CBRE: 76,000 m2 of Office Space was Leased in Barcelona in Q1

10 April 2018 – El Periódico

During the first three months of the year, 76,000 m2 of office space was leased in Barcelona. That volume, which represents an increase of 4% with respect to previous quarters, is the highest seen in the last nine months, which means that, despite the political tensions, activity in the city’s office market is performing well. According to a report from CBRE, “companies are moving for very specific reasons and the appeal of Barcelona means that activity remains high. Currently, several large companies are evaluating new locations for their offices, which means that the forecast in the short and medium term for leasing remains good”, said Lindy Garber, Head of the Office Area at the real estate consultancy firm.

The most notable operations recorded during the first quarter include the rental of 6,500 m2 of office space by the Property Registrars in the BCN Fira District complex on Paseo de la Zona Franca; the move by the company Norwegian Air to Nike’s former offices on the Mas Blau industrial estate, where it is going to occupy 5,400 m2; as well as Pepsico Iberia’s move to its new offices spanning 4,900 m2 in the WTC Almeda Park complex. Like in most large cities, Barcelona is seeing an increase in demand from companies offering co-working space.

The volume of surface area available in the market continues to be low for another quarter. In the last year, the availability rate has decreased from 12.5% to 10.3%, and there is a shortage of large, high-quality spaces. Although several projects have been handed over in recent quarters, they have not been added to the new supply, since they were pre-leased before they even came onto the market. This practice is gaining ground due to the lack of available product in the market. On the other hand, the entry onto the market of Torre Glòries added around 27,000 m2 of available space in one of the most sought-after areas of the city, the 22@ district. Prime rents, which have risen by 35% since 2014, are continuing their upward trajectory, and now amount to €24/m2/month. Although that figure is still well below the peak of €28/m2/month reached in 2008, the rising trend is expected to continue in the medium term.

Investment market

During the first three months of the year, the office market recorded an investment volume of €121 million thanks, above all, to the purchase of Axiare by Colonial. This represents an increase with respect to the previous quarter when the investment volume amounted to €66.5 million. Nevertheless, despite the improvement in the investment figure with respect to the previous quarter thanks to the aforementioned operation, the political uncertainty is undoubtedly having an impact on the investment market.

Xavier Güell, Director of this area in Barcelona for CBRE, said that “during the last quarter of last year, investors suspended operations that they had underway because of that uncertainty; many returned to their purchase processes at the beginning of this year, but they remain cautious. Given that these processes require a certain amount of consolidation time, the operations will not be reflected in investment volumes until the second or third quarters”. Prime yields remain stable at around 4.25%.

Original story: El Periódico (by Max Jiménez Botías)

Translation: Carmel Drake

House Prices: How Much Upwards Wiggle Room Is There?

13 June 2017 – El Mundo

In many respects, the housing sector has been restored to its former glory: house sales are rising at an increasingly faster rate, the development of new homes has resumed and the granting of mortgages is growing apace. However, the jubilation in the residential market can be felt, above all, in the significant increase that prices are experiencing in the new real estate cycle.

House prices rose by 7.7% in YoY terms during the first quarter of 2017, according to Real Estate Statistics from the College of Property Registrars. In the historical series published by that body, that figure represents the highest increase in house prices since 2007, in what is now the third consecutive year of increases in the market after seven years of severe decreases. (…).

The Registrars highlight the favourable behaviour of the real estate and mortgage markets, but warn that this strong dynamism “does not justify any intensification of growth towards double digits anytime soon”.

The registrars reiterate in their analysis that “From a global perspective, the market is debating between sustainable growth and an intensification towards forgotten figures”. They attribute the significant increase in house prices to the consolidation of economic growth, creation of employment, low interest rates, activity in the mortgage market and overseas demand.

The main consequence of the variables listed by the registrars, which work in favour of rising prices is, clearly, the increase in the number of potential buyers of homes, as highlighted by Julio Gil, Managing Partner at Horizone Consulting Inmobiliario. “The factors that are driving the appreciation in house prices nowadays are demand-driven, with three very clear facets: pent-up demand from previous years, which is now coming into play, demand to reposition and demand to invest”, reflects Gil. (…).

Moreover, all indications are that prices will continue to rise, at least, in the medium term (…). What is not so clear is the intensity of that increase. (…).

According to the registrars “Our predictions are based on forecasts of moderate growth rates, defined to be YoY rates of around 5%-6%, although there may be cyclical periods of more intensive QoQ rates. It would seem that “the social and economic reality does not justify an intensification much greater than these amounts”. And they highlight: “The evolution in terms of the number of inhabitants, wage levels, the outlook in terms of interest rates etc. ought to put the brakes on the upwards trend, to a certain extent”.

That prediction is not shared by Gonzalo Bernardos, Economist and Director of the Masters in Real Estate Management and Development at the University of Barcelona. “House prices will rise by around 8% in 2017 if the net credit available to purchase a home does not increase; and will soar by around 13%, if lending rises by 5%”. For the time being, this expert does not see an obvious risk of a bubble and recalls that that only happened a decade ago after net credit had been increasing for 10 years by almost 20%. (…).

Looking ahead, Bernardos takes it for granted that the steep rise in house prices will be contained when the price of money increases (it currently stands at 0% in Europe). He calculates that, provided nothing changes in the international environment, this turning point in interest rates will happen at the end of 2018, which means that by 2019, the average YoY increase in house prices will be sustained at around 3%-4%-5%. (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by Jorge Salido Cobo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Developers & Funds Team Up To Construct Homes

7 March 2016 – Finanzas

The crisis that has affected the real estate sector since 2007 has given rise to new alliances between the main players in the market, such as the unions between international funds and domestic property developers that have proliferated, particularly in last two years.

With the return of credit to the real estate sector….alliances have started form between international funds who want to expand beyond the tertiary sector and move their money into the segment for residential development, in the hope that the economic recovery will consolidate and demand will increase, and traditional developers, which have the know-how about the residential sector.

The President of the trade association for construction developers in Spain (APCE), Juan Antonio Gómez-Pintado, admits that the information available about these alliances is vague because the sector is still “not very transparent” and figures are scarce.

Data from the Ministry of Development indicates that the number of permits requested for the construction of new homes shot up by 42.5% last year, to reach 49,695 certificates in November. Nevertheless, although the data from 2015 is the best figure in the last five year, it still falls well short of the maximum reached in 2006, when 865,561 permits were requested.

In the midst of this opacity, Gómez-Pintado explains that all of this began when the funds, which manage “a lot money but have few employees”, decided to construct homes and “sought out developers with extensive knowledge of the area where they wanted to invest and with sophisticated (internal) structures”, to allow them to report on the status of expense accounts and construction work on a weekly basis and, above all, to work with players that display good practices and regulatory compliance.

Medium-sized and large developers

Thus, Gómez-Pintado says that the funds are interested in medium-sized and large development companies, whilst the CEO of Aelca, José Juan Martín, says that they are also keeping their eyes on those developers that have knowledge of micro-markets.

When it comes to launching an operation, the funds prefer to invest in new developments with their partner, right from the start. Again, the aversion to risk is there and so they prefer to team up with a developer from the get-go, i.e. to buy the plot of land. (…).

In terms of location, Mikel Echavarren, CEO of the financial consulting firm Irea, points to destinations such as Madrid, the Costa del Sol and the city of Málaga, the Balearic Islands, Barcelona and the surrounding area, and the Mediterranean Coast, as the most attractive areas for this type of partnership.

Great opportunity

The sources consulted agree that these partnerships represent a good opportunity for developers, especially those players that decreased in size during the crisis and now want to grow again.

To this end, the President of APCE believes that this is “a model that is here to stay”. “The funds have a time horizon of 5 to 7 years, over which they have to recover their investment, and if things go well then they will stay”, he adds.

In Martín’s opinion, “there are no long-term relationships at the moment, but that is something that is improving every day” because “bank financing is continuing to provide support, but there is an initial investment for projects that the banks will never finance”.

Henceforth, the CEO of Aleca believes that “long-lasting relationships” will also arise between property developers and funds, but he thinks that they will only happen in the case of those developers that have a vision of all or almost all of the domestic market. (…).

Original story: Finanzas

Translation: Carmel Drake