Barcelona Reserves 8 Plots on which to Build 512 Social Housing Units

17 January 2019 – La Vanguardia

Barcelona is going to reserve eight plots on which to build around 512 social housing units for young people, the elderly and other groups with social needs, together with public facilities, through a Modification of the General Metropolitan Plan (MPGM).

The Town Hall of Barcelona’s Commission for Ecology, Urban Planning and Mobility approved the revised MPGM to incorporate those 8 plots into the social housing system yesterday, with votes in favour from the municipal government, the Demòcrata, ERC and CUP groups, and the unassigned councillors Gerard Ardanuy and Joanjo Puigcorbé. There were abstentions from Cs, PSC and PP.

According to a statement from the town hall, the plots are located in Gràcia (2), Ciutat Vella (2), Eixample (2), Sants-Montjuïc (1) and Horta-Guinardó (1).

Four of the plots are owned in their entirety by the municipality, whilst the town hall will acquire the two that are completely private as well as the private plot of another site of which it is only part owner.

The eighth plot is on Via Laietana, 8-10, and currently houses the headquarters of the National Institute of Statistics and the Electoral Census Office, which is owned by the Town Hall of Barcelona and several other public administrations.

Specifically, this new plan proposes incorporating the plots into the housing system, which also includes plans for facilities on the ground floors.

The procedure is based on the fact that the law allows a maximum of 5% of land classified as local public facilities to be dedicated to social housing.

On the basis of the land that this MPGM is activating, the actions carried out and/or forecast in the current plan represent approximately 2.81% of the plots only, according to reports from the Town Hall.

This MPGM now enters a period of public consultation for one month and so its provisional approval in the Plenary of the Municipal Council and definitive approval by the Sub-Committee for Urban Planning in Barcelona, a body of La Generalitat, could be completed before the end of the mandate of the mayor Ada Colau.

This is the second MPGM that the municipal government has carried out in the current mandate to activate plots to build social housing.

In December 2016, the Town Hall approved a first plan that reserved six plots for the development of 519 homes. Specifically, two of those were located in Gràcia, two in Sant Martí, one in Sants-Montjuïc and another in Horta-Guinardó.

Original story: La Vanguardia 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Latin American Investors Bought One Third Of Madrid’s Luxury Homes In H1

6 October 2017 – Expansión

Yesterday morning in Madrid, the luxury real estate agency Lucas Fox presented its “Real Estate Market Report”, which analyses the behaviour of the property sector during the first half of the year, and more specifically, the profile of purchases in the premium segment in Madrid during the period.

Undoubtedly, the most significant finding is that, according to the agency, buyers from Latin America accounted for almost one third (31%) of all the transactions undertaken, compared to 11% in 2016. In terms of the reason for their purchases, 62% of the buyers at Lucas Fox Madrid acquired a home for investment purposes, whilst the remaining 38% were looking to purchase a second home.

We have seen sales increase by almost one third compared to the volume of transactions last year and we expect them to multiply five-fold by the end of this year. Increasingly more international buyers are choosing the Spanish capital as the best option for investing, thanks to the high medium and long-term yields, the strong rental income and the excellent lifestyle that Madrid offers”, said Rod Jamieson, Partner at Lucas Fox Madrid.

In its recent report, Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) indicated a 15% increase in the volume of property sales in Madrid during the first half of 2017, with respect to the same period in 2016. The number of transactions completed during this period was just 9% lower than the peak levels recorded at the height of the market. Meanwhile, according to data from the Ministry of Development, the volume of sales in the luxury residential market (homes worth more than €900,000) increased significantly, by 27%, due primarily to the increase in international demand.

Prices at the end of June 2017 in the Community of Madrid had increased by 6% with respect to the same period in 2016. Nevertheless, according to data from the real estate portal Idealista, prices rose by even more in the most prime areas of the city, such as Salamanca and Chamberí (by 10% and 14%, respectively), where demand is greatest. For this reason, Lucas Fox inaugurated its second Property Lounge in Madrid yesterday, located on Calle Bárbara de Braganza, 8; it is designed to respond to the growing demand for luxury properties in the capital.

Original story: Expansión (by L. Ruiz-Ocaña)

Translation: Carmel Drake

JLL: RE Inv’t Amounts To €8,697M In 9 Months To Sept 17

2 October 2017 – El Mundo

The Spanish real estate sector is recovering in leaps and bounds to the position it was relegated from during the years of the financial crisis and is becoming an object of desire once more for domestic and overseas savers alike. Proof of this is the fact that investment in the sector to date this year amounts to €8,697 million. As such, it is already approaching the total volume of investment recorded in the whole of 2016 (€9,508 million). In other words, with three months to go until year end, the cumulative annual investment figure already represents 91.46% of the prior year figure (…), according to data compiled by the consultancy firm JLL about direct investment in the tertiary sector – hotels, logistics, retail and offices – and the residential segment.

The data does not include indirect investment or corporate operations, however, it does reflect two of the trends that are marking the recovery of the real estate market in Spain: the boom in retail and the renewed interest in residential. Not in vain, investment in both sectors during the nine months to September has already exceeded the total for last year.

In terms of retail, major operations, such as the sale of the Mercado de San Miguel and the Mercado de Fuencarral in Madrid for €70 million and €50 million, respectively, contributed to boosting the investment volume to €3,267 million by the end of Q3, compared with €2,977 million for 2016 as a whole. Sources at the consultancy firm estimate that the total investment figure for the year may exceed €4,000 million and they forecast that it will be “a record year in the segment due to the number and volume of operations closed or in progress”.

Meanwhile, investment in the residential segment during the first 9 months of the year amounted to €1,188 million, compared to €802 million for the whole of last year. The data follows the positive trend of other indicators such as house prices – which rose by 5.6% in the second quarter of the year compared to the same quarter in 2016, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE); sale and purchase operations, which grew by 14.7% during the same period; and the number of mortgages constituted, which rose by 32.9% in July in YoY terms (…).

It is not the only segment of the market to see such dynamism, given that the fever has also reached the office market. At the end of the third quarter, the sector had recorded investment of €1,759 million compared with €1,541 million during the same period last year. Sources at JLL highlight that the market in Barcelona, where the volume during YTD September (€714 million) is already 37% higher than 2016 as a whole, may end this year with double the investment figure recorded last year (…).

It may also be a record year for the logistics segment, where cumulative investment to date amounts to €578 million, around €100 million higher than during the first three-quarters of 2016 (…). The increase in consumption and the arrival of Amazon are marking the reconfiguration of that sector, especially in large urban areas (…).

Meanwhile, in the hotel sector, investment to September exceeded €1,900 million, which represents 85% of the figure recorded for last year as a whole. Changes in portfolios have been the stars in recent months, including transactions such as the purchase by Portobello Capital of a portfolio of resort hotels for €40 million.

Original story: El Mundo (by María Hernández)

Translation: Carmel Drake

INE: House Sales Rose By 26.9% In March

22 May 2017 – El Confidencial

House sales rose by 26.9% in March with respect to the same month in 2016, to reach 40,461 operations, the highest figure since February 2011, according to figures compiled by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE).

This increase, which marks 14 consecutive months of YoY increases, is much higher than the rise recorded in February when operations increased by just 1.2% in YoY terms.

Transactions involving second-hand homes rose by 28.3% in March with respect to the same month in 2016, to reach 33,100, a level not seen since September 2007. Meanwhile, sales of new build properties rose by 21.2% in YoY terms, to reach 7,361 transactions, the highest figure since February 2016.

89.8% of the homes sold during the third month of the year were private (unsubsidised) properties and 10.2% were protected (social housing). Sales of private homes rose by 27.6% in March in YoY terms, to reach 36,332 transactions, meanwhile, operations involving social housing properties grew by 21.5%, to 4,129 transactions.

In monthly terms (March compared with February), house sales soared, by 13.6%, their highest increase in the month of March for at least five years.

