Logistics: Real Estate’s Ugly Duckling Sees its Investment Figures Soar

30 September 2018 – El Confidencial

It has always been the ugly duckling of the real estate sector. Nevertheless, the boom in e-commerce, the positive evolution of consumption and of the economy, in general, and real estate in particular, has triggered investment in these types of assets. For more than a year now, the sector has been starring in some of the most high-profile operations in the market, both at the corporate level, as well as in terms of the sale of portfolios and assets, attracting money from large international funds, as well as from domestic ones.

The data speaks for itself. Investment in logistics during the third quarter of 2018 – including plots of land – amounted to €450 million, equivalent to four times more than during the second quarter and 436% more than the figure registered during the same period a year earlier. That is according to data from the consultancy firm JLL, which shows that investment amounted to €872 million between January and September, 53% more the volume accumulated during the same period in 2017.

Moreover, the firm’s forecasts for the final stretch of the year for this sector are optimistic. “We expect the total volume to amount to €1.2 billion by the end of the year, 20% more than we expected last quarter, due to the good results and the fact that strong investor appetite is still alive”, said Borja Ortega, Director of Capital Markets at JLL.

“The logistics market is the absolute star of the real estate investment market in Spain. Investors see the potential associated with a market that has been growing for years”, says Ortega. Why? Its own fundamentals, the lack of product for investing in other segments such as offices and retail or the creation and consolidation of investors specialising in logistics”, he said.

In the last year and a half, the logistics sector has captured the media’s attention thanks to the completion of several very high profile operations. For example, on 25 September, Mango’s logistics platform in Barcelona was sold for €150 million. That asset, with a surface area of 181,000 m2 and owned by the Belgian investor group VG Partners since the end of 2016, was sold to the British Socimi Tritax Big Box.

It represented the largest investment in a single asset in the Spanish logistics market for the last four years since Logicor purchased some logistics facilities in Guadalajara spanning more than 320,000 m2 from Gran Europa for €133 million.

The operation also exceeded the €119 million that Blackstone paid in July to acquire the Socimi Lar’s logistics portfolio. In total, that deal involved 162,000 m2 of space spread over four logistics warehouses in Alovera (Guadalajara), one in the Juan Carlos I industrial estate of Almussafes (Valencia) and a plot for logistics development in Cheste (Valencia) spanning a further 182,000 m2.

Assets, portfolios, corporate operations

During the third quarter, there was a lot of movement in the sector such as the sale of two logistics portfolios – Hina Project with 6 warehouses and Gran Europa Portfolio with 3 warehouses – four purchases of logistics warehouses and a project comprising two plots in Cabanillas. Those transactions were accompanied by the purchase of two plots, one on the Centro —Ciudad del Transporte Industrial Estate in Guadalajara – and another in San Fernando de Henares. The latter was acquired by Merlin Properties for the construction of a logistics platform measuring 100,000 m2 (…).

All of these operations are happening in the midst of a genuine boom in e-commerce and online sales, a market in which the major online operators such as Amazon, Mercadona and Inditex have committed heavily. And for good reason, given that in 2017 alone, online sales moved more than €30 billion, according to data from the Spanish National Competition and Markets Commission (CNMC). And that figure is rising.

But the appetite of buyers is not only limited to the purchase of assets. At the corporate level, there have also been some significant transactions in recent months. A year ago, China Investment Corporation (CIC) completed the purchase of Logicor for €12.25 billion, one of the largest logistics companies in Europe and the largest owner of logistics assets in the Spanish market with a portfolio spanning more than 1 million m2 located primarily in Madrid and Barcelona. That operation became the second largest real estate purchase in history and the fourth largest by a Chinese company in Europe.

Meanwhile, P3 Spain Logistic Park, the logistics centre Socimi that the sovereign fund Singapore GIC owns in Spain, made its debut on the Alternative Investment Market (MAB) last year with eleven logistics centres that span a total surface area of 321,392 m2 and which are spread across five autonomous communities, although most are in Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha.

Even the Murcian businessman, Trinitario Casanova, through Grupo Baraka has backed the logistics sector. In February this year, he purchased a logistics-industrial use plot located in the municipality of Sant Esteve Sesrovires, in Barcelona.

A sector traditionally forgotten

“For years, the logistics sector has been one of the ‘great forgottens’ of the real estate sector. Nevertheless, today it is clearly a segment to which investors pay a lot of attention. (…). In fact, given the competitive pressure, it is the only sector where returns are continuing to fall. Prime returns at the end of the third quarter of 2018 amounted to 5.25%, making them lower than during the last upward cycle in 2006, when they amounted to 5.75%”, said Ortega.

On the other hand, unlike what has happened in other real estate sectors such as residential or offices, whose activity is concentrated in the major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, 34% of logistics investment in the third quarter has been in Cataluña and 32% in Madrid. The rest has been concentrated in other regions such as Valencia (…).

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Spain’s Most Expensive Homes are Located on c/Serrano & Paseo de Gràcia

1 March 2018 – Expansión

Two realities in the housing market / The recovery in prices with respect to 2008 is leaving disparate scenes. The gap between the most expensive area of Madrid, on Calle Serrano, and the most affordable district, San Cristóbal, amounts to 61 percentage points.

In the heart of Madrid, on Calle Serrano, a 90 m2 apartment costs around €857,700 (€9,530/m2) on average, 5% less than in 2008. Meanwhile, 16 kilometres south of the Golden Mile, in San Cristóbal, those same 90 m2 cost around €78,300 (€870/m2), 66% cheaper than during the years of the real estate boom. This situation is repeated right across the country, where, in many cases, the housing market is experiencing two realities in the same city. “The current housing market in Spain is certifying the recovery of house sales and reflects that there is still scope to acquire homes at much lower prices than 10 years ago”, said José María Basañez, President of TecniTasa.

Despite the high degree of activity in the sector at the moment, with increases of around 5%, it is not uncommon for people to buy a home now for less than it would have cost in 2008. In 2017, house prices were 35% below the peaks of the real estate boom, according to a Report about housing Maximums and Minimums prepared by the appraisal company TecniTasa. The situation changes as you approach the hot spots of the main capitals. The difference between the most expensive and most affordable areas of Madrid is 61 percentage points, of Barcelona is 38 points and of Sevilla is 54 points. The most affordable homes in the Andalucían capital are found in the areas of Amate/ Pino Montano/Macarena Norte and Bellavista (€990/m2), nevertheless, it is one of the few areas where prices are higher than they were a decade ago (up by 24%). It is followed by La Rambla de Pedro Lezcano in Telde (Las Palmas) where prices have risen by 9.7%; the centre of Orense (5.7%); Las Gándaras (Lugo), where prices have risen by 4.4%, and the historic centre of Toledo (1%).

The fact that the most luxurious homes are still 30% cheaper than they were in 2008, on average – on c/Serrano and Paseo de Gràcia, they exceed €9,000/m2 – and the most affordable homes are still 40% lower – in El Pilar de la Estación (Toledo) and Barrio Guinea (Castellón), they cost around €400/m2 – “is one element to take into consideration when making a purchase decision”, explain sources at the appraisal company.

Original story: Expansión (by I. Benedito)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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

Flagship Stores Become The Bastion Of Large Retailers

19 October 2017 – Expansión

The unstoppable rise of e-commerce, the tsunami of digitalisation and the new buying habits of consumers have revolutionised the retail sector forcing operators to adapt to the new times to stay competitive.

The e-commerce sector is now turning over €24,000 million per annum in Spain, with a growth rate of 20% p.a. In this context, consumers are increasingly using the internet to manage their purchases, resolve queries and optimise their visits to stores. As such, they are visiting stores less frequently but they are spending more time there when they do go, according to a report from CBRE about the retail sector.

In this context, large international brands are backing the flagship store model as a gateway into Spain; and operators that have traditionally based themselves on the outskirts of cities are now moving into flagship stores in the centre. By way of example, the French firm Kiabi opened a store on Paseo de Gràcia a few months ago. In the same way, operators who have traditionally had stores in retail parks are now making space for themselves in the city centre, such as Media Markt, which opened two stores in the centre of Barcelona in 2016. Before the summer, the electronics firm also opened its new its flagship store in Plaza del Carmen, Madrid, just a stone’s throw from Gran Vía.

Ikea is joining this trend too, with a store on Calle Serrano; as is Leroy Merlin, which is planning to open a shop on Calle Fontanella, next to Plaza de Catalunya in Barcelona

Interest in Spain

“Physical stores are still the favourite channel for consumers, but it is harder to get people out of the house. To attract them, retailers are opening large flagship stores focused on the shopping experience and expanding the range of services, supported by new technologies that allow marketing strategies to be customised”, explains Gonzalo Senra, National Director of Retail at CBRE España (…).

Given the interest from large brands in Spain and encouraged by the upwards cycle of the economy and the improvement in consumption, many overseas institutional investors have decided to back the Spanish market. For example, the US investor Hines has purchased four important prime premises in Madrid and Barcelona in the last year.

These types of investors are the main buyers of flagship stores in well-located premises, involving investment volumes of more than €20 million. Moreover, sources at the consultancy firm have noted a change in the trend in this market with the entry of several insurance companies bidding for large prime assets.

By contrast, the market for smaller acquisitions is dominated by Spanish private investors and family offices – they tend to be particularly interested in assets worth less than €10 million.

Overall, investment in high street premises amounted to €800 million in 2016. The rate of investment continued during the first half of this year, with an investment volume of €515 million, according to data from the consultancy firm (…).

The high level of demand has accentuated the typical shortage of well-positioned products and resulted in a reduction in returns. According to the report, the downward trend in yields continued in 2017 to reach 3.25% in some cases for the most prime products in Madrid and Barcelona (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Baraka Wants To Double Edificio España’s Value In 3 Years

19 December 2016 – El País

The Murcian group Baraka, led by the businessman Trinitario Casanova, has completed its purchase of Edificio España from the Chinese group Wanda. The historical property, located in Plaza de España in Madrid, will be sold for €272 million, which is €7 million more than the Asian firm paid Banco Santander for the property back in 2014. Nevertheless, following the renovation work, the building is expected to be worth €532 million, according to a report by JLL filed with the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The owner of Baraka, Trinitario Casanova, will hand over a cheque amounting to €272 million, within the next three months (before 31 March) for the building, which the Chinese group Wanda is selling for almost the same price at which it purchased it from Banco Santander (€265 million). (…).

The President of the Chinese group, Wang Jianlin, who is the richest man in China, decided to sell the building to Baraka because the Murcian holding company promised that it would make a fast and secure payment to ensure the quick sale of the building, according to several sources.

Under the terms of the operation, Baraka has now paid Wanda €6 million by way of deposit and has made the commitment to pay another €14 million by way of guarantee when the public deed is signed before the notary. It will then pay the remaining €252 million.

Meanwhile, the consultancy firm Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL), which led the negotiations between the two companies, submitted a technical report to Wanda, which the Chinese Group has sent to the Hong Kong stock exchange. The report explains that, following the renovation work, the building will be worth €532.5 million. If this is the case, Baraka will earn almost twice as much as it spent to acquire the building in just three years, which will represent a profit of almost 100% of the capital employed for the purchase.

The Murcian businessman Casanova, who has been investigated for an alleged fraud of €6 million against the Tax Authorities and who was sentenced to one year in prison in 2008 for altering the value of shares in Banco Popular, is keen to renovate both the outside and inside of the building. Its architects have been working on the plans for months and the construction work will begin at the beginning of January, said Casanova in October.

The façades of Edificio España will remain in tact, as required by the Town Hall of Madrid, whilst the changes to the interior will serve to accommodate a large luxury hotel from 2019 onwards (probably operated by the Hard Rock Café chain). This hotel will have 600 rooms and a lease contract of 30 years. Those are Baraka’s intentions at least.

The first three floors and the basement (a space measuring up to 15,000 m2, of the building’s total surface area of 71,000 m2) will be let to retail groups.

Few changes

“The building will remain practically the same as it used to be. It will be cleaner, more beautiful and restored, but aesthetically it will be the same”, said the businessman in his most recent official appearance before the press. (…).

Original story: El País (by Luca Constantini)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Servihabitat: House Prices Will Rise By 4.3% In 2017

7 December 2016 – Expansión

(…) According to Julián Cabanillas, CEO of Servihabitat, the findings from his company’s latest report show that “the trend  (in terms of house prices) will continue to rise in 2017, but at a more moderate rate”.

According to Servihabitat’s forecasts, house prices will rise by 4.6% this year and by 4.3% next year; moreover, all of the other indicators in the sector will continue to make significant improvements. For example, the stock of unsold new homes will decrease in 2017 to 315,000, the lowest figure since 2006, before the real estate bubble burst. In addition, the ratio of the number of years’ salary it takes to pay for a home will amount to six years – three years fewer than in 2007.

During 2016, the construction of new homes will soar by 20% and the gross rental yield (excluding capital gains) will rise to 5.4% (10% if we include capital gains over one year, which the Bank of Spain does in its calculations).

In 2016, property will register its highest price increases since the outbreak of the crisis. The rise of 4.6% predicted by Servihabitat is the highest annual figure since 2007. In 2017, the increase will slow down slightly (by three tenths of one per cent), but residential property prices will increase in every autonomous region. Extremadura will lead the price rises, with an increase of 7.3%. It will be followed by Aragón (+6.9%), Navarra (+6.7%), La Rioja (+6.2%), Murcia (+5.6%), Balearic Islands (+5.4%), Canary Islands (+5.4%), Community of Valencia (+5.4%), Castilla-La Mancha (+5.1%) and Asturias (+4.5%).

Thus, house prices will increase by more than average in ten autonomous regions next year, including Cataluña (+4.3%), and will increase by less than average in six regions, namely: Andalucía (+0.7%), Galicia (+1.2%), País Vasco (+1.5%), Cantabria (+3%), Madrid (+2.4%) and Castilla y León (+4.1%).

Three speeds

Cabanillas points out that the housing market is now operating at three speeds. “The first involves areas where demand is high and supply is at “technical levels””. That is the case in Madrid and Barcelona, where many more homes are being sold than in the rest of the country. (…).

The second speed is happening in “areas where demand is increasing and stock exists”, said the CEO of Servihabitat. In cities such as Málaga, Sevilla and Zaragoza, as well as in the vacation markets of the Balearic and Canary Islands and in the more traditional areas of the Mediterranean Coast. (…).

Nevertheless, residential prices are still recovering at a slower speed in many autonomous regions (the third segment), given that there, prices “are still decreasing (due to the crisis effect) or are stable, because the demand potential is much more contained and/or considerable volumes of stock are still available”.

To this end, it is worth nothing that 72% of the homes sold in Spain in 2016 had a price of less than €150,000. (…).

In this context, there are also considerable disparities in terms of the returns offered from leasing properties in the different regions. For example, buying a home and putting it up for rent would generate a return of 6.9% in Madrid, 5.8% in Cataluña, 4.1% in Galicia and 3.9% in País Vasco. (…).

Clearly, all of the regions offer more attractive average gross returns from rental than those generated by other investments, such as public debt and deposits. Not in vain, the average rental price will rise by more than 10% this year, according to Servihabitat, which highlights the seven most thriving markets in Spain at the moment, namely: Málaga, Balearic Islands, Barcelona, Girona, Alicante, Madrid and Murcia. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Juanma Lamet)

Translation: Carmel Drake

BBVA: FDI Rose By 13% In H1 2016 & Focused On RE Sector

16 September 2016 – Expansión

According to a report from the BBVA Foundation – Ivie, until 2015, growth in foreign investment focused more on the purchase of debt instruments and share capital (portfolio investments) than on direct investments (involving the purchase of more than 10% of the capital of a company). “By contrast, during the first half of the year, portfolio investments have decreased and direct investment has recovered (by 13%)”, according to the document.

In general, foreign investment has a high correlation with the economic environment and in Spain (investment decreased from €58,128 million in 2009 to -€44,900 million and -€32,455 million in 2011 and 2012, respectively) there was a slight recovery as the economy emerged from the recession. Thus, in 2015, foreign investment was 2.6 times higher than at the start of the crisis, in 2008.

Composition of investment

By type of investment, direct foreign investment has varied significantly in terms of its sector composition. In this way, it is worth highlighting “the increase in investment in real estate activities since 2012, which accounted for 12.9% of total foreign investment in 2012 and had increased to 27.1% by March 2016”. The recovery in terms of investment in the construction sector is also noteworthy, above all in 2015, when it accounted for 20.2% of the total, although that figure had decreased to 16.1% by March 2016. “Based on the data for 2015, real estate investment (in the broadest sense) accounted for a third of the total (€7,700 million), up by 62% compared with a year earlier and 4.4 times higher than in 2008”.

According to the BBVA Foundation-Ivie, the fact that the increase has taken place in H1 2016 is good news, “although the growing orientation towards real estate activities weakens the contribution to productivity gains that the Spanish economy (so desparately) needs”.

It is important to take into account that portfolio investments are more volatile and sensitive to the economic cycle. Meanwhile, although direct investment is less important in terms of the productive investment of a country, it has significant qualitative features: it helps stimulate certain production sectors, increasing internationalisation and technological levels; it focuses on sectors with more human capital and it is very important for increasing productivity.

Original story: Expansión (by M.G.M.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

IPE: Urban Land Prices Will Rise By 10% In 2015

17 June 2015 – Expansión

Land will be the next market to be affected by the change in the economic cycle. That is the main conclusion drawn by the first Land Pulsometer, prepared by the Institute of Business Practices (IPE). The average price of urban land will grow in 2015 “by almost two-digit figures”, according to the study coordinator, José Antonio Pérez, Director of Real Estate at IPE.

In this way, if in 2014, each square metre cost €147 on average, by the end of 2015, it will be worth €160/m2, the highest figure since 2012. “It is a clear turning point” says Pérez, who says that “investment in land has a threefold economic impact, due to its direct, indirect and induced effectcs”. That means, every euro spent on land leaves a final economic footprint of three euros.

This recovery will take place because prices will increase “at double that rate” on the coast and in the major cities, i.e. at around 20%, “especially on the Costa del Sol, in Levante, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona and A Coruña”, says Pérez.

These forecasts come a day after the Ministry of Development published its official statistics, which confirmed the beginnings of an upwards trend – from very low figures – in the market for land. During the first quarter, the average price of urban land (per square metre) increased by 5.9%, and in cities (with more than 50,000 inhabitants), the increase was 37.8%. (…)

According to the report, the number of transactions involving buildable plots of land will increase by 5.04% in 2015. Andalucía will account for 22% of operations, followed by Cataluña (16%) and Castilla-La Mancha (11%). (…)

Andalucía and Madrid will generate the most value: €579 million and €508 million, respectively, which means that the two regions alone will account for 42% of the national activity, which will amount to €2,593 million, i.e. 0.25% of GDP. The total impact (direct, indirect and induced) of the market for land will be €7,780 million.

The average price of land in Madrid, the highest in Spain, will exceed €300/m2, followed by the País Vasco and Balearic Islands, where it will exceed €250/m2. (…)

Original story: Expansión (by Juanma Lamet)

Translation: Carmel Drake