Conversion is a key aspect of the decree. | Archive

Developers in the Balearics are anticipating that there will be an "avalanche" of building licence requests once the Balearic government's emergency housing decree is approved on Friday.

The construction and real-estate sectors have known the headline elements of this decree for a few weeks. There will be the small print, but the response to the decree has been favourable. Luís Martín, the president of the Proinba developers association, says: "There is a lot of interest. It is a very attractive product although the margins are very low."

Very low, but Martín recognises that the problem of affordable housing is a social problem. "We have to provide this type of housing, but the government has to help us. We are looking forward to this decree. It is a social necessity."

The government is introducing the concept of limited-price housing, limits that it will set for a range of initiatives. Some of these are more tenable than others. Adding floors to existing occupied buildings, one of the measures, is considered to be implausible because communities of owners won't agree to this. Conversion of houses into apartments or indeed large apartments into smaller ones will be a key measure, as also will be the transfer of public land for the building of social housing.

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There is also provision for the conversion of commercial premises into residential accommodation and conversion of obsolete tourist accommodation. Where the latter is concerned, legislation has sought to bring this about on two previous occasions but has been a total failure.

The limited prices will be such that, as an example, a 60 square metre apartment will go on sale from 160,000 euros or be available for rent from 603 euros. Prices will vary according to municipality.

But how long will it take for these homes to be ready? The government has also spoken about streamlining procedures, but Martín warns that things are very slow. "We will have to wait three months for the building licence to be given, if the law is complied with, and then we will have to add up to another 18 months for the construction of the home." So, 2025 before the first homes can be occupied.

And how many of them might there be? One estimate is around 3,000. José Miguel Artieda, president of the association of real estate agents, believes that the decree will bring a certain relief but will provide only one solution. For him, an issue is that "everyone is trying to make a killing with housing". "Ibiza is the real estate wild west and Mallorca is going that way."

There is demand for a great "social pact", as all the islands have become gentrified, and ordinary residents are the ones who have suffered as a consequence.