Lone Star to Sell Portfolio of 2,500 Homes Held by Coral Homes

28 October 2019 – Lone Star is looking to sell a portfolio of 2,500 homes held under its subsidiary Coral Homes, which the fund acquired from CaixaBank. Lone Star’s deal with CaixaBank included the acquisition of a roughly €7-billion portfolio of foreclosed homes through Coral Homes, in which the fund has an 80% stake. CaixaBank owns the remaining 20%.

The sale, known as the Kingfisher Project, is in an advanced phase. Interested parties are expected to submit binding offers within the next few weeks.

Original Story: El Confidencial – J. Zuloaga & R. Ugalde

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Colau Buys Residential Building From Renta Corporación For Social Housing

23 October 2017 – Expansión

Ada Colau is pushing ahead with her mission to recover residential buildings for the citizens of Barcelona. Her most recent battle has seen her conquer Renta Corporación, one of the traditional real estate companies dedicated to the purchase of old buildings in El Eixample and the subsequent rescission of contracts with tenants, with the aim of renovating and selling the properties. The Town Hall has exerted its right of first refusal for the building located at number 394 on Calle Còrsega in Barcelona, between Bruc and Girona, for which it has paid €5.85 million.

For its purchase of the building, Ada Colau’s Government has argued that the operation comes in response to “extraordinary and urgent measures to mobilise homes resulting from mortgage foreclosure processes”, together with “measures to protect the right to housing for people at risk of social exclusion”.

The Town Hall’s intention is to hand over the building, free of charges, to Patronat Municipal d’Habitatge so that it can be used as homes for social purposes.

The right of first refusal and withdrawal is a practice included in the Housing Law that the Parlament approved in 2007, although its use had been rare until now. It received a boost following the election of Ada Colau as mayor of the Catalan capital in June 2015.

The most recent balance reported by the municipal government includes the first year and a half of the mandate. In that regard, the Town Hall applied the right of first refusal and withdrawal in 87 of the 154 homes that it acquired.

Those figures have increased this year with several operations in that vein. The most significant deals have taken place at number 7, 9 and 11 on Calle Lancaster and number 37 on Calle Leiva.

In the first case, the Town Hall spent €5.65 million buying 41 homes spread over three blocks. In the second case, it paid €2.75 million to Anida – a subsidiary of BBVA – to avoid the sale of the block to a fund.

The municipal government also exercised its right of first refusal and withdrawal this summer to buy three plots of land on the former La Escocesa factory premises, in Poblenou, for €10.11 million. The hundreds of luxury homes that were planned for those plots are no longer going to be built, with social housing properties and facilities now planned for the site instead.

The housing plan that the plenary approved at the beginning of the year includes modalities that go beyond constructing new blocks for rent-protected and social housing homes. They include continuing with the acquisition of homes from financial institutions or their transfer for a period of time, buying blocks in neighbourhoods where the urban fabric is consolidated – such as in Calle Còrsega – and exploring co-housing: the transfer of homes at below-market prices for between 50 and 100 years.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Anglés and D. Casals)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bankia & Santander Lead Decrease In Mortgage Default Rate

12 September 2016 – El Economista

The economic recovery is substantially easing the burden of provisions that the banks are making against their non-performing loans. The volume of bad debts have been decreasing gradually over the last few months, thanks to the overall improvement in the financial circumstances of families and companies.

An important part of this respite is coming from the mortgage segment. Families now hold financing to acquire homes amounting to just over €525,000 million in total. Unemployment, which wrought havoc during the crisis, had increased the default rate to more than 6%. But that trend changed at the end of 2014. Since then, the default rate of these types of loans has decreased to 4.7%, on average. In other words, the volume of mortgages with delayed repayments has decreased to €25,000 million.

Not all of the banks have managed to benefit in the same way from the improvement in Spaniards’ fortunes. Bankia and Santander are the entities that have benefitted the most over the last year. Between June 2015 and June 2016, Bankia’s default rate decreased by almost a quarter, from 6.76% to 5.02%, and by nearly a half since its historical peak in 2014. Even so, the absolute percentage of the nationalised group still exceeds the system average.

The decrease in Bankia’s default rate has come at a time when the bank is significantly reducing the volume of loans it grants to acquire homes. In the case of Bankia, the cut in the volume of financing is similar to that recorded in the sector. It has decreased by 4.3% in twelve months (…).

Since 2012, the nationalised group’s strategy has involved rebalancing its credit portfolio, with a drop in mortgages and an increase in loans to SMEs and individuals.

In the case of Santander, the default rate has decreased by 0.81 percentage points to 4.59% over the last twelve months, allowing the bank to maintain a ratio that it slightly lower than that of its rivals. In 2013, the Cantabrian entity’s default rate (6.7%) exceeded the sector average. Since then, the decrease has been gradual.

The group chaired by Ana Botín has also reduced its portfolio of doubtful debts, whilst its volume of mortgages has decreased by 3.4%. In fact, of the major entities that have published their data so far, Santander and Bankia are the ones that have reported the most significant decrease in financing.

Three banks, BBVA, CaixaBank and Ibercaja, have gone against the trend in the sector, suffering slight increases in their respective default rates. The first has been hurt by the incorporation of Catalunya Banc in April 2015, which is leading to an increase in its impairments, even through the operation to acquire the entity excluded the most harmful mortgages. They were transferred to a fund owned by Blackstone with certain government guarantees provided by the public rescue fund (Frob).

Despite the increases, CaixaBank and Ibercaja have two of the lowest default rates in the sector. In both cases, the default rate of home loans to individuals fell below 4% at the end of June this year.

For most entities, the volume of loans are falling at rate of less than 2%, as a consequence of the boost in new business and the open war to secure clients. At Unicaja, the decrease has been less than 1%.

Market share

BBVA is still the leader of this segment, with more than €89,437 million loans granted to households to buy a home, representing a market share of 17% (…). It is followed by CaixaBank, with financing lines amounting to €88,557 million (17%) and Bankia with €62,200 million (12%). Santander is ranked fourth, accounting for less than 10% of the mortgage market. (…).

The main entities have a combined balance of foreclosed homes amounting to more than €17,000 million. The bank that holds the largest portfolio of foreclosed homes is BBVA, with almost €4,500 million. CaixaBank is ranked in second place, with more than €2,762 million, whilst Bankia, in third place, has €2,700 million. (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Fernando Tadeo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sabadell To Release 800 New Homes Onto The Market

27 July 2015 – Expansión

The improved outlook regarding the performance of the Spanish economy is reflected in the real estate market, where prices are stabilising and even increasing in certain areas of Madrid and Barcelona. And the stocks of newly constructed homes are drying up in some towns, due to a lack of new developments in recent years.

Against this background, cranes are returning to the domestic landscape and banks are taking on a new role in the market for real estate development, as they aim to generate returns from the land and half-finished construction projects that they foreclosed in exchange for debt payments. And Sabadell is playing a very active role. It will release 800 homes onto the market over the coming months.

The bank led by Josep Oliu is currently developing eleven of its own real estate urbanisations, most of which are located in Barcelona, Andalucía and Levante, but also in País Vasco and Asturias. The construction work will be completed during the remainder of 2015 and 2016, and will culminate in the release of more than 400 homes – flats and houses – onto the market, over several stages, with some of the properties already being sold.

Beside these developments, which spread across the country and whose degree of completion ranges between 15% and 100%, three other new developments will be started after the summer in Madrid – in the towns of Colmenar Viejo and Alcalá de Henares – and Levante. Once finished, these urbanisations will contain approximately 400 homes.

During the first half of 2015, 46% of Sabadell’s property sales were made in cash, whilst 37% were financed by the bank and the remaining 17% were funded using loans from other entities. In fact, the Catalan bank is offering buyers both variable rate and fixed rate mortgages – at Euribor plus 1.6% and 2.9%, respectively.

The entity’s real estate and mortgage offer is in line with those of other banks such as Santander and BBVA, which are developing 600 different urbanisations at the moment, as well as with that of Sareb, which will release 1,200 homes onto the market during the remainder of 2015, in some of the 30 developments that it completed last year and the 42 that it currently has on-going.

Signs of recovery

After an intense and long-lasting period adjustment, both in terms of activity and prices following the burst of the real estate bubble, the sector is now showing clear signs of recovery, to the extent that foreign funds have also entered the sector for the development of homes. But, is there a risk of excess supply?

Residential development is likely to grow over the next few years, says Javier López Torres, the partner responsible for the real estate sector at KPMG in Spain. And there is still room for more new builds without any risk of a new real estate bubble, says an expert from Andbank, Rocío Ledesma. And Sabadell wants to maximise the opportunities in the market through its development company Solvia.

Solvia is dedicated not only to the development of urbanisations owned by the bank, it also works for third parties. It is a servicer with assets under management amounting to €28,000 million, and it offers services ranging from the management of loan portfolios, to the development of land, as well as the management and administration of assets. In fact, Sareb awarded its first asset management contract to Solvia.

Original story: Expansión (by Alicia Crespo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cataluña Will Fine Banks That Do Not Lease Out Foreclosed Homes

11 March 2015 – Expansión

The Generalitat will impose fines of up to €90,000 on banks that have homes (on their balance sheets) resulting from mortgage foreclosures and the assignment of deeds in lieu of payment, which are in a poor condition and as a result, are not leased out. The 72 municipalities with the highest demand (for housing) will be forced to transfer affected homes to the Generalitat, which, after refurbishing them, will lease them out for a maximum period of ten years. This is one of the measures contained in a law introduced to address urgent housing measures, which the Government of Artur Mas (CiU) announced yesterday.

The text also empowers the Generalitat and the town halls to exercise ‘their pre-emptive rights and rights of first refusal’ for all of the homes that have resulted from mortgage foreclosures and the assignment of deeds in lieu of payment, that the bank wants to sell. The objective is to prevent packages of properties ending up in the hands of international funds and evicting the tenants from those homes.

Original story: Expansión (by A.Z.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

The Top 7 Banks Reduce Their Exposure To Toxic RE Assets

3 March 2015 – El País

In 2014, loans to property developers and the overall volume of unpaid debt held by the top 7 banks decreased significantly, whereas the number of homes and plots of land they held increased.

Spain’s real estate bubble was largely a credit bubble. The excess amounts committed during the boom years subsequently gave way to a severe economic and financial crisis that forced Spain to ask its European partners to come to the rescue, to clean up the majority of its savings banks. The large banks were not immune from these excesses, but their higher levels of diversification, their capacity to attract private capital and their more professional management limited the damage (they suffered). All of this meant that even the healthy entities have had to undertake long and expensive clean up processes, which are still on-going for the most part. As part of this process, Spain’s listed banks managed to reduce their overall volume of problem real estate assets for the first time in 2014, according to data from their recently published annual reports.

The seven banks that form part of the IBEX 35 index (Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Bankia, Sabadell, Popular and Bankinter) closed last year with non-performing and substandard loans to property developers and unpaid homes, plots of land and other real estate assets amounting to €125,000 million. That balance represented a reduction of €7,000 million compared with the previous year. These are gross figures. If we look at the volume of provisions, the volume of as yet uncovered toxic risk decreased to just under €65,000 million, having decreased by €4,000 million in one year.

Overall, the reduction in toxic assets was exclusively driven by loans, since the real estate assets held by the banks (homes, developments, plots of land and shares held in real estate companies) continued to increase despite the fact that the entities have also been stepping on the accelerator in terms of sales. The banks are still seizing, foreclosing and receiving deeds in lieu of payment, for more properties than they are managing to sell.

A large proportion of the debt from the bubble is completing its cycle in this way. The banks have increasingly less exposure in terms of loans to property developers; the amount held by these seven entities decreased from €85,179 million to €68,086 million during the year. Furthermore, the volume of loans to property developers classified as normal, or up to date, also decreased. Now, only €18,000 million of these loans are considered as healthy, i.e. a quarter of the total. A large proportion of the loans went from being healthy to substandard or non-performing. And from there, to being written off (when loans are removed from the balance sheet and 100% of the losses arising from non-payment are provisioned) or to being classified as foreclosed properties (due to the foreclosure of the property or the handing over of deeds in lieu of payment). In 2013, only the volume of healthy loans decreased; doubtful and foreclosed debt increased, i.e. the volume of toxic assets grew. In 2014, the volume of non-performing loans decreased so significantly that, although the number of properties increased, the overall volume of “potentially problematic” real estate assets (as defined by the Bank of Spain) decreased for the first time. Until now, the only reduction in toxic assets (or rather transfer) happened when the banks transferred much of their developer exposure to Sareb, the bad bank.

In terms of properties, the largest increase related to plots of land, the asset that it is hardest to market. The banks have made provisions against almost 60% of the original value (of the plots of land they hold), but some plots have lost even more of their value and the entities are still reluctant to sell at a loss. There is barely any demand, transactions are relatively scarce and the banks are still seizing land from property developers unable to repay their loans. Thus, the volume of land in the hands of the seven IBEX 35 banks closed 2014 at a record high of €28,127 million, up €2,500 million compared with the end of 2013. Given the difficulties the banks are facing to find developers to purchase this land for construction, they are starting to adopt formulas that allow them to share the risk with the developers in exchange for providing the land.

The number of homes coming from from unpaid mortgages is also increasing. Specifically, the volume increased by €1,000 million last year, to €14,161 million. In this case, the increase was largely due to a delay in foreclosures. Procedures to seize homes that began at the height of the crisis are only now reaching their conclusion, even though the mortgage default rate seems to have already hit its peak.

The picture is also very different between the entities. Bankinter holds the badge of honour; it was the only one of the seven entities that avoided the temptation of the housing bubble. Its exposure to the sector was extremely low and it has hardly any doubtful debts or foreclosed properties. Next in line is Bankia, although in this case, the clean up of its balance sheet is less impressive: since it was achieved through the transfer of the bulk of its toxic assets to Sareb and the acceleration of the provisions against those assets that remained on its balance sheet.

Of the major banks, the entity that has done the most to clean up its real estate exposure is Santander. Its toxic property assets now account for only 15.3% of its lending to the private sector in Spain and just 1.5% of its consolidated assets. One step below are CaixaBank and BBVA. The entity chaired by Isidro Fainé has the highest level of provisions and the bank led by Francisco González benefits greatly from the international diversification of its business.

Sabadell is a special case. It appears to have high exposure to toxic assets, but a significant portion is covered through an asset protection scheme (that it acquired) when it purchased CAM. The entity with the most work left to do on the clean up front is Popular. Even though it has boosted the sales of homes, it has the highest volume of toxic assets and the lowest level of coverage of any of the seven entities.

Original story: El País

Translation: Carmel Drake