The Denial on Housing in Spain
By Claus Vistesen
I am sure many of my readers will have caught this Bloomberg piece earlier this week, but if you haven’t it is a brilliant piece of journalism by Bloomberg reporters Sharon Smyth, Neil Callanan and Dara Doyle. The story takes us to Spain and Ireland and the former’s denial with regards its housing market.
In the stages of death of a real estate boom, Spain is still in denial. In Ireland, they’re moving toward acceptance. The first auction of one of 2,000 unfinished housing estates takes place tomorrow at the Shelbourne Hotel in central Dublin, with sales expected to fetch cents on the euro, showing the Irish may be closer to the end than the beginning.
“Ireland faced up to its problems faster than others and we expect growth there rather soon,” said Cinzia Alcidi, an analyst at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. “In Spain, there was kind of a denial of the scale of the problem and it may be faced with many years of significant challenges before full recovery takes place.”
Spain, Europe’s fifth-largest economy, is the current focus of attempts to contain the region’s sovereign debt crisis, as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy struggles to quell speculation it will need a bailout. Developers are showing similar optimism. They continue to build even with 2 million homes vacant around the country, new airports that never saw a single flight being mothballed, and property appraisers and banks reporting values have fallen only about 22 percent, said Encinar, who estimates the real decline is probably at least twice that.
Another passage that was staggering to my mind was the comments by Miguel Angel Garcia Nieto, mayor of Avila (a town showcased in the article), that this is just an interim soft spot as a result of the crisis and that oversupply and overcapacity will eventually be absorbed.
“When we approved the first urban plan back in 1998 there was an unprecedented demand for homes,” Nieto said in a telephone interview on April 19. “Yes, there is oversupply at the moment because of the financial crisis and everyone’s gone back home to live with their parents, but it’s not because there is lack of demand. When the economy gets back on track I am confident the supply will be absorbed.”
Hope, as they say, springs eternal.