At least one property agency in Spain is reporting brisk sales. Sareb, the so-called bad bank established to dispose of distressed bank-controlled assets, says sales are on track to far surpass last year’s totals.
In the first quarter of 2014 the agency sold 5,000 homes to individuals, compared with 9,000 in all of 2013, Sareb chairwoman Belen Romana announced at an event this week.
The bank also reported the sale of €80 million of buildable land, primarily in Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid and the Balearics. No sale price or buyer was named, but the sale of land would be noteworthy – land sales have been particularly difficult for the banks, with little interest in the market for new residential development.
Ms. Romana trumpeted the sales as good news for Spain, Reuters reports. “It’s time to invest in the property market because it is stabilising in terms of price,” said Ms. Romana, speaking at an event in Madrid.
Sareb is reportedly under pressure to pick up the pace of asset sales, in the face of new reviews and accounting changes, which may force the agency to acknowledge that many assets are worth far less than the original valuations. Sareb reported a loss of €213 million in 2013, but was originally intended to turn profitable by 2014.
While any signs of “stablisation” and sales is welcome news in the market, Sareb’s report may be a mixed blessing. Ms. Romana has reportedly threatened to lower prices to make Sareb more competitive and quicken sales, according to media reports. A flood of discounted Sareb properties on to the market could dampen any price rebound, at least in the short term.