Aedas Reaches an Agreement with Castlelake to Buy Non-Finalist Plots

20 May 2019 – El Confidencial

Aedas Homes has reached an agreement with its main shareholder, the US fund Castlelake, to ensure its supply of long-term land, without having to make any major investments in the short-term.

Specifically, the property developer and the fund will create ad hoc companies for each non-finalist plot in which they decide to invest, whereby Aedas will take a 10% stake and will reserve the right to buy up to 25% of the homes built on each one of the sites.

Aedas’s team will be responsible for managing the vehicles, processing the urban planning formalities and obtaining the finalist land status. The company has already identified six plots in Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla, on which more than 9,200 homes could be built.

It will take between 4 and 5 years to transform those plots into finalist sites and the idea is that Aedas will build at least 2,500 of the homes permitted, with the remainder being sold for development to other property developers.

This strategy will ensure that Aedas has a supply of finalist land over the medium and long-term at affordable prices.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Ministry of Development: Urban Land Prices Fell by 2.6% in Q1 2018

15 June 2018 – Eje Prime

Land is getting cheaper in Spain. The price per square metre of urban land decreased by 2.6% during the first quarter of the year, to €163.1/m2. Nevertheless, land prices rose by 6.6% with respect to December, according to data from the Ministry of Development.

The Land Price Statistics prepared by the public body also indicate that the volume of land sold between January and March 2018 amounted to 7.8 million m2, with a value of €770.6 million.

With respect to the same period a year earlier, the volume of urban land transferred was 36.7% higher and its value had risen by 12.9%. The total number of transactions undertaken during the first three months of the year was 4,867, up by 10.6% compared to a year earlier, when 4,401 plots were sold, and down by 16.7% compared to the number of operations completed between October and December 2017.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Property Developer Urbas Records a Loss of €354k in Q1

15 May 2018 – Eje Prime

The Urbas Financial Group is in the red. The company recorded a negative net consolidated result of €354,000 during Q1, which represented a decrease from the profit of €1.05 million that it recorded in the first quarter of 2017, according to Spain’s National Securities and Exchange Commission (CNMV).

The Group’s total debt with banks decreased by 2.4% in March to €122.6 million. Urbas’s land portfolio spanned 18 million m2 at the end of the first quarter. Of the real estate company’s total surface area, 73% corresponds to rural land, 25% to buildable land and 2% to urban land.

Most of the land bank that the Group owns is located in the Community of Valencia, which accounts for 34.8% of the company’s portfolio. That region is followed by Madrid with 20.5% of the total; Andalucía with 17%; and Castilla La Mancha with 14%, which are the other three regions where the company’s land is concentrated. It also owns plots in Murcia, Castilla y León and several other autonomous regions.

In 2017, Urbas increased its profit by 8.8% to exceed €5 million. The group recorded revenues of €4.2 million, which represented an increase of 40% with respect to 2016, and also generated positive EBITDA.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ministry of Development: Average Urban Land Prices Rose by 7.8% in Q3

15 December 2017 – El Mundo

The average price of urban land per square metre rose by 7.8% in YoY terms during the third quarter of the year, to €162/m2, whereas it decreased by 2.6% with respect to the previous quarter, according to Land Price Statistics from the Ministry of Development.

In towns with more than 50,000 inhabitants, the average price of land per square metre rose by 5.6% in YoY terms, to reach €287.5/m2

With regards to those towns with more than 50,000 inhabitants, the highest average prices were recorded in the provinces of Madrid (€485.7/m2), Barcelona (€447.6/m2) and the Balearic Islands (€375.1), whilst the lowest prices were registered in Huesca (€48.4/m2), Cádiz (€115.3/m2) and León (€120/m2).

Similarly, the number of transactions completed during the third quarter amounted to 4,545, down by 24.2% compared to the number carried out during the second quarter of the year (5,998) and 2.4% fewer than the number performed during the third quarter of 2016, when 4,656 plots were sold.

By size, in towns with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, 366 transactions were recorded, up by 3.4% compared to the same quarter in 2016; and in towns with between 1,000 and 5,000 inhabitants, 857 plots were sold, up by 6.1% YoY.

