Land Oligopoly: 10 Cities Account for 55% of the Developments Underway in Spain

31 May 2018 – Eje Prime

The data is conclusive: ten cities account for 55% of the residential developments underway in Spain. They constitute a municipal land oligopoly, which is now showing signs of tension on the demand side given the lack of buildable land available for development and the delays by the public administrations when it comes to approving building permits. “The concentration of the population in the major cities is a phenomenon that is going to increase over the next few years”, predicts Sergio Gálvez, Director of Strategy and Investment at the property developer Aedas Homes in the context of the Madrid Real Estate Fair (SIMA) conference on land and its strategic market.

The executive of the listed Spanish company also explained that the delays in the granting of licences in certain cities are lasting for up to ten months. Gálvez regrets that “any delay suffered in the production chain clearly results in a higher sales price for the end client”.

The Director of Aedas, who believes that “the public administrations still have a long way to go in terms of the agility of the licence-granting process”, was accompanied at the roundtable by Ignacio Ocejo, Partner at Kronos Homes. The director of the Spanish property developer turned the spotlight onto financing: “the situation in the financial world has changed drastically with the new cycle; in the past, the supply could have been four times larger”.

Nevertheless, Ocejo was favourable of the fact that land financing is now “much more controlled” because capital can still be obtained under reasonable conditions. “I do not think that it is a problem, the banks themselves are being proactive when it comes to financing; the problem is more that there are fewer entities”, said the Director of Kronos.

Meanwhile, the Commercial Director of the appraisal firm Tinsa, Pedro Soria, seemed more concerned than his roundtable colleagues about land and its overheating (…) “In some places, we are already seeing price caps on land”, says Soria, “the only option left if we want to achieve the desired returns is to raise house prices”. In the event that land prices continue to rise, the Tinsa executive sees a “risk”, nevertheless, the market could be more profitable on the land investment side than when it comes to house building itself.

Spain is seeing an improvement in its new home permits once again, but the figures are still well below the more than 800,000 permits granted in the most active years of the boom in the 2000s. In this regard, Ocejo explains that “in a scenario of stability and compared with the previous cycle”, an increase in new builds at a rate of between 25% and 30% would be “positive”. “A healthy market for me would see the construction of between 130,000 and 160,000 new homes each year in Spain”, added the Partner of Kronos Homes.

Original story: Eje Prime (by J. Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Experts: Foreign Investors will Continue to Back the Spanish RE Sector in 2018

11 January 2018 – Expansión

The experts believe that the residential sector is going to be the main protagonist of 2018, in terms of both development and investment. The banks are expected to continue their balance sheet clean-ups with more portfolio sales.

The real estate sector is expected to continue to constitute a mainstay of the Spanish economy in 2018 thanks to the growth of residential property development and the commitment from international investors to Spanish property as a safe haven for their investments, according to the experts consulted by Expansión.

For Adolfo Ramírez-Escudero, President of CBRE España, property developers will be some of the most dynamic investors in 2018. “Last year, they underwent an expansionary cycle and, through specialisation and the sophistication of their product, they will continue to increase their prominence in the sector”, he explains.

The CEO of JLL España, Enrique Losantos, forecasts that 2018 will maintain the positive rhythm of recent years and that figures will remain in line with 2017, with a total investment volume of around €13 billion. Losantos also expects that portfolio operations, which were the major stars of 2017, thanks to the sale of assets by Banco Popular and BBVA, will continue to strengthen their position in 2018 (…).

Rents

For Santiago Aguirre, President of the Board of Directors of Savills Aguirre Newman, “we are entering a year of consolidation in terms of the upward cycle that we have been immersed in since 2014. Several segments, such as offices and logistics, have reached maximum leasing levels, nevertheless, we still see potential for rents to reach the maximum levels seen in the previous cycle”.

In terms of investment in tertiary assets, Oriol Barrachina, CEO at Cushman & Wakefield, explains that there is a perception that there will be more liquidity than product, despite caution being erred in light of the local and international uncertainty. “The main difference with respect to the last two years is that one group of buyers, the Socimis, are now also going to be selling assets. For years, they have purchased lots of assets and after generating value from them, they are going to put them up for sale, a fact that will also help to bridge the gap between supply and demand”, adds Barrachina.

Sandra Daza, Director General at Gesvalt, thinks that this year those investors who entered the cycle during the opportunistic period, between 2013 and 2015, will be replaced by long-term investors, such as insurance companies and pension funds.

In terms of trends, Mikel Echavarren, CEO at Irea, considers that residential development will continue to generate news this year, both in terms of land transactions, as well as price rises and the recovery of secondary markets (…).

Humphrey White, Director General at Knight Frank, highlights that Spain is currently at the beginning of an expansion period, with forecast demand of between 120,000 and 150,000 new homes per year, even though it closed 2017 with just 47,500 new home transactions (…).

No sign of a bubble

White considers that the growth in the sector in Spain rests on “some very firm foundations in terms of the law of supply and demand, whereby moving firmly away from a possible real estate bubble”.

For Gonzalo Gallego, Partner in Financial Advisory at Deloitte, buildable land will be one of the major challenges in the property development sector.

In terms of the rental market, Ramírez-Escudero explains that in 2018, we will see “quite a lot” of activity in the market from institutional investors backing rental homes. Over the last decade, the number of rental homes has increased significantly to reach 22.5%. Nevertheless, Spain still has major potential given that the average in the EU is 33% (…).

Javier López-Torres, Partner in Real Estate at KPMG, agrees. He considers that the rental segment will continue to gain weight due to the difficulties involved in accessing credit, mobility and cultural change (…).

Asset types

By sector, Thierry Bougeard, Director General at BNP Paribas Real Estate, says that demand for office space will continue its strong performance (seen in 2017), above all in Madrid, where leasing volumes are expected to increase to around 600,000 m2.

Meanwhile, in the logistics market, e-commerce will continue to be the main motor of demand, whilst in retail, many owners are betting on improving the quality of their centres, boosting leisure areas and the quality of them, with the aim of encouraging customers to stay longer, he explains.

The experts also agree in highlighting the high level of interest expected in alternative real estate assets, such as student halls and nursing homes.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Large Companies Also Focus On The Rental Housing Market

26 September 2016 – El Mundo

The rental market is becoming one of the symbols of the new real estate cycle. It has gone from being an almost residual market to becoming one of the stars of the residential sector. Gone are the prejudices that used to weigh down on this regime – it seems like the best is yet to come: all indications are that the sector has a promising future ahead thanks to its potential for professionalization.

Currently, the rental market accounts for around 25% of the residential stock. The latest official data comes from 2014, when, according to Eurostat, 21.2% of Spaniards lived in rental accommodation. According to the experts, that percentage that has been increasing ever since and it is much higher in the major cities. Spain has not had this many tenants since the 1960s.

Despite the significant increase in rental accommodation, Spain is a long way below countries such as Germany (where 47.5% of homes are rented), Austria (42.8%), Denmark (36.7%), the UK (35.2%) and France (34.9%). On average, 29.9% of homes in Europe are rented. This European reality indicates that the rental market in Spain still has potential for growth.

Experts agree that one of the maxims of the new real estate cycle will be a more balanced relationship between ownership and rental. They agree that to reach this goal, the sector, which is currently mainly in the hands of individual landlords, will have to be professionalized. This professionalization has been underway for years and is now starting to consolidate itself on a large scale.

Testa Residencial

A recent example is the maturity of the professional leasing market is Testa Residencial, the new subsidiary of Merlin Properties, created following the merger of the residential portfolios previously owned by the Socimi and Metrovacesa. This joint venture, which is still in its gestation period and which is expected to adopt the Socimi structure, was born with 4,706 homes, all operated under leases. Merlin’s major commitment to residential leasing is even more important if we take into account the fact that it has become the largest real estate group in Spain and the eighth largest in Europe.

