Posts Tagged ‘Recovery’


April 22nd, 2010

Spanish property purchases were up by almost 19% in February compared with the same month last year, with 41,033 sale & purchase operations being recorded, consolidating the 2.1% increase recorded in January.

The latest figures, released today by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) show the biggest increase so far during the recession, with no increases at all having been recorded since 2008 until the beginning of this year.

In absolute terms, Andalucia recorded the highest number of homes sold in February (7,449), followed by Madrid (7,018), Catalunya (5,514) and Valencia (4,896).

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April 21st, 2010

A surge of foreign lifestyle buyers and investors has split the Spanish property market. Sales are up 200% in some regions compared with 2009 – despite the Bank of Spain claiming that last year was the worst in a decade for foreign property investment in Spain.

Parts of Spain are doing really well at the moment but there are two completely different markets. The split has seen lifestyle buyers choosing less built-up areas such as the Axarquia, where prices are at their most affordable level for years. Meanwhile, investors are looking for distressed bargains in over-developed locations such as the southern Costa Blanca.

Building restrictions in the Axarquia over the last few years have kept stock levels relatively low, while a glut of homes has emerged in other destinations on the Costa del Sol. In areas like the Axarquia and Colmenar the offer is quite limited already. The British know Andalucia is a premium location and are taking advantage of interesting current prices.

Story from OPP

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April 17th, 2010

There’s a growing feeling of confidence amongst prospective overseas property buyers, according to Conti, the overseas mortgage specialist. It’s just had its busiest month for almost a year in terms of mortgage ‘go aheads’, the point where prospective buyers take their mortgage quotes through to the application stage. These increased by 48 per cent during March, compared with the previous monthly average. The proportion of prospective buyers progressing from the quote stage to the go ahead stage has also increased, suggesting that buyers are becoming more serious about their intended investment.

Despite the turbulence unleashed on the UK mortgage market by the global banking crisis, Conti says that overseas mortgage providers have a healthy appetite for lending to foreign investors. But a combination of factors, not just mortgage availability, are contributing to the attractiveness of this market. Falling property prices, in some cases by up to 50 per cent, and historically low interest rates are making it much more affordable, despite the current strength of the euro.

Clare Nessling, Conti’s Operations Director, says: “Falling property prices across many European destinations mean that the chance of owning a place in the sun may never be better, and historically low interest rates mean it’s become even more affordable for British buyers. The most popular destinations amongst our clients are still France and Spain, both of which come with easy access and good rental opportunities. Confidence is definitely growing, but there’s also an element of buyers snapping up bargains in traditional hotspots while they have the chance.”

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April 16th, 2010

The latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) show that the Spanish property market grew by 16% in February compared to the same month last year, building on the trend started in January. This suggest the market has touched bottom and is starting to recovery after 2 years of declines, at least in some areas. Not including social housing, there were 35,720 home sales in February, 21,368 of them newly built and 19,665 resales.

Story by Mark Stucklin

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March 15th, 2010

The bust is dead, the Spanish property market’s recovery has begun! That’s how some leading daily papers like El Pais are interpreting the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) showing the market grew ever so slightly in January. Well, I wouldn’t try to claim a vigorous recovery is underway, but there’s no denying the market appears to have found a floor, which is an improvement on the 2 years plus of monthly declines we had before.

So what happened? Well, figures for January from the INE show that, excluding social housing, there were exactly 34,000 sales in January, up 1.4% over 12 months. A year-on-year increase of 1.4% is no big deal, but it’s a much needed respite when it is the first time in 3 years that the market has actually grown. And it’s difficult to dismiss it as a one off, because it is clear that the market has now found a floor around 30,000 transactions per month.

But, of course, we have to keep in mind that the market in January was 56% smaller than it was in January 2007, when it stood at 77,400 sales per month. So a year-on-year improvement is good news, but peak-to-trough the market is still just a shadow of its former self. Until that situation changes, there’s not much to cheer about.

If you dig into the figures you find that most of the improvement is now coming from resales, not new builds, as the chart shows. New build sales kept the market from total annihilation last year, but I’ve been warning for months that, sooner or later, they might fall off a cliff.

Story by Mark Stucklin

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February 9th, 2010

The number of Brits buying euros for property purchases has increased in the last few days after sterling reached a rate of €1.15 for the first time since August 2008.

Foreign currency brokers have seen a 40% increase in clients buying euros, while new enquiries have shot up by 24%.

“A number of our clients in the market for euros are taking advantage of the improved exchange rate and buying their euros for overseas mortgage payments, property purchases etc now,” World First’s head of private clients, Elisabeth Dobson, told OPP.

“They are delighted to be getting a rate that is up to 12% better than the lows we have seen over the last 17 months. There are a number of clients who will have been holding off on property purchases and overseas investments due to sterling’s weakness against the euro. This rate move will certainly spur people on.”

A run of economic good news from the UK, including a fall in unemployment, rising inflation and an anticipation that the country is out of recession, has helped increase the pound’s strength. Meanwhile, economic problems in Spain and Greece have weakened consumer confidence in the euro.

Not all currency brokers have seen a substantial increase in business. “€1.15 is a bit of psychological barrier but most clients are still waiting for the magic €1.20 number,” Marc Morley-Freer, commercial director at Moneycorp, told OPP. “After the UK election we could see improvements that could push people to make lifestyle purchases – things are too uncertain before then.”

World First’s chief economist Jeremy Cook remains bullish following sterling’s 9% growth over the last year. “I don’t think this run in particular will last because it has happened so quickly, but the pound could be up to around €1.22 by the end of the year,” he told OPP.

Story from OPP

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December 2nd, 2009

Once a star performer in Europe’s 11-year old monetary union, Spain has become the wayward laggard. Growth data last week showed the Spanish economy – hit badly by a property market collapse and soaring unemployment – stuck firmly in recession in the third quarter, while the eurozone as a whole grew 0.4 per cent. The rollercoaster ride might suggest the European Central Bank would have difficulty calibrating policy steps to suit Spain and the other 15 eurozone countries.

During the economic crisis, Miguel Fernández Ordóñez, Spain’s central bank governor since 2006, has rarely given interviews. Talking to the Financial Times in the library of the bank’s plush Madrid headquarters, he strikes a distinctly cautious tone, but his messages are not so different from those of his colleagues in Frankfurt.

After the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank last year, the ECB cut its main interest rate farther and faster than ever before, to a record low of 1 per cent. He hints this monetary policy stance will remain for some time. “It is clear that any increase in [interest] rates is off the screen. The markets do not expect any change before the second half of next year,” he says.

He agrees, however, that with financial markets normalising, the ECB’s governing council should plan to remove emergency support, such as offers of unlimited liquidity for up to one year. “My reasoning is that those measures were exceptional because the markets did not work well. When the markets are working well, we should take them away because otherwise the markets will never work perfectly, ever. Support should be exceptional.”

Jean-Claude Trichet, the ECB’s president, indicated this month that the “exit strategy” would start in December, with the ending of one-year liquidity offers.

But is Spain ready for the start of such an ECB strategy, given its weak growth prospects? “Well, it’s ready for recovery,” Mr Fernández Ordóñez replies, “because recovery in Europe is the best news for Spain.” Some 70 per cent of Spain’s exports go to the eurozone, he points out. His biggest concern is that Spain pushes harder to bring public finances under control and increase labour market flexibility.

From one perspective, eurozone membership acts as a straitjacket in a downturn because devaluation is not an option. Worse, the euro is strengthening. Mr Fernández Ordóñez does not see things that way, however. “Of course you are right that we cannot devalue, and what does it mean? This means that we have to do more structural reforms so that you have the advantages [similar to those] of devaluing.”

As such, he is happy to see Spanish consumer prices falling faster than elsewhere. “Deflation in the euro area would be a disaster. But if you don’t have deflation in the euro area and we have a negative inflation differential in Spain compared with the rest of the eurozone, that would be the best thing. Reducing prices and regaining competitiveness is what we have to do.”

Story from

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November 28th, 2009

I recently read an interesting interview with Mikel Echavarren, head of Irea, a Spanish real estate consultancy, talking about the state of the real estate sector in Spain. As an experienced professional in touch with many different companies in the sector it is worth listening to what he has to say. Here is a selection of comments from his Q&A with Idealista News, the news section of the property portal Idealista.

Do you think there are any good investment opportunities in Spanish real estate today?
I think so but they are risky. In three years we’ll probably be kicking ourselves for not advising investors to invest now. There aren’t many opportunities in commercial real estate because there isn’t much product and rents haven’t yet adjusted. In residential, on the other hand, the correction has been very strong and fast. The ideal profile now is an opportunistic investor buying properties off banks by taking on the existing debt, a type of real estate venture capital.

So you think there are opportunities in a residential sector because the adjustment has already taken place?
There are hundreds of thousands of possible transactions, but not many genuine opportunities. What there is not is any financing, so anyone who wants to take advantage of this market has to take the debt with the asset, but there are still very few people prepared to do that today.

Has the price of housing and land touched bottom?
House prices touched bottom some time ago, they have already fallen all they had to fall. And the price of land has fallen faster than house prices although it could even fall a bit more. We have been saying at the top of our lungs that the price statistics published by the government are worthless, and damaging to the sector because they give international analysts the impression we are a country of idiots. In the US and the UK prices have fallen around 20% from the peak whilst here we have only fallen by 8%. We work with close to 28 property companies that have been restructured, and you see that valuations are down 30% in 2 years, and then banks buy those assets with discounts of 10-15% off valuations.

Do you think there is any residential property that will never sell?
What there is is a stock of land that will never be sold, at least not in 10 years. There are areas of Spain where the town plans look like they were designed for an invasion of extraterrestrials, parts of Almeria, Murcia and Alicante. There is an overdose of land that will lie in the warehouses of banks for many years. On the other hand, the stock of finished property will be absorbed sooner.

Is there any real demand for housing at the moment?
Yes, quite a few homes are being sold. We would have to place it at more than 200,000 homes a year. What is not selling is off-plan, as there you take the risk of the developer or builder going bankrupt. It’s a good time to buy newly built homes with Euribor at 1.24%. They won’t be any cheaper next year. And when prices start to rise they will do so at a rate of 10% per year.

How does one get the Spanish property sector to recover?
The residential sector is already recovering, just not the developers, who won’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for three years; it is very bleak for them. Clients of ours tell us they have sold a lot this summer, and some banks tell us that they have had more mortgage requests this summer than in all 2009. Furthermore, we believe that developers have dropped their prices to the minimum. There is mortgage financing available, not much, but there wasn’t any at all in 2008, and now there is. Mortgage costs are low, and it appears that the future is not going to get any worse. The recovery is underway, although this won’t show up in the official statistics until the first half of 2010. As soon as there is a general perception that things are getting better, house prices will stop falling and start rising.

Story from Idealista News

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November 26th, 2009

The market for new homes is on the road to a mild recovery, claims the G-14 group of Spain’s leading developers. Sales of newly built homes will continue “consolidating in the coming months” said Pedro Pérez, head of the G-14. Let’s hope this is not just wishful thinking by developers desperate for the market to start mopping up the glut of properties they created.

There is some basis for the developer’s optimism in the latest sales figures from the National Institute of Statistics. Sales of newly built properties increased by 7.6% from August to September, though on an annualised basis sales were down 20%.

“It’s been comforting to see sales rise for the 5th consecutive month, something that means we can say that the sector is recovering since it touched bottom in April,” Pérez told the Spanish press.

Sales are bouncing back thanks to lower prices and more selective mortgage lending by banks, argue the developers.

The recovery in sales will continue in the months ahead, says Pérez, in part because developers will make “every effort possible” to make prices more attractive.

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September 19th, 2009

The sharp housing correction that has sent Spain’s economy into a tailspin is bottoming out, Housing Minister Beatriz Corredor told parliament Wednesday.

“Recent indicators show a trend toward stabilization in the housing market,” Corredor said.

Spain’s once-buoyant housing market collapsed last year as the global financial crisis worsened a correction that was already underway after years of overbuilding and spiraling house prices.

Data Tuesday from Spain’s national statistics institute showed the number of houses sold in Spain rose 4.7% in July, their third consecutive month-on-month gain, though they were down 20% from July last year.

Falling housing prices and interest rates are helping to improve the affordability of housing, Corredor added, saying this should stimulate demand.

The government has offered incentives to convert unsold homes into rental properties or to sell them to qualified buyers in social-housing programs. It has also said it will limit current tax incentives on home purchases from 2011 in an attempt to bring forward decisions to buy.

In a note to investors Wednesday, Citigroup economist Giada Giani said the rise in July home sales points to an improvement in Spanish property demand, but noted that housing construction indicators continue to “decline sharply, depressed by the huge amount of unsold inventories.”

Story from Nasdaq

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