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 Post subject: Does this seem familiar?
PostPosted: February 8th, 2011, 7:47 pm 

Joined: September 12th, 2009, 2:49 pm
Posts: 154
The Spanish Property Crash – Was This What Was Really Happening?

Published on 07/02/2011 18:01:36 in Buying Process

What if I told you that you could earn millions without actually ever doing anything for just a smallish investment? What if I told you that the victims would be banks and nobody else? (well maybe just the odd foreigner)? What if I told you that you could live happily ever after with no consequences?
You would probably tell me to ‘pull the other one’ wouldn't you - or words to that effect? However, this may well have been the World of the Spanish developer during the boom years.
Let me tell you more.
1) You come up with a plan to build a development of (say) 100 homes maybe on rustic non-buildable land. To this effect, you set up a limited company, an SL, with 3000 Euros in the bank and 500 Euros in notary costs (this is important because limited companies have limited liabilities)
2) You ingratiate yourself with the local Mayor (I will leave you to imagine how, but let's just say, for example, you offered him a cut of your profit)
3) You get your planning permission and, so far, your only cost is for your brother in law, an out of work architect perhaps, to come up with some basic drawings and urbanization plans. You cut him into the deal along with a lawyer to draw up contracts.
4) You go to a bank and ask them to fund the development with possibly a 100% upside for you.
5) Your bank agrees and you get money from them to fund 70% of the cost of the development (having overestimated the cost of course) with 30% of the money up front to start work, 30% when the land is prepared and the foundations in and 40% when the roofs are placed on the properties to finish off the development.
6) Out of your first 30% you take your commission ie. your profit and you start selling the properties off-plan to buyers desperate to get into the hugely profitable real estate boom. Your profit works out as follows:
The estimated sale price of the property is 200k but that means nothing. Your build cost is approximately 600 euros per square metre and your projected homes are 120m2 with optional pools ie. they cost more. Build cost is therefore 72000 Euros although you have told the bank it would be around 100k because you are going to use top quality materials - and you need to add into this the land cost too. The bank gives you therefore 30k per property to get started -3 million Euros.
Your only cost is your out of work brother in law and buying some rustic land at a ridiculously low price and, probably at this stage, you have not even bought the land but maybe you have paid 10% for the option and brought the owner in on the deal.
7) You sit on the project until the rest of the money has "gone". Where does it go? You decide that...as maybe you never intended building anything at all.
8 ) The bank reposseses the land off the SL (which goes into liquidation) and that land is now worth 60% less - because of the huge drop in land prices due to the property crash. In any event, the land hasn't even been re-zoned as urban because the Mayor is now in prison and it was rejected at regional level because the land was in a national park! The bank then (vainly) tries to recoup their initial outlay.
9) You are now relaxing in your Caribbean beach villa on your ill gotten gains but your victim is only the bank (and maybe the whole Spanish economy)
Now If you really want to up the scummy ‘human being’ factor you take deposits off people desperate to buy. A 10% or (let’s say) a 20% up-front payment would be nice and the bank funds the rest through a mortgage. Let's assume you sell half (50 units) at 200k off-plan at a 20% deposit each time. This amounts to maybe another 1 million in your pocket towards building costs - of a building that is never going to be erected (or completed).
So, your profit is 2.5 million give or take from the bank, a million from clients (albeit that 50 people will be searching for you through the courts) - while the bank desperately tries to off-load the land or project to another builder (having already lost 3 million).
Multiply this by the number of unfinished projects throughout Spain and you have more than a slight problem for Spanish banks - and a lot of very happy Caribbean real estate sales agents.
Conspiracy theory or did this really happen? You can be the judge...
Written by: Graham Hunt & Nick Snelling

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