Housing - a key issue for the elections, | Gemma Andreu


Housing is a key issue for this Sunday's elections - it is arguably the single most important issue. In this regard, government policy for social housing has been given a boost through the purchase of 88 new apartments in Palma.

These apartments are a development by Metrovacesa, a leading company in the Spanish real-estate sector. Its principal shareholders are two banks. Between them, Santander and BBVA own around 70% of the company. The development was put up for sale, and under Balearic housing law large property owners are obliged to notify the government of the intention to sell at a certain price. If the government considers purchase to be potentially beneficial, it can exercise a right of first refusal. In the case of this particular development, the apartments went on sale some time ago. The period for exercising this right ends on Monday next week. Therefore, the purchase agreement had to finalised this week.

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The price per apartment varies, is slightly above what the government has previously paid but below the Palma market value. The total price is 25.8 million euros for apartments ranging in size from 40 to 85 square metres.

The previous purchases under a right of first refusal were for 106 properties. With this transaction, the total almost doubles. The Ibavi housing agency, responsible for making the purchase, now has some 3,000 'protected' properties at its disposal. In 2015, when the first of the two consecutive PSOE-led coalition governments came to power, there were around 1,700; PSOE have controlled the housing ministry since 2015.

Ibavi has different options as to how it manages properties. In the case of the 88 apartments, it is understood that they will be for social renting.