latest info on Spain - depressing...............

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Jool
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latest info on Spain - depressing...............

Postby Jool » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:37 pm

From Thinkspain.com.....................

SPANISH PROPERTY NEWS
March 2008 Spanish property market news review
Bullet points news roundup

* The IMF has warned that Spanish property is 15% to 20% overvalued, and that residential investment, at 9% of GDP - second only to Ireland - is way too high. Based on these two metrics Spain has more to worry about than the US, where the property market is undergoing a major slump.
* Spanish property is 40% overvalued if measured against historical rental yields (a type of price-earnings ratio), reveals a new study from the Instituto Juan de Mariana.
* Spanish property transactions fell by 14% to 788,518 in 2007 according to figures from the Spanish property register. New property sales fell by 12.4%, and resales by 15%.
* Asking prices for resale properties fell by 0.6% in Barcelona and Valencia, and 0.1% in Madrid during the first quarter of the year, according to figures from Idealista.com.
* Transaction prices are now 12.5% lower than asking prices in the City of Valencia, according to the estate agents’ association Coapiv.
* A new report from ratings agency Standard & Poor's warns of a painful property market correction in Spain and the UK. The report goes onto say that Spanish property prices could fall by 5% over the next 2 years, which doesn’t sound very painful, and in reality has probably already happened.
* Home insurance premiums have gone up by an average of 4.1% since February last year, according to latest figures from Spain’s national statistics institute.
* Barcelona is running out of water due to a drought and, more importantly, government incompetence. Reservoirs supplying Barcelona are down to less than 20% of capacity, and the water supply is expected to be cut off on an intermittent basis by the autumn. Water restrictions such as hose-pipe bans are already in place.
* Unemployment amongst immigrant construction workers has risen by 92% in the last year. General construction sector unemployment in Malaga (Costa del Sol) is up 44% in a year.
* The property downturn has started to hit government revenues, reducing VAT receipts by 8.2% in the first 2 months of this year.

Not so much hard landing as crash landing

“Brace brace!” Despite 2 years of the government talking up a ‘soft landing’ it looks increasingly as if the Spanish property market is going to miss the runway. If you are on board you might want to lean forward and put your head between your knees.

Almost every day in March there was fresh evidence that the Spanish property market has lost all power in its engines. The national statistics institute revealed that residential property sales collapsed by an average of 27% in January compared to the previous year, with sales plummeting by more than 40% in key regions like Catalonia (-42%) and The Balearics (-45%). For a full regional breakdown of Spanish property sales in January you can have some fun with this table.

Property consultants CB Richard Ellis published a report showing that planning approvals for new homes fell by 25% to 618,503 in the first eleven months of 2007, down from 865,651 planning approvals in the same period 2006. The fall is sure to be more dramatic in 2008, and even a Spanish developer’s association (Asprima) admits that new housing starts could fall by as much as 50% in 2008. If so, that means massive construction sector unemployment, with as many as 600,000 people set to lose their jobs in the construction sector alone. This will hit Spanish economic growth hard, putting further downward pressure on property prices.

But whilst planning approvals and new housing starts are plunging, the number of completed new homes coming onto the market is still rising. According to the CB Richard Ellis report, construction completions rose by 10% in 2007, whilst sales fell by 12%, inflating an already massive stock of around 1 million unsold properties. This trend is set to continue in 2008, as the close to 900,000 planning approvals of 2006 start coming onto the market. This highlights the classic problem of long lead times in the housing sector. Demand, like a speed boat, can slow down very quickly, but trying to reduce supply is like trying to stop a super tanker.

In some areas the market has been almost completely wiped out, particularly in coastal areas with a lot of holiday homes. Procosta – the developer’s association of the Vega Baja region of the south Costa Blanca – has said that sales in the region are down by 80%. The Vega Baja region, which includes towns like Torrevieja and Catral, is a budget destination that has been popular with British buyers.
The exchange rate sends British buyers packing

British buyers , as the second largest group of property buyers after the Spanish, are critical to the Spanish property market. Over the last couple of years British buyers have been turned off Spain by stories of corruption scandals, demolition threats, land grabs, and unease about the market and prices. Now the exchange rate is doing its bit to turn British buyers away. The pound has fallen 7% against the Euro since the start of this year, adding around 11,000 pounds to a typical €200,000 purchase.
Falling confidence saps demand

Demand for property in Spain is now clearly suffering from declining confidence amongst all buyer groups. Hardly a day goes by without the Spanish press reporting the doom and gloom from Spain’s ‘property crisis’, filling the pages with stories of falling prices and failing developers. In a report just released the IMF’s argues that Spanish property prices are overvalued, and will have to fall by 15-20% in real terms to return to fair value. The IMF has been issuing warnings for some time, but only now that market confidence has evaporated are people starting to listen. There will be no rebound until confidence returns to the market, and there is no sign of that happening soon.
Falling property prices

If you believe the government’s figures, then Spanish property prices are still rising, albeit at a much reduced rate of around 4.8%. The government’s figures, however, are notoriously unreliable. Talk to anyone in the business, and the word is that prices are falling, buy as much as 20% or more in some areas. A new study by IESE business school, based on the asking prices published at fotocasa.es – a leading Spanish property portal – finds that average Spanish property asking prices have fallen by 4.3% over 12 months to the end of February, with asking prices falling by 8.3% in the Valencian Region. Having said that, many forum contributors still report that significant prices falls across the board have yet to be seen.
Failing developers

The list of Spanish developers seeking protection from creditors, or reporting liquidity problems gets longer by the day. Developers like Labaro and Grupo Sanchez, with projects in popular coastal areas that have been sold to foreign buyers, have joined the list in March. In the first quarter of 2008 many developers haven’t made a single sale, which means they are now being strangled by falling operating cash flow, rising financial costs, and no access to new credit. Some of the biggest developers in Spain are desperately trying to renegotiate repayment terms on billions of Euros worth of debt.

If anything, the number of developers running into trouble is set to increase over the next few months. This creates dangers and opportunities for potential buyers. On the one hand the present market means that buyers are in a strong negotiating position with developers, most of whom should now bend over backwards to make a sale. But on the other hand, the last thing you want to do is hand over money to a developer who then goes bust. Only buy from the very best developers with a reputation for quality and financial backing you can feel confident about, and don’t make any payments without a bank guarantee.
Town hall corruption cases multiply

Whilst the property market chokes, and developers struggle to stay afloat, the true extent of town hall corruption in Spain is becoming ever more apparent. Town hall corruption is nothing new, but it flourished like never before during Spain’s recent property boom.

Almost every week one reads of local politicians and officials being arrested on corruption charges, almost always relating to real estate deals. The mayor of Zurgena, in Almeria, has just been arrested, along with the boss of a developer called New Horizon Villages, which specialises in building and selling property to British buyers in the region.

But the biggest news is the arrest of Daniel García Madrid, the mayor of Torre Pacheco in Murcia, and former lawyer of Fecundo Armero – one of the founders of Polaris World. Fecundo Armero, who sold his stake in Polaris World to a group of investors including Credit Suisse for 300 million Euros is also being investigated, and, inevitably, so is Polaris World. José Luis Hernández – president of Polaris World – has been called in for questioning, as have other members of Polaris World’s management. It’s going to be interesting to see where this investigation leads.
The Valencia ‘land grab’ saga rumbles on

The petitions committee of the European parliament has once again censured The Valencian Region for its vicious ‘land grab’ law (known as the LUV - Ley Urbanística Valenciana, which replaced an even worse law known as the LRAU - Ley Reguladora de la Actividad Urbanística). This law enables unscrupulous developers and corrupt mayors to collude in expropriating land from private owners, and force them to contribute tens of thousands of Euros to the cost of urbanising the land taken from them.

British MEPs Michael Cashman and Neil Parish asked for the Spanish government to impose a moratorium on new building projects until the land grab problem has been resolved, whilst Austrian MEP Herbert Bösch proposed that EU financial contributions to The Valencian Region be frozen until the land grab problem is sorted. “I’m surprised that the Spanish haven’t come up with a better way to get rich than robbing land from owners,” said Swedish MEP Ulla-Britta Perret.

Condemnation of Valencia’s urban planning law was almost universal, with only some right-wing Spanish MEPs supporting it. Most Spanish MEPs joined in the condemnation, but the government of Valencia’s response has been to dismiss all criticism as unfounded. “What we need is more building projects, and also more golf courses to generate tourism,” was Valencian environmental and urban development minister Jose Ramon Garcia Anton’s response to the request for a building moratorium.

Michael Cashman has proposed that the European parliament prepares another report on the abuses being carried out under Valencia’s urban planning law. This proposal will be considered by the EU parliament on May 26.
Spanish banking exposure to real estate is “frightening” says a big cheese

Miguel Blesa, head of Caja Madrid – one of Spain’s biggest savings banks – has said that the real estate exposure of some Spanish financial institutions is “frightening”. International money markets seem to share this opinion, with The Daily Telegraph reporting that foreign banks have been dumping Spanish mortgaged debt at a 40pc discount. Even so, Spanish banks are managing to issue bonds, but it is costing them around ten times more than a year ago. This is having a negative impact on the property market, as a lack of liquidity forces banks to cut back on mortgage lending. Reduced mortgage lending puts downward pressure on property prices, which puts bank balance sheets under strain, forcing them to cut back on lending, and so on. It’s what they call a vicious circle.
Mortgage news

Euribor for February 2007: 4.59%

Euribor – the interest rate most commonly used to calculate mortgage payments in Spain – rose strongly in March to 4.59%, reversing a trend of falling Euribor rates in the first 2 months of the year. This was the biggest monthly increase in Euribor since March 2006, and by the end of the month Euribor was well above 4.7%

Euribor is now 12% higher than it was a year ago, and the March rise means that borrowers on annually-resetting variable rate mortgages will see their annual mortgage payments rise by an average of 480 Euros. According to the National Statistics Institute the average Spanish mortgage has a value of €142,793, and a term of 26 years, which means a €40 rise in monthly mortgage repayments from €786 to €826.

Euribor is derived from European Central Bank (ECB) base rates, which were left unchanged at 4% in March. The ECB has made clear that controlling inflation remains its primary concern, warning that base rates may even have to rise to choke off inflation in the Euro zone. The ECB’s reiteration of its hawkish stance in March helps explain why Euribor has started to rise again after 2 months of declines. Euro Zone inflation reached 3.5% in March, well above its target rate of below but close to 2%. Inflation in Spain rose to 4.6% in March.

All of this means that falling mortgage rates are unlikely to ride to the rescue of the Spanish property market. If anything, mortgage rates in Spain are set to continue rising, putting further pressure on household budgets, and reducing demand for Spanish property.
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Postby TC » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:43 pm

Were doomed!!!!
grass is always greener

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Wicksey
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Postby Wicksey » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:11 pm

Isn't this the same as any housing market? There is massive demand which increases prices, the developers go mad thinking that there's no end in sight and the banks lend money recklessly. Just as in the UK, the prices of houses cannot keep going up at the rate that they have. How many times do you hear that "prices of property have doubled in the past x years" - all very well if you are out to make a quick profit, but not so good for those who are struggling to get onto the housing ladder and whose wages have not doubled! All you ever hear from the UK is that people aren't spending enough - Christmas sales are 0.01% down on last year - blah blah blah :roll: . One minute they are saying that, and the next complaining about the amount of debt everybody is in! Surely the only reason house prices appear to be falling is that they were way too high in the first place??

Unfortunately it's just the greed of those in government here, local and central, that thought that the boom would never end. Construction has been allowed to get out of hand and everyone has turned a blind eye to all the illegal properties whilst it was making them money. No-one cares or considers the shortage of water, electricity supply and water treatment works, but still hundreds of pisos are being built here in Torrox, never mind the rest of the country. I read the other day that Nerja wants to build 6,700 homes ..... why?? I keep hoping that one day they'll see sense, with so many blocks of flats in construction, and many more finished and still for sale ...........

.........as you will gather, this is something that rather annoys me :oops:

Don

Postby Don » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:22 pm

I think I agree with you Wicksey. So many times it is the greed of the developers which causes problems. Now if houses were really just homes and priced as such instead of speculator's dreams, would we have all this here and in the UK?

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Postby fizzbang » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:37 pm

It is looking very bad...depressing almost...I'll just go and ask my spanish neighbour.....Nah, He is too busy harvesting his olives and living the same life he and his family have lived for decades...The only people that get so down over this are those that are greedy themselves or those that are trying to sell up. The average Spanish farmer just carries on farming and living his life as he has always.

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Postby Jool » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:40 pm

Yes I completely agree but for those of us caught up in it who want to move on elsewhere and leave corrupt Spain behind..........

I do think developers and planning needs more regulation than Agents, if the developers were prevented from ever building too much or in the wrong places and this was imposed at regional level from the top, and town halls were financed properly instead of being so dependent on build and renovation licences for income - see other post on fines for not getting a licence to change floor tiles INSIDE a house......then there would be no illegal builds or properties to mis-sell as all would be clear and legal from the first grain of sand moved........

In my opinion the entire system of planning and building and development needs a major overhaul..........with limits placed, otherwise it will implode for years to come as there is value in a limited supply not an over supply.......and this would breed confidence

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Postby Wicksey » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:01 pm

I don't know whereabouts you are, Fizzbang, but many of the local farmers here are the ones that have sold their land to speculators and are all now driving around in shiny new 4x4s!

I agree with you Jool. There have always been planning laws here, they just haven't been enforced. My OH was a Chartered Town Planner in the UK - it took him 4 years of study and 2 years 'practice' to become fully qualified (slightly more than some of the local town planners I think!) If anyone dared to have a small pile of sand delivered to their house in his area in the UK, the neighbours would immediately be on the phone to see what was happening. If someone started building illegally the enforcement officers would be sent in to deal with it straight away, whereas here no-one from the local council would be interested - it would probably be a relation of theirs anyway!

The local councils have got a lot to answer for and even if they weren't behind a lot of the illegal building (by issuing illegal building permits), they certainly sat there and did absolutely nothing to prevent it happening. The only people who really seem to be suffering are those that have ended up with an illegal property through no fault of their own, having got what they believed to be bona fide permissions from the local mayor's office.

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Postby katy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:10 pm

fizzbang wrote:It is looking very bad...depressing almost...I'll just go and ask my spanish neighbour.....Nah, He is too busy harvesting his olives and living the same life he and his family have lived for decades...The only people that get so down over this are those that are greedy themselves or those that are trying to sell up. The average Spanish farmer just carries on farming and living his life as he has always.
Probably smirking too as he has just sold another wreck to some Brits at 400% mark up :wink:

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Postby Bongtrees » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:18 pm

All of my Spanish friends are deeply concerned after having watched 2 programmes on Spains C4 on Friday night.

For all of them it was the first time they have seen anything about the level of abuse and corruption regarding planning and building.

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Postby Jool » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:22 pm

Yes I think it is finally becoming SO obvious that even the spanish cannot shrug and turn a blind eye, its not just us, they too are in for a very rough ride and have been shielded from what other countries think about spain and how all the negativity about building illegalities etc is perceived elsewhere. Their media is very controlled and biased....... Our mortgage went up by 25% this year and now another rise is anticipated too making it 40% more expensive than it was just 4 months ago...........yet our income has gone down and cash flow is not flowing as it did.......negative exchange rate etc. The only way we can bail out is to be re-possessed so it is a struggle right now and there are thousands like us of all nationalities..........

Perhaps if the spanish en masse accept that some change is good as it protects them as well as others life will take a permanent change for the better in Spain. Spanish Authorities are arrogant and always take what they want from any legislation but do not honour it by playing their part properly. Sometimes I find this admirable as some EU laws are too ridiculous and counter to common sense for words, but on matters of proper building and planning then it should be sorted out EU wide, as the newer countries like Bulgaria and Romania are now at the beginning of building booms and I know some dodgy and dodgier´s from Spain who are now over there to make money and left loads of debts behind here...... so there will be forums like this for those countries in 10 or so years time....... :!:

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Postby Miro » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:43 pm

Bongtrees wrote:All of my Spanish friends are deeply concerned after having watched 2 programmes on Spains C4 on Friday night.

For all of them it was the first time they have seen anything about the level of abuse and corruption regarding planning and building.
This is one of funniest things I've read for some time :lol: :lol: :lol: If this is true (about them not knowing what's been going on, on their own doorsteps) then they really are dumber than they appear!

Still laughing.........
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Postby katy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:06 pm

I am not suprised. spanish are one of the lowest readers of newspapers and apart from marbella there is very little news on Tv about corruption.

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Postby Miro » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:21 pm

Do you think that maybe the poor level of English language instruction in Spain (compared to just about every other country in Europe, possibly the world) is a government conspiracy, to avoid Spaniards reading the English press?
Don't worry about what people think, they don't do it very often

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Postby costakid » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:10 pm

Same old same old. All doom and gloom on here at the moment. would be really nice if someone posted a massive positive about spain for once. We love it and i cant see that chaging in the near future.

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Postby Miro » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:13 pm

It p*ssed down today on the Costa del Sol.
That's gotta be good for the reservoirs, right? :lol:
Don't worry about what people think, they don't do it very often

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Postby Beachcomber » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:21 pm

I have been showing a recording of the first half hour of Holiday Homes From Hell to various English speaking Spaniards of my acquaintance and the reaction has varied from total disbelief and denial to resigned acceptance of the situation. Most don't have a clue about what is going on under their own noses unless it affects them directly.

I also have a friend in Almería who is a lawyer (yes, such a combination, incredibly, does exist) and he claims to know nothing about the problem of allegedly illegal builds and the actions of the Junta. However, to be fair, he is a proper lawyer not a property conveyancer with a law degree.

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Postby Miro » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:35 pm

I confess that I do not read the Spanish papers or watch Spanish TV, but I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the Spanish press is as censored as, well, probably the Tibetan press.
Last summer it was evident from converstaions with a Spanish neighbour that the Spanish papers had the Hamilton - Alonso story all wrong :!: , but can they really be so ignorant ("total disbelief") or arrogant ("denial") about the property scandals blighting the place?

I'm still left standing and staring in awe and wonder everytime I see someone park on a zebra crossing, but this really takes the biscuit!! Now I'm truly amazed.[/i]
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Postby Paula » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:58 pm

Well I've wondered about this. I have a Spanish friend who has a fairly good job in Marbella in IT. She is from Madrid, and her family (large) are all professionals. The rest all live and work in Madrid, and own properties on Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca as holiday homes. Now she knew about the Marbella corruption, but she tells me she knows little about the Valencian land grab, or the Vera demolition, or any other so called "illegal status" of homes etc. It appeared that her take on what she knew was that there were individual cases where the owners were at fault. Nothing along the lines of corruption.
When I discussed with her (and her family) the bad press that Spain is receiving in the UK, they were shocked that the UK media should portray Spain as corrupt, and felt that foreigners and immigrants are to blame "for breaking rules".
I was pretty shocked. :shock:
Now get her on the subject of womens rights or lack of in Spain and she is very clued up, and gives Spain a real pasting.

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Postby Jool » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:42 pm

Yes that is precisely it Paula, the spanish pèople toe the stated official line "the buyer is to blame" and that the Authorities have and therefore take zero responsibility for anything.

I read elsewhere that an Agent was fined mega bucks (tens of thousands) for not complying with the new law on property sales. This Agent says he asked the Authorities to help him comply so he did not transgress again and they said "No help, you should know it" yet there is no responsibility on any official bodies to inform any business what the rules are, even when they first register and this Agent had already told them he had not complied as he did not know the law existed!!! Seems to me this is being enforced as another way to generate income now that illegal build licences have gone down the drain etc..........

I often travel in to other regions and Andalucia is regarded as one of the most corrupt and least organised regions of all........even non local spanish say to avoid it.........its a pesadilla.......

THe whole media thing is exactly the Alonso - Hamilton issue, Alonso, spanish macho man all bravado and no substance or sense of justice yet seen as the wronged one when we can all see he cheated time and time again and is nothing more than a spoilt brat sneak........he may drive well but what an ambassador for his country as soon as any real competition comes along.........sorry I´m getting in to a rant now but its time people realised just how censored Spain´s media is.

When do you ever see a hard hitting documentary on spanish TV? When do you ever see an exposé of government in Spain, not matter what level with real journalism in it? To me it seems there is institutionalised corruption, bias and censorship........

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Postby Miro » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:03 pm

Paula wrote:..... they were shocked that the UK media should portray Spain as corrupt, and felt that foreigners and immigrants are to blame "for breaking rules".
I was pretty shocked. :shock:
Perhaps therein lies a fundamental difference between the British and Spanish culture / mentality? Whilst the Brits like to blame many of their country's woes on mass immigration, they are under no illusion as to whose fault the immigration is in the first place. Maybe encouraged by a truly free media, Brits are quick to condemn their own - i.e. their own government, thereby in effect blaming themselves - after all, they elected the idiots. But your average Spaniard will never concede that Spain or the Spanish people could be responsible for anything - it's got to be someone else's fault, i.e. foreigners. Talk about bite the hand that feed you!

The more I follow this thread, the more convinced I am that the Spanish press is heavily censored and/or biased, and also that my earlier, slightly tongue in cheek comment about the poor standard of English tuition being a conspiracy to keep Spaniards in the dark, is actually true. On the other hand, perhaps that's just the way they like it. After all, when did you last hear of a Spaniard taking an overseas vacation, and when you did, was it to anywhere other than another Spanish-speaking country? Britain may be an island, but I think the Spanish people in general are far more insular.
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