Spanish Real Estate Sector Strong Despite Political Risk

9 October 2019 By the end of this year, Spain will have had four elections in as many years. While it doesn’t reach anywhere near the level of Italy, which has had 45 governments since World War II, the uncertainty would normally be expected to impact growth.  In addition, Catalunya’s independence movement did, in fact, have a temporary, but major impact on growth in Barcelona.

Nevertheless, market sources say that major real estate players have learned to live with some level of political risk.  And things are not just complicated in Spain.  The United Kingdom is going through the long, drawn-out and self-inflicted trauma of Brexit. Italy is still having its usual political problems and the United States are going through the never-ending turbulence of having Donald Trump as their president.

Spain, in terms of economic and legal stability, is still seen as a relatively safe harbour, especially, since all of the main Spanish political parties are committed to remaining in the eurozone.

Original Story: Cinco Dias – Alfonso Simón Ruiz

Adaptation/Translation: Richard D. K. Turner

PwC: Madrid Is One Of Europe’s Top 5 Most Attractive Cities For RE Investment

13 November 2017 – Eje Prime

Madrid is really winning over European investors. The Spanish capital is one of the top five cities to invest in over the course of the next year, as recommended by the consultancy firm PwC, according to its annual study Emerging Trends in Real Estate: Europe 2018. Whilst Madrid rose from 9th to 5th position, Barcelona managed to avoid the tense political situation in Cataluña to rise from 16th to 11th.

One of the reasons that led the consultancy firm to highlight Madrid as a safe house for real estate investment over the next year is its office market, which “after a cycle of compression”, has seen an increase in rental prices in the segment. “The increase in office rental prices suggests that Madrid is one of the most attractive opportunities for investors in Europe”, say sources at PwC.

With the (national) political uncertainty now “dissipated”, the recovery across Spain and, specifically, in Madrid is progressing “at full speed”. Real estate investment volumes in 2017 are on track to exceed records, especially in segments such as retail, where investment in this kind of asset is expected to soar by the end of the year, to exceed €4,000 million. Moreover, Madrid is also starring in alternative investment operations, such as those involving Resa and Nexo in the student hall segment, and the opening of the first Spanish WeWork office in Madrid, in the co-working sector.

During the 9 months to September, Spain closed transactions worth €10,300 million, according to a study compiled by the main real estate consultancy firms in Spain. In the third quarter alone, investment in real estate assets amounted to €3,000 million (…).

Offices remained the second most popular asset by investment volume (accounting for 24% of the total investment volume in Spain). Investors tend to focus on Madrid and Barcelona in this segment, with the two cities accounting for 90% of total office investment (…).

Logistics assets are also sparking a great deal of interest, especially warehouses located in Madrid and Barcelona. The volume of investment in these types of assets has not stopped growing since 2012 and so far this year, investment has reached €811 million, up by €100 million compared to 2016 as a whole (…).

Barcelona rises but misses out on Top 10 place

Outside the top ten by one position, Barcelona is nevertheless above average for the European cities recommended by PwC for investment. After rising several places from 16th to 11th in the ranking, the Catalan capital has caused alarm bells to ring due to the political situation, which has led some funds to put their real estate investments in the autonomous region on standby.

PwC says that, although there is a certain degree of concern, after interviewing a large number of investors for the preparation of its report, it concludes that no one is going to stop taking Barcelona into account for their real estate investments. “Investors are applying almost zero political risk, given that they do not believe that Cataluña is going to become independent”, said one of the main directors of a Spanish real estate business to the consultancy firm (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by C. Pareja)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Fitch: Banks Selling Foreclosed Homes With Discounts Of 67%

14 October 2015 – Expansión

Banks are now selling homes with an average discount of 67% of the value they had before they were foreclosed. This data, which relates to the first half of the year, represents a historical record, according to a report that Fitch will publish today, to which Expansión has had access.

“The depreciation of properties sold after they have been foreclosed is high, at around 67% of the initial valuation”, says the credit ratings agency.

Given this reality, Fitch believes that the recovery of the residential sector has not yet affected the market for houses sold by banks, and that “it is unlikely that it will benefit” from this improvement in the real estate market “in the short or medium term”, according to the report, prepared by its analysts Juan David García, Christian Gómez and Beatriz Gómez.

“Unsellable” homes

Fitch emphasises that there is still an enormous stock of “empty and unsellable” homes, above all “in areas that are expected to suffer from the structural imbalances in the Spanish economy for longer”.

“Given their poor locations and conditions, a considerable number of new homes have little hope of securing a buyer”, says the agency, which increases its estimate of the number of unsellable new homes to around “150,000”. That figure represents a quarter of the 600,000 unsold new residential properties in Spain.

Not surprisingly, the agency notes that the recovery in the housing market is happening “at two speeds”, in such a way that the trend will vary. “Whilst the properties in prime locations in city centres will enjoy a gradual recovery – influenced by the improvement in the economic environment and the recovery in credit –, those “problem” properties linked to mortgage foreclosure procedures and those located in peripheral areas with low levels of economic activity, will continue to see price adjustments and high losses” on their valuations.

Political risks

Fitch’s report also warns about the possible negative effect that the new legislation (against vacant homes owned by banks) may have on the value of those properties. Moreover, the associated (political) risk is on the increase”. The analysts cite the case of Cataluña by way of example, where the Generalitat has introduced a new annual fee for homes that have been unoccupied for more than two years without adequate justification.

On the other hand, the agency believes that this will result in “aggressive mortgage foreclosure strategies by creditors looking to get rid of problematic real estate assets from their balance sheets”. And that will also affect the banks, of course.

Finally, Fitch addresses the rising trend in mortgage lending, something that “is driving prices up”. “Mortgage lending is growing at an annualised rate of 20%”, says Fitch, whose analysts think that this increase will continue over the coming months.

The agency expects competition to intensify between lenders, but under no circumstances does it foresee a return to the figures recorded during the real estate boom.

Original story: Expansión (by Juanma Lamet)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Saint Croix Socimi To Debut On The MARF

1 October 2015 – Expansión

The Socimi Sainx Croix, owned by the Colomer family, registered its first fixed income program yesterday, for up to €80 million on the Alternative Fixed Income Market (‘Mercado Alternativo de Renta Fija’ or MARF), a financing option launched by the Government in 2013 to facilitate SMEs’ access to capital markets. In this way, Saint Croix became the first Socimi to turn to this market in search of financing.

According to a statement by the BME yesterday, Saint Croix plans to allocate the funds that it will raise through this bond issue to the acquisition of new assets and the maintenance of existing assets in its current portfolio.

Renta 4 coordinated the management and structuring of the plan and will act as the underwriter for the bond issues that are carried out. Axesor Ratings has assigned the issuer a BBB rating with a stable outlook, in other words, it is classified it as investment grade. Ramón y Cajal Abogados was engaged to provide legal advice for the design and registration of the program.

Saint Croix Holding, which relocated its headquarters to Luxembourg from Spain in 2014, owns 150,000 m2 of rentable space, with a total value of €284 million as at 30 June 2015. Its assets include several hotels, located in Huelva and Madrid, as well as the headquarters of CLH. The Socimi’s owners, the Colomer family, also own the real estate company Pryconsa.

The Socimi has included an explicit warning to investors in the bond issue brochure, about the political risks in Spain, making a clear reference to Cataluña (see page 32).

MARF

This  is a new debut for the MARF. In total, according to data from the BME, thirteen companies have decided to issue bonds through this market. Copasa, Pikolin, Tecnocom and Barceló are a few of the companies that have already successfully launched operations on this market.

Original story: Expansión (by D.B., M.S. and R.R.)

Translation: Carmel Drake