Spain’s Government to Overhaul Regulations Governing Socimis

3 January 2020 The two parties in Spain’s governing coalition, PSOE and Unidas Podemos, have reached an agreement to overhaul the legal and tax frameworks that regulate socimis in the country. The principal effect will be to implement a 15% tax on retained earnings.

The government will also seek to implement measures to contain what it sees as abusive increases in rental prices in specific areas of the country. Spain’s autonomous regions and municipalities will henceforth have the power to impose ceilings on price increases based on an objective methodology, which will be determined at a later date.

The two parties also agreed to establish a legal framework to create a database of vacant housing and major property holders. Local governments will be able to use the information to induce such holders to put their properties on the rental market to relieve demand pressure.

Los dos partidos en la coalición gobernante de España, PSOE y Unidas Podemos, han llegado a un acuerdo para revisar el régimen jurídico y fiscal que regula a los socimis en el país. El efecto principal será implementar un impuesto del 15% sobre los beneficios no distribuidos.

El gobierno también buscará implementar medidas para contener lo que ve como aumentos abusivos en los precios de alquiler en áreas específicas del país. Las regiones autónomos y municipios de España tendrán en adelante el poder de imponer límites a los aumentos de precios basados en una metodología objetiva, que se determinará en una fecha posterior.

Las dos partes también acordaron establecer un régimen legal para crear una base de datos de viviendas vacantes y los principales propietarios en el país. Los gobiernos locales podrán utilizar la información para inducir a dichos titulares a poner sus propiedades en el mercado de alquiler para aliviar la presión de la demanda.

Original Story: Eje Prime

Translation/Summary: Richard D. Turner

Centricus Still Leads Race to Acquire Haya Real Estate

10 December 2019 – The potential sale of the real estate asset manager Haya Real Estate is firming up as the new Spanish government coalition has made reassuring statements regarding the sale and the sector. After the elections on November 10, the left-leaning political parties PSOE and Unidos Podemos signed a pre-agreement to form a government. Market watchers feared that the new government would look unkindly at the sale.

Centricus is currently leading the race to acquire Haya, though DoBank, Intrum and Centerbridge are still seen to be in contention. Cerberus, which owns Haya Real Estate, is looking to finalise the deal by the end of the year.

The US firm’s sale of the servicer has suffered a serious of reversals.  Cerberus initially looked to list the firm on the Spanish stock market with a preliminary valuation of €1.3 billion. In March, the listing was cancelled due to doubts regarding Haya’s asset management contract with Sareb, and the price lowered to €1,2 billion.

Bids for Haya’s €42.431-billion portfolio are currently said to range between 600 and 700 million euros.

Original Story: Cinco Diás

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

 

Madrid Budgets €21 Million to Buy Land for Public Use

3 December 2019 – The political parties PP and Cs’ new budget for the Madrid City Council’s includes €21 million to acquire new land for additional housing and other public needs. The budget increases the Municipal Housing and Land Company’s budget by 16.19% to 180 million euros.

These new lands would consist of new facilities around the airport, a new residence for senior citizens in Puente de Valleca. The municipal company would also acquire land in Campo de las Naciones to add to the Metropolitan Forest.

Original Story: La Vanguardia

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Podemos Pushes Increased Social Housing in Pact with PSOE

18 November 2019 – Podemos, the left-wing populist political party led by the political scientist Pablo Iglesias, signed a pre-agreement with the PSOE to create a governing coalition. The accord includes topics that the party, which was created in 2014, has espoused throughout its short life. One of the ten points included in the platform is a constitutional right to housing. Iglesias added that his party had not agreed to enter into a coalition with the centre-left PSOE because they were unable to agree on the subject beforehand.

Podemos is now looking to create a right to housing as a basis of the country’s constitution, with legal guarantees. Some of the proposed measures would directly affect the rental market, with indefinite rental contracts, with transparent grounds for justified termination and automatic extensions where the tenant is especially vulnerable and the landlord a large property owner. The party also supports increasing the stock of social housing by 50,000 flats per year through the compulsory transfer of empty homes held by funds, banks and Sareb, for example, for use in the rental market.

The announcement led to share declines for some of the largest Spanish socimis, including Merlin and Colonial.

Original Story: El Confidencial – Ruth Ugalde

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Bilbao-Based Kategora Acquires Office Building in Valencia for Conversion into Apart-Hotel

16 August 2019

The Basque investment firm Kategora has acquired the building that houses the headquarters of Valencia’s PSPV party from the Valencian families Nebot Oyanguren and Pascual. The new owners have given the socialist political party and other tenants one year to vacate the property, which Kategora plans on converting into an aparthotel.

The building, located at Avenida Oeste, 28, in Valencia, is an office building whose owners opted to sell a few months ago. While the building has a market value of 25 million euros, the parties declined to reveal the negotiated sales price. The socialists already had to leave their historic headquarters on Calle Blanquerías de València after having sold it to the Valencian chain Myr Hoteles for 5.8 million euros.

Kategora, which was founded in the Basque Country thirteen years ago by Kepa Apraiz, manage an €80-million portfolio of properties. Its assets include residential properties, tourist apartments and student residences.

Original Story: Levante-EMV – Ramón Ferrando

Photo: E. Ripoll

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Madrid’s Partido Popular Opens Door to Private Hospital in Torrejón de Ardoz

16 August 2019

A second hospital will be built in Torrejón de Ardoz, a 130,000-inhabitant satellite city of Madrid, after the city’s government, currently dominated by the Partido Popular (PP), approved a proposal by Quirónsalud. The council has offered to rent a 16,000-square-meter plot of land to the firm for 625,000 euros per year, for a sixty year period.

The new private hospital will be placed across a roundabout from an existing public hospital, which is managed by a rival firm, Ribera Salud. Quirónsalud had initially planned on building the centre on a private plot of land in Alcalá de Henares.

The regional and municipal governments, both controlled by the PP, had to implement ad hoc changes in zoning regulations that, in the end, convinced the company to modify its project and move it to Torrejón de Ardoz.

Original Story: El Diário – Sofía Pérez Mendoza

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

Congress Agrees that the Banks will Pay All Mortgage Costs, Except the Appraisal

13 November 2018 – Expansión

The political parties today agreed by majority that the new Mortgage Law will establish that notary expenses linked to the signing of mortgages will be paid by the banks and that the appraisal costs will be paid by customers.

Moreover, the notaries will carry out a questionnaire with each borrower to ensure that he/she understands all of the clauses in the mortgage contract, at no additional cost.

The Mortgage Law was presented again today at the Congress’s Economy Committee after the Government approved a royal decree law which stipulates that the Documentation Registration Tax (AJD) will be paid by the banks and not by customers.

The new Mortgage Law reflects that decision and makes it clear that the financial institution will pay for the first copy of the notary deeds; the customer will cover the cost of any copies he/she requests. Meanwhile, the registry costs will also be paid for by the bank; and the borrower will pay the appraisal expenses since he/she will be able to choose the appraisal company freely.

Nevertheless, several other important issues still need to be agreed, such as those relating to early repayment fees, late payment interest and the early termination clause of mortgages and which allows the foreclosure of homes depending on the debt that has been acquired by the borrowers (…).

On the other hand, the political parties will also have to decide about the entry into force of the new standards, given that the financial sector is asking for a margin of 6 months versus the 15 days that the draft bill is proposing.

The Mortgage Law, which is a transposition of a European directive, seeks to provide greater protection for consumers and promote transparency in the granting of mortgages, which is why the political parties have agreed that appraisal companies can be independent physical persons or legal entities (…).

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

El Ingenio to Invest €6MM in Renovations, Creating 120 Direct Jobs

4 October 2018

Salsa Real Estate plans on expanding the shopping centre by just over 4,800 square meters to modernise its facilities in an attempt to respond to the growth of online sales.

The El Ingenio shopping centre, owned by Salsa Inmobiliaria, which is a benchmark in the region, visited by more than nine million people a year, has set itself the goal of remodelling its facilities after 18 years in operation. The goal is to purpose is to modernise the facilities to face growing competition from online sales and to increase its current size by more than 4,800 square meters (10% of its current surface area) to attract new brands and consolidate existing ones.

The project will involve an investment of approximately six million euros, which will create 120 direct jobs. According to the shopping centre’s director, Leonardo Galdeano, El Ingenio is currently the largest private employer in the region with more than 700 direct employees and about 500 indirect employees. “We want to adapt to the current reality of the market. Online sales are growing by 20% per year and are considered the main enemy of trade and employment. We intend to provide new experiences for our customers, creating new leisure areas and circuits and continuing to generate wealth in Axarquía,” Mr Galdeano said.

According to Salsa Inmobiliaria, the idea is to prepare El Ingenio for the future, offering a newer and more satisfying shopping experience and incorporating complementary activities that attract people from both inside and outside the region.

In this sense, Mr Galdeano stated that half of the people who visit the shopping centre every year (4.5 million) come from outside Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar, creating synergies and providing a major boost to the local economy, as those visitors also tend to interact with other areas of the city.

“This is a firm commitment towards sustainable economic growth and to continue generating employment based on people, local commerce and innovation,” Salsa announced.

With the planned six-million-euro investment, the company’s goal is to carry out a thorough modernisation of the mall, which will allow the centre to accommodate new establishments and build the necessary extensions to existing stores. According to Mr Galdeano, “the world leader Inditex, owner of Zara, closed 99 stores last year that did not comply with their new requirement for surface areas and modernisation.”

The city council is currently processing a modification to elements of the General Land-Use Plan (PGOU) to allow the centre to increase its commercial area by 4,860 square meters, occupying mainly two areas in the immediate region, the first next to the service station, and at the opposite end, at the main entrance, where one of the centre’s chimneys is located. The matter, ruled on by the Urbanism informative commission, was approved by the representatives of the PSOE, while the rest of the political groups, PP, PA, GIPMTM, IU and the non-attached mayor, abstained.

The mayor, Antonio Moreno, explained that his group is gathering the necessary information on the project to inform the political groups and the merchant’s associations of Vélez and Torre del Mar, which have come out against the project. Salsa Inmobiliaria has set itself the goal of completing the renovation by 2020, the shopping centre’s 20th anniversary.

Original Story: Diário Sur – Agustín Peláez

Photo: A. Peláez

Translation: Richard Turner

Euskadi Will Be Allowed to Expropriate Homes That Remain Uninhabited for More Than Two Years

2 October 2018

The Constitutional Court endorsed fundamental aspects of the Basque housing law that the PP government appealed in 2016.

The Constitutional Court (TC) has endorsed the ability of the Basque Government (Euskadi) and regional municipalities to proceed with the forced expropriation of homes that remain uninhabited for a period of more than two years without just cause and are located in areas where there is a proven demand for public or social housing. The institutions will have the power to place the properties on the social housing rental market when a need is found in the areas they are located.

“This does not mean that the Government or the municipalities are going to move ahead with a wave of expropriations,” the Basque housing councillor, socialist Iñaki Arriola, stressed. The pronouncement by Spain’s highest court let a decree stand that would permit the forced rental of homes in areas that have remained unoccupied for an extended period and where there is an elevated demand for social housing. It is, said Arriola, a “balance between policies incentivising social housing and punitive measures in the case where properties, such as housing, are not adequately put to use.”

The latest census of empty and uninhabited homes in the Basque territory will be made public tomorrow by the councillor, who has so far declined to cite the figure. The previous report, with data for 2015, noted that there were 86,325 empty dwellings (8.3% of all Basque households). Of these, almost a third (32%) were used as seasonal housing, and the remaining 68% were classified as unoccupied. Of the 58,697 unoccupied homes, more than half (35,647) were not on the market to rent or sell.

Homes will not be considered unoccupied when they are second homes and when their inhabitants are temporarily absent due to relocations stemming for work, health, dependency and social emergency reasons that justify the absence, Arriola said. Before declaring a dwelling unoccupied, the relevant institution must open a file, summon the owners for a hearing and later determine whether the situation merits forcibly placing the property on the social housing market through a temporary expropriation.

The Government of the PP appealed the Basque Housing Law in 2016 before the Constitutional Court, requesting that the court rule that several of the law’s precepts exceeded the regional government’s powers and encroached on the powers of the Spanish state. The Basque law, which establishes the subjective right to dispose of a home, was approved in June 2015 on the initiative of the PSE with the support of EH Bildu and UPyD. The PNV and the PP voted against the measure.

The last census stated that there are 58,697 uninhabited homes in Euskadi, the Basque territory

The appeal by Rajoy’s government was based on the fact that the Basque legislation imposes a new form of regulatory oversight on the right to own property, stating that ownership brings with it the duty to inhabit the residence. The State Attorney challenged 13 articles and several sections, most of which refer to the definition of uninhabited housing and the regional government’s tools for dealing with those unoccupied households and which are considering to be in contravention of their social function as established by law.

Councillor Arriola stated that the TC’s ruling validates “without any restriction” the ability of Basque institutions to intervene with unoccupied dwellings that “do not fulfil a social function.” The regulations give the Basque Government and municipalities the ability to determine when a house is considered to be uninhabited and provides those institutions with the instruments “to encourage their occupation or penalise their lack of use.”

The Minister of Housing approved of the court’s ruling which, in his opinion, grants the Basque government the “full jurisdiction” to regulate the sector with legal certainty. The court, however, also ruled that the article granting financial institutions, their real estate subsidiaries and asset management entities the ability to subject property owners to forced expropriation for the temporary use of dwellings subject to eviction proceedings for foreclosure is unconstitutional.

Original Story: El País – Mikel Ormazabal

Photo: Luis Sevillano

Translation: Richard Turner

Socimis: Spain’s Political Uncertainty Is Starting To Affect Investors

29 May 2015 – El Economista

The sector is hoping that the fear will pass and the uncertainty will come to an end soon.

Just two weeks ago, the real estate sector claimed that the emergence of new political parties in Spain would not affect the volume of investment. However, that perception has changed following the recent elections.

The current political uncertainty is palpable and the players in the sector fear that investment in property is stalling. The main Spanish Socimis are already detecting reluctance from investors, based on the views they shared at a forum organised by Deloitte. Moreover, the CEO of Merlín, Ismael Clemente, warned yesterday that companies issuing bonds will do so in poorer conditions from now on.

The fears

According to sources consulted by this newspaper, the sector fears that funds “will suspend the plans they had for Spain until after the general election”, or that they will have a complete change of heart and choose to focus on other markets.

Nevertheless, there is another side to the coin and that is that the funds may play their cards so as to push down prices  in the face of so much “uncertainty”. That is the word that has been repeated time and again in the sector over the last few days, but everyone is hoping that the “fear will soon pass”.

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake