26 September 2016 – El Mundo
The rental market is becoming one of the symbols of the new real estate cycle. It has gone from being an almost residual market to becoming one of the stars of the residential sector. Gone are the prejudices that used to weigh down on this regime – it seems like the best is yet to come: all indications are that the sector has a promising future ahead thanks to its potential for professionalization.
Currently, the rental market accounts for around 25% of the residential stock. The latest official data comes from 2014, when, according to Eurostat, 21.2% of Spaniards lived in rental accommodation. According to the experts, that percentage that has been increasing ever since and it is much higher in the major cities. Spain has not had this many tenants since the 1960s.
Despite the significant increase in rental accommodation, Spain is a long way below countries such as Germany (where 47.5% of homes are rented), Austria (42.8%), Denmark (36.7%), the UK (35.2%) and France (34.9%). On average, 29.9% of homes in Europe are rented. This European reality indicates that the rental market in Spain still has potential for growth.
Experts agree that one of the maxims of the new real estate cycle will be a more balanced relationship between ownership and rental. They agree that to reach this goal, the sector, which is currently mainly in the hands of individual landlords, will have to be professionalized. This professionalization has been underway for years and is now starting to consolidate itself on a large scale.
A recent example is the maturity of the professional leasing market is Testa Residencial, the new subsidiary of Merlin Properties, created following the merger of the residential portfolios previously owned by the Socimi and Metrovacesa. This joint venture, which is still in its gestation period and which is expected to adopt the Socimi structure, was born with 4,706 homes, all operated under leases. Merlin’s major commitment to residential leasing is even more important if we take into account the fact that it has become the largest real estate group in Spain and the eighth largest in Europe.
In addition, Testa Residencial’s extensive supply will grow even more thanks to upcoming injections of properties (in exchange for shares) from Banco Santander, BBVA and Banco Popular, three shareholders inherited from Metrovacesa. (…). As such, the firm will end up managing a portfolio of 10,000 units, allowing it to complete with the main real estate companies in this market.
Testa Residential is launching itself into a sector in which two large companies have competed until now: Azora and Larcovi. The first, founded in 2003, has more than 12,000 rental homes under management in different funds and companies (for example, Azora and Hispania) and is the largest private entity in this market. (…).
Concha Osácar, the founding partner at Azora, takes it as read that the rental market will continue to grow for several reasons: the increase in geographical mobility for employment purposes, the limited access to credit to make (house) purchases, the elimination of tax incentives to acquire a home, the change in mentality (“especially amongst young people”) and growing demand from families looking for better homes.
Alongside Azora, Larcovi represents the tip of the iceberg of the professionalization of the sector. It manages more than 9,000 units (…).
“To satisfy the growing demand, the supply will have to be increased. We estimate that Spain will need between 1 million and 1.2 million additional rental homes to bring it into line with its European counterparts”, says Osácar. (…).
Original story: El Mundo (by Jorge Salido Cobo)
Translation: Carmel Drake