is clear and the situation is not adapting to reflect what is happening in Madrid. The construction of social housing properties is vital for citizens, who have seen their purchasing power diminish, to be able to afford to buy a home. In this sense, we think that starting to discuss the option of creating more homes is necessary to cover the needs of the citizens who demand them”.

Original story: Observatorio Inmobiliario

Translation: Carmel Drake

BBVA Gets Ready To Reactivate ‘Operación Chamartín’

14 September 2016 – Expansión

Antonio Béjar, the Chairman of Distrito Castellana Norte, the company owned by BBVA and Sanjosé, has criticised Manuela Carmena’s team for “turning their backs on locals” and not thinking about Madrilenians.

Operación Chamartín reached a deadlock in May, when the Town Hall of Madrid, with votes from Ahora Madrid and PSOE, decided to deal a blow to Distrito Castellana Norte’s project and present an alternative option, which is unlikely to prosper, as it faces the outright refusal of the Community of Madrid and the Ministry of Development.

One of the biggest victims in this lethargy is DCN, which has seen how a project that had been fallow for decades and that seemed to be on the verge of progressing, following the approval of the final general town plan (PGOU) and the apparent acceptance of the parties involved, is now in danger of becoming little more than ink and paper following the arrival of Manuela Carmena’s municipal government.

Despite the circumstances, the Chairman of DCN, Antonio Béjar (pictured above), said in an interview with Expansión, that he feels “more encouraged than ever”. “This is an initiative that affects 500,000 people (i.e. the citizens who live in and around the affected areas). “We have always thought that it would be impossible to undertake this project behind people’s backs. For this reason, right from the start, we employed means and made efforts to get people to participate and contribute ideas”, explained Béjar.

The Director also explained that, in the face of the flood of suggestions and information requests received, they decided to open an office in Fuencarral a few months ago, and they plan to open at least two more – in Las Tablas and Chamartín – with the aim of maintaining an “open and permanent dialogue with people”. Béjar hopes that the municipal Government will reconsider its decision given the response from locals. “The Town Hall’s blockade against our project is very unpopular”, he said.

Similarly, the Chairman of DCN hopes to be able to resume talks with the Town hall and the other bodies involved to remedy the situation and whereby share the property developers “negotiating spirit”. Nevertheless, he warns that red lines exist, which are not going to be ignored. “We are not willing to be the sponsor of a project that lacks ambition or is associated with low quality. Moreover, we represent investors that have a duty to not, cannot and will not invest in projects that do not have appropriate returns”.

For the Director, the plan proposed by the Town Hall is a “very poor initiative”. “The administrations do not have the resources necessary to cover works that require billions of euros. They propose that the public sector bears the business risk, either through taxes or other items of social spending and they force citizens to pretend that they are entrepreneurs”.

Béjar fears that the unmovable attitude of the Town Hall will continue, at least until a new national Government is formed. “Political priorities should not take precedence over technical matters. We have not even been allowed to negotiate with the Town Hall”.

In the same way, he points out that the concession of land from Adif expires on 31 December and that the option to extend the period “is not currently on the table”. “We cannot keep investing forever without any signs of returns”, he noted.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake