9 October 2017 – El Periodico
The 10 largest property developers in the country are in a position to start work on the construction of around 20,000 new homes in 2018. That volume of output is possible thanks to the collection of buildable urban land that they have managed to accumulate over the last year. The large Spanish property developers – many of which are owned, at least in part, by investment funds – as well as overseas funds themselves, are competing, at an almost frenetic pace, to acquire plots of land on which they will be able to build without modifying the classification (to residential use).
“Overseas investors are very present in the new Spanish real estate landscape, be it as owners, debt holders, servicers or property developers investing together with other local property developers, both in the renovation of existing buildings and the construction of new ones, as well as in the rental sector and through the constitution of Socimis”, says Samuel Población, Director of Residential and Land at the real estate consultancy firm CBRE. The consultancy indicates that at the end of 2016, the large property developers in Spain owned €8,000 million in assets for construction.
80,000 homes in 2017
The real estate sector is expecting the output of new homes to reach 80,000 units in 2017. That figure is still below the short-term goals. “We should be producing 150,000 homes (per year), although we will not achieve pace that for another three years”, says Juan Velayos, CEO at Neinor Homes, one of the real estate companies – whose main shareholders are investment funds – that has purchased the most land over the last two years. “We set ourselves a land investment target of €380 million for 2017 and 2018, but we have already covered most of that budget this year”, he adds. His firm is currently working on the construction of 5,000 homes in Spain and hopes to achieve a completion rate of 3,500 units per year.
The funds Blackstone, Cerberus, Kennedy Wilson, TPG, Värde Partners and Apollo started to acquired the commercial and management platforms that the banks had created (the servicers) when the real estate sector started to recover in 2013. In parallel, the overseas funds Lone Star, Centerbridge, HMC, Eurostone, Aquila, Oaktree, Castlelake, Värde and Pimco are strongly backing residential development. In this way, they have become the new house builders. And they cannot build if they don’t own land.
The problem is that, for various reasons, the administrations are not producing raw material. “No reclassifications (of land) are being performed, because someone will always get hurt”, says Lluis Marsà, President of the Association of Property Developers and Constructors (APCE). “We do not take the risk of buying non-buildable land that has to be transformed because the production costs are rising, the risk soars”, says Velayos.
Nevertheless, that situation has the benefit that agents in the sector are adjusting output to the maximum in order to maintain returns despite the new quality standards for homes, which are higher than in the past. “One of the positive effects of the profound transformation of the sector, with the arrival of new players, is the greater degree of control over the finances and execution periods that we are seeing”, says Población.
Investors adding value
The profile of funds has evolved quickly from opportunistic to value added (…). The focus of these firms is to acquire plots in areas where demand for housing is high, such as Madrid, País Vasco, Barcelona, the Costa del Sol and the Alicante coast. But during 2017, there has also been a positive recovery in land operations in other large capitals such as Valencia, Zaragoza, Sevilla and Málaga (…).
Original story: El Periodico (by Max Jiménez Botías)
Translation: Carmel Drake