Sevilla: The Slow Re-awakening of the Real Estate Sector in the Andalucían Capital

2 August 2018 – Eje Prime

Sevilla, the third largest Spanish city by population, is seeing the first signs of recovery in its residential market (…).

The capital of Andalucía, which is home to almost 690,000 inhabitants, has seen its population decrease on a gradual basis since 2012 when it exceeded 702,000 inhabitants. The slow but progressive decline of the population is probably one of the reasons why house prices have not risen there and why new builds account for an all but residual percentage of the market.

Nevertheless, some of the data does indicate that Sevilla is jumping on the bandwagon in terms of the improvements in the real estate market that are being seen across Spain: a sharp increase in prices in 2017, an on-going rise in sales and, finally, investment in the city by groups of the calibre of Habitat and Ayco.

The city of NO8DO, Sevilla’s traditional motto, saw its population peak at 710,000 inhabitants in 2003, before falling below the 700,000 threshold in 2007. That figure rose above 700,000 again in 2009 before reaching a decade high of 704,000 in 2010, but it has fallen continuously since then to the current figures.

Real estate dynamism

Despite that, the dynamism in terms of house purchases has been considerable in recent years. In 2013, operations in the sector were still registering strong decreases, with a fall that year of 24.4% to just 4,715 house sales. However, the rises have been unwavering since then: up by 12.1% in 2014; 11.3% in 2015; 15.1% in 2016 and 14.1% in 2017, with a total of 7,732 sales.

According to data from the Ministry of Development, during the first quarter of this year, 2,234 house sales were recorded in the city, of which more than 95% corresponded to second-hand homes. With just 98 sales, new homes accounted for just 4.4% of the residential activity during the first quarter.

Nevertheless, and despite this growing activity in terms of sales, residential prices in Sevilla remain stagnant. In recent years, average appraisal prices per square metre in the fourth quarter of each year have decreased steadily, with the exception of 2014 only, when they rose by a measly 0.3% (…).

Currently, house prices amount to €1,468.70/m2 on average (€1,754,40/m2 for new builds and €1,464/m2 for homes aged five years or more). That value is 26.3% lower than the prices in Sevilla in 2012 and 35.9% lower than the peaks of 2007, before the outbreak of the crisis, when the average house price amounted to €2,316.10/m2.

Governed by the socialist Juan Espadas since June 2015, the weight of social housing in the city is greater than that of many other Spanish cities, at least based on data for the first quarter of 2018. In this sense, 177 of the purchases recorded in the city between January and March involved social housing properties, which accounted for 7.9% of the total.

New projects

Habitat is one of the companies that has invested in the Sevillan market this year. In July, the property developer announced a €30 million investment in a new development in the Andalucían capital comprising 199 homes. The acquired land is located in Mairena del Aljarafe, one of the fastest growing areas in the local residential market (…).

Another active player in the city is Ayco, which has acquired a batch of buildable plots this year in the municipality of Camas (Sevilla). In total, that company has purchased land spanning 18,000 m2, where it plans to build around 200 homes.

Another emerging business for the city is the office market, which closed 2017 with 919,173 m2 of space leased, up by 4% YoY, and approaching the records of 2013, according to a report by the Sevilla-based consultancy Inerzia (…).

In the commercial sphere, the Torre Sevilla project is the most important in the city at the moment. Six years after inheriting this macro-project, CaixaBank has let 100% of the office space and the shopping centre is on the verge of opening its doors.

Aenor, Deloitte, Everis, Orange and the Chamber of Commerce are some of the entities present in the 18-storey office block, which account for just half of the skyscraper. The rest of the tower is occupied by a hotel managed by Eurostars, belonging to the Hotusa Group.

Original story: Eje Prime (by C. De Angelis)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Large Property Developers Own Land to Build 100,000 Homes

5 February 2018 – Expansión

Metrovacesa, Aedas, Neinor, Vía Célere, Aelca, Quabit, Realia and Insur own land spanning more than 15 million m2, which they want to use to take advantage of the new real estate cycle.

The upturn in the residential sector is consolidating and the large property developers want to take advantage of the new cycle to obtain returns from the portfolio of land they have accumulated in recent years. The new generation of property developers Metrovacesa, Aedas, Neinor, Vía Célere and Aelca, and some of the listed survivors of the crisis, such as Quabit, Realia and Insur, now own land spanning more than 15 million m2 with the capacity to build more than 100,000 homes over the next few years.

Metrovacesa, controlled by Santander and BBVA is the property developer with the largest portfolio of land on its books. Following a capital increase amounting to €1.108 billion last June, undertaken through the transfer of assets from its main shareholders, the firm owns 6 million m2 of land, with the capacity to build 37,500 homes. As at 30 September, the firm owned a portfolio of residential land with a gross value of €1.9 billion, of which €1.3 billion corresponded to developable land.

Currently, the company has 51 projects under development to build 2,263 homes and it plans to reach cruising speed in 2021, with the delivery of between 4,500 and 5,000 units per year.

Stock market debuts

Metrovacesa, which plans to debut on the Madrilenian stock market tomorrow (Monday) with a market capitalisation of €2.5 billion, says in its IPO brochure that it does not need to acquire additional land to fulfil its annual house building objectives for the next eight years.

The next firm by volume of land is Aedas. That company, in which the US fund Castlelake holds a stake, owns land spanning 1.5 million m2 with capacity for 13,270 homes. The property developer, which started to trade on the main stock market in October, invested €124 million in land purchases in 2017 alone for the construction of 3,159 homes.

The strategy of the firm led by David Martínez involves reaching its cruising speed in 2022, when it expects to record revenues of more than €1.0 billion and handover more than 3,000 homes per year.

The other listed property developer, Neinor, which was the first to make its debut on the stock market in March 2017, owns land spanning 1.3 million m2, worth €1.3 billion and with the capacity for more than 12,000 homes, according to the most recent public information as at 30 September.

Specifically, during the first nine months of last year, that property developer acquired 24 developable plots for the construction of more than 3,000 homes for €275 million.

The firm led by Juan Velayos will launch 2,500 homes during 2018, will begin construction on another 5,000 units and will hand over more than 1,000 homes this year. In 2020, Neinor expects to reach its cruising speed and hand over between 3,500 and 4,000 homes per year.

Some of the most active property developers in the purchase of land and launch of new developments also include Vía Célere and Aelca, both of which have plans to debut on the stock market soon. Vía Célere owns land spanning 1.43 million m2, with capacity for 12,200 homes. The company chaired by Juan Antonio Gómez-Pintado invested €227 million in land last year.

The other property developer controlled by Värde, Aelca, owns a portfolio of developable land spanning 1.28 million m2 for 12,566 homes. The firm expects to launch 49 new developments in 2018 and will have 86 residential projects underway at different stages of completion.

Meanwhile, the listed property developers that survived the crisis, Quabit and Insur, own land with the capacity for 6,720 and 4,691 homes, respectively. Quabit plans to invest €670 million in the purchase of land until 2022, when it will reach cruising speed with the hand over of 3,000 homes per year, whilst Insur will invest €80 million in purchases until 2020 in order to hand over 600 homes per year.

In terms of the residential business of Realia, the firm controlled by Carlos Slim owns a land portfolio spanning 1.85 million m2, of which 25% is developable (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bankia To Start Financing Property Developers Again as EC Restrictions End

2 January 2018 – Inmodiario

From 1 January 2018, Bankia will be able to launch new lines of activity after the restrictions, established by the Restructuring Plan that the entity signed with the European Commission five years ago, were lifted. These activities will represent the levers for commercial development in the new growth phase that the entity is now embarking on.

José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, President of Bankia, has confirmed that “we are starting a new phase of growth after leaving behind a successful restructuring phase that we have now completed”. And he added that “the lifting of the restrictions imposed by the Restructuring Plan opens up new business opportunities for us and places us alongside our competitors once again”.

Over the last five years, and as a result of the commitments taken on to enable it to sign the Restructuring Plan (which allowed it to receive aid), Bankia was not allowed to operate in certain activities, such as financing real estate developments or companies with access to capital markets.

With the new objectives in mind, the entity has incorporated a Property Development Division into its new organisation, which was approved recently. It has appointed Alberto Manrique to lead that business and he will report directly to the Business Banking Division, led by Gonzalo Alcubilla.

Manrique joined the group in 1988. Since then, the industrial engineer, who holds a degree in ‘ETS de Ingenieros’ from ICAI, has taken on several positions of responsibility. Most recently, he has carried out different tasks within the Business Banking sphere, such as the corporate management of the business branch network in the centre of Spain, the management of the Structured Finance and Syndicated Loan product teams and taking responsibility for the online business channels.

The new management team will be responsible for developing financing for property developers at a point when the cycle is recovering, “with growth expected for at least three or four years, during which time we expect that around 150,000 new homes per year will be built”, says Manrique.

One of the other new lines of activity that Bankia will develop from 1 January 2018 onwards will be to grant long-term financing to large corporations with access to capital markets, inside and outside of Spain, as well as to finance projects and acquisitions, activities that have been limited in recent years.

In addition to these new lines of activity for the coming year, the growth phase that Bankia is now starting will be marked by its ability to take advantage of the enormous growth opportunities that result from the increase in the client base that the entity has experienced in recent years and as a result of the process to integrate BMN, which consolidates the resulting entity’s position as the fourth-largest bank by assets in Spain.

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

Ministry Of Development: Finished Homes Rose By c.40% In YTD August

11 November 2017 – Don Piso

The house building sector is continuing its upward trend in 2017 in a solid way and is confirming its position as one of the main engines of the Spanish economy. And the studies that multiple bodies and private companies issue on the subject are increasingly reporting double-digit YoY increases in the sector. It is clear that in the short term, there is going to be more available new build products for Spanish house buyers.

In this sense, according to data presented in the latest monthly report from the Ministry of Development, between January and August, 35,993 homes were built in Spain, a figure that represents an increase of 39.7% compared to the first eight months of last year. In this way, 2017 is confirming the good trend of the construction sector, which started in January this year, putting an end to nine consecutive years of decreases (2008-2016). In this sense, since the maximum recorded in 2007, when a total of 641,419 homes were finished, the cumulative figure represents a decrease of 94% with respect to the full year 2016.

By type of property, 97.8% (35,150) of the homes finished during the eight months to August corresponded to projects backed by private developers, whilst the remaining 2.2% (783) were constructed as part of initiatives led by public administrations. In YoY, the construction of homes by private property developers grew by 38.4%, whilst in the case of public administrations, the number of completed homes rose from 322 to 783 this year. Finally, the value of the liquidation of the execution material of the construction network rose by 44.8% during the first eight months of the year to €4,736.5 million.

Original story: Don Piso

Translation: Carmel Drake

BNP Paribas: Land Sales Will Soar To €4,076M In 2017

9 November 2017 – Expansión

The blast of property developer activity and the entry of funds into the residential business have caused land purchases to soar in recent months. According to forecasts from BNP Paribas Real Estate, 2017 is set to close with approximately 22,700 land purchase transactions in total, with a combined value of €4,076 million, which represents an increase of 37% compared to 2016.

The consultancy firm explains in a report about the residential market that interest is focused on the more stable markets, such as Madrid and Barcelona. Nevertheless, the scarcity of available buildable land has led to searches for plots in other markets too, such as Sevilla, Málaga and Valencia.

“After overcoming some very tough years for the real estate market, and in particular the land market, with the paralysis of property developer activity, the segment started to recover over the last two years, in line with the improvement in the fundamentals of the market and the good performance of the economy”, explain sources at the consultancy firm.

The report points out that, although there is a lot of available land in Spain, the average time it takes to create buildable land is eight years, due to the administrative processes that are required. “Over the last 10 years, no land has been generated; no one was interested in investing in the market”.

In certain areas of the more established markets, that lack of buildable land is leading to an increase in prices, with rises of up to 30% and even 40% over the last two years. In this way, in markets such as Valdebebas, Montecarmelo and El Cañaveral (in Madrid) have seen significant land price increases, as a result of the fact that the supply of buildable land is very limited.

BNP Paribas Real Estate highlights the change brought about in the sector due to the increased demand and the entry of investment funds eager to back the market.

New players

Property developers such as Neinor, Aedas – both of which are listed – , Vía Célere, Metrovacesa and Aelca are taking advantage of the good times that the sector is enjoying and the upwards cycle, in general, to strengthen their presence and launch new developments.

The report points out that, during the eight months to August, 315,795 house purchase operations were closed. It forecasts that the total number of transactions could reach 530,000 homes in 2017, which would represent a return to the pre-crisis levels. The main international market is the United Kingdom, whose citizens account for 14.9% of transactions by overseas players, despite Brexit. In addition to the Brits, the French, Germans, Belgians, Italians and Nordics are the other main buyers of homes in Spain.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Why Are So Few New Homes Being Built In Spain?

20 October 2017 – Invertia

The construction of new homes is recovering very slowly and proof of that are the 65,000 new homes that were started in 2016; but whilst that figure exceeds the levels seen during the first few years of the crisis, it is still a long way below the 700,000-800,000 homes that were started each year during the real estate boom, which saw builders start work on 1,000,000 units at its peak. The question now is why are so few residential developments being started in Spain?

Paloma Taltavull gives some clues as to why so few homes are being built in her article “The housing sector: now and in the future”, published in the Economic Information Notebooks by the Foundation for Savings Banks, Funcas. In it, she analyses the current housing situation, paying special attention to prices and explaining the reasons why rental prices are growing significantly, even though house ownership prices are not. Ultimately, she concludes that “an increase in the supply of rental homes, or owned homes, is the element that could eliminate the tension in the residential markets in Spain”.

Taltavull, Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Alicante, considers that at the moment, sufficient demand exists to start building 200,000  new homes. She thinks that “the absence of sufficient property developers is slowing down the processes to build new homes, despite the recovery in demand”, given that “the sector suffered badly during the crisis, with a high proportion of construction and property developer companies being destroyed”.

“One of the effects of the crisis that still hasn’t been resolved is the destruction of the production fabric, which comprised a high percentage of small- and medium-sized companies, which gave the market a great deal of flexibility”, explains Taltavull (…).

The Funcas collaborator points out that, currently, there is an insufficient network of house builders because they have disappeared, stressing that the small property developers that remain have not yet recovered their confidence, whilst the medium-sized and large companies do not have the capacity to construct very much.

The professor also highlights that “the price incentive is not giving a strong enough push to the construction sector”, given that although “there is surplus demand”, “credit is not flowing” because of the labour market and the decrease in wages, which is a logical reaction by the financial institutions. Paloma Taltavull points out that this problem is particularly acute amongst young people, who “have been mistreated in terms of salaries for a decade”, given that they are the largest cohort demanding homes, but they do not have the ability to pay and the banks will not grant them loans”.

The expert warns that a lack of new housing in the ownership market and an insufficient supply in the rental sector is driving the significant rise in rental prices that are currently being recorded. She considers that a “mix” between the construction of new homes and other measures to promote rental at a break-even point would be ideal. She adds that the Administrations have an important role to play, given that public housing policy is “absolutely key both for revitalising developments in areas that need them and for avoiding poverty”.

The professor thinks that the public initiative could push the private one, especially in the construction of the type of housing that people need, given that they would be adapted to their ability to pay (…).

Original story: Invertia

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ministry Of Development: Finished Homes Rose By 39% In YTD July

17 October 2017 – El Mundo

Between January and July 2017, builders finished constructing 33,085 homes in Spain, which represents an increase of 39% with respect to the same period in 2016, according to data from the Ministry of Development.

In this way, the number of finished homes in Spain recorded a positive start to 2017, after registering nine consecutive years of decreases in 2016. From the peak of 2007 (641,419 homes), the figure had decreased by 94% by the end of 2016.

Of the total number of homes completed during the 7 months to July, 97.7% (32,312) were built by private property developers and 2.3% (7739 by public administrations. With respect to a year earlier, the construction of homes by property developers rose by 37.4%, and in the case of administrations, the figure more than doubled, from 318 to 773.

In the private sector, 20,043 of the homes were built by commercial companies, up by 46.3% YoY; 10,706 were constructed by individual people and communities of owners (+22.8% YoY) and 1,287 were built by cooperatives (81.8% YoY). Finally, 276 end-of-work permits corresponded to other types of private developers.

Meanwhile, the settlement value for the execution of construction work rose by 45% during the 7 months to July, to €4,381.1 million.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

Allegra & ACR Invest €130M To Construct 600+ Homes

27 September 2017 – Expansión

The construction and real estate group ACR and its partner Allegra Holding, the investment arm of the Losantos family (former owners of Riofisa) have expanded their alliance in the Spanish real estate sector, with three new operations.

The partners have recently acquired three new plots of land, one in Madrid and the other two in Pamplona, with a combined surface area of 45,000 m2. In the case of the first, the plot of land is located in Vallecas, measuring 10,000 m2, where they plan to build 100 private homes, with an estimated investment of around €19 million.

In the case of Pamplona, it represents the first operation outside of the Community of Madrid. Specifically, ACR and Allegra have acquired two plots of land in the El Ensanche area, where they plan to construct between 120 and 140 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom homes.

These latest operations follow others undertaken just a few months ago, when the joint venture between ACR and the firm led by Mario Losantos invested more than €29 million in land, also in Madrid, specifically, in the El Cañaveral district.

In total, both companies have invested €130 million to build more than 600 homes, under the brand Nature. “It is a successful alliance that is continuing to make progress and it demonstrates the strong performance of both companies in the market, which is allowing us to continue evaluating new investment alternatives in Madrid, but also in other locations such as Barcelona, Málaga and Levante”, explains David Botín, Director General of Real Estate Development at ACR Grupo.

After years focusing on international real estate markets such as London and New York, the family office led by Mario Losantos returned to Spain three years ago, to invest in plots of land for residential use and to build homes on them. In its first operation, in February 2014, and in partnership with ACR Grupo, they invested around €19 million in the construction of 96 homes on a plot in the north of Madrid. A year later, they started work on 42 exclusive homes in the Puerta de Hierro area.

Beyond the residential segment, Allegra has also invested in office buildings, logistics platforms, as well as commercial premises in Castellana.

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

The RE Kings Are Building Thousands Of Homes In Spain

18 September 2017 – El País

The house building sector in Spain is back after a decade adrift during which many of the large firms went to the wall (…).

But the same crisis (that harmed so many) has also given rise to a new, more institutionalised house building sector, which claims to have learnt from the mistakes of its predecessors (…).

In this new industry, there are some familiar faces, such as Realia, Quabit, Amenabar, Pryconsa, Ferrocarril, and ACR, amongst others (…). But the market now is dominated by new firms. They are the new generation of property developers, or rather, they are real estate giants, and their names include Neinor Homes, Vía Célere, Aelca, Aedas Homes and Kronos, poised to ride the new wave in the residential sector. Ahead, they face some major challenges, such as facilitating housing for young people, cutting costs, the industrialisation of the sector, putting clients first to avoid the errors of the past, and improving the image of the sector by being intolerant to all forms of corruption.

At the helm of these giants are overseas investment funds, which have chosen to back the Spanish residential market, with the economic cycle in full swing – new build permits rose by 29% in 2016. These foreign players are investing thousands of millions of euros in the purchase of large portfolios of land, at still low prices, in strategic locations and they are benefitting from low construction costs, at least for the time being. In this way, the funds have engaged managers with extensive experience in the traditional property developers to lead these firms, such as Juan Antonio Gómez-Pintado (Vía Célere) and David Martínez (Aedas Homes), amongst others (…).

The firms themselves talk about reaching a cruising speed of between 3,000 and 4,000 new homes per year (per firm) over the next three years (…). The largest 50 property developers and managers by volume of homes sold (based on completions due from 2018) “plan to build around 45,000 homes over the next three years”, according to Raúl Templado, at Alimarket Construcción. This figure is low if we consider that various trade associations, such as APCE and CEOE, calculate that Spain needs 150,000 new homes per year to ensure a healthy residential market.

That is why international funds are so interested in doing business in a sector that, despite its sharp decline – the number of housing permits represents less than 10% of the level in 2007 – “continues to carry significant weight: 15% of domestic GDP” (…).

Foreign capital

The arrival of foreign funds, such as Värde Partners, Lone Star and Castlelake, has been like a breath of fresh air. “They have provided strategic vision and they made the decision to invest when we were still in a bearish cycle, identifying opportunities and giving credibility to a sector that was and still is attractive for investment, when nobody else was interested. On the other hand, their way of working with a more financial vision has resulted in structural and organisational changes that before were not considered”, says Gómez-Pintado (…).

The result is a sector in full transformation, where movements are happening non-stop, and so it is hard to know who is leading the market. The Institute of Governance and Applied Economics, an independent research centre, calculates that the largest 20 property developers in the country will build 80,000 homes between now and 2020. Their ranking is led by Metrovacesa, Neinor Homes and Aedas Homes, although family groups, local businesses and cooperative managers also feature (…).

Original story: El País (by Sandra López Letón)

Translation: Carmel Drake