Guest Posts

Do you have something to say about the real-estate market in Spain, Spanish Politics or the state of Europe?

I am currently accepting Guest Post submissions in an attempt to bring more content and some diversity to my blog.

I will accept articles of more than 400 words as long as they are relevant to this blog. They must be related to the real-estate market, or generally about Spain – economy, unemployment etc.

I reserve the right not to publish submissions if I feel they are too opinionated and not factual or if they are not related to Spain or real-estate.

I will of course attribute posts to you and will allow two links; one in the body and one in your author bio.

NB: Some of the stuff I’ve received has been utter rubbish. Zero research, inaccurate facts and figures, auto-generated text, out of date etc, from people claiming to be professional writers. If you can’t be bothered trying, I can’t be bothered publishing. Please only send me quality, accurate, relevant, factual writing.

Send your stuff to aw208@hotmail.com.

I look forward to reading your articles.

Andy

Real-estate challenges in 2012

The Spanish real-estate market faces challenges in 2012 with further financial reforms expected to increase pressure on the banks real-estate portfolios.

This is according to Trends 2012, a survey carried out by CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), which talked to over 200 executives across the sector, all of whom agree that Spanish banks’ surplus stock must be moved before the country could begin to emerge from the crisis.

Of those interviewed a staggering 91% agree that Spain’s banks are not dealing with their real-estate portfolios adequately, and a further 60% think those portfolios will grow during 2012.

Sales figures in 2012 are likely to be similar to last year but smaller deals will be more popular as the corporate and public sector seek to cut costs. Currently, properties in the 100,000 to 120,000 euros price range, with finance available, are seeing the most movement.

“The main task for Spain’s public sector in 2012 is to reduce costs, and in order to do so they need to optimise and manage their real estate assets,” explained Eduardo Fernández-Cuesta, president of CBRE Spain.

“The key to the sector’s recovery is the necessary rationalising of banks’ real estate portfolios. The measures taken by the central government, obliging the banks to amortise assets, point the way forward, but there is still much to be done. The restructuring of the financial system will return confidence and credibility to the real estate sector.”

Experts predict house prices will continue to fall in 2012. However, prices in Madrid and Barcelona are now falling slightly slower than in 2011. Property prices on the Costa del Sol continue to plummet and experts think this will not change until the banks’ surplus stock is reduced.

Decree takes effect tomorrow (March 1st)

The new regularisation decree, designed to help thousands of families living in “irregular” properties, will come into effect tomorrow, March 1st.

The Junta de Andalucía hope to have the situation clarified for all properties on undeveloped land within three months.

Speaking in Málaga last week, Gloria Vega, Secretary General for Planning, said that within that three month period it is hoped that the Junta will have started all relevant proceedings.

The decree was approved last month with the objective of regularising up to 250,000 illegal properties across Ancalucía. Vega was in Málaga to discuss the decree and advise the local authorities.

She said the junta did not intend to make it possible for anyone to build anything anywhere, but to help families who bought a property in good faith and fell to the unscrupulous developers and officials. Vega added that there are some properties that, although made legal under the new decree, would have usage restrictions in place, because the decree cannot modify the legality of some constructions, she explained.

Following questions regarding the regional elections in March, Vega said that in the three months from March 1st, all of the 50,000 irregular properties in Málaga could have their status confirmed, but she would not comment on what would happen if there was a new regional government in place.

Vega also made it clear that any costs incurred in the regularisation process would in no way be paid by the town hall and all costs would have to be met by the property owners.

Bank Holiday

Sorry there was no news yesterday. It was a bank holiday here on the Costa del Sol – Andalucia Day – which means nothing was open, and I wasn’t in the office.

So I spent the day walking on the beach in Cancelada – 20 something degrees, perfect blue sky and the Mediterranean lapping at my feet! Who’s jealous?

Back to normal today.

Andy

 

Spain weighs in on Scotland independence

Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo has stuck his two-pennies in on the subject of Scotland’s independence.

Sr. Garcia-Margallo said his government would “have nothing to say” on the matter of Scotlands independence adding that the constitutional arrangements of the UK nations “is their own business”.

The SNP has welcomed the comments as further evidence that an independent Scotland would remain a member of the EU.

Some critics had recently been stoking the fire under Scotland saying that Spain may veto the Scots EU membership amid worries that it may encourages separatism in Spain, a subject that has long caused tension between some autonomous regions.

Speaking in London following the Somalia conference, Sr. Garcia-Margallo said “If the two parts of the United Kingdom are in agreement that it is in accord with their constitutional arrangement, written or unwritten, Spain would have nothing to say. We would simply maintain that it does not affect us.”

I don’t think it’ll ever happen. An independent Scotland wouldn’t be able to survive without cash from London. We’ll see!

Recession for Spain in 2012, says EU

The European Commission have said that Spain’s economy will fall into recession once again during 2012, adding that additional austerity measures may worsen the situation.

Following a 0.7% expansion of the economy in 2011 the EU predict a 1% contraction this year. The commission had previously predicted growth of 0.7% for 2012.

“Additional fiscal measures in the forthcoming budget may significantly change the picture,” the commission said.

Spain’s efforts to reduce the deficit gap are being stifled by a fall in growth since the final quarter of 2011 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects Spain’s economy, the fourth-largest in the Euro zone, to contract 1.7% this year. This will be the second official recession in as many years and will make it even harder for Rajoy’s government to meet it’s targets.

Private spending will be “significantly weaker” this year, exacerbated by “persistently high” unemployment across the country, the commission said. However, they also expect exports to be “relatively resilient,” as inflation slows to 1.3%, below the euro-average, and down from 3.1% in 2011.

Mariano Rajoy, in power since election victory in November, has already increased taxes and cut spending in efforts to reduce the deficit by around 15 billion euros. He has been waiting the EU forecasts before drafting the budget next month which is expected to contain further spending cuts and tax increases – all part of the plan to reduce the deficit gap to the EU target of 4.4%, a target Rajoy thinks impossible.

Taxed by location

The amount of income tax paid by families in Spain can differ by as much as €3,500 per year depending on where they live, according to a report by the tax consultants’ association (REAF).

The report says that the differences can be explained by differing rates and allowances applied by each autonomous region.

For example, a couple, with a toddler and a baby, with a mortgage and annual income below €43,000 would be expected to pay €3,697.33 in income tax (IRPF), if they lived in Extremadura, Asturias or Aragon.

However, if they lived in the autonomous region of Castilla y Leon the tax would be significantly lower at €249.35, almost €3,599 less. This is because the region provides tax allowances for children and help with childcare costs.

Many taxes have been raised since the crisis began including income tax and wealth tax. Valenti Pich, president of Spain’s Professional Association of Economists said “Above all, other taxes have either been created or have been increased, like those on legal health transactions and tourists occupancy”.

The national governments decision to raise income tax left the autonomous regions with little room for further increases. Regions like Madrid or La Rioja had lower rates than those applied in 2010 meaning they have more scope to apply regional increases, bringing them more in line with the remaining autonomous regions.

Some regions applied a 56% income tax on incomes over €300,000, one of the highest rates in Europe, only beaten in Denmark and Sweden. In some instances an income of €60,000 was liable to 47% tax, again, one of the highest rates in Europe.

Pessimistic Spaniards

According to a new study, Spain is amongst the 10 most pessimistic countries in the world.

The study, carried out by Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index, gauged how people were feeling during the last quarter of 2011.

The report showed that 92% of Spaniards considered the country to be in recession while 70% believed the recession would not end this year.

Although pessimistic, Spain only scored 55, well below the European average. Confidence fell in 24 of the 27 European countries. Only ten countries worldwide scored above 100.

Across Europe the number of people feeling that their financial situation would get worse over the coming months continued to increase.

The report also showed that an increasing number of people are changing their spending habits trying to make savings across the board.

“Overall, consumer discretionary spending will remain restrained and cautious in the first half of 2012,” said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, Chief Economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen.

Spain was less pessimistic than Greece, no surprise there, who scored 41 and Portugal who scored 36, which Nielsen described as “alarming”. Why Portugal is more pessimistic than Greece is not clear.

Employment prospects don’t look good with 88% of those interviewed thinking their job prospects for 2012 were not good.

Spain asks Brussels for easier target

According to reports, Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has told European officials that the debt reduction target of 4.4% will be impossible to meet and has asked to raise the target to 5%.

Officials said Spain is likely log a deficit of 8% for 2011, two points above its target of 6%. In 2010 the figure soared to 9.3 percent.

Government sources say Spain’s savings and reforms will strengthen the economy, which is still suffering from the bursting of the real estate bubble in 2008. Some say the country will enter a new recession in this quarter after only recently recovering from the recession of 2010.

Today experts are expecting the European Commission (EC) to announce revisions to the eurozone growth forecasts following the implementation of spending cuts, tax increases and job losses across the member states.

Finance minister Luis de Guindos said that Spain’s request to lift its debt targets would not appear unusual because there is likely to be a “general reconsideration of targets across the whole of the EU”.

An official said that Spain and other countries may want to use the economic data to get their targets reduced but Brussels was “unlikely” to give in to requests for change so soon.

The ongoing crisis was evident over the weekend when Spain saw 1.5 million protesters across the country objecting to drastic labor reforms recently announced.

Cameron tells Rajoy Gibraltar will decide

David Cameron and Mariano Rajoy
Cameron and Rajoy outside Number 10

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has made his first official visit to England since winning the election in November and was told that Britain will not negotiate with Spain on the question of sovereignty over Gibraltar without the approval of it’s residents.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Cameron, Rajoy said “We have spoken about Gibraltar and the foreign ministers will continue talking in the future. We have different positions, but we will keep talking.”

However, Mr Cameron was less ambiguous in his comments stating that the British position on the subject “has not changed”. Cameron is in favour of letting the Gibraltarians decide who governs them and will not enter into talks with Spain without approval from the islanders.

In 2002 the rocks residents overwhelmingly rejected a proposal which would have seen Britain and Spain sharing sovereignty over the island.

Zapateros socialist government had put the sovereignty talks to one side preferring to pursue efforts to benefit people on both sides of the Spain-Gibraltar border. The tripartite agreement included the UK, Spain and Gibraltar but Madrid have now rejected it in favour of quadripartite talks.

Other issues discussed by the leaders included Spain’s drastic labour reforms and budget cuts, implemented under recommendation from the EU, which brought 1.5 million people on to the streets on Sunday to protest.