What changes has the pandemic brought about in the real estate sector?
The pandemic has brought us a new way of relating to each other during confinement, teleworking and videoconference meetings.
And in the real estate sector it has also landed that relationship with clients, both owners and buyers, which does not always have to be physical, that mix between face-to-face and virtual. It has had to be digitalised by force during these months and has given them the opportunity to sell houses without being visited, purchases have been made and properties have been reserved, with a virtual visit, making a video of the house, with remote interviews and with a digital signature. All this has meant a giant step forward for neighbourhood estate agents, who are the ones who are there and who know the market. Many have become, quite rightly, the ‘proptech’ of their neighbourhood.
I wish the pandemic hadn’t come, but if anything good has come to the economy in general, it is this digitalisation and I think real estate agents are taking advantage of it very well.
The housing market has become a solution and not a problem. The real estate sector in 2008 was not to blame, but it was the cause of that crisis situation, accompanied by the financial crisis and the crisis of confidence in the economies. But, in this case, the real estate sector and real estate agents are being a solution for those families who want a better house and further away because they are going to have to work. And this is clearly being demonstrated in the number of sales, in the number of mortgages taken out and in the feeling in the market.
In the crisis of 2007-2008-2009 the problem was that 700-800,000 licenses were being tendered to build new houses when the creation of homes in Spain is around 120-130,000. However, now the creation of homes is at 130,000 and the tendering is at 80,000. In other words, there is a shortage of stock for the coming years, a structural deficit, although it is true that there are many empty homes, such as those owned by banks, which could alleviate this demand.
So, we need to promote access to home ownership…
Of course there has to be rental housing, but the aspiration of every human being since we began to be aware of it is to have our own cave. It is something that is in Maslow’s pyramid.
Everyone has it on their radar that the current pension system is in danger. The risk is that those of us who are working now will not have a pension like those who are retired now. Therefore, the fact of owning a house, at least when you are retired, and not having to continue paying rent is also a welfare for citizens. What’s more, the pressure on pensions will be greater if you have all the people renting, because that expense is not going to disappear from their monthly expenses, so it is desirable for people to reach retirement with a house of their own and not have to continue with that expense. And how do you do that? Right from the start.
The rental market logically has to exist for people who move or who decide to live in rented accommodation. There has to be options for everyone, but it is fundamental to look at the long-term wellbeing of your people and that the state is not there to build houses.