Grosvenor Backs the Rental Sector in Spain & Formalises its First Purchases in Madrid

1 June 2018 – Eje Prime

Grosvenor is betting on a business that is on the rise in Spain: the residential rental market. The group, which is going to spend €200 million on its growth plans in the country between now and 2022, as Eje Prime revealed, has recently acquired a building on Calle Rey Francisco, in the Madrilenian neighbourhood of Argüelles, which it is going to rent out.

The property in question is a protected building, located in an area that is very close to the university centres, and which the company hopes to renovate to create rental homes and convert the existing commercial premises into common areas, according to Expansión. In total, the building will have 23 homes, some of which are currently let out under the old rent system, whose tenants will be maintained by the British real estate company.

To give continuity to its business in Spain, Grosvenor will allocate more than €200 million to purchases, together with the Malaysian group Amprop, with which it has created a joint venture in the country. The group’s objective is to double its asset portfolio between now and 2022, according to James Raynor, CEO of Grosvenor, speaking to Eje Prime in an interview.

Grosvenor’s most ambitious plans in Spain include new purchases. The group, which has an office in Madrid and employs eight people in the country, has increased its investment capacity through its joint venture company with Amprop, created last year to build luxury apartments in Madrid, to €200 million.

The objective of the alliance with Amcorp is to back value-added investments, whereby assuming the associated risk but also receiving higher returns. The two groups have allocated a budget of €70 million for these types of projects, although they have reviewed the numbers thanks to the opportunities on offer in the Spanish market.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Christie & Co: Europe is Still the World’s Most Visited Region

9 January 2018 – Press Release

Europe was still the most appealing destination and most visited region in the world in 2017, despite some disruptions faced in recent years, according to a report published by Christie & Co.

The report, launched by Christie & Co’s Hotel Consultancy team and entitled ‘European Travel Trends and Hotel Investment Hot Spots’ identifies future investment opportunities in the European hotel market by highlighting areas for increasing the value of visitation in the European market, reviewing the growth opportunities of feeder markets in Europe, analysing issues surrounding accessibility and airport capacity and highlighting which markets are expected to achieve strong RevPAR increases in the coming years making them ideal candidates for investment.

Despite other reports detailing the impact of Brexit, to date, the impact on European tourism remains unseen and Christie & Co predict the general positive outlook for tourism in Europe will translate into increased demand for accommodation. European travellers remain the key source for European destinations with domestic and other European travellers accounting for almost 90% of demand. The established feeder markets including the US, Canada, Japan and Australia continue to generate visitation growth for the European market. India and China are expected to experience healthy GDP growth over the next five years and both have populations over four times the US and affluence continues to rise. Thus, creating tremendous visitation potential for the old continent.

Christie & Co have identified two opportunities for increasing the value of visitation in the European market; firstly, Spain and Greece lag behind Western and Northern Europe in terms of value of visitation per international arrival. Christie & Co sees a real opportunity to boost the value of visitation by improving the quality of the hotel stock. Secondly, there are good branding opportunities across the European market as the hotel stock in the majority of European markets remains currently heavily unbranded and in need of investment.

Airport capacity remains a key challenge as accessibility is one of the key drivers for tourism. Christie & Co have analysed eleven major airports in this report and the findings reveal that seasonality concerns can be mitigated through providing additional flights during the shoulder season, making seasonal destinations more attractive outside of their peak times. If airport capacity is addressed promptly it will create wider development opportunities for hotels and further infrastructure.

Anna Eck, from the hotels consultancy team at Christie & Co comments, “The findings of the report show quite clearly that whilst Europe as a destination remains extremely popular, there is huge opportunity for international brands to grow in the region. Markets such as Iceland, Poland, Demark, Portugal and Sweden provide options for hotel chains whilst Ireland, Spain, Portugal Poland and Sweden would be ideal for opportunistic investors willing to take more risk. These markets are all expected to achieve strong RevPAR increases in the coming years as well as demand growth in excess of supply.”

Carine Bonnejean, Head of Consultancy – Hotels at Christie & Co comments, “We have worked closely with our European colleagues to develop this report and as a pan-European team we are able to offer strategic advice to maximise the potential of our clients’ business and investments. The report finds that certain countries are ideal for different types of investor and we are able to identify which cities in those countries are worth prioritising. Whatever the situation, we help to formulate a strategy to generate the best outcome.”

Original story: Press Release

Edited by: Carmel Drake

Experts Rule Out Risk Of RE Bubble In The Short Term

10 May 2017 – El Confidencial

The fact that the Spanish real estate market is enjoying happier times is more than clear. And all of the players in the sector are aware of the fact: property developers, consultants, construction companies…Nevertheless, the “overheating” that some say is threatening certain segments of the market, is falling well short of a full-blown real estate bubble, for the time being at least. At least that is according to the speakers who participated in the “Real Estate Investment Opportunities” day organised by El Confidencial and Colonial.

Real Estate Market Forum

Indeed, Juan José Brugera, President of Colonial – which is currently evaluating its transformation into a Socimi – stated that the market is “a long way from a bubble. What we are seeing is the launch of projects”. In this sense, he pointed to the German market by way of example. “It is very stable. (…) What you have to do is take a risk and invest. With this stability in terms of value, your investment will be rewarded”.

In his opinion, “a bubble is something else. It is an excessive value, but, one of the characteristics of the European property sector is that financing is very tight in terms of size and type. I don’t see a bubble, what I see is a more professional management of the assets, where the ability to generate value is what will determine prices, provided the markets are not affected by global circumstances”.

The CEO of the consultancy firm JLL in Spain, Enrique Losantos, also rules out the risk of a bubble. “Given current prices, you could be forgiven for thinking that the market is overheating, but the fact is, there is still a long way to go, especially for those investors who know how to extract value from the portfolios of assets that are coming onto the market and which should be invested in and managed to adapt them to the demands of the current market. These players will be able to obtain returns, even in the double digits (…)”.

Who will control the large rental stock?

Meanwhile, Ignacio de la Torre, Chief Economist at Arcano, said that “there is not a bubble at the moment, but if we continue at this rate, there will be one”, especially in the residential market. He highlighted the significant interest that certain assets have sparked in Spain, such as, for example, rental homes, especially amongst institutional investors. “When everything was clogged up, it seemed like Spain was going to go bankrupt, but then investors with large risk appetites entered the market to inject liquidity and the economy started to work again. Now, those hedge funds are starting to recycle the assets they bought and as the market for rental homes increases, so institutional investors are entering the segment, which is what is happening in other countries too. In the future, insurance companies and pension funds are expected to become the owners of the large stock of rental housing in Spain. (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Solvia: 71% Of Spaniards Think Now Is A “Good Time” To Buy A Home

19 April 2017 – El Mundo

71% of Spaniards think that now is a “good time” to buy a home, according to a study conducted by Solvia, a subsidiary of Banco Sabadell, and the research institute Kantar TNS, which have prepared a real estate confidence index to quantify the perception and expectations of Spaniards regarding buying a home.

According to the results of the index, which ranges between values of zero (for the most unfavourable perceptions) to 200 (for the most favourable), the situation in terms of real estate confidence amongst Spaniards is “positive”, since the index value currently stands at 112. The index, which has been prepared on the basis of interviews with 1,000 people, reveals that 71% of those surveyed believe that, in general, now is a “good time” to buy a home. The report’s authors highlight the following main arguments as justification for respondents’ answers: “the decrease in prices that the housing market has seen; the notion that buying is a good investment; and the fact that the market is currently offering some genuine opportunities”.

By contrast, the study adds that the interviewees’ perception changes when they are asked about their personal circumstances. In this sense, 61% of Spaniards consider that from their own individual perspective, now is a “bad time” to buy a home.

In this regard, employment conditions and the limited capacity to save, with the consequent difficulties involved in accessing financing, explain the negative perception held by Spaniards when it comes to acquiring a home now. Nevertheless, the people interviewed hope that, within two years, they will be in a better position financially to buy a home, thanks to improvements in their employment conditions.

In terms of the evolution of house prices over the last year, 35% of Spaniards think that prices have risen, compared with 43% who believe that house prices have remained stable and 22% who consider that they have decreased.

Finally, buying a home is the option that the majority of those interviewed (55% of the total) would recommend to family and friends thinking about their primary residence.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

Hines Acquires c/Preciados 13 & c/Maestro Victoria 5 In Madrid

13 March 2017 – Mis Oficinas

The Baraka Group, the former owner, will manage and market the property until the renovation project is completed.

Aguirre Newman has advised Hines on the purchase of the adjoining buildings on Calles Preciados 13 and Maestro Victoria 5 in Madrid, from the Baraka Group. The future plans for the property involve the development of a 5,000 m2 flagship store, which will be managed and marketed by the Baraka Group until it is handed over (most likely in 2018).

It is the second operation between Hines and the Baraka Group that Aguirre Newman has advised and it may be considered to be the most ambitious and representative development on Calle Preciados, given that it will house a large store with a surface area of more than 5,000 m2 spread over several floors.

In fact, according to Aguirre Newman, this operation will be one of the most representative of the year on the high street in terms of volume and representativity, given that, although investor appetite to invest in retail premises is high, few opportunities arise to acquire assets with similar characteristics.

Calle Preciados is still the most expensive street in Spain, although prices there are still well below those charged in the prime areas of London, Paris and Milan.

For Aguirre Newman, the imminent developments in Canalejas and Edificio España have already become a reality and are changing the central area of Madrid. The strong tourism figures, as well as the future retail and hotel projects that are going to be developed in the area, are attracting international brands and investment funds, seduced by what is expected to be the great transformation of the central area of Madrid, which began with the commercial development of Gran Vía and is now moving along the Canalejas-Sol-Plaza España axis.

Retail groups’ interest in positioning themselves in the centre of the city also extends to adjacent streets such as Montera and Arenal, according to the real estate consultancy Aguirre Newman.

Original story: Mis Oficinas 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Merlin Consolidates Assets Following Merger With Metrovacesa

21 October 2016 – Expansión

Merlin Properties is entering a new phase. After completing the merger with Metrovacesa, the Socimi wants to initiate a new phase of asset consolidation. “Our goal is to not grow any larger”, said Ismael Clemente (pictured above), Chairman of the firm, speaking yesterday at the Barcelona Meeting Point real estate fair, which is being held from 19-23 October in the Catalan capital.

This new phase is looking for a soft landing following the merger with Metrovacesa. The primary objective of this process is to increase the value of the assets in Merlin’s portfolio. To this end, capital investments will be made in offices and in other assets owned by the Socimi.

Clemente also confirmed that 75% of Merlin’s offices are more than 10 years old and that the consolidation will be based on improving these spaces, in accordance with the new upwards cycle in the sector, which is leading to price rises and improved facilities. The recovery in the value of offices, above all in Madrid and Barcelona, is “just in its first phase”, said Clemente.

The Director said he was confident in the opportunities being offered in this segment compared with the situation in other European markets – such as the German, French and British markets – where prices are more mature. Even so, the Chairman of Merlin thinks that Spain is still a secondary country within the European real estate sector, given the insufficient legal security here and the lower presence of overseas investment compared with other markets across the Continent.

The merger with Metrovacesa is expected to be definitively formalised this month, following the payment of a €60 million dividend on 25 October, which was approved in a Board Meeting held last Wednesday.

Clemente regards the logistics sector as one of the best positioned in terms of investment following the downturn it suffered during the economic crisis. “Historically, the logistics sector has been undeveloped in Spain”, said the Chairman of Merlin.

Nevertheless, the recovery and development of online commerce is allowing the logistics sector to return to pre-crisis levels. Merlin considers that there are few investment opportunities left in the shopping centre segment and that only shopping macro-complexes, with flexible legislation, will offer the right conditions for investment.

Meanwhile, Clemente said that the disputes over forming the new government, and the nationalist tensions “have both gone too far”.

The merger with Metrovacesa will turn Merlin into the largest real estate company in Spain, with assets worth more than €9,000 million. The Socimi generated profits of €211 million during the first half of the year, up by 77% compared with the same period in 2015.

Original story: Expansión (by Eric Galián)

Translation: Carmel Drake

JLL & IESE: Investors Are Willing To Take On More RE Risk

30 March 2016 – Expansión

The increase in liquidity, accompanied by the lack of profitability of alternative assets – such as the bond market – and the volatility of world stock markets all mean that the real estate sector is regarded as a very attractive option for investors. This trend, which was first glimpsed last year, will be maintained in 2016, but there will also be a step up in terms of the risk curve this year. That is one of the main conclusions emerging from a report prepared by the consultancy firm JLL and the business school IESE, on the basis of interviews with 101 investors in the sector, both domestic and international.

More yields / Most investors are looking for value added opportunities in light of the scarcity of prime assets.

The study indicates that the lack opportunities to add value in prime areas and the increase in funding means that investors are willing to take on more risk in their operations in the real estate market, although they continue to analyse the feasibility of these assets and check that they are financeable, given that capital continues to be selective.

In this way, investors have expanded their radars to other less exclusive areas and to buildings that need renovating. One example of how investors are willing to take on more risk with their operations is the purchase, in July 2015, of Telefónica’s former headquarters on Calle Ríos Rosas (Madrid) for €90 million by the institutional investors M&G. The building will be completely renovated and its tenant will be WPP, the multi-national media agency and marketing group.

Similarly, the report detects interest for alternative investments, such as student halls and health centres, as well as an increase in rental prices.

Asset values are on the rise

Following a record year in the commercial real estate market, with investment of €9,200 million, 89% of investors expressed a “high” or “very high” interest in the Spanish market, compared with 10% who expressed a “low” level of interest. In addition, 60% of the investors surveyed consider that the value (of assets) will continue to grow for another 18 months, at least.

The responses to the survey reveal that the typical investment in the commercial real estate market falls in the range of €30 million to €100 million, with a gearing level of between 50% and 60%. The average investment time horizon is less than five years, with an initial yield of between 5% and 7% and an IRR of between 8% and 14%. Offices in Madrid and Barcelona, logistics warehouses and shopping centres are the business segments in most demand. They are followed by retail premises on main streets and hotels, whilst the assets generating the least interest are residential properties and land.

Looking ahead to the future, investors remain alert to Spain’s political situation. The investors surveyed consider that the political uncertainty at home may slow down the upwards cycle seen over the last few years and they express concern regarding the possibility that some local governments, such as the one in Barcelona, are not granting them the permits they need.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Domo Socimi: An Example Of The Boom In Residential Business

11 February 2016 – Expansion

An example of the boom in residential business and new opportunities offered by the development and promotion of housing is Domo Socimi. This company, incorporated in June 2015, is presented as the first in Spain that creates value by offering investors the opportunity to participate and capture the profitability of the entire real estate cycle from the purchase of land, through construction, rental and the subsequent sale. Domo Socimi, with a goal of attracting 50 million initial capital and planned increases up to 250 million, plans to apply for incorporation to the Alternative Investment Market (MAB, in its Spanish acronym) during the first half to provide liquidity for investment. Armabex acts as global coordinator of the transaction and registered advisor for its incorporation to the stock market.

Original story: Expansion

Translation: Aura Ree

Deutsche Bank Advises Investors To Buy Spanish RE

17 September 2015 – Cinco Días

Foreign capital is no longer frightened of Spanish real estate. In a report published yesterday by Deutsche Bank, the German financial institution recommends investors to take positions in real estate assets in our country.

“Over the next five years, we expect Spain to be one of the best performing markets in Europe”, says the report.

In fact, the Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management division – which has prepared the document – advises investors to take positions in Southern Europe in general, lead by the growth in Spain. It calls on investors to acquire more weight in investments in offices, commercial premises in prime areas and in logistics assets in our country. By contrast, it recommends an exit from London.

Amongst its reasons, the entity explains that following the reductions in returns in recent years, a sustained recovery in terms of rental income has started to materialise in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona.

The bank says that taking positions by acquiring assets, renting them out and promoting them in the heart of both cities will create value, above all, taking into account the fact that high quality assets in the centres of Madrid and Barcelona are in short supply. In fact, it highlights that these two cities offer the highest returns, ahead of Frankfurt, Munich, Milan and the La Défense district in Paris. The entity also points to opportunities in the central locations of smaller Spanish cities such as Valencia and Bilbao.

The economy as the driving force

Amongst the various factors at work in the Spanish market, the firm highlights the strong growth of the economy and the creation of jobs, which are both driving demand.

It also highlights the increase in the occupancy rates of offices in Madrid and Barcelona; available space is becoming increasingly scarce. Furthermore, rental prices are increasing in the most prime locations and it expects this trend to last for the next five years. Similarly, it states that investment volumes are returning to pre-crisis levels.

Original story: Cinco Días (by A. Simón)

Translation: Carmel Drake