Ministry Of Development: Housing Permits Rise By 37%

30 September 2016 – Expansión

The number of housing permits granted by the college of technical architects soared by 37% during the first seven months of the year, to reach 39,497, the best figure between January and July since 2011, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Development.

Despite the increase, residential construction permits are still a long way from the highs recorded in 2007, when at the height of the boom, 448,991 permits were granted between January and July, i.e. 91% more than have been issued so far this year.

The number of housing permits started the year (2016) with an increase of 44% to 4,943. In February, the YoY increase was 35%, as 5,663 permits were granted, whilst in March the figure doubled to 6,176. In April, the increase was more moderate, up by 6.5% to 4,795 permits and in May the number soared by 79% to 7,985. In June, the figure rose by just 0.6% and in July, double-digit growth returned with an increase of 21%.

The total number of permits granted for new builds, renovations and extensions during the seven months to July was 56,407, which represents an increase of 24.6% with respect to 2015.

By property type, the number of permits granted to construct block housing rose by 45.5%, to 29,362 licences, whilst the number granted for family homes grew by 17% to 10,129.

In terms of surface area, the average size of family homes amounted to 200 sqm, whilst the average size of apartments in block housing stood at 117 sqm.

Since the Ministry of Development began to prepare these statistics in 1991, the number of permits reached their historical monthly minimum in August 2013, when just 1,585 permits were granted. The historical monthly maximum was recorded in September 2006, when 126,753 permits were granted.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Oliver Wyman: Mortgage Lending Will Triple By 2020

7 September 2016 – Expansión

Oliver Wyman warns that the banks are once again “relaxing” their criteria for granting home loans.

There is no going back in terms of the re-awakening of the real estate market. All indicators are pointing in favour of a recovery in the sector: GDP is enjoying annual growth of 3.2%, interest rates remain at historically low levels and the banks have started to ease their criteria for lending money in light of the need to give their income statements a boost.

In this context, the consultancy firm Oliver Wyman forecasts that the number of loans granted for house purchases will triple over the next five years to reach 550,000 signings per year by 2020. That figure would be equivalent to the constitution of 1,500 new mortgages per day, up from the current figure of 600 per day.

Behind this recovery in the real estate sector is a forecast acceleration in the creation of new households – the reduction in the level of unemployment will allow, amongst other things, young people to move out of the family home sooner – as well as the demand for homes that has been pent up during the crisis, which could amount to almost 300,000 homes. This last case involves households who have been waiting to buy a property for years, but who have not taken the plunge yet as they wait for the economic environment to improve and the price per square metre to stop falling. (…).

Oliver Wyman considers that its forecast for mortgage signings by 2020 represents the “equilibrium level” for an economy of the size of Spain’s. In other words, according to this company, the signing of 1,500 home loans per day would not result in the creation of a new real estate bubble like the one seen between 2005 and 2007. Between those dates, 1.3 million mortgages were signed in Spain per year: one for every 35 inhabitants.

Nevertheless, the financial consultancy does warn of a number of risks that could damage the local property market. They are linked to the worsening of the economic environment – in part due to the “political instability” that is paralysing the economy – , a sudden increase in Euribor combined with the gradual withdrawal of monetary stimulus at the world level – which would make monthly payments more expensive and which would increase the rate of default – and the granting of more credit to clients with higher risk profiles.

In this sense, the banks are now under pressure to stimulate their mortgage businesses to boost their income statements and face up to the growing competition from new digital agents who are increasingly operating in the sector.

The real estate market is still purging the excesses left over from the first decade of the century. During the second quarter of this year, 20,927 mortgages were foreclosed, which represents a reduction of 27% compared with the same period last year.

Of the total assets foreclosed, 57.1% were homes, and 30.6% of those were primary residences…according to figures published yesterday by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE). In terms of the status of foreclosed homes, 13.6% were new homes, down by 25.1%, and the remainder (86.4%) were second-hand homes, down by 31.2%.

Original story: Expansión (by Victor Martínez)

Translation: Carmel Drake

International Funds Reactivate Residential Development Market

7 July 2016 – El Economista

After several years away, cranes are appearing on Spain’s landscape once again. Their return has come thanks to several large international funds, which have managed to reactivate the property developer market in record time and just at the right moment. Thanks to their presence, property developer activity in Spain grew by 30% last year, with 50,000 new construction permits; and the experts are certain that the residential business is now unstoppable.

The financial capacity of the new players is overwhelming in some cases. They have liquidity surpluses that the historical property developers would have envied, but, nevertheless, they do not know the ‘ins and outs’ of the local market, and their experience in terms of land is practically non-existent. For this reason, their entry into the Spanish market has been undertaken through the purchase of property developer platforms and through partnerships with local companies (…).

In light of the high profile partnerships that have been signed in the last two years, involving players such as Lone Star, Värde and Kennedy Wilson, the experts predict that the high level of activity will continue this year with the purchase of plots of land. In fact, they confirm that sales of non-developable land are starting to accelerate and that demand for land purchases will increase, especially those in the final stages of development, due to the high level of competition that has been generated between the key players in the sector – property developers, investment funds and cooperatives.

All of these players have realised that the opportunities that the residential development business is now offering “have yields that are considerably higher than those of other investments”, according to Solvia’s Market View report, which states that transactions have grown by 8.6% and prices have risen by around 4.5%. With these positive indicators, the development figures being talked about now include 150,000 new homes and 50,000 secondary residences per year until 2020.

Most of these homes will come onto the market thanks to Neinor Homes, which is looking to become the largest property developer in Spain. This company will be one of the most active over the next few years, given that according to its own forecasts, it expects to build between 2,500 and 3,000 homes per year. The firm, led by Juan Velayos – the former CEO of Renta Corporación – is the largest residential real estate company created in Spain following seven years of recession.

Its potential was proven last year, since between its creation, in May 2015, and the end of the year, it invested own funds amounting to €800 million on the purchase of land, on which it plans to construct 10,000 homes over the next few years, bringing together the largest bank of high-quality developable land in Spain (…).

But Lone Star is not the only fund that has made a long-term commitment to the Spanish residential market. The US fund has had a major competitor for several weeks now, in the form of Värde, which after acquiring 25% of the real estate arm of San José from Banco Popular, has now created a new property developer.

The company is called dospuntos and its Business Plan for 2016-2012 forecasts an investment of almost €2,000 million in the Spanish real estate market over the next six years, to complete the construction of 2,000 homes per year on average from 2019 onwards. For the time being, the group already owns a sizeable bank of land for the construction of more than 7,000 homes across Spain.

Inmobiliaria Habitat is another company with history in the sector, which in 2015, after finding itself in a very delicate financial situation and incapable of paying its debt, ended up in the hands of a group of funds – Bank of America Merril Lynch, SP101 Finance Ireland, Capstone and Goldman Sachs, amongst others. In this case, although the commitment by the funds has been key, it is nonetheless a temporary measure, given that they plan to exit the group within two or three years.

The latest residential report from the consultancy firm CBRE highlights other partnerships between international funds and domestic developers such as: Grupo Lar and Pimco; Renta Corporación and Kennedy Wilson; Momentum Real Estate and HMC; Aquila Capital and Inmoglaciar; Mina Inmobiliaria and Eurostone; Aelca and Värde; and Q21 Real Estate and Baupost. (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

ST: New House Prices Rise By 4% In MAD & BCN

30 June 2016 – El País

According to ST Sociedad de Tasación, the average price of new homes grew by 4% YoY in June in the cities of Madrid and Barcelona. They were the two provincial capitals with the highest new home price rises in the last year. These price increases, which are not being seen in other capital, have been driven by the shortage of new home stock, explain sources at ST. “Our analysis of this data and of the increasing trend observed since June 2015 allows us to predict that Barcelona and Madrid are going to act as the drivers of the recovery process for new house prices, albeit at a slow pace”.

Barcelona is the provincial capital that recorded the highest new house prices, with an average of €3,390/sqm. Prices grew there by 2.2% during the first half of 2016. The YoY price increase in Barcelona was 4.1%, the highest of all of Spain’s provincial capitals.

By district, Gracia recorded the highest increase in new house prices, with a rise of 7.72%. It was followed by the neighbourhoods of Sarria-Sant Gervasi, with 6.94% and Sant Marti, with 6.38%. At the other end of the spectrum, the districts with the lowest YoY price increases were Ciutat Vella (1.33%), Sant Andreu (1.93%) and Nou Barris (2.33%).

And not only did the district of Sarria-Sant Gervasi in Barcelona record one of the highest price rises, it also registered the highest average price per constructed square metre, at €5,672/sqm. The districts of Les Corts and L’Eixample were ranked in second and third place, respectively, in terms of average prices, with values of €4,610/sqm and €4,511/sqm. By contrast, the districts with the lowest average prices were Nou Barris (€2,721/sqm), Sants-Montjuic (€3,024/sqm) and Sant Andreu (€3,062/sqm).

In Madrid, a new home costs €2,886/sqm on average

In the case of Madrid, new house prices have grown by 4% with respect to the previous year and by 2.1% during the first half of 2016. That takes the average price of new homes in Madrid to €2,886/sqm.

The ranking for the YoY variation in new house prices is headed by Ciudad Lineal, which saw growth of 5.8%. It was followed by Barajas, with 5.7% and Arganzuela, with 5.4%. At the other end of the spectrum, the neighbourhoods with the lowest YoY price variations were Hortaleza (0.8%) and La Latina (1%), followed by Tetuán (1.8%).

In terms of the average price of new homes, Salamanca was once again the most expensive district in the capital, with an average price of €4,799/sqm, followed by Chamberí (€4,626/sqm) and the Centre (€3,939/sqm). By contrast, the neighbourhoods of Vicálvaro, Villaverde and Villa de Vallecas registered the lowest average new home prices, of €1,856/sqm, €1,883/sqm and €2,203/sqm, respectively.

Original story: El País (by S.L.L.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Arcano: House Prices Rose By 6.9% In Q1 2016

26 May 2016 – El Economista

House prices accelerated their growth in Spain during the first quarter of 2016, increasing by 6.9% with respect to the same period last year, according to Spanish Real Estate Macroeconomic analysis performed by the independent financial advisory firm Arcano.

The study shows that the recovery is being seen in every autonomous region, regardless of the political colour; both in the new and second-hand housing segments; and in terms of both housing and land. Following a decrease in house prices of 38% in nominal terms and 50% in real terms, Arcano believes that the increase, which began in 2014 “should be maintained due to the positive underlying forecasts for demand, supply and accessibility”.

Specifically, the analysis highlights that the sale of homes in Spain continued to grow at double-digit rates during the first quarter of the year, increasing by 10% YoY, favoured by “significant” demand from foreigners, who now account for 13% of all house purchases in Spain.

Moreover, Arcano explained that another pillar of this data for the recovery of the residential sector is based on the “favourable” macroeconomic environment in Spain, especially the “historical” 12% decrease in unemployment and the subsequent 3.3% improvement in employment and 1.1% increase in wages, following several years of stagnation.

“The economic improvement is allowing pent-up demand for housing to flourish”, says the report, which adds that the recovery of the real estate sector in Spain “is continuing, led by strong fundamentals and a favourable macroeconomic environment in Spain”.

It also helps that house purchases are recovering not only due to necessity on the part of buyers, but also due to investment, given their “attractive” prices in comparison with other assets, explains Partner and Chief Economist at Arcano, Ignacio de la Torre.

In addition, mortgage loans have become cheaper, reaching average levels of 2.38% during Q1 2016, generated by the fall in Euribor. In turn, the number of new mortgages signed in February 2016 rose by 16% YoY, following their increase of 20% in 2015 and 2% in 2014.

In terms of the supply of housing, Arcano says that “it is still very limited”, above all the supply of new vacant homes, which is “practically” non-existent in many areas with high populations and GDP, such as Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Valencia.

Specifically, 46,000 new homes were constructed in 2015, compared with 641,000 in 2007. And although it is true that new housing permits are recovering, they are still a “long way below their historical levels”.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake

Foreign Investment ‘Pulls Up’ House Prices In 8 CCAA

15 April 2015 – El Economista

The housing phoenix is rising from the ashes, but, as yet, it is not soaring with equal force across the whole country. After 2014, which was year zero for the sector after seven years of hard-hitting decreases, the foundations are being laid in 2015 for a new cycle. Whilst in the large cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona, (the recovery) has taken off, fuelled by foreign investment, tit is still weak and flighty in areas with lower demand; nevertheless it is still a recovery.

The revival of the mortgage market, accompanied by an environment of low interest rates, a good overall economic climate and the outlook for growth both in terms of consumption and production, has generated the ideal breeding ground for the real estate sector to return to our economy, although in terms of size it is still well below its pre-crisis levels.

According to data from the National Construction Conference (Conferencia Nacional de la Construcción or CNC), in 2007, construction accounted for around 22% of GDP. Today, it represents approximately 5%. Leaving the excesses of the real estate boom aside, the prudent return of construction activity is important to enable proportional feedback between the Spanish economy and housing.

Where is real estate taking off?

After the hangover of the crisis, the housing sector is starting to record its first price increases. According to Sociedad de Tasación (ST), the average price of new and used homes increased by 3.3% during the first quarter of 2015 to record nine consecutive months of increases. With the latest rise, the (average) price per square metre amounts to €1,316, according to the Trends in the Real Estate Sector report. Nevertheless, the evolution is very uneven across Spain.

The value of properties in eight autonomous communities has increased. Navarra, led the ranking with an increase of 6.7%, followed by the Balearic Islands (6.5%), Valencia (5.7%), the Canary Islands (5.4%), Madrid (3.8%), La Rioja (3%), Andalucía (2.8%) and Extremadura (0.3%).

Fluctuations are still expected

Nevertheless, as Juan Fernández-Aceytuno, CEO of ST, notes, this data should be interpreted with caution, given that it comes in the context of a decrease of around 45% in the price of homes; as such the downward trend has less distance to travel. Moreover, if we focus only on the price of new homes, then the decrease has not bottomed out yet.

All of this, he explains, draws a picture that is characterised by “stabilisation, but with a serrated edge”. In recent months, positive and negative data has been recorded and the distribution of the recovery is uneven. Therefore, although the majority of the experts agree that house prices have bottomed out, it is too early to talk about a full recovery. For that, the CEO of ST says, the figures for the number of transaction and mortgages granted will need to return to the levels last seen in 2001 and 2002. And he adds that those two variables are the ones that are really going to shape the evolution of the real estate sector. “A market the size of Spain should be granting around 750,000 mortgages and closing 800,000 house sales per year”, he says.

Who is buying?

Despite the opening up of the credit market and the improvement in conditions, the level of financing continues to be low and does not stop flowing between families; this brings us back to a position of prudence, says Fernández-Aceytuno. “The stored-up demand will have to be released at some point”, but decisions to buy are still being postponed. Price decreases and greater employment stability may provide a boost for all of those latent buyers.

So, who is behind the increase in the number of house sales? José Luis Ruiz Bartolomé, expert in the real estate sector and author of the book ‘Return, property, return’ (‘Vuelve, ladrillo, vuelve’) explains. After the necessary price decreases, there has been a strong inflow of foreign investment, both by funds as well as individuals, especially in the coastal regions. Moreover, as this expert indicates, more homes are being sold, but “location is becoming very important”.

The outlook, therefore, is that the evolution (of prices) will be very different in some areas than in others. This is confirmed by the report about the residential market in Spain issued by Maxxima REA, which states that 2014 was the turning point for real estate investment in Spain. According to the study by that real estate consultancy firm, transactions to date have been concentrated in Madrid and Barcelona, and have focused on prime assets, whose supply is scarce. As a result, the prices of higher quality assets in better locations have increased.

More properties are being bought and sold

What is undeniable is that the evolution of prices is supporting the revival of house sales. According to the latest statistics from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), house sales increased by 15.5% in February with respect to the same month last year, to reach a total of 29,714, whereby recording six consecutive months of increases.

Another positive statistic, but again, one that needs to put in perspective, since it is still a comparison against minimum real estate activity. In terms of the geographical distribution of house sales, the map is uneven. Whilst sales are soaring in Aragón (49.2%), followed by Madrid (28.4%), Barcelona (23.2%) and the Balearic Islands (21.7%), other regions are suffering from a decrease in the number of house sales, including (-22.7%) and the Canary Islands (-5.5%).

The return of the cranes

(…) Refer to article dated 30 March 2015 for these details.

The risks

In this overall market context, the obvious question is “Is this recovery stable”? All of the experts agree that it is. The change in the cycle is here to stay, but they also call for caution because money is “very easily frightened”, according to Ruiz Bartolomé, who warns against two risks: political instability, with the rise of parties such as Podemos, “which scare off overseas investors” and the danger that Spain becomes complacent and puts the brakes on its structural reforms.

At the Sociedad de Tasación, they are more optimistic in this sense and they believe that the risks of destabilisation are remote. “Not even the electoral calendars will have a direct impact on the market”, explains its CEO. However, any sharp rises in interest rates would impact the recovery, however such a move is highly unlikely, especially given the latest monetary policy measures undertaken by the European Central Bank.

Original story: El Economista (by Silvia Zancajo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

CTH Capital Awarded ‘Golf Hills Village’ Complex In Estepona

21 January 2015 – El Mundo

The complex has 152 homes, with a total surface area of 14,762 square metres.

It is a particularly attractive asset for international developers and investors.

The company CTH Capital has been awarded the residential complex Golf Hills Village through an auction organised by the property consultant BNP Paribas Real Estate. The property, located in Estepona, in the area known as Selwo, has 152 newly built homes. In total, the above ground surface area occupies 14,762 square metres.

“Transactions such as this one highlight the growing interest in the Spanish real estate sector from international investors. In this sense, the Costa del Sol has a clear advantage since it is a landmark tourist destination and also benefits from high quality infrastructure”, says CBRE, a company that advised CTH Capital in its purchase of the complex.

The auction was conducted through sealed bids in the presence of a notary and had the distinction of being the first in Spain of an asset under construction. Nevertheless, the building work at the complex is in the advanced phase, with more than 95% of the basic project now complete.

An attractive asset for international investors

“As we explained during the presentation of the auction, the characteristics of this asset made it particularly attractive for international developers and investors, which has been proven at the close”, says Irene Valbuena, Head of Auctions at BNP Paribas Real Estate. “Furthermore, the transaction confirms the interest of international investors in Spanish assets and shows how they are adopting value-added strategies to enter into our market, such as in this case, where the construction work still needs to be completed”.

CTH Capital is dedicated to the management and investment of real estate, and is based in London, UK. The company specialises in direct investments with a special focus on investments in hotels and second homes.

CTH Capital has made its investment under a joint venture with the property developer and constructor, JAMSA, which has more than 40 years of experience developing property in Spain and overseas (Dominican Republic, Florida, Romania).

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake