UBS Pays Hines €70M For Zielo Shopping Centre

5 June 2015 – Expansión

The transaction confirms the return of institutional investors to the Spanish market.

International funds are continuing with their commitments in Spain. Whilst the key players in the market were opportunistic funds in 2013 and Socimis in 2014, in recent months, institutional funds, both European and Asian, have burst into the market.

The latest player to make an investment in Spain has been UBS. The Swiss fund management has finalised the purchase of the Zielo Shopping centre, in Pozuelo (Madrid), after several weeks of exclusive negotiations. UBS will pay €70 million for the property to Hines European Value Added Fund, a fund managed by the property developer Hines.

The company invested €100 million in the development of the shopping centre, designed at the height of the property boom, including a loan for €50 million. The property was opened in October 2009 and has a surface area of 50,000 m2, of which 15,555 m2 comprise the retail area.

In the transaction, UBS has been advised by the consultancy firm Knight Frank, whilst CBRE, which also manages the centre, has worked with the vendor. “This transaction shows that prime assets are generating significant interest amongst investors with a more core profile”, explains Gonzalo Senra, Head of Commercial Investments at CBRE.

In 2014, more than €2,000 million was invested in commercial property in Spain, a figure that may be exceeded this year, according to Knight Frank, given that €600 million has already been invested.

Original story: Expansión (by R. Ruiz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Now Is The Time To Invest In Housing

11 May 2015 – Expansión

The real estate sector is taking off / The real estate sector is becoming more attractive for investment purposes. Now is the time to buy, above all in the exclusive neighbourhoods of the large cities and in certain areas along the coast. Renting generates good returns.

Real estate investment is gaining lustre. Increasingly, experts are saying that the market has bottomed out and now is the time to buy.

House prices, which fell by 50% on average from (the heights of) the property boom, are experiencing a clear process of stabilisation and are now showing signs of gains in some places. The valuation company Tinsa highlights that Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Málaga and Burgos are the cities that experienced the highest inter-annual price increases during the first quarter, of between 0.1% and 5.4%. On average, prices rose by 3.3% during the first quarter, according to Sociedad de Tasación, reflecting even more optimistic data.

But beware, the experts warn that although investment opportunities exist, not all investments are good – many homes are still valued above market price. Nevertheless, in the most sought after areas, waiting to buy could be a mistake, since homes will be more expensive and there will be more people interested in making bids for them.

Location is key. The most profitable areas to invest in are the best areas of the large cities, especially Madrid and Barcelona, as well as the most established coastal enclaves, such as the Costa del Sol. For example, the gross annual return on a 100m2 home in a prime area of Madrid is around 5.2%.

The banks have more than 150,000 properties to sell through their websites. The discounts (they are offering) are less aggressive than during the peak of the crisis and there is an extensive supply of holiday homes. The most pronounced reductions are located outside of the premium areas, but homes in those regions are more difficult to monetise.

Rental returns

One of the most recommended strategies at the moment is ‘buy to let’. According to the President of the Foundation for Real Estate Studies, Julio Gil, “buy to let is currently one of the best alternatives for small investors in terms of return and risk”. You can obtain an average return of 4.7%. In the case of retail premises, the return that you can obtain increases to 7%; for offices, it amounts to 6.4%; and for parking spaces, it averages 4.6%, according to a report from Idealista.

These returns are significantly higher than the 1.6% offered by a 10-year Spanish treasury bond. Meanwhile, according to the Bank of Spain, average returns on 12-month deposits are below 0.5%.

One of the elements that reflects the reactivation of the real estate market is mortgage lending. It increased by 1.6% in 2014 to reach 203,000 loans, whereby turning the tables on seven years of decline. The improvement was even more dramatic in February, with an increase of 29.2%. Nevertheless, the figure still falls well below the equilibrium point, which is 450,000 (mortgages) per year, according to Sociedad de Tasación.

The financial institutions are optimistic and say that new credit will increase this year. Analysts at Moody’s ratings agency agree. They consider that the increase in mortgage lending will improve demand in the real estate sector, which in turn may help to increase property prices.

The financial institutions have already launched (campaigns) to secure clients and obtain customer loyalty during this period of recovery. Most of the offers from the banks are variable rate products (mortgages). The best deals have spreads of between 1% and 1.75%. However, it is important not to focus on the differential alone, since in some cases opening and cancelation fees apply, whereas in other cases they do not. Moreover, each entity usually requires a minimum income, which varies from one to another (from between €500 to €5,000 per month). Furthermore, in almost all cases, the banks require borrowers to purchase other products such as insurance and pension plans or (to commit to a minimum) credit card spend. Meanwhile, interest rates on fixed rate mortgages vary from between 2.4% to 5.5%.

Original story: Expansión (by C. Rosique)

Translation: Carmel Drake

House Prices Rose At Fastest Pace In Over Six Years In Q4

9 March 2015 – Reuters

Spanish house prices rose at their fastest pace since the beginning of 2008 at the end of last year, official data showed on Monday, the latest sign that the country’s real estate sector is turning a corner.

House prices rose by 1.8% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, according to the National Statistics Institute, compared to a 0.3% rise a quarter earlier.

Spain’s decade-long property boom went bust in 2008, triggering a prolonged economic downturn and an unprecedented surge in unemployment, which only began to abate in the second half of 2013.

The country’s economic output is expected to grow by as much as 2.5% this year after registering the first noticeable annual expansion for five years in 2014, boosted by growing domestic demand.

As interest returned to the property market, prices rose 0.3% in 2014 from a year earlier, their the first annual rise since 2007 and following a 10.6% drop in 2013.

House prices have fallen by almost 40% since the beginning of the economic crisis.

Original story: Reuters (Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Sarah Morris and Catherine Evans)

Edited by: Carmel Drake