Unemployment to Fall to Pre-Crisis Levels in Madrid

3 December 2019 – The Community of Madrid has had a series of years of growth above the average for Spain as a whole. According to the forecasts by BBVA Research, Madrid had the highest regional growth in 2018 and will continue to do so in 2019 ad 2020. Thus, in 2020, unemployment in Madrid is expected to fall to pre-crisis levels, which, until now, had only been done in the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

BBVA Research stated that GDP in the Community of Madrid is expected to grow by 2.6% this year, a significant reduction in the pace of growth compared with last year (3.7%). The regional average for the country as a whole, however, only reached 1.9%. Next year, growth in Madrid is expected to fall to 2.2%, compared to the Spanish economy at 1.6%.

Original Story: Expansión – Pablo Cerezal

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Metrovacesa Explores Entering the Rental Home Sector

21 February 2019 – El Confidencial

Selling new build homes is still proving to be too much of a challenge for the times that are approaching. As such, another of the listed property developers, Metrovacesa, is evaluating its entry into the rental home sector, an option that its competitor Neinor (advised by Goldman Sachs) also has on the table. According to market sources, it is the first of the large players determined to take that step to fulfil its business plans.

Since the end of last year, the large owners of residential land have acknowledged that they are open to entering the rental market, either as owners or as turnkey suppliers for investors. The challenge, nevertheless, is disembarking in this segment without their margins being affected and therefore being forced to revise their business plans, like Juan Velayos already had to do with Neinor.

For the time being, the real estate company controlled by Santander (49%) and BBVA (21%) has recognised that it is considering rental housing as “a valid strategic option”, although it has not made any firm decisions in this regard, according to public declarations made by the property developer’s Head of Corporate Development. In its case, it will always be as a business to sell to a specialist third party operating in the residential property business.

This strategic reflection affects everyone, although the speeds of adoption will vary. In the case of Aedas, it has been working for some time on different scenarios that may open the door following the end of the current cycle, in which property developers with large land portfolios have been constituted, boosted by investment funds, because its not all about land in the main markets, nor are there infinite buyers for flats costing more than €400,000.

In the case of Metrovacesa, its numbers are the most chunky, since it has the largest liquid land portfolio in Spain, worth almost €2.7 billion, on which it estimates that around 38,000 homes could be built, according to official data. In its case, like with the rest of the listed firms, the largest volume of homes will be handed over in 2020, a short-term horizon, for which conservative estimates are beginning to be made.

The lower economic growth in Spain (2.8% in 2018 and 2.2% in 2019, according to the Bank of Spain) is another indicator of the macro-economic environment that is looming. In this situation, the potential impact that it may have on sales forecasts means that “many value alternative (rental) products as options for offsetting a likely slowdown in sales”, say sources at one of the large real estate consultancy firms.

Original story: El Confidencial (by C. H.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Government & Podemos Agree to Allow Town Halls to Regulate Rental Prices

11 October 2018 – Eje Prime

The Government has said yes to public control of the rental market in Spain. The Executive led by Pedro Sánchez (below left) has agreed to the regulation of rental prices by Town Halls, according to explanations provided in a Budget agreement reached on Thursday by the PSOE and Unidos Podemos. The measure is established provided its application is “temporary and exceptional” and is carried out only in those urban areas where there has previously been an “abusive increase” in rents.

Rent has formed the focus of the new Government’s action plan in terms of housing. In parallel to the regulation of prices, the Executive has announced that it will advocate the extension of the minimum term of lease contracts from three years to five, and, in those cases where the owner is a legal entity, the lengthening of the commitment between landlords and tenants to seven years. Moreover, the tacit renewal of contracts will be increased from one year to three, provided the intention to not renew the agreement is communicated by either of the two parties at least six months before it is due to terminate.

In addition, the PSOE and Unidos Podemos have agreed that damage deposits (fianzas) to enter rental flats will be capped at a maximum of two months and that the signing of bank guarantees will no longer be demandable by landlords. In the event that an owner wants to recover his home before the term agreed with the tenant, then that scenario must be formally explained in the contract in force.

More funding for the development of rental housing

The agreement, which will now have to be approved by Congress, includes a measure that supports the development of public housing. In the event that it receives the green light from the chamber, the Government will increase the housing budget for next year to €630 million. In 2020, it will increase that pot further still to €700 million and in 2021, to €1 billion. According to the text, in ten years, Spain will invest between 1% and 1.5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in public housing.

One of the objectives of the public housing plan is “to avoid “homes” from being sold to vulture funds or sold for a profit”, so as to ensure that “particularly vulnerable people” have the possibility of accessing a rental home.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

ICG Makes €105M Investment in Eroski Spanish Hypermarkets

31 May 2018 – Property Magazine

Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) will invest €105 million in six Spanish hypermarkets. ICG has partnered with Inmobiliaria Armuco S.L., a real estate company 45% owned by Eroski, a food retailer in Northern Spain, to acquire five of its hypermarkets and one more completely owned by Eroski in a primary sale and leaseback transaction underpinned by 21-year, CPI-linked, triple-net leases.

The assets are located in the Basque region of Spain and each rank in the top quartile in terms of Eroski’s trading performance. According to Savills, Spain has enjoyed a return to growth in excess of 3% for the last three consecutive years and is predicted to outperform the Eurozone, in terms of GDP, for the next three years.

Chris Nichols, Managing Director of ICG Sale and Leaseback, commented: “We are pleased to have partnered with Eroski on this transaction and to have acquired six assets in strategic priority locations for Eroski. We have a pipeline of deals, and are actively looking for further opportunities in this space, both in Spain and across the wider European market”.

ICG was advised by Savills and Eversheds.

Original story: Property Magazine

Edited by: Carmel Drake

S&P Warns of Deceleration in Catalan Housing Market

7 February 2018 – El País

The Spanish real estate market is going to continue growing, but the Catalan crisis may have a negative effect on the housing market in the region. “Although Barcelona has recorded some of the highest property prices since the start of the recovery, in 2018, Cataluña could see a recession in its real estate market”. That is what the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) thinks, according to its report about the real estate market in Europe, which indicates that “economic growth should continue to be strong this year and next, but the political uncertainty may have a more negative impact on companies and consumers. The main risk is the impact of the Catalan crisis, given that it is the largest economic centre in Spain, accounting for 20% of the country’s nominal GDP”.

Leaving aside Cataluña, the agency indicates that the strong economic conditions in Spain will continue to drive up the volume of house sales and will help to reduce the stock of homes. In fact, it forecasts that the volume of transactions in Spain will grow by around 8% this year.

Moreover, although interest rates bottomed out at the end of last year, they will continue at very attractive levels for house purchases. Nevertheless, the agency points out that accessibility ratios continue to be high, even though the number of years of salary needed to buy a home has decreased from 7.7 years at the height of the boom to 6.6. years in 2016. And it adds that second-hand house prices are going to continue to increase, although to a lesser extent that over the last two years.

The S&P agency considers that the Spanish economy will exceed the figures recorded in 2017, when average prices increased by 4.2% YoY in the last quarter, according to data from Tinsa. The city of Madrid exceeded Barcelona with an annual increase of 17% compared to 14.8% in the Catalan capital, where prices fell by 1.7% during the last three months of 2017. The volume of transactions amounted to 455,000 during the first 11 months of the year, compared with 375,000 in the previous year. Purchases by foreigners accounted for 17% of the total.

Original story: El País (by S. L. L.)

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

Christie & Co: Europe is Still the World’s Most Visited Region

9 January 2018 – Press Release

Europe was still the most appealing destination and most visited region in the world in 2017, despite some disruptions faced in recent years, according to a report published by Christie & Co.

The report, launched by Christie & Co’s Hotel Consultancy team and entitled ‘European Travel Trends and Hotel Investment Hot Spots’ identifies future investment opportunities in the European hotel market by highlighting areas for increasing the value of visitation in the European market, reviewing the growth opportunities of feeder markets in Europe, analysing issues surrounding accessibility and airport capacity and highlighting which markets are expected to achieve strong RevPAR increases in the coming years making them ideal candidates for investment.

Despite other reports detailing the impact of Brexit, to date, the impact on European tourism remains unseen and Christie & Co predict the general positive outlook for tourism in Europe will translate into increased demand for accommodation. European travellers remain the key source for European destinations with domestic and other European travellers accounting for almost 90% of demand. The established feeder markets including the US, Canada, Japan and Australia continue to generate visitation growth for the European market. India and China are expected to experience healthy GDP growth over the next five years and both have populations over four times the US and affluence continues to rise. Thus, creating tremendous visitation potential for the old continent.

Christie & Co have identified two opportunities for increasing the value of visitation in the European market; firstly, Spain and Greece lag behind Western and Northern Europe in terms of value of visitation per international arrival. Christie & Co sees a real opportunity to boost the value of visitation by improving the quality of the hotel stock. Secondly, there are good branding opportunities across the European market as the hotel stock in the majority of European markets remains currently heavily unbranded and in need of investment.

Airport capacity remains a key challenge as accessibility is one of the key drivers for tourism. Christie & Co have analysed eleven major airports in this report and the findings reveal that seasonality concerns can be mitigated through providing additional flights during the shoulder season, making seasonal destinations more attractive outside of their peak times. If airport capacity is addressed promptly it will create wider development opportunities for hotels and further infrastructure.

Anna Eck, from the hotels consultancy team at Christie & Co comments, “The findings of the report show quite clearly that whilst Europe as a destination remains extremely popular, there is huge opportunity for international brands to grow in the region. Markets such as Iceland, Poland, Demark, Portugal and Sweden provide options for hotel chains whilst Ireland, Spain, Portugal Poland and Sweden would be ideal for opportunistic investors willing to take more risk. These markets are all expected to achieve strong RevPAR increases in the coming years as well as demand growth in excess of supply.”

Carine Bonnejean, Head of Consultancy – Hotels at Christie & Co comments, “We have worked closely with our European colleagues to develop this report and as a pan-European team we are able to offer strategic advice to maximise the potential of our clients’ business and investments. The report finds that certain countries are ideal for different types of investor and we are able to identify which cities in those countries are worth prioritising. Whatever the situation, we help to formulate a strategy to generate the best outcome.”

Original story: Press Release

Edited by: Carmel Drake

CaixaBank Wants to Grow Its Tourism Business by 20%

11 December 2017 – Expansión

CaixaBank is stepping down on the accelerator in the tourism sector. The bank chaired by Jordi Gual has launched CaixaBank Hotels & Tourism, a specialist business line that is seeking to increase both the number of clients and the financing granted to the tourism sector, which has a global impact of 16% on Spain’s GDP. According to the entity, two out of every three hotels are already clients of CaixaBank, which has a market share of 63%.

The objective that the team of 30 professionals in the Hotels & Tourism team has set itself is to increase turnover by 20% during the first year of activity, accelerating both the number of new clients and the loan book.

CaixaBank Hotels & Tourism started to take shape in 2008 when a specialist team was established in the Balearic Islands. Now, that division has its own brand and a portfolio of more than 14,000 clients, from which it generates a turnover of €5 billion.

In 2016, the bank led by Gonzalo Gortázar granted loans worth €1.3 billion to the tourism sector. It plans to multiply that figure over the coming years with the launch of this specialist unit.

According to the Director-General of CaixaBank’s business, Juan Antonio Alcaraz, the challenge is to promote the modernisation of the existing hotel stock and to facilitate financing to business-people in the sector to enable them to buy hotel assets and undertake new build projects.

CaixaBank is not the only entity to launch a specific division for this sector. In 2014, Banco Sabadell launched Sabadell Negocio Turístico, a unit that has allowed it to increase its net investment balance at an annual rate of more than 10%.

According to Alcaraz, the 30 specialists working for CaixaBank’s new line of business, are located in those areas of the country that have the most tourist weighting to ensure proximity to clients and the provision of a personalised service. “We want to help businessmen in the sector maintain their position of global leadership”, said the executive, who emphasised that tourism “is one of the most strategic and important areas of the Spanish economy”.

According to CaixaBank’s research service, the direct and indirect contribution from tourism to GDP amounts to €119 billion, equivalent to 11.1% of the total. Nevertheless, if we add the spending that all of the players involved in the tourism sector make in other economic sectors, then the global impact reaches 16% of GDP, well above the European average, of 9.6%. More than 2.5 million people are employed in the sector.

Specialisation

CaixaBank Hotel & Tourism forms part of the bank’s corporate banking area, which has opted to launch several specialist lines of business to cater for economic sectors. For example, the entity has units dedicated to the real estate sector – fourteen centres – and the agrarian sector, with more than 900 AgroBank branches. It also has fourteen large business centres – one in each territory – business centres dedicated to dealing with businesses, self-employed people and professionals, and 106 company branches for other firms. It has also just launched CaixaBank Day One to deal with the specific needs of startups.

Spain is just a step away from overtaking France as the most popular destination in the world for tourist visits. Provided that the Catalan political situation does not intervene, forecasts suggest that this year could close with more than 84 million tourist visits.

Original story: Expansión (by S. Saborit)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Knight Frank: Inv’t in Logistics Will Amount to €1.2bn in 2017

4 December 2017 – Eje Prime

The Spanish logistics sector is on the right track as the industry approaches the centres of the country’s largest cities. The new methods of consumption, which demand greater speed when it comes to receiving a product and the increase in the volume of online purchases, has led to a rise in the leasing of logistics land in Spain, in particular in the regional capitals. During the nine months to September, investment in the market amounted to €550 million and that figure is forecast to reach €1.2 billion before the end of the year.

Spain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing at a rate of 3% p.a., and the index is not escaping the gaze of international investors, who are placing their trust in the country. This has been demonstrated by the largest logistics operation recorded so far this year involving P3 Logistics Parks, the developer controlled by the sovereign fund of Singapur GIC, which paid €243 million for GreenOak’s logistics portfolio in April, according to a report from the consultancy firm Knight Frank.

In addition to Madrid and Barcelona, several other large regional capitals have benefitted from the investments made in the purchase of industrial land on the outskirts of cities. Such is the case of Valencia, in the adjoining town of Ribarroja, where the largest operation was signed during the third quarter of the year. There, TH Real Estate acquired a Carrefour logistics platform measuring 55,000 m2, on a plot with a surface area spanning 87,000 m2.

Focusing on the Community of Madrid, the report points out that the absorption of logistics space has soared this year. The figures for the third quarter of the year, when 675,000 m2 of space was leased, exceed the surface area recorded during the whole of 2016 in the Spanish region. The international consultancy firm forecasts that Madrid will close the year with absorbed logistics surface area of around 800,000 m2.

The large deals notably drove the increase in the surface area leased in the country. Seven of the transactions signed in the sector during 2017 involved assets spanning more than 40,000 m2.

Prime yields, on the rise in Madrid and Barcelona 

In a survey of international investors conducted by Knight Frank, 51% of those questioned chose industrial and logistics assets as their preferred asset type for investment over the next five years. This investor appetite has led to an increase in the price of Spanish industrial land. Prices in the logistics market are on the rise, although yields are remaining stable.

In the market for logistics assets in Madrid, prime rents amount to around €5.25/m2. The forecasts indicate that the increase in demand and the improvement in the quality of new logistics facilities will lead to an average annual increase in rental prices in the region of around 3%.

Meanwhile, in Barcelona, the price of prime logistics land is even more expensive at around €6.85/m2. If we look at a map of Europe, the Catalan capital is the seventh most expensive city, and the most expensive, by far, in the south of the continent. In this sense, Barcelona, where land is already more expensive than it is in Frankfurt (€6.65/m2), is only exceeded by Amsterdam (€7.10/m2), Munich (€7.10/m2), Dublin (€8.15/m2), Helsinki (€10/m2), Geneva (€14.55) and London (€15.25/m2).

Original story: Eje Prime (by Jabier Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Madrid’s Offices Record Highest Occupancy Rates For 10 Years

29 November 2017 – Eje Prime

Offices are getting increasingly busier. In Madrid, the real estate sector is recording pre-crisis figures, with an occupancy (take-up) rate during the first nine months of the year of 359,000 m2, the highest volume for a decade.

This indicator is also encouraging the leasing of workspaces. According to a report from the consultancy firm Knight Frank, the Madrilenian office market is aspiring to close 2017 with half a million square metres of space leased, in large part, thanks to the 3.1% growth rate of Spain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This data consolidates the Spanish capital as a point of reference for the sector across the country and makes it one of the fastest growing markets in Europe.

The volume of investment in this segment of the tertiary sector as at September 2017 was €928 million, with British and US investors increasing their activity by the most this year. That fact has caused the domestic quota to decrease from 80% to 65% in just twelve months.

The availability of office space in Madrid has decreased by 11.6% during the same period; the expectation is that over the next two years, the pipeline of stock will increase by 325,000 m2. Of that future space, 26% is already leased, most notably, the 36,000 m2 of space that the British company WPP acquired on Calle Ríos Rosas, where the former headquarters of Telefónica was located, and the 48,000 m2 of space that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is going to make use of at number 8 Plaza del Marqués de Salamanca.

In terms of the economics, the high demand in this market in the Spanish capital is resulting in an increase in prime rents in the city, with an upward trend that saw rental prices reach €29.50/m2 during the third quarter.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake