Kutxabank Prepares the Sale of Residential Land Worth €700M

26 February 2018 – Eje Prime

Kutxabank is awakening from its lethargy in the Spanish real estate sector. The Basque bank, which resulted from the merger of three savings banks from the region (Kutxa, BBK and Caja Vital), wants to get rid of 40% of its portfolio of toxic assets, which would mean launching onto the market a portfolio of land and promotions worth between €500 million and €700 million.

This operation will be the second most important divestment to be undertaken by the financial entity, after it sold its real estate arm, Neinor Homes, to the fund Lone Star, back in 2015 for €930 million.

The objective of the bank is to take advantage of the good times that the residential market in Spain is currently enjoying to place its assets with international funds and new property developers, according to Vozpópuli.

This option that Kutxabank is considering comes at a time when the sector is complaining about the lack of developable land, which means that it is likely that the bank will easily find groups interested in acquiring its land. The plots are largely inherited from the merged Cajasur, a Cordoban entity that BBK integrated in 2010.

If it carries out the transaction, Kutxabank would join Santander and BBVA on the roadmap of Spanish banks with respect to real estate. The sale of a large part of the property held by two of the country’s major financial institutions last year, both to US funds, set a course that other smaller banks are now starting to follow.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Solvia: The 2 “Castillas” Are The Black Sheep Of The RE Recovery

24 September 2015 – El Confidencial

Spain’s real estate market is very heterogeneous. There is nothing new about that. Madrid, Barcelona, the Costa del Sol and the (Balearic and Canary) Islands have all been showing signs of recovery for several months now, in terms of prices and the launch of new property developments.

Nevertheless, there are other areas where the desired recovery is not happening yet and other still where it is not even expected to happen, at least in the short term. The two Castillas (Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León) are two of these regions. The key drivers of the recovery have not been seen there yet and prices continue to be subject to downwards pressure. Or at least, those are the findings of ‘Solvia Market View‘, the first report about the real estate market prepared by Banco Sabadell’s servicer.

“Castilla-La Mancha is a market that is not showing any signs of recovery yet, since it has a large stock and a significant number of assets for sale, which are continuing to drive prices down. A slight increase in prices is only being observed in the historical centres of certain provincial capitals, such as Toledo and Cuenca, mainly due to the shortage of supply in these locations..but that is it”, explains Javier García del Río, CEO of Solvia.

Castilla y León finds itself in a very similar situation. The first timid signs of recovery are only being seen in a handful of towns and cities, where there is a shortage of supply and demand has been withheld – buyers have been waiting for prices to bottom out or have not been able to obtain financing until now. (…). According to García del Río, the drivers of the recovery are weak in these areas (Valladolid and Salamanca) and the demographic make-up does not help the recovery in demand, therefore the volume of activity is still very limited. (…).

High expectations in the País Vasco

Despite the sluggish behaviour in the two Castillas, Solvia has identified a certain degree of expectation in other parts of the peninsula, such as in the País Vasco. In Guipúzcao, for example, constructors are starting to build small developments, although the market is still quite slow there. Meanwhile, in Vizcaya, prices are stabilising for both new and second hand homes, and sales volumes are flat, according to Solvia. However, it points out that no new developments are being started there yet, unlike in Madrid for example. (…).

The stock of homes to be absorbed in Álava is still plentiful. “The financial entities (Kutxa, Caja Laboral) are starting some new property developments, which will be sold at a reasonable rate if they are marketed at competitive prices and are supported by financing”, says Javier García del Río. Meanwhile, in La Rioja, the market is normalising, especially in the north of the region, since as well as primary residences, it also supplies second homes for people from the País Vasco.

Sales have increased in Logroño, with competitive prices and a normalisation in terms of financing, although there is still a sizeable stock of new homes there. Finally, Navarra is a market that is still relatively inactive, with few operations overall; meanwhile, there has been a significant reduction in stock in Aragón and several property developments are being started at competitive prices. (…).

Finally, in Galicia and the northwest of Spain, particularly in A Coruña, there is a limited supply and reasonable demand for homes at affordable prices. In Vigo, there has not been a real estate boom, due to the suspension of the general (housing) plan during the crisis, but there is demand for finished products, whilst in Gijón, there is demand for homes in central, well-located areas.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Kutxabank Stirs Up The Mortgage War With A 2.5% Fixed Rate Product

12 March 2015 – Expansión

Kutxabank launches one of the best offers in the market / The Basque entity enters the battle started by Sabadell and CaixaBank and seeks to foster loyalty from its customers.

Kutxabank continues to embroil itself in the mortgage war that has been unleashed in the Spanish financial sector, which is showing the first signs of economic recovery. Two months after the launch of mortgages offering rates of Euribor + 1%, the bank comprising the former Basque savings banks BBK, Kutxa and Vital, has now launched one of the most attractive fixed rate offers in the market: a 30-year 2.50% fixed rate product.

According to the entity, its proposal is the “most attractive” in the market because, not only is it offering a reduced interest rate, also this rate will remain unchanged throughout the life of the loan. The nominal interest rate (‘tasa nominal’ or TIN) of 2.50% represents an annual percentage rate (APR, ‘tipo annual equivalente’ or TAE) of 3.28%, according to the new calculation rules, which include various expenses.

Currently, several institutions are embroiled in the fixed-rate mortgage war. Sabadell is offering a nominal fixed rate mortgage at 3.25% (4.18% APR) over thirty years and at 2.90% over twenty years, and CaixaBank has loans at nominal rates of between 2.50% and 3%, depending on the other products held by the customer, and with no set-up fees. Other banks, such as Bankinter, Bankia and BMN are also offering fixed rate mortgages with interest rates of between 3.4% and 4.6%.

Just like with its variable rate mortgages, Kutxabank is looking to foster loyalty from its customers and achieve maximum links (with them) through this aggressive offer . As such, the entity requires them to have their salaries, which must amount to at least €3,000/month, paid directly into their accounts; make payments with the bank’s cards amounting to more than €3,600/year; make contributions to pension plans or social welfare institutions of more than €2,000/year, and take out life assurance contracts with Kutxabank. The set-up fees for the mortgage will be 0.25%, with a minimum charge of €400.

According to the Basque entity, fixed rate mortgages “provide greater security and stability” for customers, as they allow them to know what their instalments will be, at all times, regardless of (variations in) interest rates (in the wider market).

Kutxabank has a 35% share of the mortgage market in the País Vasco and almost 70% of its total loan book is concentrated there, amounting to €31,000 million. The bank is working on the assumption that the mortgage market is in full recovery, after increasing its home loans by 24% in 2014.

Original story: Expansión (by M. Á. F.)

Translation: Carmel Drake