Employment in Real Estate Sector Suffers Fall of 4.6% in the 3rd-Quarter of 2019

28 October 2019 – Employment in real estate sector fell by 4.6% y-o-y in the third quarter of this year, its first fall in six years. The number of people employed in real estate activities dropped to 150,200 professionals, according to data from the National Statistics Institute’s (INE) Active Population Survey (EPA).

The decline marked the first year-on-year drop since the second quarter of 2013, when employment fell by 16%, amid the European real estate and financial crisis.

Original Story: Eje Prime

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Spain Needs 150,000 New Homes Per Year But the Market is Capable of Delivering Only 75,000

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

BBVA Research: Building Permits for New Homes Double in 3 Years

12 November 2018 – Cinco Días

The recovery is being boosted by construction activity in the real estate sector. 2018 is going to close with the granting of more than 100,000 permits for the construction of new homes, which represents twice the number of permits granted in 2015, according to estimates from BBVA Research. During that year, activity in the sector started to recover, after years in free fall. The real estate construction segment is whereby returning to six-digit figures, something that has not been seen for eight years.

Until August, the most recent data available from the Ministry of Development, just over 68,000 permits had been granted, up by 26% compared to the same period last year. The data from that month reflects that it was the best August on record since 2008.

The sector may be recovering but it is still light years away from the property fever experienced a decade ago. To give some perspective, the 100,000 new build permits that are going to be granted this year are eight times fewer than the figure recorded in 2006, when the highest ever number of permits was issued (865,561). In April of that year alone, 126,753 permits were granted, a figure that comfortably exceeded the number expected to be issued during 2018 as a whole.

The exact opposite was seen in 2013, when the number of permits hit rock bottom: during that year, just 34,288 permits were granted, the absolute minimum in the whole historical series (whose data goes back to 1992). The following year, there was a slight increase in permits (of 2%) but it was not really until 2015 when the figures started to recover with any strength, up by 43% that year. Since then, the number of construction permits granted has followed a stable growth path, with YoY increases of around 25%.

According to the research from BBVA, the increase in permits forms part of the favourable context in which the market is developing. During the third quarter of the year, employment in the construction sector grew by 1.3%, loans for home purchases increased by 16.8% YoY and house sales in August were almost 10% higher than during the same month last year.

A large part of the still moderate and stepped growth in terms of construction permits is due to the fact that the number of leftover homes constructed during the bubble, which still have not been sold, is still “high and disproportionate for the levels of demand in six out of every ten provinces”. There are 1.2 million leftover homes in total, according to the statistical yearbook for the real estate market compiled by the consultancy firm Acuña & Asociados.

Nevertheless, that stock of homes is very dispersed throughout the country: the consultancy firm calculates that one third of those homes are located in areas with zero or very low demand, whereas in the main cities, new build homes are needed, something that is being confirmed by the significant increases in house prices.

Madrid is the city that accounts for the most building permits (both for new construction and renovation or refurbishment). So far this year, work has started to build or renovate 7,000 homes in the Spanish capital. It is followed, at a distance, by Barcelona, with just over 2,200 homes. Next in the ranking are Valencia (1,640), Málaga (1,400), Zaragoza (1,060), and Sevilla ( 830). Those six cities – which account for almost 20% of the population – account for 17% of all of the permits granted so far this year (…).

Original story: Cinco Días

Translation: Carmel Drake

Savills Aguirre Newman: International Investors Focus on Spain’s Offices

25 October 2018 – Eje Prime

Offices are the most sought-after assets by overseas investors in Spain. The limited availability of workspaces with the appropriate requirements is pushing international investors to bet heavily on this real estate segment.

In light of the shortage of high-quality stock, overseas investors have a Plan B for the country. According to the latest report from Savills Aguirre Newman, investors are currently looking for new build projects and are opting to renovate properties already being offered in the Spanish market.

The recovery of the economy and the consequent reactivation of employment has meant that buyers see Spain as a country with lots of opportunities in the office segment. This trend is expected to last for a few more years, above all in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, where the creation of employment is set to grow above the European average; with annual growth of 1.7% and 1.5%, respectively (…).

In 2017, rents in the office segment rose, by 6% on average, in the main financial districts of Europe. Nevertheless, four cities led the growth in rental prices last year: London, up by 13.9%; Stockholm, 12.5%; Berlin, 12.4%; and Madrid, 10.7% (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by B. Seijo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Construction Costs Soar & Feed the ‘Boom’ in House Prices

9 September 2018 – El Confidencial

“A year and a half ago, I asked for a quote from a small construction company for a building project in Leganés. I drafted the plans, obtained the permit from the Town Hall and when I spoke to the construction company again about starting the work, they quoted me 35% more than we had originally agreed. It was crazy. And something similar has just happened on another project in Móstoles. I signed a building contract with another construction company two months ago, the work starts next week, but they can’t stick to the price we agreed because they can’t manage to hire workers for that price”.

The speaker is a property developer from Madrid, who prefers to remain anonymous so as to not generate hostility amongst construction companies. Over the last few months, he has suffered as a result of the significant rise in construction costs. There are severe labour shortages, which are causing prices to rise, given that the cost of construction materials, although increasing slightly, has remained much more stable.

The increase of 35% is not generalised across Spain, but it is starting to become quite frequent in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Málaga where real estate activity has recovered more strongly than in other parts of the country, according to the experts consulted.

To give us an idea, according to a study prepared at the beginning of the year by ACR Grupo, residential construction costs have risen by 17.5% in the last 24 months, and by 12% in the last year alone. After 2007, and coinciding with the crisis, those costs decreased by 20% and remained almost flat for more than five years until two years ago, when the long lethargy was finally broken.

This higher cost of labour has a direct impact on house prices. According to the experts consulted, a 40% increase in construction costs results in a 20% rise in house prices. And, if the price of land represents around 35% of the total cost of the construction, then construction costs now account for around 50%. “Why do you think that prices are rising so quickly in Madrid and Barcelona? The price of land is soaring and now this unexpected enemy has arrived on the scene”, said the same developer.

In the Spanish capital, prices are out of control in certain areas, with price rises of up to 20%. “…”. “Within a given development, a home that used to cost €400,000 is now being sold for almost €500,000. The increases are not only due to the fact that there is a lot of demand and limited supply, but also because if the properties aren’t sold at those prices, then the project is not profitable. Some of the listed property developers have already warned that they will not be capable of building as many homes as they had planned. We will see in a few months time whether they are going to be able to fulfil their sales forecasts”, add sources from a construction company.

Although property developers have recognised this problem publicly for months, they are also convinced that it has gotten worse over the last nine months (…).

Destruction of the production fabric

The lack of skilled labour is evident. Plumbers, framers, electricians, bricklayers, etc…And like in any market, scarcity causes increases. Many of those who used to earn their living building homes at the height of the boom have changed jobs or left the country and have no intention of returning.

The figures speak for themselves. In 2008, the year the bubble burst, 600,000 new homes were completed in Spain. Now, that number barely reaches 50,000 units. Moreover, that decrease in activity has led to the disappearance of more than 12,600 companies linked to the sector since 2012, around 6,800 construction companies and 5,700 real estate firms, according to data from PwC.

That destruction of business fabric has resulted in an enormous number of unemployed people. Whilst a decade ago, the number of wage earners linked to the construction sector amount to 2 million people, in 2017 the number barely exceeded 800,000. In other words, almost 60% of the workers have disappeared (…).

“The main problem is that people who worked in the sector before and who have now found work now elsewhere do not want to return because of the fear of another crisis…”.

The problem goes far beyond the increase in prices that the property developers end up passing onto end buyers. The severe labour shortage, together with the lack of financing, puts in danger the sector’s estimates in terms of their forecasts for the construction of homes necessary for a healthy real estate market. And no solution for that problem is likely to be found in the short term (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Junta de Andalucía Awards 6,627m2 of Industrial Land in Jaén

23 March 2018 – 20 Minutos

Specifically, the Junta de Andalucía has sold nine plots of industrial land located on several industrial estates in Alcalá la Real, Arjona, Martos and Torredonjimeno for a total amount of around €0.5 million, according to a statement issued by the Andalucían Government on Friday.

Most of the sales have been recorded in Alcalá la Real, where four plots spanning a surface area of 2,800 m2 on the Llanos del Mazuelo industrial estate have been awarded, which will whereby continue its development with the upcoming installation of new companies and the expansion of existing firms that already operate there.

In Torredonjimeno, three other plots have been awarded, spanning a total surface area of 2,184 m2, whilst in Arjona, one plot measuring 700 m2 has been sold and in Martos, another plot has been sold for the expansion of the Cañada de la Fuente Industrial Estate, spanning 941 m2.

The Minister for Development and Housing, Felipe López, explained that the land sales by the autonomous community were reactivated at the beginning of this legislature, “a decision that aims to place public assets at the disposal of business initiatives for the generation of economic activity and employment”.

According to López, the proceeds that the government has been receiving since the beginning of 2015 for these sales “are allowing the autonomous Administration to look for and generate new plots for future industrial and business uses with the aim of boosting economic development and responding to the growth needs of the production fabric” in the province of Jaén.

Moreover, he highlighted that Jaén leads the ranking for the sale of industrial land in Andalucía to date during this legislature. In total, including the plots that have just been awarded, 96,655 m2 of land has been awarded in the province since 2015 for almost €8 million.

Meanwhile, he added that the first offer for land owned by AVRA this year has resulted in the award of 28,376 m2 in residential and industrial plots right across Andalucía, for a total amount of €5.6 million.

In addition to the plots of industrial land sold in Jaén, the award of land for social housing in Córdoba is also noteworthy, where a plot measuring 4,656 m2, with capacity for 88 homes, has been divested for €1.7 million.

Moreover, a free residential plot, spanning 15,450 m2 and with capacity for 86 homes in the Malagan municipality of Rincón de la Victoria, was sold for a price of €3.1 million. In addition, another free residential plot for 10 homes was also sold in the Cordoban municipality of Obejo, for €103,500.

The sale that has just been completed was opened on 26 January and remained open for the presentation of offers until 1 March. The offer, the first in 2018 involving the sale of industrial, tertiary and non-residential land, as well as residential plots and other real estate assets, contained almost 900,000 m2 spread over 772 plots across all of Andalucía’s provinces.

The residential plots that were included in this sale have capacity for 3,060 homes, of which 1,437 are social housing in nature and the remainder are for free/private development.

Original story: 20 Minutos

Translation: Carmel Drake

BBVA Research: Madrid & Balearics Led Spain’s House Price Rises in 2017

6 March 2018 – Expansión

House sales data for 2017 and the ongoing increases in house prices augur a year of consolidation for the real estate market in 2018, according to BBVA Research, which published its Real Estate Observatory report yesterday.

Nevertheless, this trend is happening with geographical variations. Madrid and the Balearic Islands are leading the price rises, with increases of 6.9% and 6.5%, respectively, to €2,355/m2 in the case of Madrid and €2,205/m2 in the case of the Balearic market. Those increases amounted to more than double the national average, of 3.1%, with the average price per square metre rising to €1,559/m2.

In 2017, Spain surpassed the symbolic barrier of 500,000 homes sold. Specifically, the year ended with 532,726 operations, according to data from the National Council of Notaries. That increase, of 15.6%, is even greater than the growth recorded in 2016 (14%) and is supported by: the confidence of households in the Spanish economy; the increase in rents thanks to the growth in employment; and the improvement in financing conditions.

The improvement in financing conditions is reflected in data for January when new loans for the acquisition of homes soared by 19.4%. “Thus, the market is expected to continue to perform positively over the next few months”, said the Research Department at BBVA.

But the market is still evolving at different speeds, depending on the autonomous region. In fact, only four regions have prices per square metre that exceed the national average. Besides Madrid and the Balearic Islands,  they are País Vasco, which has the most expensive average house price per square metre in Spain, exceeding even Madrid (€2,387/m2, up by 1.3%) and Cataluña (€1,892/m2), which occupies fourth place, after recording the third highest rise.

The increase in Cataluña was higher than the average, but “it was less intense than in the third quarter of 2017”, said BBVA Research. That circumstance coincides with the secessionist crisis, which has also led to a paralysis in terms of investment and a decrease in the number of tourist visits.

On the other hand, houses got cheaper during the last quarter of 2017 in La Rioja (-1.8%), Castilla y León (-1%), Castilla-La Mancha (-0.8%), Galicia (-0.4%) and Aragón (-0.1%). In some of those autonomous regions, the lowering of house prices may be influenced by the phenomenon of depopulation and the rising demand in large capitals and coastal areas.

Following an 11.6% decrease in the number of permits approved in November, the granting of permits to start new homes performed positively in December, with an increase of 5%, to 6,096 permits.

This increase favours the evolution of the real estate market in a scenario in which the large cities are facing demand that exceeds supply and there is a limitation on land development. In 2017, the number of new home permits amounted to 80,786, which represented an increase of 26.2% compared to 2016.

Original story: Expansión (by I. Benedito)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Junta de Andalucía Puts 33,000 m2 of Land Up For Sale in Córdoba

4 February 2018 – La Vanguardia

The Junta de Andalucía’s Ministry of Development and Housing has launched its first regional land sale of the year in the province of Córdoba, comprising 15 residential and industrial plots, which span 32,989 m2 in total and with an asking price of €5.8 million.

In this regard and in statements to Europa Press, the delegate for Housing and Development at the Junta in Córdoba, Josefina Vioque, said that “with this initiative, we are continuing our strategy of selling some of the land owned by the Agency for Housing and Rehabilitation in Andalucía (AVRA), which obtained such good results in 2017, with the award of almost 22,000 m2”.

The objective, according to Vioque, is “to generate revenues that allow us to strengthen the promotion of our activities of a social nature in terms of housing, especially the promotion of subsidised housing”.

This new tender for the sale of regional land includes seven plots classified as industrial and tertiary, measuring 10,871 m2, and eight units classified as residential, with capacity for 238 homes.

Of the latter, four are reserved for the construction of 188 social housing properties, on a surface area of 17,374 m2, whilst the other four, spanning 4,743 m2, have capacity for 50 private homes.

According to the delegate, the industrial plots are located in the municipalities of Adamuz, Cabra, El Carpio and Córdoba, whilst the social housing plots are located in the provincial capital and in Rute, and the private housing plots are also located in the capital and in the municipality of Obejo.

The tender, which will be open for the presentation of proposals until 1 March, and which will be resolved after the envelopes are opened, scheduled for 12 March, at AVRA’s central headquarters in Sevilla, also includes nine retail premises and 19 parking spaces in Córdoba, Lucena and Rute.

According to Vioque, “the drive to manage AVRA’s owned properties has become a priority since the start of this legislature, give our aim to put these assets on the market at the service of business initiatives, to promote economic development and the generation of employment in the construction sector, one of the hardest hit during the crisis”.

Josefina Vioque said that “with this initiative, the Junta also seeks to reactivate the construction of VPO homes, to facilitate access to housing for families in most need, since these operations are going to allow us to resume, once again, the promotion of these types of subsidised homes, which are more affordable for people with fewer resources”.

Land sold in 2017

This tender follows others carried out during 2017, which saw the award of a total surface area of 21,946 m2  and the generation of revenues amounting to €6 million (…).

Original story: La Vanguardia

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain Overtakes US to Become 2nd Most-Visited Country in the World

12 January 2018 – El País

Spain’s tourism sector is on a roll, and it looks like the good times will continue into 2018.

Last year, industry activity grew by 4.4% on the back of historic highs, both in terms of international visitors and tourist spending. This year, the business lobby Alliance for Excellence in Tourism (Exceltur) is expecting a further rise of 3.3%.

This industry leader has also estimated the impact of the Catalan crisis on tourism to be in the range of €319 million. If the crisis were to persist, the growth forecast for 2018 would shrink to 2.8%

Even though the secessionist bid shaved three-tenths of a percentage point from tourism activity in 2017, it was still a record year for Spain: over 82 million international visitors, an 8.9% leap from 2016, and a 1.5% increase in average spending per tourist, according to tourism ministry estimates released this week.

This makes Spain the world’s second-most popular tourist destination, behind France and ahead of the United States.

The tourism industry’s share of GDP has increased to 11.5%, representing €134 billion. And industry growth resulted in 77,501 new jobs in 2017, said Exceltur.

Political instability in the last quarter of the year, following the illegal independence referendum of October 1, negatively affected international tourism, particularly in geographically close markets like France, where visitor numbers were down 19.7% year on year in the October–November period. German visitor numbers fell 14% and the UK’s retreated 8%. Asian markets sent fewer visitors as well. However, tourists from the Americas grew notably in number, particularly those from Argentina (a 74% rise) and the United States (18.2%).

Slower growth in 2018

Exceltur said that 2018 “will be another excellent year” and predicted 3.3% growth for the tourism sector, higher than the forecast for the Spanish economy as a whole but lower than in the last two years – and that is without factoring in the potential effects of a protracted crisis in Cataluña.

The lower growth figure can be partially explained by a gradual recovery of alternative destinations that compete directly with Spain, such as Turkey, where terrorist attacks have driven tourism down.

“The challenge for the tourism industry now is to ensure sustainable growth with a view to the future,” said José Luis Zoreda, executive vice-president of Exceltur, at a news conference.

Despite the optimistic forecast, Exceltur is warning about a drop in revenues in early 2018: 10% for hotels, 6.8% for car rental companies, and 3.5% for transportation firms. The business association said “there will be staff adjustments” to make up for these losses.

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

Edited by: Carmel Drake

Ayco Buys Residential Land in Sevilla for Construction of 200 Homes

30 January 2018 – Eje Prime

The property developer Ayco has acquired a batch of developable plots in the municipality of Camas (Sevilla). In total, the company has purchased 18,000 m2 of land, on which it plans to build around 200 homes.

According to the company, the acquisition of these plots is motivated by the strategic value of their location, just a few minutes from ‘Isla de la Cartuja’, one of the nerve centres of Sevilla’s business and administrative community.

Francisco García Beato, President of Ayco, has said that the property developer “wants to take advantage of the reactivation of the sector in Spain, and specifically in Sevilla, where there is a scenario of stable growth driven by the positive evolution of employment, as well as of other economic indicators”.

The Spanish property developer has launched a business plan, which forecasts investment of €200 million over the next five years, starting in 2018, when it plans to spend €80 million buying up land for the construction of around 1,000 homes.

Last December, Ayco announced its alliance with Stoneweg for an alternative line of financing amounting to €13 million to allow it to carry out purchases of residential assets in Spain.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake