Attempting to deceive the state on mortgage and rent subsidies will be costly.

“In the last few days we’ve received several eye-catching calls. On the one hand, a tenant called us to ask if he could benefit from the rent subsidies announced by the government. He is a tenant who has been unemployed since last December, with unpaid bills, and is considering applying for this assistance. On the other hand, some parents, both of whom are employees, said that their son had left the apartment to return home during the crisis and also wanted to know if they could benefit from some kind of state aid while the state of emergency lasts”.

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Solution to rentals: loans for six months and deferrals or agreed removals

“All the small owners are going to receive the full income from their homes and all the big homeowners have to pitch in”, with these words, the Vice President of the Government, Pablo Iglesias, summed up the point according to which, after much tug-of-war, The Council of Ministers has arrived to approve a plan to help with rentals to combat the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, measures that are part of a new Royal Decree which also clarifies the mortgage delay already announced a few days ago, extending it to three months and allowing for the self-employed.

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The Ibex soars 7.8% in its biggest rise in ten years

A day of exhilaration in the world markets. The upcoming lifting of the shutdown of Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the coronavirus, and the imminent agreement in the U.S. Congress to approve a two-billion dollar stimulus plan are sparking buying sprees among investors. European stock markets have skyrocketed and the Ibex has risen 7.82% to 6,717.30 points in its best session in ten years.


Inside the Madrid stock market EFE

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Risk of serious hacking due to the wave of teleworking. What can be done to avoid it?

Experts warn of overnight improvised remote access plans and point out that medium and small businesses are more exposed to these leaks.

As of this Wednesday in Madrid, hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren and university students do not have to attend classes. The reason, the Covid-19. In order to create a firewall against the coronavirus, which already has more than 2,000 cases throughout Spain, the regional executive led by Isabel Díaz Ayuso took a series of measures, including suspending classes for at least 15 days. This measure was accompanied by the recommendation at various institutional levels to facilitate teleworking whenever possible.

Companies not only in towns where several cases are concentrated, but all over the country, have taken measures to have their employees carry out their activities from home. Plans that in many cases were well planned but in others have been carried out against the clock, due to the emergencies of parents who do not know what to do with their children or for other reasons. This can lead to critical parts of the platform or sensitive information being exposed and susceptible to computer attack.

“It’s not all about providing good access to professional tools and documents. There are many security aspects surrounding it,” explains cybersecurity expert Miguel Ángel Arroyo, who posted a tweet on his account warning against ‘aliexpress plans’ for work. “I am referring to companies that choose to publish their server on the Internet as it is so that it can be accessed remotely, the easiest solution”, adds this information systems auditor and business manager of the security division at SEMIC. A publication that reported that in about 10 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday several companies had published 200 servers through the RDP protocol (‘Remote Desktop Protocol’).

“The safest way is to do it through a VPN. That would guarantee that only workers with access and not just anyone can access that virtual desktop and the system”, adds this expert. A VPN is a virtual private network that does, roughly, create a data tunnel so that instead of connecting directly to the Internet we connect through a server that will give us encryption and greater privacy. It has traditionally been used by activists or journalists in conflict zones but lately it has gained popularity as it also serves to bypass geographical blockages, among other things, of streaming or online commerce platforms.

“For a person who has never worked with one, maybe he/she needs some training or instructions. But it’s also true that technology is making it increasingly easy to interact with the VPN before accessing the company’s services,” adds Arroyo, who also warns of the problem that weak credentials can be generated for those who opt for the easy solution: “A key with only numbers in a local environment is not the same as a key on a server published on the Internet. You have to be careful with passwords but also implement dual authentication solutions”.

“Today almost all companies of a certain size provide employees with work tools such as secure laptop platforms, VPN, protection and remote access infrastructure,” explains Yago Hansen, a cybersecurity specialist. “These companies will have problems at best, when many work remotely in an unforeseen way, of performance, speed or bandwidth,” he adds.

Planning, not reacting

The problems come when “policies, practices and methodologies” for remote access have not been defined and situations have to be faced, like those of some firms in Madrid these days, which see that in a short time, they have to send their employees home to work and find themselves with a “crowd accessing their intranet”. “Security policies and architectures must be prepared in advance and tested, just as making decisions or legislating on impulse is never a good idea,” the expert argues.

“Small and medium sized companies are much less prepared for this change and put themselves in more vulnerable situations on a technical and organizational level, depending on insecure and heavy access programs,” Hansen qualifies, while pointing out that in many cases the solution is the personal computer at the worker’s home, which makes the level of risk greater because the final security depends on the care that the workers take of it.

“The company must have on its radar to guarantee what they call safety positions. Requiring the user the laptop and checking that you have a proper antivirus and an operating system updated to the requirements,” analyzes in this regard Miguel Angel Arroyo. If, in the end you design a good structure and it turns out that at home someone uses a computer with Windows XP to access sensitive parts, then the danger comes from another side”.

Protection of information

“Regulating and organizing today’s teleworking for tomorrow is complicated. If a protocol has not been designed before, you can find yourself in situations of information leakage or failure and I would not be surprised to see more than one of these episodes these days,” explains Juan Carlos Fernández, founder of the firm Tecnogados, which specializes in new technologies. This expert remembers an image more than common in many companies: “Who has not seen that moment when information is downloaded from a corporate cloud, which may contain sensitive and personal information, and is put on a USB device or a mobile phone to work remotely”.

He says that many companies forget to consider these processes in business continuity plans and that increases the risk of information leakage and failure. “There are measures that by law you have to implement. Keep track of the devices you give to employees, identify even a USB if it has sensitive information, encrypt it and make it anonymous…”, summarizes Fernández.

If there is a data leak, who would be responsible? “Companies have to regulate the use of enterprise devices. Equipment that I make available to employees I have to regulate and pay attention to because it can affect professional data. For example, any personal use can be disallowed because of that,” he explains. “You also have to pay attention to the BYOD (‘Bring Your Own Device’) policies and, while preserving the right to privacy and intimacy as a particular device, implement information protection and security measures. If you take those measures, the responsibility for the loss of the documents or the USB with sensitive information would be on the worker. The problem is that no one pays attention, and that’s why these problems arise”.


Source consulted in El Confidencial on March 13

Volatility spreads to the stock markets and the Ibex falls another 3.2%

Europe’s major markets continue to fall and Wall Street soars by almost 5%.

After a day to forget, the markets were expecting a day of some relaxation this Tuesday. A kind of transition day until this Thursday, when the ECB meets and is forced to move to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus. But nothing could be further from the truth. The advances in the opening of the main markets disappeared at the end of the session and the Ibex turned around until it dropped 3.21%. According to experts, volatility will continue for a few more weeks and the blow to the main economies is increasingly felt.

Façade of the Madrid Stock Exchange building.

The day passed with a lot of ups and downs. The main European markets started with a 1% rise, although in the end the uncertainty over the coronavirus derailed all hopes. In the case of the selective Spanish – the Ibex 35, the fall was again forceful, 3.21% (and lost a quarter since the beginning of the health crisis). In Europe, the Euro Stoxx fell 1.66%, the French CAC 1.51%, the German DAX 1.41% and the British FTSE 0.09%. The Milan Stock Exchange fell by 3.28% due to the government’s restrictive measures to contain the epidemic. Thus, the markets finished one more day in losses despite the boost they had shown all morning thanks to the recovery of the oil price (up around 10%).

On Wall Street, profits soared at the end of the session. Dow Jones was up 4.89%, up 4.93% on the S&P 500 and 4.95% on the Nasdaq. “Beyond the stock market carnage, the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the real economy will take a little longer to be revealed. GDP will be significantly impacted in the first half of the year as markets assess the duration and severity of the adjustment,” says David Lafferty, chief strategy officer at Natixis.

That is precisely the great concern: the real impact that Covid-19 is going to have on economic activity. Most private agencies anticipate that the decline will be marked by the unchecked spread of the virus and confusion about how long it can last.

Because of these same uncertainties, Bank of America lowered its economic forecasts again on Tuesday. “A global recession is a plausible threat, even though just 40 days ago it was a remote possibility,” it said in its latest report. By regions, in the Eurozone it sees “a technical recession” and estimates that growth will be a timid 0.2%. Morgan Stanley is along the same lines: “Given the sharp falls in global asset markets recently, the coronavirus could have a considerable impact on global growth in the first half of the year,” it defends.

In this context, investors were trying to take advantage of Tuesday’s session to enter attractively priced stocks. “It is still too early to see the current moment as a business opportunity,” says Michael Strobaek, head of global investment at Credit Suisse. Hence the final reaction in the trading floors, caused in part by the ECB’s immobility, which has left any major decisions to be made at Thursday’s meeting. “The markets are stabilising after a strong liquidation on Monday, but it is likely that the number of coronavirus cases in Europe and the US will grow and economic data will deteriorate further,” says ING’s research department.

Thus, the shaker keeps spinning full of ingredients that can be explosive for the economy. Most analysts maintain that the uncertainty will continue at least until April, when companies will present first-quarter results and the actual loss from the epidemic will be black on white. Or until the spread of the virus is contained, which is not yet apparent. “We see a lot of hesitation in the markets. Extreme measures are being taken -as in Italy, where the whole country has movement restrictions- and that will affect the economic activity and the stock market”, emphasizes Joaquín Robles, XTB’s stock market analyst.


Source consulted in El País on March 11th

What can we expect from mortgages in 2020?

More signatures, price wars and a return to the variable rate

The mortgages saved furniture in 2019 and, unlike the sales, managed to close the year with increases. According to INE data, the formalization of loans for the purchase of housing last year remained around 357,800 operations, which translates into the best data in eight years, after rising 2.7% year on year. This is the mildest rise since the economic recovery began and, looking at the evolution of housing transactions, we might think that the mortgage market is bound to record red figures in the short term. However, experts are ruling out that scenario for the time being.

“The new mortgage law that came into force in June is outdated in terms of implementation and it is logical that more mortgages will be granted this year, although everything is conditional on the foreseeable fall in sales transactions not being high,” believes Juan Villén, head of idealist/mortgages.

In the same vein, Enrique Benavides, manager of the Spanish Mortgage Association (AHE), stresses that “the profound changes introduced by the mortgage law affected all those involved, which in the months of July and August meant a significant slowdown in the processing of mortgage loans. Today, we can consider this stage to have been overcome and we can only speak of a normalisation of the trend that was already underway”. He adds that this trend translates into “a slight slowdown in growth, possibly influenced by the economic and political situation in the area”.

On the other hand, Mercedes de Miguel, Gesvalt’s Operations Director and Head of Research, estimates that “the latest data and macroeconomic projections predict a growth that will probably be close to 2%, as long as the current financing conditions are maintained”.

Therefore, and as in the case of sales and housing prices, experts are convinced that 2020 will be a year marked by moderation and prudence.

More mortgage war

Another factor that, according to experts, will mark the year is that the banks’ interest in increasing the granting of mortgages will continue, at a time when low interest rates are weighing down their business margin. And this commitment will end up benefiting customers.

In this sense, José Luis Martínez Campuzano, spokesman for the Spanish Banking Association (AEB), insists that “the objective of the banks is to continue helping their clients to materialize their main asset decision: the purchase of property. And they do so under very favourable financial conditions, in an environment of high competition and with maximum legal security. In the future, they will maintain the supply of financing, although the demand will depend on the economic evolution and the behaviour of unemployment”.

The manager of the Spanish Mortgage Association, for his part, stresses that “it is to be expected with considerable certainty that, in a highly competitive market such as the Spanish one, the pressure on prices and interest rates will continue to be very great,” while the head of idealist/mortgages goes one step further and insists that “banks continue to compete fiercely for customers, so we will continue to see very competitive prices and, above all, the possibility of negotiation in some banks below the advertised conditions.

At the moment we are seeing a multitude of offers of variable loans at an interest rate of less than 1%, while their ‘rivals’ are moving below 2% (and below the historical average of the Euribor). In 2019, in fact, the average interest rate on mortgages is at an all-time low.

But in addition to being ‘cheap’, mortgages are becoming more and more complete. On the one hand, and as established by the new mortgage law, financial institutions are obliged to provide a set of documentation to customers, as well as an offer of the mortgage with and without bonuses (the bank often lowers the interest rate if the customer pays his salary or if he contracts home insurance). In addition, financial institutions are also reducing fees and have put aside the most controversial clauses.

or all these reasons, stresses Villén, “using tools and services that allow you to compare offers and find out about the real options available is more important than ever, and there are free services that help you get the best mortgage”.

The variable rate recovers strength

While waiting to see if mortgage rates continue to fall, experts anticipate a growing consumer interest in variable loans.

Villén, for example, suspects that “the fixed rate may have peaked after reaching historical highs during the past year, because the foreseeable lengthening of the period of very low rates is causing many consumers to opt for the variable ones (which still represent significant savings in the short term). All this is more evident in operations of greater amount and for customers with higher incomes, who are more inclined to opt for the variables”.

We should not forget that the European Central Bank (ECB) maintains the price of money in the Eurozone at 0.0% (the level at which it has been for four years) and is in no hurry to return to monetary normality. Nor are we expecting major changes in the Euribor, the reference indicator for most mortgages in Spain, which continues to be in negative territory and could remain below 0% at least until 2022, according to the market consensus.

“Nothing in the current European economic scenario seems to indicate that interest rates will rise in the short term, so competition among financial institutions is likely to maintain the current strategy and continue to offer low rates. And it is very possible that the situation of the Euribor will have a strong impact on the choice of the type of mortgage by future buyers. At present, and in a situation of historical minimums, everything seems to point out that this indicator will remain in negative values, which could encourage buyers to opt for a variable rate mortgage, especially if they have the capacity to pay it off in a few years”, concludes the director of operations and head of research at Gesvalt.


Source consulted in Idealista on March 3rd

Spain remains on the podium of real estate investment: capturing almost 27 million every day

Spain remains an attractive market for real estate investment. In the first half of the year alone, our country has attracted 4,850 million euros in direct investment, the third highest figure since 2007, with a daily average of some 26.8 million.

According to the data managed by BNP Paribas Real Estate, around 2,400 million euros are being invested per quarter, which translates into a very positive volume, driven by “the good period that the Spanish economy is going through, together with the good records of the markets’ fundamentals, with increases in occupation levels, price increases and the good reception by the demand for new projects that are being incorporated into the market, which is generating investment pressure for the assets that are coming onto the market in Spain”.

If we look at the evolution of the first half of the last few years, the current figure is only exceeded by the financial years 2015 and 2017. In fact, between January and June of this year Spain has attracted more direct real estate investment than in each year of the 2009-2013 period.

This year, as usual, retail is the most attractive sector for direct investment (in the second quarter it accounted for 40% of the volume), followed by housing (37%), offices (10%), hotels (7%), alternative assets (5%) and logistics (1%).

Regarding the origin of investment, funds were the main drivers, capturing 57% of the volume in the spring, while large companies continued to focus on managing their assets. The small ones, however, are carrying out some operations and stand out in the residential area.

The firm expects investment activity to continue, in a market context where there will continue to be abundant capital in the markets, a great appetite for assets in Spain and a shortage of product. They expect the retail sector to continue to be the main player, driven by the good performance of consumption in Spain, while offices could stand out in these months as there are operations underway. They also expect banks to continue to release real estate liabilities and institutional investment funds to be the main players.


Source consulted in Idealista on February 24th,

Real estate trends and projections for 2020

On Wednesday, February 12, an event organized by Kasaz took place at the TBS Business School on “Real Estate Trends and Projections for 2020”. Investikal was one of the sponsors of the event and was present among the attendees.

There were fantastic guests, giants in the sector, such as Ramón Riera (FIABCI’s president), François Carriere (Coldwell Banker Spain’s CEO) and Esther Zerva (Savills Aguirre Newman’s Online Marketing Manager), as well as Sébastien Marion (Kasaz’s CEO).

The role of technology in the real estate sector

A subject that was on everyone’s mind. Originally proposed as the last of the sections to be dealt with during the Round Table, it became the first due – in part – to the growing interest of those present in the topic.

And partly also, because Seb is the CEO of Kasaz, and the fact that Kasaz is changing the approach regarding the limits of technology in the sector thanks to the self-visiting floor: a system that enables it to be installed in a flat so that potential buyers can visit it at will, without having to be accompanied by agents, by opening the door of the flat simply with their mobile phone (once registered at Kasaz and verifying their identity).

Technology yes, but without forgetting the human factor

Ramón Riera and François Carriere, representatives of the traditional real estate sector, agree that technology is important but as long as we do not forget the human factor that will always be essential for home seekers. The human factor and technology are indivisibly linked. “The human factor will not disappear. The consumer wants to see who he is dealing with”.

“Digitalization and tools will only work if they bring value to the sector (…) People, in 2020 as in 2019, are looking for commitments and quality. They will look for experience, efficiency and quality.”

François Carriere

Technology as a means to professionalize the sector

At the other end of the ideological spectrum are Esther Zerva and Seb Marion. Aguirre Newman, Online Marketing Director at Savills, believes that these two years will see major changes in the sector because digitalisation, technology and sensorial marketing is a social necessity: “We will be able to visit the flats without so much bureaucracy,” she said.

Similarly, Seb Marion thinks that the current experience of home buyers in Spain is poor, and that technology is a tool to improve it.

“The number of interactions of the buyer with the agent, and with the seller, and then with the notary… is very complicated. There are many opportunities to improve this process.

Seb Marion

Government and real estate: regulation or free market?

Regarding the new law for the promotion of new construction (or rehabilitation) that requires 30% of the housing to be social housing below the market price, Ramón Riera assures that “there is a notorious inability of the Administration to create and promote social housing”. But in this sense, the hottest point that all the speakers agreed on was the issue of whether or not the government should regulate prices.

“At the moment when the freedom of the market is being hampered, something is not working”.

François Carriere

In the same vein, Sébastian Marion said he believes that the City Council is putting a responsibility on itself that is not its place to regulate the property market. And for Ramón Riera, regulating the price of rent is going against investment and investors who will choose to spend more in other cities.

Squatters and the “empty house” regulation

Another very hot topic on which there was unanimity among private sector representatives at the round table was the issue of squatters.

Ramón Riera was in charge of opening the discussion with a resounding disqualification of the government’s actions in this matter. The president of FIABCI has assured that this can originate an “effect called squat” in all Europe, with an “avalanche” of squatters arriving in Barcelona in the next years.

On the other hand, François Carriere warned about the professionalization of the squatter movement: “they come with the law in their hands and take away your flat”. And Esther Zerva believes that this new law will affect “the economic, social, cultural and all levels”.

Sébastien Marion, CEO of Kasaz, has asked to make a differentiation between two types of squatters: 1) families who were renting and who for whatever reason cannot continue to pay and 2) people who squatted without any intention of paying rent from the beginning.

So, according to Marion, the former should be protected and the latter should not be normalized, as the message given of tolerance for illegality is dangerous.

“The squatter issue is very dangerous not only in the real estate sector, but as a message to society. We are telling them that doing illegal things is normal”.

Sébastien Marion

What will it be like to buy a flat in 2025?

After the Round Table, and the coffee break, Sébastien Marion gave a presentation on what the short-term buying experience will be like.

How it will change, whether it will improve or not, and what impact the technology will have. Kasaz CEO says that real estate portals will have more relevance and more impact on the user experience.

Among other predictions, Marion assures that some changes will take place in the sector in the next 5 years:

  1. The agencies will have exclusivity.
  2. The real estate portals will help in the process.
  3. The quality and veracity of the information will improve.
  4. The reservation and the deposit contract will be made securely online.
  5. The portals will be platforms that will centralize the whole process.
  6. It will be possible to visit the apartments without the need of real estate agents.

Full house in the TBS Business School auditorium for the Kasaz event

Conclusions of the event

The “Real Estate Trends and Projections for 2020” event was a success with a full house in the TBS Business School auditorium. With top guests at the roundtable, a talk on how technology will change the sector, and a real master class on real estate marketing, it was an exciting morning with topics of importance to the industry.

From Kasaz we would like to thank all attendees, speakers, sponsors and collaborators for making this event a reality for the third time in a row.

See you next time!


Source consulted in Kasaz Blog on February 21st

Why Spain and Portugal are such attractive countries for real estate investors

The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, at the start of the “Friends of Cohesion” Summit in Beja (Portugal). EFE

Spain and Portugal have taken advantage of the years of economic recovery to seduce large international investors and to get on the list of the most interesting real estate markets in developed countries.

“The Iberian market is a perception of any investment. Virtually no distinction is made between Spain and Portugal. For us it is a unified market, even though there are slight regulatory differences,” says Ismael Clemente, CEO of real estate giant Merlin Properties.

Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon (and recently also Porto) are among the most attractive cities in Europe, and not by chance. There are several reasons why foreign capital is entering both countries, in search of new business opportunities.

Among them is the ‘macro factor’; that is, the fundamentals of both economies. The GDP of both countries is growing above the European average and will do so again in 2020. The latest forecasts of the Spanish government place the domestic growth at 1.6% for this year, in line with the consensus of experts, while in Portugal, the market estimates a rise in GDP of between 1.7% and 1.8%. In contrast, the European average will grow by about 1%. And we cannot forget that, if the economy grows, so will the sales and profits of companies, the purchasing power of families…

In addition to the growth factor, Spain and Portugal form one of the most powerful tourism markets in the world: in 2019 alone they received more than 106 million tourists. In Spain the figure was close to 84 million, with a year-on-year increase of 1.1%, while in neighbouring Portugal it stood at 22.8 million, an increase of 7.5% from 2018. It also highlights its geographical location (direct connection with Latin America) and its strategic infrastructure (ports, quality roads …) This is an important factor, because it increases investment opportunities in sectors such as hotels and retail.

Entering the field of real estate, BNP Paribas Real Estate points to competitiveness as another important argument, thanks to the fact that labor and real estate costs are lower in cities like Madrid, Barcelona or Lisbon compared to capitals like London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm or Amsterdam.

In addition, the real estate arm of the French bank shows that both countries have high levels of education (especially in business schools, which are among the most important in the world), an advanced technological level and good quality of life. “We need to have better management, but the ability to generate talent means that we have a high level of demand,” explains Ignacio Martínez-Avial, managing director of BNP Paribas Real Estate in Spain.

It continues to grow because income also accompanies it. In Barcelona, office income has increased by 50% in the last five years, while in Lisbon it has risen by 37% in the last four years and in Madrid, prime income remains well below the peak of the bubble. Despite these increases, BNP stresses, these cities are registering record levels of absorption. With more than 600,000 m2, the Spanish capital has reached its highest level since 2007, while the Portuguese capital has broken records with almost 19,000 m2 and the Catalan capital has done the same with 400,000 m2. And the figure could continue to rise thanks to the exponential growth of areas such as Barcelona’s 22@ technology district.

Neither can we forget that Spain and Portugal have one of the highest life expectancies in the world and that they tend to host many foreign students, which is why there are potential demanders for retirement homes, student residences and other alternative assets such as ‘coliving’. This is increasingly demanded by investors, and formulas such as ‘build ro rent’, which consists of constructing residential buildings for rent.

There’s room for all investors

Experts note that the Iberian market is attracting the attention of different types of capital and strategies. From BNP Paribas they say that there is “room for all investors, because each asset and each region is at a different point in the cycle. We have a very good year ahead of us and the different degree of maturity of the assets opens up the range to different investors”.

The massive arrival of conservative investors is particularly noteworthy, as opposed to the short-term investors who entered the market during the first years of the crisis. “The quality of the investors coming in is the best we’ve ever had, because they are ‘core’ and ‘value added’ and have long-term strategies,” says socimi Merlin’s CEO.

This is precisely the investor profile that the sector values most and that Europe requires to be able to take on projects for the future.

Nevertheless, and despite the fact that the Peninsula continues to be the focus of investment, experts assure that an important factor is coming into play: the need to differentiate assets.

“It’s not just about the fundamentals, because you have to offer business opportunities. The expression ‘location’, ‘location’, ‘location’ is not the only important thing and the differentiation of assets is becoming more significant. This is key, because it is not enough that a property is well located, it must be efficient, have additional services … There is a way to generate value and we still have much stock with room for improvement,” says the head of BNP Paribas Real Estate in Spain.

Finally, they insist on the importance of political decisions generating legal security, not uncertainty, in order for the sector to continue to have traction.


Source consulted in Idealista on February 19th