In towns with between 5,000 and 10,000 inhabitants, 763 transactions were recorded (up by 14.2% YoY) and in those towns with a population of between 10,000 and 50,000 inhabitants, 1,591 transactions were signed (+0.8% YoY).

Finally, in those towns with a population of more than 50,000 inhabitants, the number of plots sold in the third quarter of 2017 was 968, up by 5.7% compared to the third quarter last year.

17.8% more space sold

The statistics from the Ministry of Development also show that the surface area sold until September amounted to 6.3 million m2, worth €765.1 million.

With respect to the third quarter of 2016, the YoY variations represent a 17.8% increase in terms of the surface area sold and an 18% decrease in the value of those plots.

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake

Carmena Grants Partial Demolition Licence For Former MOD Building

9 December 2016 – Expansión

The Town Hall of Madrid has granted a licence for the partial demolition of the Precision Artillery Workshop, on Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, despite opposition from Ganemos.

Cooperativa Maravillas, the property developer behind the residential project that is going to be constructed on a plot of land that used to be owned by the Ministry of Defence, on Calle Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, has received some good news this week. The Town Hall of Madrid has granted the management company Domo a licence to demolish the Precision Artillery Workship, now in disuse, despite opposition from Ganemos, one of the parties that forms part of the municipal government’s coalition.

Following a favourable report from the Community of Madrid’s Local Heritage Committee, the Town Hall has authorised the partial demolition of the building. The remodelling of the property forms an essential part of the management company’s plans, which involve the construction of more than 300 homes on this street, located in the Madrilenian neighbourhood of Chamberí.

In any event, the licence for the complete demolition is pending a decision by the Heritage Committee to determine whether the building’s basement still contains any old air-raid shelters from the Civil War, in which case, they should be preserved. In addition, the cooperative is waiting for the agreement reached between the Town Hall and the management company to be ratified.

Details of the agreement

According to this agreement, the Town Hall of Madrid will receive 5,422 m2 of land for residential use, corresponding to 10% of the obligatory concession.

Similarly, the Town Hall of Madrid will receive 3,360 m2 of green space and 1,000 m2 of space on the ground floor of the building, where it plans to building a primary school. It will also receive 250 m2 of free space.

Manuela Carmena’s urban planning team has reached an agreement with the property developer to assign the property in this way, rather than monetise it, with the aim of “covering the deficiencies of these types of facilities in the district of Chamberí”, explained the Town Hall.

The agreement, which is necessary for the approval of the urban planning project and the subsequent work and construction licence, will be circulated for public information purposes and referred to the Town Hall for its ratification.

Opposition from Ganemos

The decision to demolish this building does not have the blessing of Ganemos. The municipal platform, which forms party of Ahora Madrid, considers that “there is no reason” to grant a licence to allow the demolition of the historical building, given that the management agreement required to be able to construct the new buildings has not been approved. According to the platform, several legal cases are still open with the Prosecutor’s Office and the High Court of Justice of Madrid that may still result in the cancelation of the urban planning project. (…).

Meanwhile, the cooperative pointed out that the buildings belonging to the former Workshop are not classified as being of cultural interest, nor do they have any kind of offical protection. “The General Urban Planning Plan of 1997 and its subsequent review did not foresee the need to classify buildings or land as urban land for residential use.”

Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Cifuentes Presents New Land Act For Community Of Madrid

25 October 2016 – Expansión

Yesterday, the President of the Community of Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes (pictured above), submitted the draft bill for the new Law governing Urban Planning and Land in the Community of Madrid, an initiative long demanded by the Madrilenian real estate sector. The bill aims to clarify and organise the management of urban planning in the region, whereby replacing the existing regional Land Act, which dates back to 2001.

During its 15 years of life, the existing text has been partially modified 15 times, which, as the Ministry of the Environment, Local Administration and Land Planning itself admits, has ended up making it “difficult to understand and interpret”.

“Circumstances have changed considerably over the last 15 years and so the content of the Land Act has been completely distorted”, acknowledged Cifuentes yesterday during the presentation of the new draft bill. “This new law has been put together as a single piece of legislation to give coherence to the urban planning rules”, she added.

The regional Government plans to submit the Draft Bill to the Assembly before the end of the year and, according to Cifuentes, it hopes to obtain “the maximum consensus and support possible”. It is something that seems almost impossible, taking into account that eight months ago both the PSOE and Podemos left the technical and political tables that have been managing the text presented yesterday.

This was not helped either by the fact that Ciudadanos decided to put “an end” to these working tables in a unilateral way “to look for a new consensus”, according to an announcement last week from its spokesman in the Assembly, Ignacio Aguado. The orange party’s idea is to look for maximum political support to approve the law, and so it is advocating that the work of these tables be transferred to the specific report about the Land Act, which already exists in the Assembly.

“We want a Law that represents the consensus of all of the political groups and not another piece of steam roller legislation from the PP”, said Aguado. “Ciudadanos is going to fight to ensure that there is real citizen participation and genuine transparency in the way that urban plans are prepared. We want to put an end to the current opacity”, said the spokesman. (…).

New elements

In addition to the goal of making urban planning “more agile and transparent”, the Draft Bill presented yesterday by Cifuentes includes some important innovations. The most notable is its commitment to urban renovation and regeneration, compared with the model of expansionist urban planning under the previous legislation.

In this sense, one of the most innovative aspects is the fact that cities in the region will have the opportunity to undertake the renovation of large areas without the need to modify their General Plans. (…).

The new text retains the categories of urban land – buildable and non-buildable, but eliminates the category of unsectorised buildable land, which becomes non-buildable common land. Nothing can be built on this kind of land, under any circumstances, unless its classification is changed in the general plan upon request by the town halls themselves. “The aim is to achieve a more sustainable urban planning approach that avoids unnecessary urban planning developments”, say sources at the Ministry.

Other novelties include the creation of a Simplified General Urban Plan, designed for towns with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants and budgets of less than €6 million. Those towns may choose to adopt this framework, which is more flexible and agile than an ordinary plan, provided that the work focuses on historical centres and does not include any new developments. This framework may be applied to almost half of the 179 municipalities in the region.

Original story: Expansión (byLuis M. De Ciria and Carlota G. Velloso)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Ministry Of Development: Urban Land Prices Rose By 6.6% In Q2

16 September 2016 – Expansión

The market for urban land is starting to show signs of recovery. The price of plots of land rose by 6.6% during the second quarter of the year, to amount to €163.4/sqm. It is the best figure since Q4 2012, although it is still light years away from the peak recorded in 2007, at the height of the real estate boom, when prices reached €285/sqm.

One of the main conclusions coming out of the statistics published yesterday by the Ministry of Development is that, thanks to the real estate pull in the capital and Barcelona, the Community of Madrid and Cataluña account for almost half of the market for urban land. Specifically, they accounted for a total sales volume of €351.9 million, i.e. 47% of the total volume for Spain (€751.1 million). This most recent figure is 21.7% higher than a year ago. The total surface area sold in Spain amounted to 5.6 million sqm, up by 7.7%.

The total value of land sold soared by 85% in Barcelona and by 11% in Madrid.

The number of transactions grew by 16% YoY across Spain. In April, May and June, 4,435 plots of land were sold, compared to 3,819 during Q2 2015. The most significant increase was recorded in municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, where sales rose by 20%. In towns with between 10,000 and 50,000 inhabitants, there were 1,580 transactions, up by 24.6%.

In municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, the highest average prices were reported in the provinces of Barcelona (€485/sqm, equivalent to triple the average for Spain), Madrid (€456/sqm) and the Balearic Islands (€373/sqm). The lowest prices were recorded in Guadalajara (€72.6/sqm, less than half the national average), Cádiz (€100/sqm) and Tarragona (€101.4/sqm).

Prices rose by just 0.1% in the cities, given that Madrid pushed down the statistics with a decrease of 14%. According to the real estate consultant, José Luis Ruiz Bartolomé, that is a result of the comparison with data from 2015, when “there was very little urban land available in Madrid, and investors sought refuge in plots of land in the most solvent areas, whilst this year land sales have spread across the whole city and are no longer limited to just the central areas”.

In Barcelona, the increase in land prices amounted to 3.5% during Q2 2016.

The Ministry of Development also published statistics yesterday about the appraisal value of unsubsidised homes, which rose by 2% YoY to €1,506.4/sqm in Q2 2016.

After 26 quarters of YoY decreases in house prices, which began at the end of 2008, “this data represents the fifth consecutive quarter of nominal price increases”, said the Ministry. In real terms, in other words, accounting for the effect of inflation, the increase amounted to 2.9%.

Ten autonomous regions reported YoY increases, led by the Balearic Islands (+5.9%), Madrid (+4.8%), Cataluña (+4.6%), the Canary Islands (+2.9%), Extremadura (+2.4%), Ceuta and Melilla (+2.3%) and Galicia (+1.4%). By contrast, the other regions reported YoY decreases – in appraisal prices, not in sales prices – led by Navarra (with a decrease of -2.2%), Aragón (-1.9%), País Vasco (-1.7%) and Cantabria (-1.3%).

House values are now 28.3% lower than their maximum levels, reached during Q1 2008. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Juanma Lamet)

Translation Carmel Drake

Investment Funds Are Still Cautious About Buying Land

10 May 2016 – Idealista

International funds are still finding good investment opportunities in Spain, above all assets owned by Sareb and the banks. Their main objectives include achieving double-digit returns in the office, retail and residential markets. Meanwhile, they are still hesitant about throwing themselves whole-heartedly into the purchase of residential land and construction of homes, although they regard those an investments that have a future.

The economic crisis and subsequent decline of the real estate sector attracted opportunistic funds in search of opportunities in Spain. Now it is completely normal to find these, and other types of funds, in the real estate sector. “The funds were looking for the best investment opportunities with the highest, fastest returns”, said Pedro Abellá, Director of the Real Estate team at HIG Capital, during a forum about investment in the real estate market organised as part of SIMA, which ran from 5-8 May.

“The Spanish real state market is more mature and the investors that are arriving now are coming to add value to the assets through their management. They are no longer in such a hurry to divest, but they are still convinced by the high returns”, said Abellá.

The general decrease in prices in the sector during the crisis created investment opportunities for these funds, which included not only opportunistic funds, but also more established players. Over the years, and with the sector well on its way towards normalisation, experts are continuing to see investment opportunities, above when it comes to assets owned by Sareb and the banks.

The commitment to invest in real estate assets is currently concentrated in the office, retail and even residential home segments; land for development is also on the list, but the experts urge caution. “Property development requires another type of investment and generates other kinds of returns for investors. Not all of the funds are willing to bear the risk of property development”, said Gregg Gilbert, Director for Spain at Benson Elliot Capital Management.

“We are accustomed to other types of investments, where profits are obtained quickly. We should be aware of the fact that we will find returns from property developments. But it is still too early for those returns to be very great”, he said.

The funds are committed to providing experience and capital to renew the assets that they are acquiring, above all offices and hotels, where some investment opportunities still exist. “The stock of offices and hotels in Spain is vast, but it has become somewhat out-dated. It is time to review the supply, in the absence of assets at reasonable prices offering the returns being sought”, said Gilbert.

Those funds that do decide to invest in land should not hesitate to join forces with property developers and construction companies to build homes, but according to experts in the real estate sectors, they are focusing on buildable land in the best locations, which ends up being a small investment for the market as a whole. “There is still a lot of land that needs to be developed, but it is not buildable and it will take some time for it to become urban land. But that all depends on the laws applied by each administration”, said Mario Verdyguer, Director of Investments at Solvia.

Original story: Idealista (by David Marrero)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Speculation Returns To The Market For Land In Madrid & Along The Coast

11 April 2016 – ABC

During the years of the crisis, investors regarded land as one of the least attractive assets. In fact, in the face of scarce demand and the paralysis in the construction sector, land values fell to historic lows. (…).

Sales of urban land, the substratum of real estate developments, are growing again after nine years of consecutive decreases. And they are doing so at a healthy – and on occasion, vertiginous – rate in certain areas of the country where the housing market has already started its recovery, such as the more illustrious areas of major cities, including the north of Madrid and established areas along the coast (Málaga, Palma de Mallorca and the Canary Islands). So much so that a warning is now spreading amongst analysts and agents in the sector: the scarcity of developable land – which does not require land planning approval – in certain areas, and renewed interest from investors is generating a new “overheating” in the price of transactions, something not seen since the burst of the real estate bubble.

The latest “Market Trends” report prepared by Solvia, the real estate arm of Banco Sabadell, warns that the expectation of a strong recovery in value is incubating operations of a speculative nature. “The fact that the supply of well-located land is scarce in areas with demand, that there is widespread liquidity in the market and that there is fierce competition to acquire assets, means that land purchases are being made for speculative purposes, in certain specific cases, for subsequent resale at significantly higher prices”.

In this sense, the study, which does not cite who is behind such transactions, highlights the cases of the Madrilenian neighbourhoods of Valdebebas and Montecarmelo. In the case of the latter, the price of land has risen by between 40% and 60% to €2,400/m2.

Montecarmelo and Valdebebas

Fernando Rodríguez de Acuña, Director General of Operations at the consultancy firm RR de Acuña y Asociados distinguishes between three players in the race for land: the financial entities and large investors, who have put their assets up for sale “in stages” and the small and medium-sized funds, which are more prone to speculative operations given that they seek high short-term yields. The confluence of these players has given rise to a situation in which both the activity and value of these real estate assets have increased significantly, if we exclude the statistical effect of operations carried out by financial entities foreclosing unpaid debt. Thus, the number of transactions carried out by operators in the sector (developers, funds and cooperatives) increased by 37% in 2015 compared with the year before and by 60% in terms of transaction volume. (…).

According to the experts, two operations in particular have caused prices in the land market in the Spanish capital to sky-rocket: firstly, the sale of 14 plots containing more than 93,000 m2 of buildable space, by the Valdebebas Compensation Board to the property developer Pryconsa for more than €55 million and secondly, the acquisition of a plot of land in Montecarmelo by Cogesa, which belongs to the Dragados group, for more than €20 million. (…).

Original story: ABC (by Luis M. Ontoso)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Land Prices In Madrid & Barcelona Have Doubled Since 2012

24 February 2016 – Real Estate Press

The price of urban land in Madrid and Barcelona has more than doubled since the lows of 2012 and is now threatening the recovery of the real estate sector, as property developers are being forced to put homes on the market at prices that consumers are unable to afford.

Domestic property developers are being the most active in denouncing the increase in land prices, driven by the scarcity of urban plots and the difficulties involved in obtaining licences for new developments.

In the case of Valdebebas, a development located 21 kilometres from the centre of Madrid, the ‘repercussion value’ per m2 has increased from €700/m2 at the beginning of 2014 to €1,200/m2 last year, with values now reaching €1,600/m2. “Land prices are increasing at an alarming rate in Madrid and Barcelona”.

According to the real estate consultancy firm Irea, the volume of land purchases tripled last year to reach €929 million (representing 7% of total real estate investment). According to the report, the majority of transactions involved plots of land assigned for development, which accounted for €706 million of the investment, whereby multiplying the figure recorded in 2014 by 7x.

Domestic investors accounted for just 1% of this investment, with real estate companies, many linked to international funds, accounting for 43%. Nevertheless, the bulk of the funds were direct investments by funds (38%) and Socimis (18%), which together invested €523 million.

The largest land purchase operations last year were seen in Barcelona and Madrid. In Cataluña, Neinor Homes, the property developer controlled by the fund Lone Star, purchased land worth €200 million, where it plans to construct 1,500 homes. Moreover, Vía Celere invested €78 million in the development of homes in Barcelona (Magòria and El Fòrum) as part of a joint venture with the fund Chenavari. Meanwhile, Corp acquired land in Sant Boi, Arenys de Mar and Molins de Rei to construct 850 homes. In Madrid, the US fund Castlelake bought a batch of four plots of land for residential use in Boadilla del Monte from Sareb, and Grupo Lar and Pimco joined forces to buy a plot of land in the centre of Madrid for €120 million.

The recovery of land prices is being driven by a rise in prices and sales in the wider real estate market, and has led the primary owners of land, namely Sareb and the financial institutions, to reduce their land sales and opt for direct development instead. Sareb will begin work on 13 housing developments imminently, ten of which will be constructed by Solvia, the real estate arm of Banco Sabadell, one of the most active banks in the development segment, with more than one thousand homes under construction across Spain.

Original story: Real Estate Press

Translation: Carmel Drake