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Interview with Enric Lacalle, President of Barcelona Meeting Point

Foreign investors love Barcelona

 “ Besides being an indicator of the sector’s vitality, BMP is also a catalyst for the property sector’s revival  and a trendsetter “

 “ Since 1997 Barcelona Meeting Point has become an unmissable date in the property sector’s autumn diary".

Enric Lacalle, 19 years as president of this fair. How have things changed during these years? What do you notice most about this change?

Enrique Lacalle:The property sector has changed signifantly since the early days of BMP. After 19 years Barcelona Meeting Point has been evolving alongside the sector, aiming to offer the best business opportunities, bringing together investors from all the corners of the globe, more international by the day, seeking to produce a first class Symposium.. Our objectives are clear: provide a service to the sector and help raise sales, look to the present and the future and continue to uphold this key sector for the economy, one which creates many jobs.

The Barcelona Meeting Point Fair is an indicator of the property sector’s health  or perhaps more a catalyst for renewal and a trendsetter.

Enrique Lacalle: Barcelona Meeting Point is the true indicator of the property sector’s health. The main international investment funds had 5 years when they didn’t want to look at Spain and now its 3 years since they returned., as we saw in the different programmes that we have carried out at BMP. In the Barcelona Funds Meeting of BMP 2014, 38 big international investment funds participated, and this year we are also noting interest from many other international funds who were not there in previous editions. Besides being an indicator of the sector, BMP is also a catalyst for the property market and a trendsetter, because its a well planned Fair for the purposes of generating high volume contacts and business.

 Barcelona – what is the current state of the property sector’s health in our city?

Enrique Lacalle Barcelona and Madrid are the 2 main cities that lead the demand for Spanish property. According to a study by Aguirre Newman, investment in Barcelona properties since the beginning of this year till last August, excluding residential properties has been 1.103 m  Euro and they estimate that this will reach 1.600 by the end of the year.. a figure we  haven’t seen since 2007.

On the other hand, Barcelona is a city which can’t grow more,being contained on one side by the Collserola hills and the sea and on the other by Hospitalet and St Adria: this limit on supply means demand will always be high.

Regarding foreign investors, who are the main buyers of property in Barcelona? Why Barcelona?

Enrique Lacalle: According to the Registry, foreigners account for 12.2% of all properties sold in Spain in the first trimester of  2015. Spains’ main property buyers are the  British (17.7%) French (10.19%), Germans (7.7%), Belgians (7.44%), Swedish (5.48%), Russians (5.03%), Italians (4.95%) and Chinese (4.17%). This is the reason why we will again this year incorpórate the Cluster Shop in Barcelona Real Estate within Barcelona Meeting Point. The aim is to put Spanish property companies in touch with  European as well as Chinese and Russian  property investors and agents.

Barcelona is a prime brand: a city like New York or Paris. Foreign investors love Barcelona for its climate, food , its openness and its cultured and educated people. .. All these aspects have made Barcelona into a top residential destination for foreign investors.

Is there a speficic area or type of building that is more sought after by potential foreign buyers? Are there fashions and styles in the property sector?

Enrique Lacalle: Foreign buyers love Spain: its beaches, sun, food and people, which is why it has become one of the top choice of second home destinations. Sea views are practically a must for them, although they may shift  from  seafront locations  in search of quieter areas, where they can enjoy family time and be near their childrens’ schools , most of which are international schools.

The crisis has changed the property sector – which factors best illustrate this change?

The property sector has suffered as well as shrunk, but they have learnt from the mistakes of the past and are now a lot more profesional .

After having gone through such a long and deep crisis which has been a real tsunami for the sector, there has been a return to sense and prudence. The current property sector, with the appearance of new players, has nothing to do with with the sector we knew in the pre-crisis era. It has gone on to become a smaller but still important sector for the country’s economy and has begun to grow again.

Spanish property is in fashion because large companies and foreign investors are investing in Spain, but we have to be cautious if we aren’t to repeat the mistakes of the past.The bet on Spain by international funds and the purchases of Socimis during the first half of the year have heated up the market. In fact the big  Socimis have increased their capital in order to keep on buying, which is a positive indicator of development for the sector. Undoubtedly the decision of the government to improve the tax position of these investment companies has been a good move, as this has spearheaded the property sector’s recovery: they have invested nearly 5,000 million Euros.

What numbers are you expecting this year for this session, the 19th Barcelona Meeting Point?

Enrique Lacalle: With one month to go till Barcelona Meeting Point, we have already increased our exhibit space by 20% compared to last year. BMP 2014 marked a turning point and the beginning in the sector’s recovery.  The last session was a success in terms of attendance and sales. We noted significant international interest in investing in Spain with the main international and European, Russian and Chinese investment  funds. We counted over 250 companies, some 40% were foreign, over 2,500 participants at the International Symposioum of BMP, the presence of 38 big international investment funds – the tally was very positive. This year things are in place to make BMP 2015 even better, so we are convinced that we will show a slight improvement over last year. I would recommend everyone to make it to the 19th session of Barcelona Meeting Point from 21 – 25 October at Pavilion 8 in the Montjuic-Plaza Espana area at the Fira de Barcelona.

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