Blackstone Finalising Sale of Mortgage Portfolio to CarVal Investors

25 June 2019

Blackstone is finalising the sale of 10,000 mortgages loans to CarVal Investors for nearly €1 billion. Blackstone originally acquired the loans as part of a €5.5-billion portfolio it bought from Catalunya Banc in 2014.

After the sale, which Blackstone expects to finalise in the coming days, the U.S. firm will still own another 9,000 lower-quality loans from the Catalan bank.

CarVal Investors specialises in the investment, through various funds, of loan portfolios sold by financial institutions. The company, with offices in Minneapolis, London, New York, Luxembourg and Singapore, has invested more than 20,000 million dollars in nearly 2,000 loan portfolio transactions in 31 countries.

Original Story: Vox Populi – Alberto Ortín

Photo: Europa Press

Moody’s: The Average LTV on Residential Mortgages Amounted to 64.6% in Q1 2019

30 May 2019 – El Diario

According to the latest data from INE, more and more people are taking out a mortgage to buy a home in Spain. 30,716 mortgage contracts were signed in March, up by 15.8% YoY.

Many buyers are attracted by rising house prices (investment growth), which the ratings agency Moody’s considers is something “positive”. However, with personal savings rates in freefall, banks are having to lend more than ever to enable families to afford their homes.

Specifically, the percentage that the loan granted represents over the appraisal value of the property (LTV) amounted to 66.5% in Q4 2018, its highest figure ever. That figure moderated slightly to 64.6% in Q1 2019 but many families are now asking to borrow 65%-70% of the value of their homes, which means a greater risk for banks and a higher probability of defaulted payments.

According to Moody’s, whilst a portfolio with an average LTV of more than 80% has a default rate of more than 6%, a portfolio with an average LTV of less than 60% has a default rate of 1%.

Nevertheless, although some banks are now lending mortgages with LTVs of 100% in certain cases, the percentage of loans with LTVs of more than 80% is lower than it was before the crisis. Such mortgages currently account for 13.1% of the total compared with 17% in 2006.

Moreover, according to Moody’s, mortgage borrowers are better off today than they were at the outbreak of the crisis as they are in a better position to afford interest rate rises and other changes in the market thanks to the strict criteria that the financial entities have applied when granting loans in recent years.

Original story: El Diario (by Marina Estévez Torreblanca)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

The Sale of FC Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium Stalls Due to Divergent Price Expectations

6 March 2019 – Las Provincias

FC Valencia was hoping to close the sale of its Mestalla stadium by March of this year with the help of Deloitte, but a deal now seems a long way off after the comprehensive selection process undertaken by the audit firm failed to identify any bids that meet with the price expectations of the Mediterranean Club.

FC Valencia was hoping to obtain around €120 million for the plot, funds that it planned to use immediately to resume the construction of its new stadium, whose development has been suspended since February 2009 due to a lack of money. Three final round candidates were selected by Deloitte but none of their offers reached €100 million, let alone €120 million. In fact, all three bids fell well below, ranging between €70 million and €85 million.

Bankia is watching this process closely given that the football club still holds debt with the financial institution (mortgaged on the land). Time is running out for the football club. According to the timetable agreed with the Town Hall, the stadium on Cortes Valencianas must be finished by May 2021 and the former Mestalla demolished by 2023.

Original story: Las Provincias (by H.E. & C. V.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

INE: One Third of House Purchases in León in 2018 were Financed by Cash

2 March 2019 – Diario de León 

According to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), 3,128 homes were sold in the province of León in 2018, of which one in three were paid for in cash. This is a growing trend in the real estate market, as savers look for investment alternatives in the face of instability in the financial markets and the high returns being offered by property, due to house price rises and rental price increases.

In the province of León, 2,024 mortgages were signed in 2018, up by 4% YoY, whereas 11% more house sales were recorded compared to 2017.

Original story: Diario de León (by María J. Muñiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Meridia III Raises €44M to Grow its Property Portfolio

31 January 2019 – Idealista

The Catalan fund Meridia is giving a boost to one of its Socimis. Meridia Real Estate III, led by the businessman Javier Faus, has increased its capital by €44 million, according to an announcement made by the group in the Official Gazette of the Mercantile Registry (BORME). This increase will serve to allow the company to continue with its business plan and add new properties to its portfolio.

According to explanations provided by the company to Idealista News, this increase forms part of the normal operation of the investment vehicle during its investment phase. Meridia Real Estate III is a vehicle dedicated to investment in all segments of the real estate sector in Madrid and Barcelona. The company’s portfolio currently comprises nine assets, including office buildings, industrial platforms and a shopping centre.

One of the most recent operations to be closed by the investment vehicle was the acquisition from the US fund Värde of a plot with a buildable surface area of 24,600 m2 in the 22@ district of Barcelona for €25.8 million.

The company, which purchased that land through its Socimi Meridia III, has already paid half of the cost of the operation. Payment of the remaining €12.9 million has been postponed until 17 March 2020, and it has been guaranteed by a mortgage on the land acquired, according to reports by the company to the stock market regulator.

With this purchase, the company is seeking to undertake a transformation plan for tertiary purposes in the Barcelona district. Currently, Meridia III owns more than 60,000 m2 of buildable space in the 22@ district, making it one of the leading investors in that area of the Catalan capital.

Meridia’s Socimi has been listed on the MAB since the end of last year. The company has starred in some of the most important operations of the last two years, both in the office market, as well as in the retail segment (…).

The fund manager is preparing to launch its fourth fund onto the market before the end of this year. The company is currently in the pre-market phase in territories such as Benelux and Israel, amongst others. The group’s new investment vehicle will join Meridia II, currently in its divestment phase, and Meridia III.

Original story: Idealista (by Custodio Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

PSN Buys a Floor of Offices on c/Claudio Coello in Madrid for €3.45M

31 January 2019 – Eje Prime

PSN is continuing to grow its asset portfolio in Madrid. The Socimi has just closed the purchase of an office on Calle Claudio Coello, in the heart of the capital’s Salamanca neighbourhood for €3.45 million.

Specifically, the company has purchased a floor of offices (the right and left sides) spanning 570 m2 in total with three parking spaces in the same property. The operation has been carried out with a contribution of €1.25 million from own funds and a mortgage of €2.2 million.

The mortgage loan has a duration of twelve years and carries a fixed annual interest rate of 1.7%, according to explanations provided by the company in a statement submitted today to the Alternative Investment Market (MAB).

Moreover, the group has subrogated the lease contract signed for the right-hand office, which is due to expire in October 2024. The left-hand office, by contrast, is vacant.

PSN is whereby adding a new asset in the Madrilenian market, where it acquired a commercial premise in Collado Villalba for €1.3 million last year. During the last year, the company has also purchased two premises in Santiago and Tenerife, for €1 million each, as well as an office building in Sevilla and a hotel in Salamanca for €3 million.

The company, which debuted on the MAB in December 2017, owns a portfolio comprising more than thirty assets including offices, commercial premises and parking spaces in 21 cities across Spain and Portugal. The company expected to close 2018, its first full year on the stock market, with profits.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Atlético de Madrid Expects to Close the Sale of the Calderón Plots in Early 2019

20 November 2018 – Eje Prime

Atlético de Madrid is proof of the importance that property can have when it comes to financing activity. The football club has decided to take out a mortgage backed by the Wanda Metropolitano stadium to secure its €200 million refinancing with Inbursa, the financial entity controlled by Carlos Slim, according to reports from Palco 23. The intention of the Board of Directors is to convert that debt into a long-term liability and obtain better conditions than those signed when the financing plan for the new stadium was modified. In parallel, the club is preparing the sale of the plots of land on the site of the Vicente Calderón, scheduled for the beginning of 2019.

The €200 million refinancing plan and the sale of the plots alongside the Manzanares River are closely linked. Two years ago, the Mexican bank offered the financing necessary to finish the building work at the Wanda Metropolitano, after FCC, the construction group that it also controls, refused to charge for its service through the delivery of units for urban development at the Vicente Calderón.

The contract allowed the parties to cancel the loan with the sale of the plot or with the payment of annual instalments for four seasons, which made the repayment of the loan very short term, in the middle of the expansion of the sports area. In the end, the club has committed to extend the term and so the liquidity injection that will result from the sale of the Calderón will not be used to repay the debt, but rather to make more resources available for the club’s daily operations, as well as for new projects and to access to the transfer market,  if necessary.

Sources at the club indicate that the second real estate operation will probably not be signed until next year, after the municipal government of Madrid failed to provide its definitive approval of the urban planning project until last week. “We think that the uses will be converted into plots and registered in the name of the club at the beginning of 2019, which is when we will proceed with the sale”, they said.

Obtaining all of the permits is the guarantee that the property developers will be able to undertake their projects without any problems. The definitive plan establishes 33,339 m2 for residential use, with a buildability of 132,344 m2; of that capacity, 13,234 m2 in total will be reserved for social housing properties. Tertiary use land will span 14,705 m2, with 13,893 m2 for public amenities and just over 73,000 m2 for green space and others.

The new owners will have to assume the urbanisation costs of €42.22 million, including the €22 million required for the demolition of the former Atléti stadium, without affecting the M-30 road, which passes under one of the stands. It is unknown whether the football club and the Mahou brewery or the future owners will assume that price, and what impact that will have on the final sales price (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by M. Menchen)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Registrars: 400,000 Homes Sold During 9 Months to September 2018

16 November 2018 – Expansión

The housing market is showing a dynamism during 2018 not seen since the years before the crisis. The boost in demand in the last few months has resulted in the sale of almost 400,000 homes during the 9 months to September, the highest figure since 2008, which is driving prices up.

House sales amounted to 396,481 units between January and September, up by 12.5% compared to the same period in 2017, and the highest figure recorded since 2008, when 448,146 units were sold during the first 9 months to September, according to Real Estate Registry Statistics for the third quarter, published yesterday by the College of Registrars.

Data for the first nine months of the year also came close to the figure recorded for 2017 as a whole, bearing in mind that last year 464,223 transactions were closed in total. This year, it is likely that a record figure will be registered, which could reach half a million operations. During the third quarter, 133,295 operations were closed. “These results confirm the notable strength of the housing market (for sales)”, explained sources at the College of Registrars.

The strong dynamism responds in large part to the demand for investment. Buying a home for rent has become an alternative refuge for domestic and overseas investors alike, who find returns in the real estate market that other assets, such as deposits and public debt cannot offer. Moreover, during the last 12 months, the initial interest rate for taking out a mortgage has been at a historical low (2.27%).

The strong activity in the sector is also raising house prices, which increased by 6.7% in YoY terms in the last quarter. The recovery of the sector has allowed prices to rise to 26.5% above their minimum levels. Over the next few months, the registrars expect prices to continue to evolve in line with their current performance, albeit at single-digit rates. The rises will be greater in the main capitals.

These increases are being favoured by the heating up of the sector in certain areas. The largest increases during the third quarter were recorded in Teruel (37%), Huelva (34.8%) and Castellón (33.8%), but Madrid, Barcelona and Málaga led the activity in the market in absolute terms, with 20,048 homes sold in the case of Madrid, 14,217 in Barcelona and 9,828 in Málaga (…).

Foreigners are buying more homes than ever in Spain. According to data from the General Council of Notaries, during the first half of the year, they closed 53,359 operations, the highest absolute figure in the historical series, which began at the start of 2007.

By segment, second-hand homes continue to account for the majority of the market, with 82.4% of sales, compared with 17.57% for new homes (…).

Sources at the College of Registrars detect a possible “scenario that is running out of steam following the intense upward path that has been seen over the last few quarters”, and they warn that we “may have reached a maximum point in the current cycle in terms of the number of house sales”.

That is partly due to the increase in prices, which “is not sustainable or desirable in the current economic situation”. The intense double-digit growth in prices seen in recent months “cannot be borne by a market comprising potential buyers whose incomes cannot absorb such an intense increase in prices”.

But they clarify that it does not mean that we are going to see a correction (reduction) in prices in YoY terms, rather that we can expect more moderate increases (…).

Original story: Expansión (by I. Benedito)

Translation: Carmel Drake

BBVA Research: Building Permits for New Homes Double in 3 Years

12 November 2018 – Cinco Días

The recovery is being boosted by construction activity in the real estate sector. 2018 is going to close with the granting of more than 100,000 permits for the construction of new homes, which represents twice the number of permits granted in 2015, according to estimates from BBVA Research. During that year, activity in the sector started to recover, after years in free fall. The real estate construction segment is whereby returning to six-digit figures, something that has not been seen for eight years.

Until August, the most recent data available from the Ministry of Development, just over 68,000 permits had been granted, up by 26% compared to the same period last year. The data from that month reflects that it was the best August on record since 2008.

The sector may be recovering but it is still light years away from the property fever experienced a decade ago. To give some perspective, the 100,000 new build permits that are going to be granted this year are eight times fewer than the figure recorded in 2006, when the highest ever number of permits was issued (865,561). In April of that year alone, 126,753 permits were granted, a figure that comfortably exceeded the number expected to be issued during 2018 as a whole.

The exact opposite was seen in 2013, when the number of permits hit rock bottom: during that year, just 34,288 permits were granted, the absolute minimum in the whole historical series (whose data goes back to 1992). The following year, there was a slight increase in permits (of 2%) but it was not really until 2015 when the figures started to recover with any strength, up by 43% that year. Since then, the number of construction permits granted has followed a stable growth path, with YoY increases of around 25%.

According to the research from BBVA, the increase in permits forms part of the favourable context in which the market is developing. During the third quarter of the year, employment in the construction sector grew by 1.3%, loans for home purchases increased by 16.8% YoY and house sales in August were almost 10% higher than during the same month last year.

A large part of the still moderate and stepped growth in terms of construction permits is due to the fact that the number of leftover homes constructed during the bubble, which still have not been sold, is still “high and disproportionate for the levels of demand in six out of every ten provinces”. There are 1.2 million leftover homes in total, according to the statistical yearbook for the real estate market compiled by the consultancy firm Acuña & Asociados.

Nevertheless, that stock of homes is very dispersed throughout the country: the consultancy firm calculates that one third of those homes are located in areas with zero or very low demand, whereas in the main cities, new build homes are needed, something that is being confirmed by the significant increases in house prices.

Madrid is the city that accounts for the most building permits (both for new construction and renovation or refurbishment). So far this year, work has started to build or renovate 7,000 homes in the Spanish capital. It is followed, at a distance, by Barcelona, with just over 2,200 homes. Next in the ranking are Valencia (1,640), Málaga (1,400), Zaragoza (1,060), and Sevilla ( 830). Those six cities – which account for almost 20% of the population – account for 17% of all of the permits granted so far this year (…).

Original story: Cinco Días

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Banks Must Pay the Mortgage Tax from Now On

10 November 2018 – Expansión

The Royal Decree approved by the Council of Ministers last Thursday, which modifies the Law governing the Tax on Property Sales and the Documentation Registration Tax (ITP and AJD), comes into force today, following its publication in the BOE. The Decree establishes that the banks, and not the customers, are responsible for paying those taxes.

From today, the purchaser of an asset or right, and in his/her absence, the persons who initiate or request the notarial documents, or those in whose interest they are issued, shall be subject to the tax. When it comes to loan deeds with mortgage guarantees, the bank shall be considered the taxpayer.

In terms of new features, the Royal Decree introduces a new article in the exemption section, which means that “loan deeds with mortgage guarantees, in which the borrower is one of the persons or entities listed in section A) above” shall not be subject to the tax.

Those entities include the State and regional and institutional Public Administrations and their organisations for welfare, culture, Social Security, teaching and scientific purposes. Financial institutions will not be allowed to deduct this payment from their Corporation Tax charge from 2019 onwards, given that tax changes are applied to complete fiscal years. The tax that the banks will have to pay will amount to €2,500 on average per loan and will, according to the Minister for Finance, María Jesús Montero, contribute to the collection of €2 billion every year for the regional coffers.

The Government justifies the “urgent” need for “regulation” to dissolve the “legal uncertainty” created by the Supreme Court following its ruling to force banks to pay the tax, before resolving a few days later that it was returning to case law and therefore obliging citizens to pay it. “This succession of events has led to a situation of legal uncertainty, which affects the mortgage market as a whole, and which must be addressed immediately”.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake