The real estate sector detects a change of profile in investors, no longer so opportunistic, more stable and with more knowledge of the business
The case of Diagonal Mar is paradigmatic. This commercial center of Barcelona explains to a large extent the behavior of the investment market in Spain in the last years, after the explosion of the real estate bubble - and financial, the fall to hell and the recovery that accelerated from 2014. Diagonal Mar fell into the hands of the bad Irish bank. It is what banks called the assets awarded, a euphemism to name those buildings and apartments that banks have had to stay, mobilizing a lot of money for provisions.
The bank, in order to free these provisions and, therefore, to loosen ballast, began to sell these assets to those who at that time made an offer. That's when the so-called opportunistic funds - also called Vulture Fountains - appeared to be detected, although they detest this name for obvious reasons - which are bought at a very low price to sell in a short period of time at a high price, thus obtaining some great gains.
Returning to the example of Diagonal Mar, in 2013 the bad Irish bank, called NAMA, sold it to an opportunistic fund, Northwood Investors. He bought it at the worst moment, when real estate assets were cheaper, and he paid 160 million euros. Three years later, last summer, he sold it for 495 million euros. In three years, capital gains of 335 million euros. And the buyer was no longer one of these opportunistic funds, but he was left with a professional investment fund from the Deutsche Bank real estate sector.
It is not the only case. The ABC Serrano mall in Madrid was one of the great Spanish real estate, Royal Urbis. With the crisis of the sector, in 2013 he sold it to IBA Capital Partners for 60 million euros. In December 2015, the assets became part of a shareholder, Zambal Spain. And a few months later Zambal sold it to a joint firm of CBRE and IBA Capital for 140 million euros. In just three years, 133% had been revalued assets that went from real estate to a fund, to one cent, to end up in the hands of a fund that is not opportunistic but of the real estate sector, managed by CBRE.
Operations like this took place with other similar assets, such as the Plenilunio shopping centers in Madrid and Puerto Venecia de Zaragoza, which went to the hands of the Orion CapitalManagers fund, which was later sold with significant gains for one global figure of 826 million euros.
The change in type of investors has been described by the managing director of the consultant Aguirre Newman in Barcelona, Anna Gener. "The profile of the current buyers is of large international capital funds and socimis," he explains, adding that "opportunistic profiles are now residual." According to this expert in the sector, now the funds that bets - and invest - in the real estate market "are core, that is, the sector and specialized, who are looking for little risk and come with a vocation for permanence." This means that many of the investors who land in Spain - and in Catalonia and Barcelona - are of a more real estate profile and with projects that have a behavior of transformation of assets.
The phenomenon is explained by Hipólito Sánchez, investment director of Aguirre Newman. "The years 2012 and 2013 the funds came to buy cheap because there was a risk," he says, but stresses that "now there are no opportunistic operations." In fact, Sanchez believes that during the year 2017 there will be more product on the market, because those who bought at cheap prices will bring the assets to the market.
The phenomenon is not only in the sector of shopping centers, stores, offices or logistics. It passes through all subsectors of the real estate business. The Barcelona Housing Manager, Javier Burón, acknowledges that specialized funds in the real estate sector and also family offices -economic investment societies- of Catalan families are buying residential assets.
This investor profile has also been detected by Òscar Gorgues, Manager of the House of Urban Property of Barcelona, which says that many investors, including families and members of the Chamber, are buying apartments as an investment, attracted by profitability that they can not get with other assets. Fixed income has a minimal profitability, it says, and if there is a fear of going to equities, the best option for investors is these types of real estate assets, which seem to be safe and profitable.
Hipólito Sánchez also describes this new type of investor. The bundle tells the family offices and also the insurance companies that need to have safe assets. To these profiles, he indicates, there is a new addition: the occupants of offices that begin to buy the space they occupy.