In addition, Testa Residencial’s extensive supply will grow even more thanks to upcoming injections of properties (in exchange for shares) from Banco Santander, BBVA and Banco Popular, three shareholders inherited from Metrovacesa. (…). As such, the firm will end up managing a portfolio of 10,000 units, allowing it to complete with the main real estate companies in this market.

Testa Residential is launching itself into a sector in which two large companies have competed until now: Azora and Larcovi. The first, founded in 2003, has more than 12,000 rental homes under management in different funds and companies (for example, Azora and Hispania) and is the largest private entity in this market. (…).

Concha Osácar, the founding partner at Azora, takes it as read that the rental market will continue to grow for several reasons: the increase in geographical mobility for employment purposes, the limited access to credit to make (house) purchases, the elimination of tax incentives to acquire a home, the change in mentality (“especially amongst young people”) and growing demand from families looking for better homes.

Alongside Azora, Larcovi represents the tip of the iceberg of the professionalization of the sector. It manages more than 9,000 units (…).

“To satisfy the growing demand, the supply will have to be increased. We estimate that Spain will need between 1 million and 1.2 million additional rental homes to bring it into line with its European counterparts”, says Osácar. (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by Jorge Salido Cobo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

ST: Its Still Too “Early” To Talk About A “Complete Recovery”

21 April 2016 – El Economista

The CEO of ST Sociedad de Tasación, Juan Fernández-Aceytuno (pictured above), said on Tuesday that, despite the clear stability that we are seeing in terms of house prices, it is still “early” to talk about the “complete recovery and normalisation” of the market, and he warned that the recovery will only be an “objective” for as long as the net mortgage volume balance continues to decrease.

Those were the words of Fernández-Aceytuno during the opening session of the XXIII Meeting of the Finance Sector, an event organised by Deloitte, ABC and ST Sociedad de Tasación, at which he presented the five key indicators of the real estate sector.

Fernández-Aceytuno indicated that although there has been a double-digit increase in the number of appraisals commissioned by financial entities to support mortgage requests, the volume of mortgages granted in 2015 was “similar to the volume granted in 1998”, i.e. the lowest level in the series detailing mortgage activity prepared by the Spanish Mortgage Association.

Moreover, he said that in 2015, cement consumption amounted to 11.5 million tons, “similar to the levels seen in the 1930s and almost six times lower than the historical peak”.

“It would be interesting to validate and understand that real estate cycles in Spain are 16 years long, eight years of price and activity decreases, followed by eight years of rises”, said Fernández-Aceytuno, before going on to list the five key indicators for determining at which point we are in the cycle.

The five key indicators of the real estate sector

The first is the relationship between mortgages and transactions, regarding which he noted that during times of growth and recovery, the number of mortgages exceeds the number of transactions. “In Spain, that relationship was reversed in 2011; the good news is that since 2015, the number of mortgages granted has grown more quickly than the volume of house purchases”, he said.

Similarly, he indicated that the relationship between the percentage of appraisals commissioned by financial institutions for own assets and loan collateral has varied “significantly” from those commissioned by end clients to support new mortgage applications.

In terms of the creation of new households, Fernández-Aceytuno highlighted that, according to sources at La Caixa, almost 75,000 new households were created in Spain last year, which represents just 20% of the historical maximum. According to the Bank of Spain, the reference figure should amount to around 250,000 new households per year.

Similarly, he said that the New Home Census for 2016 compiled by ST-Sociedad de Tasación reported around 5,400 new homes for sale, compared with the 45,000 resulting from the calculations published by the Ministry of Development.

The variables that determine this difference are: the age of the home, its rental yield and the preference of property developers and banks to sell their homes in more favourable economic environments.

Finally, in terms of the evolution of outstanding mortgage balance, he said that currently the figure for the volume of loans being repaid exceeds the figure for the granting of new mortgages. “Although the latter increased at a higher rate in 2015, for as long as the net mortgage volume continues to decline, the recovery will just be a goal”.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake