21 October 2019 – The Barcelona Meeting Point (BMP), the largest real estate fair in Catalonia, opened its doors just two days after Spain’s highest court convicted many of the leaders involved in Catalonia’s referendum on independence on October 1, 2017. Even as major riots shut down the airport and filled the city with the smell of burning plastic, investors appeared unruffled. The region’s real estate market has come back strong after having taken a nosedive in the two quarters during and after the bid for independence.
The last edition of the BMP, two years ago, was held just fifteen days after the referendum, and the difference from today was stark. Attendees referred to the fair as something of a funeral rite as the referendum led to plummeting investment. Hundreds of companies at the time decided to move their headquarters away from Barcelona. That uncertainty caused two quarters of sharp reductions in real estate investment in Catalonia. The market, however, has come back roaring.
Investment in the office real estate sector fell by half in the two quarters after the referendum in 2017, shocking many investors at the time. But by the summer of 2018, Blackstone finalised one of the most important transactions in the office market. The giant US fund acquired the historic headquarters of Grupo Planeta from the Lara family for 210 million euros. During the same period, Solvia sold three hospitals in Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastián to Carmen Godia for 200 million euros.
Total investments between January and September of this year reached €4.5 billion, near to the levels of the last two years and above the tally in 2008, which set the record high for the previous real estate cycle of €4.4 billion. It remains to be seen whether the rioting after the Supreme Court’s ruling will depress investments once again, but most investors appear to be sanguine.
Original Story: El Confidencial – Elena Sanz
Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner