APCE: Residential Development in Barcelona Plummeted by 55% During YTD Sept 2019

16 January 2020 – Eje Prime

House building in Barcelona is on the decline. The obligation, approved recently by Town Hall, to dedicate 30% of land to social housing, has resulted in a 55.3% drop in the construction of new flats during the 9 months to September 2019, according to data compiled by the Association of Property Developers of Cataluña (APCE).

In fact, Cataluña was the only autonomous region where construction fell during the first three quarters of 2019. Across Spain as a whole, the figure rose by 8.7%.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Neinor Evaluates Rental Market but Insists on Maintaining its Margins

31 October 2018 – El Economista

Neinor Homes sees a clear business opportunity in the rental market in Spain. Nevertheless, it is not going to enter the segment if doing so would reduce its profit margin.

That is according to Juan Velayos (pictured above), the CEO of the firm, who indicates that Neinor “must be clear about what it is and what it wants to be, and we want to be a property developer, and as such, our profitability is sacred”. On that basis, Velayos recognises that “there is a clear business opportunity in that sector and very few companies have the capacity that we have to produce rental homes”.

In fact, he says that “many players who want to take positions in the rental market are approaching us, and although I am not going to close an operation tomorrow, we are evaluating lots of options, whenever they are coherent with our business model. Common sense tells me that we ought to be capable of meeting that need in the market and for the business to be profitable for Neinor”, said Velayos.

The property developer, which had managed to multiply its operating EBITDA by four by the end of September, to reach €9.5 million, expects to close this year in the black, “in a comfortable way”, highlights Velayos, who believes that the firm’s EBITDA at the end of December will amount to around €50 million, in line with the consensus of the market.

At the end of September, the firm had recorded a loss of €1.2 million and revenues of €156 million. “The most interesting aspect is that €100 million of that turnover came from the development arm, whilst €32 million came from the Legacy business and €23 million from Servicing”, highlights the director.

Neinor has committed to handing over 1,000 homes this year, spread across 14 promotions. “Nine of them have already been handed over and during the last quarter, the keys to the remaining five will be handed over, given that they now have their final construction certificate”, specifies the director, who assures that the 1,000 units are almost all pre-sold. “We only have 2% left, which we have not been marketing because we are waiting until the end to maximise the price of the best units”.

“We have been on a journey that has involved a lot of work over the last three years and now we are starting to hand over a significant volume of homes, which actually represent more than all of our major competitors put together. Neinor started first and so now we are reaping the rewards”, highlights Velayos.

Specifically, the company has an order book comprising 3,049 homes, which represent a volume of pre-sales of €1.019 billion. Moreover, comparing units with the same characteristics, the property developer has managed to achieve an 8.2% increase in prices and has also increased its margin to 28%.

That has allowed the firm to handle rising construction costs, which have increased by 3.8%, without any problems. Those costs “are expected to continue to rise, by 6%, but we will also seek to increase our margins”, says Velayos.

For next year, the company has set itself the target of handing over 2,000 homes in 31 developments where building work is already underway. “We also have some very solid pre-sales figures for 2019 of 78%; and the rest are not being marketed, given that the best way of protecting our margin is to wait to sell those units”, explains the CEO of Neinor (…).

Currently, the company has one of the largest land banks with capacity for 13,700 homes (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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

31 May 2018 – Eje Prime

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original story: Eje Prime (by J. Izquierdo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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

Goldmans & Oaktree to Bid for €100M Land Portfolio that Iberdrola will Auction on 28 Feb

22 February 2018 – Voz Pópuli

On Wednesday 28 February, Goldman Sachs and Oaktree are scheduled to submit binding offers for a portfolio of land owned by Iberdrola Inmobiliaria. The subsidiary of the multinational energy company has thus started one of its largest asset sales processes in recent years, coinciding with the recovery of the sector and the voracious appetite shown by international funds for land in the Spanish market.

The two US investment banks have expressed their interest in what is considered, in the Spanish real estate sector, to be a very good portfolio of land. It is ready for the construction of more than one thousand homes in locations such as Madrid, Málaga and Granada (more than half), as well as Navarra, Salamanca, Murcia, Cantabria and Valencia. The valuation of the plots amounts to around €100 million, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The sources consulted warn that if the offers prove to be unsatisfactory, the door will be opened to other investment funds “who are queuing up to participate in the operation”. In total, the plots, owned by the subsidiary of the group chaired by Ignacio Sánchez Galán, that have been put up for sale span a buildable surface area of 126,000 m2.

Iberdrola Inmobiliaria, with which Vozpópuli made contact yesterday, denies the existence of this operation. Nevertheless, two different sources consulted by this newspaper confirm that Banco Sabadell is also participating in the process. According to the sources, Solvia Desarrollos Inmobiliarios, the subsidiary of the financial institution, is going to create a joint venture with the buyer of the land to construct homes, whilst Iberdrola Inmobiliaria is expected to retain a minority stake in the new company.

The Spanish energy group created Iberdrola Inmobiliaria in 1991. The company managed to survive the greatest crisis in the history of the Spanish real estate sector – the one suffered following the burst of the bubble at the end of 2007 – and now owns a portfolio of assets worth more than €1.7 billion. Moreover, it is a highly respected manager in the sector.

Just before the start of the economic and financial crisis, Iberdrola Inmobiliaria undertook significant investments in projects in Spain, Mexico and Bulgaria. In 2015, Iberdrola injected €616.7 million into its real estate subsidiary through a capital increase of €154.2 million and the rest as an issue premium. In 2016, Iberdrola Inmobiliaria recorded revenues of €63.8 million and profits of €3.2 million, according to the latest accounts filed in the Mercantile Registry to which this newspaper has had access through Insight View.

According to those same accounts, the Board of Directors of Iberdrola Inmobiliaria, chaired by José Sainz Armada, led by Emilio Sánchez Castellano and in which Ignacio López del Hierro participates as director, did not receive any remuneration in 2016, but they were paid for out-of-pocket expenses amounting to €196,000 (€206,000 in 2015). The CEO and four other directors earned €1.25 million

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Alberto Ortín)

Translation: Carmel Drake

AVRA Sold 21,000 m2 of Land for Social Housing in Córdoba in 2017

31 January 2018 – 20 Minutos

That is according to a statement by the Ministry of Development and Housing, which noted that four operations were closed in total for around €6 million. Most of the land sold by the Ministry in the province of Córdoba was assigned for residential use, for the development of homes for social housing purposes, up to a total of 21,258 m2 with capacity for the construction of almost 400 VPO homes in the capital’s expansion area of Huerta Santa Isabel.

The plots were awarded to the municipal housing company, Vimcorsa, which will undertake the upcoming construction of almost 300 subsidised homes, which will be added to another 78 units that the regional Administration is also planning to build in this enclave.

Moreover, plots with a total surface area of 688 m2 were awarded in the municipality of Obejo, for the construction of six private market homes, for €68,923.

Most of the plots sold were owned by the Agency for Housing and Rehabilitation in Andalucía (AVRA), which took the decision at the start of this legislature to focus again on selling land as one of its strategic lines. It had slowed down that activity in previous years, during the most critical period of the crisis, according to the regional delegate from the Ministry of Housing and Development, Josefina Vioque.

The delegate indicated that “the drive to manage the properties owned by AVRA has become a priority. The objective is to put these assets on the market to serve business initiatives that promote economic development and the generation of employment in the construction sector, one of the hardest hit during the crisis”.

Vioque expressed that “the decision to recover this activity, involving the sale of regional land, was taken in light of the fact that the market was starting to show signs of recovery in terms of real estate activity. The main objective is to generate revenues to allow us to resume other activities, such as the construction of social housing for families with housing needs and scarce or zero possibilities of affording a home in the private market, like the ones we are now promoting in Córdoba”.

The VPO activities that are going to be promoted, in addition to the developments in Córdoba, will be located in Cádiz and Málaga, where the Ministry is already working to draft the technical plans, whilst the process to obtain the necessary financing to undertake these activities is being finalised.

The land sale activity resumed by AVRA since the beginning of this legislature has resulted in the award of almost 300,000 m2 of land, of different types, at the regional level, for a total amount of €50.7 million, over the last three years.

The sum of the industrial land sold during this period, 183,055 m2, once again places that use as the one that generates the best results in terms of awarded surface area. Residential land awarded over the last three years spans almost 110,000 m2. Those plots have the capacity for the construction of 1,476 homes, of which 891 will be subsidised housing and the remaining 585 will be private homes.

Original story: 20 Minutos

Translation: Carmel Drake

Acciona Puts 5 Non-Strategic Assets Up For Sale

17 January 2018 – Eje Prime

Acciona is starting the year by strengthening its residential real estate business. According to market sources, the company is finalising the sales mandate for five office buildings that are non-strategic for its real estate arm. According to the same sources, the mandate for this sale has been entrusted to JLL.

The properties are located in Barcelona, Sabadell and Zaragoza, and together they span a total surface area 15,000 m², according to El Economista. Depending on the interest that these assets spark, they may be sold as a portfolio or individually.

This move forms part of Acciona’s strategy to generate value from its real estate assets through the sale of offices and hotels to obtain liquidity and whereby accelerate its house-building business.

The company explained its plans in a report issued to the CNMV regarding its accounts for 2016 when the companies real estate assets were worth €1.1 billion.

With 25 years of experience, the real estate arm of Acciona has built 9,000 homes to date, located in Spain, Portugal, Poland and Mexico.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Neinor Homes Considers Buying Land in Canary Islands

27 December 2017 – El Periódico de Canarias

Neinor Homes is considering entering the real estate market in the Canary Islands in 2018, according to its CEO Juan VelayosIt is also planning to generate profits and start buying land in Cataluña again, despite the political instability. Finally, Velayos forecasts that house prices will continue to rise at a rate of 5% over the next two years.

“House prices will continue to rise at a rate of 5% due to the gap between supply and demand. Then, prices will stabilise and grow at a rate of between 1% and 1.5% per year”, he explained to Efe.

In his opinion, 500,000 homes should be sold per year in Spain and 30% of those should be new build properties, equivalent to around 150,000, compared with the 80,000 that are currently being sold. The difference between those two figures shows that there is still a great deal of potential in the real estate development sector.

In terms of the performance of his company, which made its stock market debut in March, Velayos explained that this year will end with a positive EBITDA and with almost 100 developments “launched”, of which 33 are already under construction (around 2,500 homes).

In total, the company owns a buildable land bank on which it can construct 12,300 homes, of which 8,000 correspond to developments already underway.

“We want to always have two thirds of our land working”, said Velayos, who explained that his firm will continue buying land, primarily in Madrid, Barcelona, País Vasco and Valencia, at the same time as looking at entering new markets such as the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Galicia and Lisbon (Portugal).

From 2019 onwards, the purchases will be financed using the recurrent cash flow that Neinor expects to generate, according to Velayos, who added that, if necessary, the company may also resort to capital and/or debt increases.

In Cataluña, which currently accounts for 22% of the value of Neinor’s total housing portfolio, the real estate developer’s commercial activity has not been affected by the political uncertainty.

“We have sold everything and we only have four plots left to launch. I want to buy more land there”, said the executive, who, nevertheless, warned that he worries that Cataluña will be “impoverished” if the instability continues.

“If the situation continues, Cataluña will go from being one of the main drivers of the company to being replaced by another region, but I hope that someone can bring coherence. In the short-term, regardless of what happens, we are going to buy more land”, said Velayos. The CEO added that the company is fulfilling its plans and so will start making profits in 2018. Moreover, it will reach its “cruising speed” by 2020, with the handover of 3,500 homes per year, a turnover of €1 billion, an EBITDA of €0.2 billion and a profit of between €0.13 billion and €0.14 billion.

In terms of the composition of its shareholders, Velayos expects that Lone Star, the founder of the company, will block sell the 12.5% stake that it still holds in Neinor in the short term, after the lock-up period that it signed up to has ended, on 15 December.

Original story: El Periódico de Canarias

Translation: Carmel Drake

Large Funds Thrash It Out To Buy Residential Land

9 October 2017 – El Periodico

The 10 largest property developers in the country are in a position to start work on the construction of around 20,000 new homes in 2018. That volume of output is possible thanks to the collection of buildable urban land that they have managed to accumulate over the last year. The large Spanish property developers – many of which are owned, at least in part, by investment funds – as well as overseas funds themselves, are competing, at an almost frenetic pace, to acquire plots of land on which they will be able to build without modifying the classification (to residential use).

“Overseas investors are very present in the new Spanish real estate landscape, be it as owners, debt holders, servicers or property developers investing together with other local property developers, both in the renovation of existing buildings and the construction of new ones, as well as in the rental sector and through the constitution of Socimis”, says Samuel Población, Director of Residential and Land at the real estate consultancy firm CBRE. The consultancy indicates that at the end of 2016, the large property developers in Spain owned €8,000 million in assets for construction.

80,000 homes in 2017

The real estate sector is expecting the output of new homes to reach 80,000 units in 2017. That figure is still below the short-term goals. “We should be producing 150,000 homes (per year), although we will not achieve pace that for another three years”, says Juan Velayos, CEO at Neinor Homes, one of the real estate companies – whose main shareholders are investment funds – that has purchased the most land over the last two years. “We set ourselves a land investment target of €380 million for 2017 and 2018, but we have already covered most of that budget this year”, he adds. His firm is currently working on the construction of 5,000 homes in Spain and hopes to achieve a completion rate of 3,500 units per year.

The funds Blackstone, Cerberus, Kennedy Wilson, TPG, Värde Partners and Apollo started to acquired the commercial and management platforms that the banks had created (the servicers) when the real estate sector started to recover in 2013. In parallel, the overseas funds Lone Star, Centerbridge, HMC, Eurostone, Aquila, Oaktree, Castlelake, Värde and Pimco are strongly backing residential development. In this way, they have become the new house builders. And they cannot build if they don’t own land.

The problem is that, for various reasons, the administrations are not producing raw material. “No reclassifications (of land) are being performed, because someone will always get hurt”, says Lluis Marsà, President of the Association of Property Developers and Constructors (APCE). “We do not take the risk of buying non-buildable land that has to be transformed because the production costs are rising, the risk soars”, says Velayos.

Nevertheless, that situation has the benefit that agents in the sector are adjusting output to the maximum in order to maintain returns despite the new quality standards for homes, which are higher than in the past. “One of the positive effects of the profound transformation of the sector, with the arrival of new players, is the greater degree of control over the finances and execution periods that we are seeing”, says Población.

Investors adding value

The profile of funds has evolved quickly from opportunistic to value added (…). The focus of these firms is to acquire plots in areas where demand for housing is high, such as Madrid, País Vasco, Barcelona, the Costa del Sol and the Alicante coast. But during 2017, there has also been a positive recovery in land operations in other large capitals such as Valencia, Zaragoza, Sevilla and Málaga (…).

Original story: El Periodico (by Max Jiménez Botías)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Vía Célere Boosts Its Land Portfolio Ahead Of Stock Market Debut

18 July 2017 – Expansión

The property developer Vía Célere is advancing with its growth plans ahead of its stock market debut. The Madrilenian real estate company was acquired in February by six funds led by Värde Partners, which owns 51% of its share capital. Following the operation, for which they disbursed €90 million, the company has been working on increasing its size and will debut on the stock market at the beginning of 2018, with a market capitalisation of more than €1,000 million.

The first step in this process was the integration of DosPuntos, the real estate company that Värde and its partners (the funds Attestor and Marathon, as the second and third largest shareholders, respectively, as well as Barclays and Bank of America) had created from the former subsidiary of San José (Parquesol). The operation saw the incorporation of 800,000 m2 of land into Vía Célere’s portfolio (meaning that the firm will be able to build around 7,000 extra homes).

Having closed that merger in record time (less than a month) Vía Célere, led by its former owner and CEO, Juan Antonio Gómez Pintado, has since launched several land purchase operations with the aim of increasing its real estate portfolio.

New portfolio

In total, Vía Célere has invested almost €100 million in nine plots of land through three operations. The land, located in several different provinces, will allow the property developer to increase its buildability by 212,016 m2 and construct 1,907 new homes (…).

Following the contribution of funds from the new shareholders, Vía Célere set itself the goal of investing between €200 million and €250 million per year between now and 2023 in order to maintain a construction rate of around 3,000 homes per year. This year, it plans to start building around 1,800 units: “Our intention is to continue identifying new opportunities and to expand our portfolio of land and projects over the next few months”.

Before these purchases, the property developer’s real estate portfolio contained land covering 1 million m2, making it one of the largest land owners in the country, exceeded only by Metrovacesa, which, following the contribution of €1,108 million from its shareholder banks, now owns land spanning 6 million m2; Neinor Homes, which, following investment of €147 million this year now owns 1.2 million m2 of land on which to build homes; Aedas, the property developer backed by Castlelake, which owns 1.35 million m2 of land.

In total, Vía Célere’s assets are worth €704 million and it currently has 10,054 homes in progress or under construction. Before the integration with DosPuntos, the property developer recorded revenues of €75.4 million in its most recent full year.

Stock market

The property developer led by Värde Partners plans to debut on the stock market next year. In this way, Vía Célere will follow in the footsteps of Neinor Homes, the first real estate developer to debut on the stock market in almost a decade, with a value of €1,340 million. The market capitalisation of that firm currently amounts to around €1,498 million.

Aedas, the company backed by the fund Castlelake, is another of the property developers that has set its sights on the stock market; it plans to make its debut before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the new Metrovacesa, led by Santander and BBVA, has already met with several investment banks to manage its return to the stock market, which it exited in 2013 after 72 years of trading (….).

Original story: Expansión (by Rocío Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake