4 May 2018 – El Mundo
House sales are on the rise, as are house prices and rentals. Mortgages are also continuing their upward trend. Moreover, the resurgence of real estate activity is now a reality that can be seen in the increase in the number of new construction and real estate companies.
A recent report published by Gedesco, a firm specialising in financing for companies, says that one in four of the businesses created in Spain during the first quarter of 2018 belonged to the construction or property development sectors.
That represented a volume of almost 6,000 companies, 1.75% more than during the same quarter in 2017. With respect to the last three months of last year, the increase amounts to 21.9%.
Some good news to help us try to forget the fact that 142,576 construction companies disappeared between 2008 and January 2017 – both building firms and property developers -, according to the latest data from Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE).
In eight years, the sector went from having almost 360,000 companies to having just 216,987, a reduction of 39%. If we take the look at real estate companies, there were 106,375 in 2008, whereas there were just 67,812 by 2017, almost half.
The data compiled by INE reveals another interesting fact: the construction companies that had more than 5,000 employees in 2008 have disappeared. Although there were actually only three (including building firms and property developers), by 2017, there were just nine companies with 500 or more workers.
Names such as Martinsa Fadesa – created by the businessman Fernando Martín-, Astroc (chaired by Enrique Bañuelos) and Nozar went into the history books of the Spanish real estate sector, after failing to survive the impact of the recession.
Now, the outlook for the sector is looking healthy, in line with the increase in construction activity, which last year recorded a 28.9% increase in new build permits, to 80,786. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Development, corresponding to the first two months of this year, new home permits rose by 17.4% to 8,035 in February. Estimates in the sector indicate an output of 150,000 homes p.a. for the next few years.
For Elisa Valero, Marketing Director at Gedesco, “the construction sector is back in business”. Nevertheless, the director adds that “the creation of businesses has never gone away, if we look back a few years, the property developers were still there, but the volume of business creation was much lower”.
Whereas 5,000 companies are now being created, in 2011 – at the height of the crisis – just 2,000 were being constituted (…).
Another report published in recent weeks by the College of Registrars in Spain also shows that real estate activity in the country is gaining momentum. In 2017, the weight of construction companies and property developers over the total number of businesses constituted rose to 20%, and the rate of growth in relation to 2016 was 14%.
But, looking beyond the figures and back to specific cases (…) we see, for example, that two of the largest property developers of the current cycle were created less than three years ago. The firms in question: Neinor Homes and Aedas, which were created in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
The origins of Vía Célere, another of the important property developers these days, dates back to 2007, at the height of the crisis. The firm emerged after Juan Antonio Gómez-Pintado sold the company that he had chaired, Agofer, and created Vía Célere.
In all three cases, the presence of funds in the shareholding of the companies has stimulated their rates of investment to purchase land on which to build new homes.
On the list of property developers that have been created recently, highlights include Kronos Homes, Stoneweg and Q21 Real Estate.
There is another noteworthy name on the current panorama, which, although it cannot be considered a new company, is a clear example of the resurgence of a business after the crisis. The company in question is Metrovacesa. Following a facelift by its creditor banks, it returned to the stock market at the beginning of this year, after abandoning it in 2013.
The firm, controlled by BBVA and Santander, stands out since it is the largest landowner in Spain, amongst the listed property developers, with 6.1 million m2 of land spread over the whole country, with the capacity to build 37,500 homes.
Business transformations such as the one involving Metrovacesa were commonplace during the crisis and resulted in the appearance of new players on the real estate stage.
Another illustrative example has been the birth of the so-called servicers. These companies have emerged in recent years from the former real estate subsidiaries of the banks.
Altamira (whose origins are found in Banco Santander), Servihabitat (La Caixa), and Solvia (Banco Sabadell), amongst others, are fulfilling the mission entrusted to them: to take on the bank’s property, enabling them to complete their clean-ups and to divest the assets by taking advantage of the current boom in activity.
The servicers, whose main activity is located in the Community of Madrid, are also responsible for selling the properties of another one of the stars created in recent years: Sareb, commonly known as the bad bank.
In 2018, that company celebrates its 5th birthday, and during its short life, it has taken over the properties of the entities that have been intervened as a result of the bank restructuring (…).
In recent months, Sareb has also started to market its first new build developments constructed on own land that it holds in its portfolio. In addition, last week, it launched a campaign to sell 3,314 homes along the coast, 95% of which will be lived in for the first time by their new owners.
If there is one group of players that stands out above all of the other newly created real estate companies it is the Socimis.
The real estate investment companies started to trade on the Spanish stock exchange in 2012 as a result of a regulatory change introduced by the Government that gave them free reign to do so.
The Socimis Entrecampos and Promorent were the first to make their debuts. Six years on, there are 51 such companies and, according to some estimates, that number may reach 100 in the future. Merlin, Axiare, Hispania, Lar España, Testa and Colonial – the largest by volume – have all been created in the last four years and are now competing with property developers, such as Neinor and Aedas, on the real estate stage and on the stock market.
In April, one of the newest faces, Sareb’s Socimi Témpore, made its debut. In its first month on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB), it has seen its share price appreciate by 3.85%. When it made its stock market debut, the company’s valuation amounted to €152 million (…).
Original story: El Mundo (by María José Gómez-Serranillos)
Translation: Carmel Drake