Blackstone will be the Landlord of 25,000 Rental Homes by the End of 2019

31 January 2019 – Voz Pópuli

Blackstone, one of the largest investment companies in the world, expects to end the year with 25,000 rental homes under management in Spain.

Eduard Mendiluce (pictured above, left), the man from Blackstone who leads the US giant’s real estate emporium in Spain, has explained that the firm believes in the Spanish market, as it has done since 2014, and will end 2019 managing 10,000 more rental homes that it currently owns (15,000).

“We continue to believe in the fundamentals of the residential sector in Spain”, said Mendiluce at a conference about the real estate sector organised by Iese in Madrid. “Spain was one of the countries that suffered the most during the real estate crisis of 2008; prices are still 30% below their maximums”, he said.

The CEO of Aliseda and Anticipa explained that the US fund’s strategy in Spain in terms of real estate involves renting or buying and selling second-hand homes worth between €120,000 and €150,000. “When you have more than 200 homes under management in a given municipality, the business becomes profitable”, he explained.

Blackstone has invested almost €26 billion in the Spanish market over the last five years. In March 2014, it purchased 40,000 problem mortgages from Catalunya Caixa for €3.6 billion.

Since then, it has purchased: Banco Popular’s toxic property, together with Santander, for more than €5 billion; the Socimi Hispania for €2 billion; and 50.01% of the rental home Socimi Testa for €947 million. Last year, it bought Cirsa, a leading company in the gaming industry in Europe in a deal worth €2 billion.

In terms of the criticisms directed at the rental policies of Blackstone and other funds from certain sectors, Mendiluce has highlighted that in Spain, the funds own just 3% of the total rental housing stock, and that the rest is in the hands of individuals.

“I think that it is difficult to manipulate prices when you only account for a small percentage (of the market)”, he said. “I firmly believe that if there has been very concentrated price inflation in a handful of towns, then that has been due to a lack of supply”, and he pointed out that Spain has the lowest percentage of social housing in Europe.

Fashionable market

Juan José Brugera, President of the real estate company Colonial, was very optimistic about the real estate sector in Spain.

“We are in an expansive phase of the cycle, we are facing lower growth, but growth is growth, and it’s strong in Spain”, he said at the conference organised by Iese. “In the rental cycle, we are still in the growth phase, we have potential for rental growth that we believe ensures a strong performance over the next two or three years” he said.

“The Spanish market is fashionable at the moment, we predict expansive behaviour”, he said. “I have a positive vision, the stock market is behaving a bit strangely, but I think that is due to certain turbulences, both external and internal, that are generating uncertainty”.

Original story: Voz Pópuli (by Alberto Ortín)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Town Hall of Barcelona Looks for Private Partners to Promote Social Housing

30 January 2019 – Eje Prime

The Administration is looking for a private property developer. The Metropolitán Area of Barcelona (AMB) has opened a process to choose a partner for the public company Habitatge Metròpolis Barcelona, which is planning to build social housing in the city and its metropolitan area.

The entry of a new shareholder will be carried out through a capital increase whereby €12 million will be contributed, according to Expansión. Cevasa, Visoren, Neinor and Sogeviso are some of the interested companies. Meanwhile, the company’s existing shareholders will subscribe another €12 million capital increase in equal parts.

The bidding process will be open for two months. The objective is to raise capital, but also to increase awareness about the development and the management capacity of the stock of rental homes.

The objective involves constructing a stock of social housing properties comprising 4,500 units over the next ten years. The AMB will contribute two estates in Sant Boi de Llobregat and Montgat, and the Town Hall of Barcelona will contribute €6 million.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Carmena Approves Los Berrocales, the Largest Housing Development in the South of Madrid

24 January 2019 – El Confidencial

The Government Board chaired by Manuela Carmena will give an important boost to the urban development area of Los Berrocales on Thursday. It is the largest in the city and the first to receive the green light of the sites that comprise the project known as the Developments of the Southeast (Los Desarrollos del Sureste). The Town Hall of Madrid and the Compensation Board for the area have finally agreed the initial text for the urban planning agreement for the management of the buildable land, which will see the construction of 22,000 homes on the largest land bank in the south of the city. 50% of the homes, around 11,000, will be dedicated to social housing.

The General Plan for the city of Madrid obliges the parties involved to sign an urban planning agreement for the management of this area. The Administration and the urban planning entity are signing the commitments assumed by both for the development of the area. According to comments made to this newspaper, the agreement reflects the obligation of the Compensation Board to urbanise the land (which spans 8,305,812 m2 in total) over the course of six phases, during which the planned buildings will be constructed and the services implemented. The project will run until 2034. Moreover, the agreed texts establish the criteria to ensure the equitable distribution of profits and charges between all of the owners (…).

The total buildability amounts to 3.3 million m2, of which 2,247,121 m2 will be dedicated to residential use. 50% of that will be for private housing, 31% for price-controlled housing and 19% for social housing (that latter two percentages correspond to 11,000 homes). The rest will be dedicated to industrial, tertiary, office and commercial use.

In terms of facilities, more than 2 million m2 will be converted into green space, 1.9 million m2 will be used for public facilities and services, 1.7 million m2 for infrastructure and 228,830 m2 will be used for social integration homes.

The agreement reached with the Compensation Board represents a victory for the municipal Government and specifically, for the Sustainable Urban Development department, led by José Manuel Calvo, five months before the end of the current legislature (…).

Following the green light from the Governing Board, the text of the agreement must be submitted for public consultation – a comment period – and afterwards, it will go to the municipal plenary. From that moment, the urban planning entity will be able to start work on the execution of the project.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Paloma Esteban)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bilbao’s Municipal Housing Company Buys 40 Flats for Social Housing in Bolueta

23 January 2019 – Cadena Ser

‘Viviendas Municipales de Bilbao’ has purchased 40 flats for social housing from the public company Visesa in one of the buildings that forms part of the urban regeneration project that is being constructed in the Bolueta neighbourhood for €2.7 million.

The operation forms part of the collaboration agreement between the two entities to promote social housing, according to comments made by the Town Hall of Bilbao in a statement.

The building comprises a 28-storey tower, containing 108 homes, and a 9-storey block containing 63 homes. The flats purchased are located in block 9, in doorways 1 and 3.

Eight homes will be used to house people relocated from the urban planning operation and the rest will be awarded to people registered on the housing list in Etxebide who fulfil the housing need requirements, on the basis of the number of members, income, number of years registered in the area and number of years on the register itself.

The homes will be assigned to different pre-established groups: those over 65, young people under 35, victims of gender violence, and those over 35 who have been on the list for more than 10 years, plus a general allocation.

Original story: Cadena Ser

Translation: Carmel Drake

Azora: Spain Needs to Build 2 Million Rental Homes in 15 Years

12 January 2019 – El Economista

The rental market is gaining more and more followers in Spain and is now the way of life chosen by 20% of the population. That means that the market has doubled in size over the last 15 years, according to data from Eurostat. Nevertheless, its growth is running into many obstacles along the way, given that the increase in demand has not been accompanied by a rise in supply at the same rate, which has led to the saturation of certain markets, such as Madrid and Barcelona, where several neighbourhoods have experienced price increases of up to 18%, making them even more expensive now than they were during the boom period.

Faced with that situation, the major players in the market and the real estate experts assure that the construction of homes dedicated to rental and the policies to incentivise owners to place their homes on the rental market are two of the most important ways to provide agility to a mechanism that is oxidised right now.

“Rental is a sector with enormous social importance, on which more than 10 million tenants and more than 4 million small Spanish savers and institutional investors depend, who use the rental market as a way of supplementing their income and pensions”, explains Azora in a comprehensive report about the rental market.

In its study, the manager says that the rental housing deficit amounts to another 2 million homes, which will have to be built over the next 15 years to satisfy the increasingly growing demand. “Ensuring legal certainty and a contractual equilibrium is basic for attracting around €300 billion in private and institutional savings necessary to finance this new stock of homes. It is an investment equivalent to 30% of GDP over 15 years or 2% of GDP every year”, says the report.

For Azora, which is one of the largest managers of rental housing in Spain, the construction of these homes is fundamental if we are to avoid “structural imbalances between supply and demand, and it is vital to guarantee access to housing through the rental formula for millions of Spanish families, especially the youngest in society and most vulnerable families”. In this way, according to the Ministry of Development and Eurostat, rental has become the solution for accessing housing for 75% of young people in Spain aged under 29 (compared with 40% in 2007) and for 40% of families with a household income of less than 60% of the national average.

The major challenges

According to comments made by Azora in its report, the three most important challenges facing the sector are, on the one hand, “establishing a public social housing policy to resolve the situation of highly vulnerable people and those at risk of social exclusion”.

In Spain, social housing accounts for just 1.5% of the total, compared with the EU average of 15% (…).

Another challenge is “the creation of a rental stock at affordable prices, below market rates, for families with the lowest incomes and young people” (…).

Finally, the need to increase supply by at least another 30% over the next 15 years. “The problem today and in the future in the private housing market is not the increase in prices (which are still 15.5% below their 2007 peaks, according to data from the Ministry of Development), but rather the complete lack of available stock for rental compared with the sharp growth in demand”, says Azora (…).

Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Barcelona Reserves 8 Plots on which to Build 512 Social Housing Units

17 January 2019 – La Vanguardia

Barcelona is going to reserve eight plots on which to build around 512 social housing units for young people, the elderly and other groups with social needs, together with public facilities, through a Modification of the General Metropolitan Plan (MPGM).

The Town Hall of Barcelona’s Commission for Ecology, Urban Planning and Mobility approved the revised MPGM to incorporate those 8 plots into the social housing system yesterday, with votes in favour from the municipal government, the Demòcrata, ERC and CUP groups, and the unassigned councillors Gerard Ardanuy and Joanjo Puigcorbé. There were abstentions from Cs, PSC and PP.

According to a statement from the town hall, the plots are located in Gràcia (2), Ciutat Vella (2), Eixample (2), Sants-Montjuïc (1) and Horta-Guinardó (1).

Four of the plots are owned in their entirety by the municipality, whilst the town hall will acquire the two that are completely private as well as the private plot of another site of which it is only part owner.

The eighth plot is on Via Laietana, 8-10, and currently houses the headquarters of the National Institute of Statistics and the Electoral Census Office, which is owned by the Town Hall of Barcelona and several other public administrations.

Specifically, this new plan proposes incorporating the plots into the housing system, which also includes plans for facilities on the ground floors.

The procedure is based on the fact that the law allows a maximum of 5% of land classified as local public facilities to be dedicated to social housing.

On the basis of the land that this MPGM is activating, the actions carried out and/or forecast in the current plan represent approximately 2.81% of the plots only, according to reports from the Town Hall.

This MPGM now enters a period of public consultation for one month and so its provisional approval in the Plenary of the Municipal Council and definitive approval by the Sub-Committee for Urban Planning in Barcelona, a body of La Generalitat, could be completed before the end of the mandate of the mayor Ada Colau.

This is the second MPGM that the municipal government has carried out in the current mandate to activate plots to build social housing.

In December 2016, the Town Hall approved a first plan that reserved six plots for the development of 519 homes. Specifically, two of those were located in Gràcia, two in Sant Martí, one in Sants-Montjuïc and another in Horta-Guinardó.

Original story: La Vanguardia 

Translation: Carmel Drake

Town Hall of Barcelona Buys a 114-Home Social Housing Block

27 December 2018 – La Vanguardia

On Thursday, the Town Hall of Barcelona announced the completion of the purchase of a building located at number 7 Calle Encuny containing 114 protected homes. The property, located in the heart of the Marina del Prat Vermell neighbourhood, belonged to the entity Proviure CZF Parc d’Habitatges, a company formed by BBVA and the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (Consortium of the Zona France of Barcelona). “With this operation, we ensure that the housing block will not be sold to vulture funds”, said the mayor of the city, Ada Colau, who referred to the purchases that such investment groups have been carrying out in various cities.

The acquisition has involved an investment of €5.8 million by the Town Hall. This building is the largest that Ada Colau’s government has purchased to date, which so far in its mandate, has acquired another 21 entire blocks. In total, including this new property, the Town Hall has acquired 661 flats since 2015, which has involved a total disbursement of €64.12 million. “It takes a long time to build social housing units. And we have to respond to a problem that is worrying a lot of citizens”, said the mayor.

According to Colau, of the 114 flats that are going to be incorporated into the Town Hall’s public stock, around 59 are empty, but in a very good condition (the development was built in 2007), and so it is expected that around 30 will be incorporated into the social emergency pool in January, where around 480 family units are still waiting to be assigned a home.

“We need the Generalitat to start making housing policies in Barcelona”, said the mayor Colau, who has accused the regional government of not fulfilling its obligations in this regard. “The Town Hall takes care of 78% of the demand from the social emergency pool when it should be covering 40%. It is assuming a responsibility that corresponds to the Generalitat”, said Colau.

Original story: La Vanguardia (by Raúl Montilla)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Barcelona to Build Social Housing on the Rooftops of Schools & Markets

7 December 2018 – Eje Prime

Barcelona is adding a new twist to its efforts to increase its stock of public housing. The Town Hall of the Catalan capital, governed by Ada Colau, is planning to build social housing units for rent on the rooftops of public buildings such as libraries, markets, schools and even a metro station.

The first test of this new housing model will be carried out in the Gràcia neighbourhood. The Town Hall’s urban planning area is also looking at other areas in the city such as the Gothic neighbourhood, El Raval, Ciutat Vella, Sant Antoni and the Sagrada Family district, according to El País. Another idea that the Town Hall is considering is building flats on top of the Fontana metro station in Gràcia.

The Town Hall is searching for public buildings that have not used up all of their buildability into which to incorporate social housing. The benefit of this model is its speed, given that the procedures would be streamlined by the absence of the need to modify the current urban plan.

This new proposal from the Town Hall of Barcelona forms part of the Housing Plan 2016-2025, which Ada Colau’s government launched two years ago. Another formula that the Town Hall is going to use is Aprop, whereby homes are constructed inside (shipping) containers.

Moreover, this week, Colau received the green light from the Generalitat de Catalunya to establish her star measure involving new-build projects. Barcelona is going to modify its metropolitan general plan (Mgpm) so that 30% of all new build and renovated residential developments must be allocated to social housing.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Who is the Largest Residential Property Developer in Madrid

29 November 2018 – El Confidencial

With 12 developments underway comprising 758 homes with some type of protection, the Municipal Housing and Land Company (‘La Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda y Suelo’ or EMVS) is the most active property developer in the city of Madrid. Of the more than 350 residential projects under construction in the capital at the moment, the public initiative (by the Town Hall of Madrid), together with the promotion of cooperative homes or units with some kind of protection, has significant weight in Madrid, given that more than 16% of new build projects underway and 22% of the units under construction are public initiative developments (EMVS) or cooperative promotions.

That is according to data from the consultancy firm CBRE, which has compiled a study to analyse real estate activity in the Spanish capital, using satellites, taking into account both new build projects that require cranes for their completion as well as comprehensive renovation projects that do not need cranes or scaffolding. On the basis of the data obtained, the property developers who are currently carrying out those projects in the 21 districts of Madrid have been identified, be they new build projects, renovations, private homes or social housing units, excluding any homes being marketed on which construction work has not started yet.

The study establishes a ranking with the top 25 residential property developers in the capital on the basis of the number of projects underway and the number of units under construction. That ranking is led by the EMVS both by number of developments as well as by number of homes. Its developments are concentrated in the Pau de Vallecas (8 projects comprising 475 units), Latina (one development comprising 87 homes), Arganzuela (one development comprising 85 units), Villa de Vallecas (one development comprising 72 homes) and Carabanchel (one development comprising 25 homes).

Despite the strong development activity of the EMVS, the reality is that it is the private property developers who lead the activity overall, given that they account for three quarters (78%) of the new home units under construction in the city of Madrid. In fact, there are 12 private property developers with three or more projects under construction, which account for more than a third (34%) of the homes under construction.

Pryconsa and Inmoglacier, the most powerful

The second position in the ranking by number of developments is held by Pryconsa. The company chaired by Marco Colomer currently has seven projects underway, comprising 500 homes (…).

By number of units under construction, the second place in the ranking is held by Inmoglacier, with 748 homes under construction, distributed across just five developments, all of which are concentrated in Parque Ingenieros in Villaverde (…), all with some kind of protection and constructed on land acquired from Sepes more than three years ago. The company chaired by Ignacio Moreno (…) is one of the most active property developers in the capital and is focused towards a segment of the population capable of acquiring a home at affordable prices.

“At first glance, the sector appears to be vey fragmented. The 351 residential projects underway in Madrid are split between 241 companies or cooperatives. However, many property developers assign a separate legal entity to each promotion (…) and so it is not always easy to identify the large groups (and commercial brands) behind each project”, explains Samuel Población, National Residential Director at CBRE speaking to El Confidencial (…).

By area, the main national property developers are committed to constructing large projects in new areas, such as Arroyo del Fresno (Amenabar and Grupo Pinilla), Valdebebas, Parque de Ingenieros and El Cañaveral, where the projects with the largest number of units are concentrated. Companies such as Grupo Ibosa (…) and Vía Celere, along with the newcomer Brosh, complete the ranking (…).

International firms stick to the rich neighbourhoods

In terms of the property developers with a more international profile, by contrast, they are continuing with a strategy focused on the renovation of homes inside the city, in the most sought-after neighbourhoods. Venezuelan property developers have been particularly active, including Gran Roque (…), which has a dozen residential projects underway comprising more than 100 homes in some of the most sought-after areas of Madrid (…).

Also, Grosvenor (from the UK) and Darya Homes or Dazia Capital (France) are concentrating their activity exclusively in the districts of Centro, Chamberí and Salamanca. Those three developers – include Gran Roque – are currently managing 10 residential remodelling projects, which are characterised by the limited number of units (14 on average) and a clear vocation towards the high- and very high-end segments of the market.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation: Carmel Drake

La Generalitat Blocks Colau’s Initiative to Dedicate 30% of New Builds to Social Housing

21 November 2018 – Eje Prime

The Government of Cataluña is blocking Ada Colau’s star initiative in terms of public housing, for the time being at least. The mayor of Barcelona has faced a setback following the decision of the Sub-Committee for Urban Planning, which has decided to postpone the ratification of the municipal agreement stating that 30% of new build properties in the city must be dedicated to social housing.

Colau was outraged by the decision, which she blamed on the Catalan Ministry for Land and Sustainability, which reports into La Generalitat and which “is now seeking to include changes and increase the extensions”, lamented the mayor.

“I do not want to think that La Generalitat has yielded to the pressures of any of the very powerful real estate groups”, added Colau. She is surprised because PDeCAT and ERC, allies in the regional government, “want to introduce reductions when those same parties approved the measure in the Town Hall”.

“The Sub-Committee for Urban Planning does not have to give an opinion on this measure, it just has to approve it”, said the mayor. “It is unacceptable: La Generalitat should not downgrade a municipal proposal, which in this case is also well argued legally and economically and which has already been approved”, said Colau.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake