JLL: 47 Halls of Residence for Students are Under Construction in Spain

24 April 2019 – El Confidencial

The student hall sector is on a roll. With almost fifty projects underway (47) and 17,500 new beds to be added to the existing portfolio by 2022, experts forecast total investment of €1 billion in the sector over the next 4 years.

In 2017, investment in the sector amounted to €560 million, ten times higher than the figure recorded in 2016 (€50 million). Last year, the number dropped to €141 million, but according to Nick Wride, Director of Living and Alternatives at JLL Spain, that was “due to a lack of residences in operation available for sale”. Moreover, it was still the highest figure ever recorded excluding corporate transactions – the data in 2017 was impacted by the completion of 2 large corporate deals.

Last year, 18 operations were closed involving the purchase of land or buildings for conversion. 55% of the investment was undertaken in Madrid and Barcelona, with the remaining 45% made in the main regional cities, such as Málaga, Sevilla and Granada. The operators behind the new beds under construction include Nexo, Resa, WPCarey, Invesco, CBRE GI, Axa and GSA, amongst others.

Student halls offer some of the highest yields in the sector: 5.5% in the secondary cities and 5% in Madrid and Barcelona, in line with those generated by nursing homes (5.5%) and logistics assets (5%), but well above those seen in other segments such as retail premises (3.15%), offices (3.50%), residential (3.50%) and hotels (4%).

The reason is the enormous demand that exists for these types of assets. In Spain, almost half a million students need accommodation, but there are currently just 91,000 student beds. The gap is clear, and growing, boosted by an increase in the number of domestic and international students travelling away from home to study. Those not finding student accommodation have to rent in the private market – an informal, heterogeneous, inflexible and potentially expensive option (particularly in Madrid and Barcelona where prices are soaring).

All this makes the market for student accommodation extremely attractive.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Bank of Spain Warns of Mismatch Between Housing Supply and Demand

11 April 2019 – El Confidencial

According to the Bank of Spain, there is a mismatch between the homes that buyers are demanding and those that are available for sale. Indeed, that is one of the main conclusions of the latest report published by the supervisory body entitled the “Recent evolution of the housing market in Spain”.

According to the report, one of the key characteristics of the Spanish property market is its high degree of heterogeneity by region, type of home (new and second-hand) and buyer nationality. “The characteristics of the homes demanded do not necessarily match with the available supply, in certain places, and may differ in terms of size, quality and location”.

In addition, the Bank of Spain warns about the difficulties that young people are facing when it comes to affording a home, as a result of their precarious working conditions. Their situation is further compounded by changes made in recent years regarding tax breaks (the removal of them) for buying a home and the growth of the rental sector.

The Bank’s analysis focuses on Madrid and Barcelona, which are both very close to the peaks of the boom in terms of rental prices. Meanwhile, house prices are currently around their 2006 levels.

Nevertheless, according to the report, it does now seem easier to obtain a mortgage or at least one with more favourable terms for the borrower. Interest rates have decreased and lending periods (mortgage terms) have increased. Approval criteria and general financing conditions have also been relaxed.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E.S.)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

INE: Mortgage Lending Rose by 16.5% YoY to €42.7bn in 2018

27 February 2019 – La Vanguardia

Last year, 345,186 mortgages to purchase homes were signed in Spain, up by 10.3% compared to 2017, but the banks again refrained from fully opening the financing tap: the average loan amount increased by just 5.6% to €123,727, according to data presented on Wednesday by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE).

The growth in the average amount is only slightly higher than the increase in house prices (which rose by 3.9% on average last year, according to data from the Ministry of Development, albeit by much more in the large cities and their metropolitan areas, where the bulk of demand is concentrated). “The banks are adopting a conservative strategy, that’s for sure”, said Oscar Gorgues, Manager of the Chamber of Urban Property in Barcelona – “because they are still very mindful of the excesses of the boom years. For that reason too, we can say that the real estate market is healthy and there is no risk of a bubble”.

The data from INE shows that after five years of recovery in the real estate sector, the number of mortgages granted is still 71% lower than the 1.24 million mortgages granted by the banks in 2007, the last year before the burst of the real estate bubble.

According to real estate firms, the caution on the part of the banks means that the main factor causing families, and especially young people, to rent, is the fact that it is impossible for them to obtain a mortgage loan. By contrast, according to the real estate firm Forcadell, around one third of homes are now purchased without a mortgage, in operations undertaken by investors (…).

According to data from INE, the value of all of the new mortgages constituted to purchase homes last year amounted to €42.7 billion, up by 16.5% compared to 2017, due to the combined effect of increases in the number of operations and the average loan amount (…).

Original story: La Vanguardia (by Rosa Salvador)

Translation: Carmel Drake

House Prices Will Rise by 5%+ in 2019 & Sales Will Grow by 13%

8 January 2019 – Expansión

The normalisation of the market in Madrid and Barcelona will make way for high growth in provincial capitals such as Valencia, Málaga, Palma and Sevilla. Rents will rise by more than 10% in the large capitals and sales could exceed 600,000 units in total.

Housing is going to enter a new phase of the cycle in 2019. After a year of expansion in 2018, with growth brushing the records seen before the crisis, this is going to be the year of consolidation, but also of awakening in the medium-sized capitals.

A panel of experts consulted by Expansión foresees an average price rise of more than 5%, and an increase in the sales volume of between 10% and 13%, which means that house sales may exceed the threshold of 600,000 units. That would make 2019 the seventh consecutive year of improvement in the residential sector after prices decreased by more than 30% during the years of the crisis.

Madrid and Barcelona, which inaugurated the recovery in 2016 and which have been leading the housing charge until now, are going to begin a process of normalisation. The experts agree that moderation will be felt in those two markets in particular. In the case of Barcelona, the political uncertainty, control measures from the Town Hall and price levels reached could lead to corrections in some districts where prices have already peaked.

This year, it will be the new capitals that will lead the growth of the market. The last quarter of 2018 already closed with three revelations: Valencia, Málaga and Tarragona led the increase in sales prices, with rises of more than 15%, according to data from Tinsa. In 2019, the experts are placing their focus on those and other cities, such as Sevilla Alicante, Palma, Bilbao, Murcia and Zaragoza. In the large capitals, price increases will exceed 10%.

The rise in sales prices versus the stagnation of wages will continue to cause demand to increase in the rental market, which will rise by around 7%, and by more than two-digits in the large cities, where price tensions are even greater. The volatility of the financial markets will continue to make rental a very attractive investment option. Nevertheless, the experts warn that the uncertainty regarding the measures approved by the Government in terms of the rental segment could put future investments at risk.

Whether the sector tends towards a plateau or rather moderate growth will depend on factors such as the evolution of the economy, policy changes by the ECB and the measures that the Government decides to introduce.

Original story: Expansión (by Inma Benedito)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Avintia & Gesurbe Boost Locare: €55M & 3 New Projects in Madrid

13 December 2018 – Eje Prime

Locare is searching for its place in the Spanish rental market. The real estate investment manager, in which Grupo Avintia and Gesurbe hold stakes, has launched the development of its first 405 homes in different locations across the Community of Madrid. The combined investment for the projects will exceed €55 million, according to comments made by Andrés Horcajada, founder and CEO of Locare, speaking to Eje Prime.

Specifically, the company is building 171 homes in Torrelodones (which will be finished during the second quarter of 2019), 110 in Villalba and 124 in Móstoles. The last two developments will enter into operation during 2020, following an average construction period of between 12 and 18 months. Together, the plots span a constructed surface area of 37,000 m2.

“We want to end 2019 with 1,100 homes under development, not only in the Community of Madrid, but also in other parts of the country”, explained the executive. Pamplona, Ibiza and Zaragoza are the cities that Locare currently has it its sights for its next projects, with the aim of investing €65 million.

The company, created in 2016, undertakes all of the phases of the real estate cycle, from raising capital to operating assets. Locare also takes care of searching for plots for social housing units, a requirement shared by all of the plots that the manager acquires.

“We do not buy properties that are already constructed, given that for us build to rent is fundamental”, explained Horcajada. The director added that this business model allows “investors to take advantage of the first phases of the real estate cycle and for the resulting product to be designed specifically for the rental market”.

Tectum is Locare’s ally 

Locare has teamed up with the capital manager Tectum Real Estate to attract investors to finance its projects. “Tectum allows us to group together Spanish family offices primarily and it is the company through which we relate directly with them and we deal with their demands”, explained the CEO of the company.

Besides Tectum, the company led by Horcajada also collaborates with the construction firm Avintia as an industrial partner, although the director explains that they do not have an exclusive contract with them when it comes to carrying out construction projects.

On the other hand, Locare has launched new technology into the world with another strategic collaborator, the proptech Mitula. “Through this platform, we are undertaking data analysis, both of the demand as well as of the supply of each one of the locations in which we are launching”, explained the executive.

In terms of the company’s long-term plans, Horcajada confirmed that the debut on the stock market “is not a plan that features amongst the desires of investors”. Similarly, the director explains that Locare will focus especially on the Spanish residential rental market, for which it predicts a promising future. “Housing is going to be increasingly configured for use (rental) and not for ownership, like in other European companies”, concludes the executive.

Locare is a real estate investment manager dedicated to residential rental. Although both Grupo Avintia and Gesurbe have been linked to this market niche for more than eight years, Locare was created as an independent platform in 2016.

Original story: Eje Prime (by Berta Seijo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sareb Sells its Socimi & its 3,300-Asset Portfolio to TPG

4 December 2018 – El Independiente

Sareb, the Company for the Management of Assets proceeding from the Restructuring of the Banking System, is closing the final details of the sale of its Socimi Tempore Properties to the private equity fund TPG.

The company, which is in the middle of a non-monetary capital increase amounting to €150 million and which will soon manage 3,300 real estate assets worth €325 million, received several offers at the end of November, including from the fund Apollo. In the end, the proposal from TPG has proved victorious, according to sources speaking to El Independiente.

The US group TPG, which has USD 94 billion in assets under management, is the shareholder of companies such as Spotify, Airbnb, Burger King, Lenovo, Ducati, Saxo Bank and Grohe, amongst others.

The so-called bad bank, in which the State holds a 45% stake, hopes to close this operation before the end of the year, in order to improve the appearance of its accounts, which will again feature losses.

The Tempore portfolio sold by Sareb is concentrated (80%) in the metropolitan areas of the major capitals, with the remainder located in regions with significant demand in the rental market, such as Valencia, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Málaga and Almería.

Azora is responsible for the management of the portfolio – it performs the administration and marketing activities for the assets directly. The company is led by the Director of Rentals at Sareb, Nicolás Díaz Saldaña. Before his arrival at Sareb, Saldaña was at the helm of the international department at Metrovacesa during the most complicated period of the real estate crisis.

Sareb is selling its Socimi at a time when these types of companies are in the Government’s spotlight, in light of the insistence of Podemos to toughen up the beneficial tax regime that has facilitated the expansion of the vehicles in recent years.

The Bank of Spain has also started to monitor the Socimis as a potential focus of instability for the financial sector and links the rise of these vehicles to the sharp increases in the prices of offices and commercial premises.

Original story: El Independiente (by Ana Antón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Patrizia is On The Hunt for New Purchases in Bilbao, Sevilla & Valencia

10 December 2018 – Eje Prime

Patrizia Immobilien is confirming its interest in the Iberian real estate market. The German investment manager, which has been present in Spain and Portugal since 2015, has set itself the short-term objective of entering Bilbao, Sevilla, Valencia and Oporto, through the purchase of new assets, according to comments made by Borja Goday, the Director General of the company in the Iberian Peninsula, speaking to Eje Prime.

Until now, the company has invested €870 million in total in real estate in the Spanish and Portuguese markets. Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga and Lisbon are the cities in which Patrizia is already present, “with minimum investments of €15 million but where that figure could exceed €500 million if the operation is worth it”, explained the executive.

In fact, the manager participated in the process to acquire one of the office buildings that comprise the Cuatro Torres Business Area in Madrid. Moreover, the company not only invests in the office segment, it is also committed to other markets such as the residential, retail, hotel, logistics and alternative asset segments (including student halls, complexes for the elderly and parking spaces).

Currently, Patrizia’s asset portfolio in Spain includes Serrano 90, located on Madrid’s golden mile and Gran Vía 21, also in the Spanish capital, which houses a hotel and a retail premise. Nevertheless, the latest major operation by the manager on the peninsula was the purchase of an industrial plot spanning 66,424 m2 in Toledo for €37.5 million. The other three logistics platforms that the company owns in Spain are located in Madrid and Barcelona.

Patrizia and its great interest in Spanish property

With its headquarters in Madrid and a staff of eleven, Patrizia arrived in Spain just three years ago. “At the end of 2017, we purchased Triuva and Rockspring, two companies that already owned assets on the peninsula”, explained Goday, who added that “the rapid growth of the group in both the Spanish and Portuguese markets is due to those two acquisitions”.

“Spain is still an attractive market, we still have demand and that is why we are launching new operations on such a frequent basis”, said the director. Since the beginning of the year, the manager has been on the hunt for capital from Spanish institutional investors, although, as Goday explains, it is not an easy task, since “they do not invest from one day to the next”.

One of Patrizia’s other plans on the peninsula is to strengthen its presence in the rental market. “It is a segment that we like a lot and for that reason, if we find an appropriate residential or office building, then we would not rule out buying it”, explained the executive. Nor does the group rule out alliances with Socimis or the acquisition of a property developer to grow in the Spanish residential sector. In this sense, Goday says that “a good opportunity has not presented itself yet” and that “it would all depend on the quality and location of the land that they own”.

Patrizia is currently present in more than twenty European countries, including, besides Spain and Portugal, important markets such as Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg. The group’s main focus of activity is Germany, where it launched its activity 32 years ago and where it is a listed company (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by B. Seijo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Deutsche Bank, APG & CBRE GI Enter Spain’s Residential Rental Market

7 December 2018 – Expansión

The large international investors have placed their focus on the residential market and, specifically, on the rental segment. The success of this sector, together with labour mobility, the difficult access to housing and changes in living habits mean that, increasingly, renting is an option over buying in Spain, and that has fuelled interest from capital in the sector.

Blackstone, the largest real estate investor in Spain, was one of the first funds to back the residential rental sector with the purchase of 18 developments comprising 1,860 units from the Municipal Housing and Land Company of Madrid (EMVS) in 2013, but it has not been the only one. The Dutch pension fund APG, in conjunction with Renta Corporación; the German bank Deutsche Bank; and the international fund manager CBRE GI have been some of the most committed investors in this market in recent months.

In this way, APG reached an agreement in the spring of 2017 with the Catalan real estate company Renta Corporación to launch Vivenio, a Socimi specialising in housing, with the aim of acquiring assets worth €1 billion in Madrid, Barcelona and the provincial capitals. The Socimi is going to close a particularly active year for acquisitions, with a total investment of €400 million and is planning to repeat that amount in 2019 to reach a total portfolio of €1 billion in just over two years. One of the largest purchases it has made this year was the batch of 1,100 homes that belonged to the manager Aquila Capital, headquartered in Hamburg, for €240 million.

With the aim of diversifying its portfolio and entering this growing segment, the international fund manager CBRE GI joined forces with Azora, the Spanish manager founded by Concha Osácar and Fernando Gumuzio, with experience in this sector, and the New York investment firm Madison to invest €750 million over the next two or three years. That three-way alliance started with a portfolio of 65 buildings and a total of 6,458 homes and has the aim of reaching, at least, 10,000 units.

Another large investor that is betting heavily on the Spanish residential sector is DWS, the asset management subsidiary of the German bank Deutsche Bank, which has prepared a budget of €500 million to acquire between 1,000 and 2,000 homes in Spain. In that case, it is backing new build developments and it will do so through three formulae: delegated development, the acquisition of construction projects from other property developers and direct development. The objective is to maintain the assets in its portfolio and rent them out. In that case, the vehicle will not be a Socimi because German regulation of the funds from which the capital proceeds do not allow that. 60% of the investment will be made with own funds and the rest, bank financing. The plan is to invest primarily in Madrid and Barcelona, but they will also study plots in cities such as Bilbao and Sevilla, provided the rental market is very liquid.

Meanwhile, Catella Asset Management Iberia (CAMI), the Spanish subsidiary of the Swedish fund manager is intending to reach 2,000 units by 2020. The manager, which will add 1,000 homes to its portfolio at the beginning of 2019, entered the residential rental market two and a half years ago and has invested around €160 million in the business to date. It plans to double that figure to reach 2,000 homes within two years.

Another real estate company that has teamed up with foreign funds to grow in this segment has been Elix. The firm, which is dedicated to the purchase of buildings, their renovation and the sale of homes by unit, has signed an alliance with KKR and Altamar to invest in buildings, renovate them and dedicate them to the rental market. Its aim is to invest €200 million in Madrid and Barcelona through the Socimi Elix Vintage.

Finally, Redevco has created a new fund to invest €500 million in residential projects in several European markets, including Spain (…). Redevco is planning to build a pan-European residential portfolio comprising approximately 2,500 units.

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo & Marisa Anglés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Neinor Evaluates Rental Market but Insists on Maintaining its Margins

31 October 2018 – El Economista

Neinor Homes sees a clear business opportunity in the rental market in Spain. Nevertheless, it is not going to enter the segment if doing so would reduce its profit margin.

That is according to Juan Velayos (pictured above), the CEO of the firm, who indicates that Neinor “must be clear about what it is and what it wants to be, and we want to be a property developer, and as such, our profitability is sacred”. On that basis, Velayos recognises that “there is a clear business opportunity in that sector and very few companies have the capacity that we have to produce rental homes”.

In fact, he says that “many players who want to take positions in the rental market are approaching us, and although I am not going to close an operation tomorrow, we are evaluating lots of options, whenever they are coherent with our business model. Common sense tells me that we ought to be capable of meeting that need in the market and for the business to be profitable for Neinor”, said Velayos.

The property developer, which had managed to multiply its operating EBITDA by four by the end of September, to reach €9.5 million, expects to close this year in the black, “in a comfortable way”, highlights Velayos, who believes that the firm’s EBITDA at the end of December will amount to around €50 million, in line with the consensus of the market.

At the end of September, the firm had recorded a loss of €1.2 million and revenues of €156 million. “The most interesting aspect is that €100 million of that turnover came from the development arm, whilst €32 million came from the Legacy business and €23 million from Servicing”, highlights the director.

Neinor has committed to handing over 1,000 homes this year, spread across 14 promotions. “Nine of them have already been handed over and during the last quarter, the keys to the remaining five will be handed over, given that they now have their final construction certificate”, specifies the director, who assures that the 1,000 units are almost all pre-sold. “We only have 2% left, which we have not been marketing because we are waiting until the end to maximise the price of the best units”.

“We have been on a journey that has involved a lot of work over the last three years and now we are starting to hand over a significant volume of homes, which actually represent more than all of our major competitors put together. Neinor started first and so now we are reaping the rewards”, highlights Velayos.

Specifically, the company has an order book comprising 3,049 homes, which represent a volume of pre-sales of €1.019 billion. Moreover, comparing units with the same characteristics, the property developer has managed to achieve an 8.2% increase in prices and has also increased its margin to 28%.

That has allowed the firm to handle rising construction costs, which have increased by 3.8%, without any problems. Those costs “are expected to continue to rise, by 6%, but we will also seek to increase our margins”, says Velayos.

For next year, the company has set itself the target of handing over 2,000 homes in 31 developments where building work is already underway. “We also have some very solid pre-sales figures for 2019 of 78%; and the rest are not being marketed, given that the best way of protecting our margin is to wait to sell those units”, explains the CEO of Neinor (…).

Currently, the company has one of the largest land banks with capacity for 13,700 homes (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Elix Buys a Building in Barcelona for €4.1M

26 October 2018 – Eje Prime

Elix VRS is continuing to grow its portfolio as a listed company. The Socimi, led and founded by Jaime Lacasa and Jorge Benjumeda, has acquired a building in Barcelona for €4.1 million, according to a statement filed by the company with the Alternative Investment Market (MAB).

The purchase of the property, located on Calle Consell de Cent of the Catalan capital, has been financed in part by the company’s own funds (45%) and in part by a loan (55%). The loan, granted by CaixaBank, has a five-year term and a quarterly repayment schedule.

This operation follows the acquisition of four buildings in the centre of Barcelona that the company carried out in August for €34 million. The new assets of Elix VRS, controlled primarily by the property developer Elix and the funds KKR and Altamar, are located in iconic areas of the Catalan capital.

During 2018 and after just one year of life, the Socimi already has 25 projects underway in Madrid and Barcelona. With this volume of operations, the real estate company is going to put more than 300 homes on the market. Six of these projects are new build and the other 19 are renovations.

Elix’s plans involve buying around forty buildings by 2021 to subject them to comprehensive renovations and place the homes on the rental market once they have been renovated. These rents will fee the Socimi, which plans to rotate the portfolio of assets that it builds every three years.

Original story: Eje Prime 

Translation: Carmel Drake