Spain’s so called “bad bank”, Sareb, where rescued lenders offloaded soured real estate loans, said this week that it’s home sales had considerably accelerated this year, highlighting a revival in the property market.
Sareb, which was created in an attempt to help clean up the country’s financial sector, had sold over 5,000 homes to buyers by the end of April, compared to 9,000 over the entirety of last year.
“It’s time to invest in the property market because it is stabilising in terms of price,” Sareb chairwoman, Belen Romana, said at a Madrid property event on Wednesday.
Lending for new mortgages in Spain has seen a 2 per cent year on year growth in March, the latest official data has shown.
Spanish house prices have already fallen up to 40 per cent since the pre crisis peak in 2007. The property recession had pushed many banks to the brink of collapse, and some had to rely upon European bailouts to cope, resulting in a total cost of US$56 billion.
Rescued banks transferred around 200,000 assets to Sareb, over 80 per cent of which were loans to developers, whilst the rest consists of housing developments, commercial real estate and land.
Increased revenues from rising house sales will be crucial this year for the government-backed Sareb, when it is expected that it will take a hit from newly imposed Bank of Spain rules on how to account for assets which have decreased in value.
The bank, which has 14 years remaining it which to sell off its stock, may have to revise some of its business targets downwards as a result, according to two sources familiar with the matter, who were talking to Reuters this week.
In 2013, the vehicles first year, they made a significant loss, as its initial startup was faced by high costs, however, this was expected and had already been forecast. Although, they had originally projected profits for 2014.
The new rules from the Bank of Spain are still being drafted, but they could force Sareb to revalue some of the 51 billion assets it took on at zero, if they do not carry certain guarantees and have been in default for longer than 18 months.
Belen Romana refused to comment on wednesday on what sort of impact she was expecting, saying only that “we will do what we have to do.”
She also informed the event that Sareb has sold a portfolio of land worth more that 80 million euros, the only time it has managed to shift some of these assets, although she declined to reveal the name of the buyer or the actual purchase price.
A package of land plots worth over 350 million euros was put on the market by Sareb last October, and it has taken over 8 months to dispose of it. The price of land was hit harder than anything else during the crisis, and many plots, particularly in rural areas are now considered completely worthless by property experts.
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