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30% of new apartments in Barcelona will be allocated for social housing

The Commission on Environment, Urban Planning and Mobility in Barcelona (Comissió d’Ecologia, Urbanisme i Mobilitat) approved an amendment to the master plan of the city: according to the new rule, developers will have to allocate 30% of apartments in new or reconstructed buildings of more than 600 m² for social housing . In order for the amendment to enter into force, it must be approved at the municipal meeting (Plenari municipal) and obtained the consent of the Subcomissió d’Urbanisme of Barcelona Urban Planning.

What is social housing and why is it needed?
Social housing (Vivienda de Protección Oficial, VPO) is a home for low-income citizens who cannot afford to rent or buy property at market prices: young or old, and families affected by the financial crisis. Such facilities are cheaper: in Barcelona, ​​according to the Ministry of Infrastructure of Spain (Ministerio de Fomento), the difference in price is about 45%. As a rule, the area of ​​such apartments is also smaller: according to official statistics, 70 m² versus 93 m² in standard housing in new buildings and 80 m² in the secondary market. To get social housing, you must apply and register on a special waiting list. Developers whose objects receive social housing status do not suffer losses: the state compensates for the difference between the cost of social and ordinary apartments.
Social housing exists in many cities of the world: for example, in New York, Paris and London Julietart / Depositphotos
The problem is that there are not enough social apartments for everyone in Barcelona. According to the Barcelona City Council (Ajuntament de Barcelona), in 2017, new social housing accounted for only 7% of sales transactions in the primary market. Some experts assess the situation more critically: according to Lucia Delgado, a representative of an organization that supports mortgage borrowers (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca), “the share of social housing in the city is less than 2%, 10 evictions are registered daily, while the number of applications for social housing more than 30 thousand. ”

According to the mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau, the introduction of the amendment will increase the social housing fund by 300-400 apartments and houses per year. Although even this, in her opinion, is not enough: the government needs to reform the existing rules and allow tenants to privatize social housing after 20 years of residence. Ada Colau hopes that other cities in Catalonia will also follow the example of Barcelona.

How will the market react?
According to local developers, the new initiative may have the opposite effect and stimulate price increases. The cost of a square meter in Barcelona has already recovered from the unrest caused by the Catalonia independence referendum held in October 2017: for the first time in two years, declining in the fourth quarter of 2017, prices have risen again at the beginning of this year to 4 334 euros / m².

A similar trend is demonstrated by the new buildings market: the number of new housing units dropped sharply in the third quarter of 2017, but increased again at the end of the year. Despite the fact that the Barcelona market began to revive in 2015, today’s construction volumes are far from pre-crisis indicators, when the number of new apartments exceeded 5-6 thousand per year.

Unrest did not affect the interest of foreign buyers. As the statistics of Yandex search queries shows, Russians searched for local property in Q1 2018 more often than in Q4 2017, and in April 2018 a record was set: Yandex processed requests related to the words “house”, “flat” “And” real estate “in Barcelona 18 thousand times. However, Anna Boyarchukova, Tranio real estate sales manager in Spain, says that the number of applications for real estate purchase in Barcelona that the company received in 2018 has decreased almost twice compared to the same period in 2017 – perhaps the Russians are expecting a decrease in prices and therefore closely monitor the market situation.

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