In March, the greatest number of house sales per 100,000 inhabitants by region was recorded in the Community of Valencia (150), followed by the Balearic Islands (148) and Andalucía (121). The latter was also the autonomous region where the most (absolute) house sales were recorded during the third month of the year, with 7,976 transactions, followed by Cataluña (6,832), the Community of Valencia (5,854) and Madrid (5,684).

Original story: El Confidencial 

Translation: Carmel Drake

INE: House Sales Exceeded 40,000 In March

16 May 2017 – Cinco Días

Last week, Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) published data relating to house purchases in March, which revealed that the number of transactions recorded in the property registers amounted to 40,461 during the month. Such a high figure had not seen since February 2011, six years ago; it represents an increase of 26.9% with respect to the number recorded a year ago.

In general, and despite some apathy at the start of 2017, the fact is that March was a good month from the perspective of real estate activity, given that 168,448 properties changed hands, a figure that represents an increase of 17.7% with respect to the same period in 2016.

By type of property, INE highlighted that 89.8% of house sales involved free (unsubsidised) homes and 10.2% were social housing properties. Sales of the former increased by 27.6%, whilst sales of the latter rose by 21.5%.

In addition, 18.2% of the homes sold in March were new build properties and the remaining 81.8% were second-hand. One of the most noteworthy statistics is how month on month, the number of operations involving new build properties is beginning to show greater strength than in the past because the construction and sale of developments that were started two years ago when the market showed its first signs of having bottomed out, are now bearing fruit.

In this way, during March, the number of new build transactions increased by 21.2%, when not so long ago, they were recording negative figures, and the number of second-hand transactions consolidated themselves for another month with an improvement of 28.3% with respect to March 2016.

In the classification by autonomous region, INE’s statistics, which are prepared using data from the property registers, revealed that house sales grew in every autonomous region, with the exception of the Canary Islands, where they decreased by 3.5% YoY. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that the increase in the volume of transactions exceeded 30% in 10 of Spain’s autonomous regions. (…).

The reactions from the real estate portals to this data were not as expected. Fernando Encinar, Head of Research at Idealista, explained that “the data from the month of March exceeded 40,000 operations, which represents a milestone in terms of the normalisation of the market. Although this process is happening at two speeds, the fact that more transactions were signed in March than a year ago in every autonomous region (with the exception of the Canary Islands) is a sign that the markets are moving closer to their natural equilibrium”.

Meanwhile, Beatriz Toribio, Head of Research at Fotocasa, said that (…) “the more than 40,000 transactions that were closed in March brings us back to the levels of 2011 and shows that the pace that is building in the sector. This improvement is having an effect on prices, which have been recording YoY increases for seven consecutive months”. (…).

Original story: Cinco Días (by Raquel Díaz Guijarro)

Translation: Carmel Drake

CBRE: New Build House Prices In Zaragoza Will Rise By 3% In 2017

28 March 2017 – El Periódico de Aragón

The price per square metre of new housing in Zaragoza grew by 1% last year and is expected to rise by 3% on average in 2017. Those were the comments expressed yesterday by the CEO of the real estate consultancy CBRE, Miguel Ángel Gómez, in the Aragonese capital, during his presentation of the latest report about the evolution of the housing market in Aragón.

A moderate reactivation in terms of development activity and a recovery in demand meant that the positive trend in prices that began in 2015 continued in 2016. In this way, the average price per square metre of a new build home in Zaragoza amounted to €1,976/m2 in 2016. By district, Centro and Universidad were the areas that saw the highest price rises last year, increasing to €3,800/m2 and €3,150/m2, respectively, as a result of the release onto the market of several iconic projects.

Those price rises went hand in hand with a recovery in the rate of house sales, which rose by 14.7% in Aragón last year with respect to 2015. According to the latest data from Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, 10,700 operations were recorded in total.

One of the indicators that reflects the improvement in the behaviour of the new build residential market was the rate of sales. Whilst in 2015, it took 18 months to sell an entire development, now, 75% of new developments are being sold off-plan within the first six months.

Fewer homes are available

CBRE’s report identifies a downwards trend in the supply of available new build homes in the city, as a result of an increase in demand and only moderate development activity. In this regard, Parque Venecia, Miralbueno and Arrabal-Barrio de Jesús are the districts that have the greatest availability of new homes. Meanwhile, La Muela, Cuarte de Huerva and Puebla de Alfindén are the towns that have the most stock.

By contrast, there is a shortage of residential land in the central area, which led to the launch of several renovation projects in 2016. Nevertheless, CBRE thinks that those homes will not cover demand. On the other hand, the consultancy firm forecasts an increase in the number of transactions involving land in the area around Miguel Servet, Avenida Cataluña, Miralbueno, Rosales del Canal, Valdespartera and Arcosur this year. The price per square metre of land in Aragón amounted to around €600/m2 during 2016 and whereby exceeding the national average (€400/m2).

Original story: El Periódico de Aragón (by Alicia Gracia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

INE: House Prices Rose By 4.7% In 2016

8 March 2017 – Expansión

House prices rose by 4.7% on average in 2016 with respect to the previous year, their third consecutive annual increase following six years of decreases and the highest rise since 2007, according to the House Price Index (IPV) published today by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE).

By house type, second-hand house prices rose by 4.4% in 2016, to register their highest increase since 2007. In the case of new homes, average prices rose by 6.5% in 2016, also recording their highest rise since 2007.

During the fourth quarter of 2016, private (unsubsidised) house prices rose by 4.5% with respect to the same quarter in 2015, whereby increasing the YoY rise recorded in the third quarter (+4%) by half a point. In this way, house prices recorded eleven consecutive quarters of positive YoY variations.

New house prices rose by 4.3% in Q4 2016 compared to the fourth quarter in 2015, in other words, by three points less than during the previous quarter, whilst second-hand house prices rose by 4.5%, one point above the increase recorded in the previous quarter.

In inter-quarterly terms, private (unsubsidised) house prices rose by 0.4%, in other words, by four tenths less than in the previous quarter. Following this quarterly increase, house prices recorded four consecutive quarters on the rise.

House prices rose last year in every single one of Spain’s autonomous regions, as well as in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. The most marked price increases were observed in Madrid (up by 8.6%), Cataluña (7%), the Balearic Islands (6.2%), Melilla (5.3%) and Ceuta (5.2%). On the other hand, the lowest increases were recorded in Castilla-La Mancha (0.8%) and Castilla y León (1.1%).

In quarterly figures, private (unsubsidised) house prices decreased in ten autonomous regions as well as in Melilla; they rose in four regions and in Ceuta; and they remained stable in Andalucía, Aragón and the Community of Valencia. The largest decreases were recorded in País Vasco (-1.6%) and Extremadura (-1.5%) and the greatest increases were seen in Madrid (+1.5%) and Cataluña (+1.2%).

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Registrars: House Prices Rose By 5.7% In 2016

15 February 2017 – Expansión

House prices rose by 5.6% in 2016, according to data published yesterday by the College of Registrars. In QoQ terms, this means that homes became 1.9% more expensive during the last three months of the year, whereby recording their ninth cumulative quarter of increases. These findings come from the Index of House Prices for Repeated Sales (IPVVR), prepared using the Case-Shiller methodology, which analyses only those homes that have been sold at least twice during the period under analysis, i.e. since 1995. This methodology is considered to be one of the best ways of measuring the true evolution of house prices and is the benchmark that is used in the USA.

The other key finding from the Registrars’ statistics is that the volume of homes sold increased by 13.9% last year, to 403,742, up by 49,205 compared to 2015. In this way, house sales exceeded the psychological barrier of 400,000 transactions, something that has not happened since 2010. (…).

The data from the College of Registrars in terms of house sale volumes is almost identical to that published last week by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (403,900 operations and an increase of 13.7%). As such, the really interesting findings from the Registrars’ statistics relate to prices.

For example, the index shows that since the peaks of 2007, average house prices have recorded a cumulative decrease of just over 25%. By contrast, with respect to their minimum levels (recorded in 2014), average house prices have registered a cumulative increase of 13.3%. House prices rose by 6.6% in 2015 and by 2.55% in 2014.

Prices return to 2004 levels

Although the Registrars do no specify the average cost of homes per m2 in absolute terms, they do report that house prices are now at similar levels to those recorded in the middle of 2012 and at the end of 2004 (…).

These figures “seem to indicate the future trend to the extent that it seems reasonable that house prices will continue to grow, normally by more than 1% per quarter, giving rise to YoY increases of around 5%”. In other words, house prices are expected to continue to grow at rates similar to last year. (…).

Increases across the board

The breakdown in house sales shows that price increases were recorded in every autonomous region in 2016 with respect to 2015. The greatest rises were observed in the Balearic Islands (+30%), Cataluña (+21.1%) and Asturias (+17%). Moreover, growth rates reached doubt digits in twelve autonomous regions. For example, the rate in the Community of Madrid was 13.85%, in line with the national average.

Forty-nine of Spain’s 52 provinces have now left price decreases behind. In fact, the sales volumes of second-hand homes increased in every province in 2016, led by Madrid (58,752 transactions), Barcelona (46,415), Alicante (29,688), Málaga (26,436), Valencia (21,963), Baleares (13,811), Sevilla (12,900), Murcia (11,972), Las Palmas (11,272) and Cádiz (10,288).

The fourth quarter of the year closed with the highest percentage of purchases by foreigners in 2016, representing 13.57% of the total, giving rise to the third highest figure ever. (…). During the year as a whole, overseas buyers accounted for 13.25% of the market, with almost 53,000 purchases.

Original story: Expansión (by Juanma Lamet)

Translation: Carmel Drake

BBVA, Sabadell & Bankinter Raise Their Fixed-Rate Mortgage Rates

2 February 2017 – Expansión

The move comes at a time when fixed-rate mortgages account for 31.8% of all new mortgages signed, according to the most recent data from Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), which corresponds to the month of November 2016. The figure (which includes mixed mortgages) sets a new record and comes in stark contrast to the same month in 2015, when fixed-rate mortgages accounted for just 9.3% of the total.

The move applies to all terms (periods) and involves increases of around 20 basis points on nominal rates and AERs (annual equivalent rates, which indicate the total cost of mortgages).

Bankinter, which was the most aggressive entity when it came to offering fixed-rate products during 2016, raised its prices across all mortgage terms on 15 December, from an AER of 2.82% to 2.96% over 10 years; from 2.94% to 3.10% over 15 years; and from 3.09% to 3.26% over 20 years.

Domino effect

(…). This move was immediately followed by BBVA. It increased its mortgage rates from an AER of 2.72% to 2.98% over 20 years; from 2.98% to 3.24% over 25 years; and from 3.01% to 3.55% over 30 years.

At the time, the bank chaired by Francisco González kept the conditions of the 15-year product the same. However, last month (January), it increased that rate too from 2.50% to 2.76% AER. It was BBVA that took the market by storm last March with its launch of the best fixed-rate, 15-year term, mortgage on the market.

In this way, the rise in fixed rates is being led by the very entities that supported the promotion of fixed-rate products so heavily in the first place. And despite the upwards increases, these entities continue to offer some of the most attractive mortgages in the Spanish market. (…).

The latest entity to have announced rate rises is Banco Sabadell, which has increased the nominal interest rate on its Premium Fixed-Rate Mortgage by 20 basis points. That means an increase in the NIR (nominal interest rate) from 2.70% to 2.90% over 20 years and from 2.90% to 3.10% over 30 years. (…).

In recent months, the price cutting of fixed-rate mortgages had focused on the 10-year and 15-year term products, where this type of product is less attractive, given that over short timeframes, experts recommend taking out variable rate loans in order to benefit from zero interest rate scenarios.

End of an era

(…) With these rate rises, we are now leaving behind an era during which the banks competed fiercely to offer the best conditions on their fixed-rate loans.

The experts agree that the price of these mortgages will not fall to their 2016 levels again. They believe that last year represented a historical opportunity for buyers, who will now have to face tougher demands in terms of prices and conditions – commissions and the forced cross-selling of products.

Original story: Expansión (by Enrique Utrera)

Translation: Carmel Drake