Posts tagged with china

(II) CONSTRUMAT 2011: Construction fair in Barcelona

23 September, 2012 No Comments

Construmat 2011 focused on internationalization and in recapturing the refurbishment business, which is growing at a rate of 11%.

In the process of Internationalization, an agreement was reached with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT)  – 中国 国际 贸易 促进 委员会 – whose goal is the promotion of international trade, developing economic agreements with foreign countries through the creation of professional networking to export the construction exhibition into China. The show took place in July, 2012 in Beijing, to which 200 local and international organizations attended, and who performed many activities dedicated to sustainable construction. The China Council promoted the participation of exhibitors, visitors and the industry associations in the country.

It is difficult for European companies to compete with the prices of major Chinese builders, however they can compete in the products’ quality. The idea was that Construmat China, besides offering sustainable products, offered finished products such as faucets, fences, painting and ceramics.

Here are some highlights regarding the current Chinese real estate market (some mentioned in previous posts):

1-For the most part, the idea of refurbishing buildings is not shared by Chinese, and as a consequence buildings degrade within few years, which are then subject to demolition, and then rebuilt from ground. In general, the quality of the materials used in construction is not good which brings to the eye the need to restore / paint facades.

2 – However, the Chinese market demands a European based design for their homes. The demand for designers / architects for residential or resort projects of a European – Spanish style can be very attractive. In fact, in one of the Chinese real estate fairs I visited last year, a leading developer requested a European technician capable of completing a Spanish-style design for a residential mega-project.

Brazil could be the next destination to host this fair with its own brand despite the deal not being closed yet. It is a country that everyone talks about. It’s a popular country given its economic growth, its upcoming sporting events (Olympic Games…), and for being an emerging market with great growth potential… The fair would be a great gateway to the Latin American market!! In the show held in Barcelona last year, ​​Brazil was the foreign country with the highest number of exhibitors.

The Manifest: The construction sector joined hands and elaborated a manifest in which they demanded support to overcome the crisis. They requested measures to support new construction, rehabilitation, and to maintain the appropriate level of investment in building as well as the level of attraction of foreign buyers for the residential sector. This was presented by the President of Construmat, J. Miarnau (Comsa-Emte), along with SEOPAN, the Association of Builders and Promoters (APCE), and the Colleges of Spanish Architects.

Sustainability: I would like to stress the European Solar Decathlon, a competition of scale models of solar buildings that involved fifteen European countries. A forum dedicated to sustainable thinking, with national and international presentations.

Rehabilitation in Spain: is the segment within the construction sector that is experiencing considerable growth.

(I) Construmat 2011: Internationalization process to China and possibly to Brazil

20 September, 2012 No Comments

(Video with English Subtitles)

Construmat 2011, the International Exhibition of construction that was held in Barcelona in 2011, renewed its biennial meeting announcing its progress despite the crisis. The Organization signed an agreement for this show to take place in China in 2012, aiming to help the brick industry penetrate in the Asian market. At the same time they were also awaiting to close a deal with Brazil, to host the show there, with the consequent impact on the Latin American market.

In Spain, it is the most important exhibition of the construction industry, and in Europe one of the largest along with Batimat. The following take place during the show:

* Is a place where builders, developers, architects, and manufacturers of materials converge.

* New processes and developments of innovative materials arise.

* It is a meeting point to analyze, discuss and present the major technology releases, market news, and new industry trends.

Due to the current crisis, demand for construction material has fallen in Europe. Companies that want to grow must go outside (which is also a way to dispose of the surplus in construction machinery that Spain currently holds). Construmat helps especially SME’s, which are the ones that present more difficulties to send missions to China, by participating on their expansion process and advising them about the peculiarities of  other markets (i.e the large Chinese market). Construction is growing dramatically in China due to the internal migration of people from rural areas to the big cities (which I explained in previous posts).

The internationalization of companies that manufacture building materials that were already positioned in other foreign markets, has allowed them to increase their sales (i.e. the group Cosentino, producer of Silestone). According to an interview published by El País, May 15, 2011, Cosentino was well positioned in the U.S. market and stated that 70% of its revenues were from outside of Spain, and hoped to reach 82% in 2013. Its main projects during 2011 were to enter in Asia and Latin America, and to have a total of 30 people in their ​​R&D department, currently focusing its research on new technologies and designs, such as ECO (its organic product, winner of a European award…) “What gives us strength is to do different things“.

(III) Real Estate in CHINA: Real Estate fair

20 September, 2012 No Comments

* Overseas Property & Investment Show-Beijing. * International Real Estate Fair-Dalian (April 2011). Exponents of the rapid growth of the housing market in recent years.

Being able to attend to both fairs gave me an idea of ​​the volume of business that the real estate sector moves in this part of the world. It is surprising to see how vague foreign investment is in the residential market, and not just Spanish, but European or American investment in this huge potential market (has an estimated population of 1,500 million). To outline some examples, there were English real estate developers (they’ve been introduced in China via Hong Kong), some Canadian developers, and only one Spanish developer (sold Chinese customers the Spanish product). The remaining foreign representation was made up of some other Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, always as product vendors of their own material, since they are easily accessible to Chinese customers by its geographical proximity and generally with great weather.

These are some of the market trends offered in both fairs:

1 – A house or an apartment in European style communities, with clear influence from the French, Spanish, or Italian styles…, In many cases, located on the outskirts of large cities, since high speed rails allow a rapid communication with downtown.

2 – At the same time, a futuristic oriental architecture is rising in China (as I stated in my last post;  Mad Architects Studio in Beijing).

3 – A flat in the city, or near it. The last case referred to the second or third ring depending on its distance from the center of the city. For example, we would find these new skyscrapers whose floors are pretty much alike, are built in a simplistic way, do not attempt to follow any architectural trend, and whose solely purpose is to host as many people as possible.  That is to meet the needs arising from the internal migration that China is suffering. These flats are characterized to have 1 or 2 rooms (with little light), and long corridors.
Right now, it seems that China has become the leading country in the amount surface built each year: around 2 Billion square meters per year in recent years. About 30% of the world’s concrete and steel is used in China’s construction. In contrast, these buildings don’t last long, and buyers are not interested in second hand properties. In Europe instead (i.e. Spain), the second hand market is quite active, where remodeling is a common practice because houses last on average 50-60 years. In some cases, especially in large cities even more than 50 or 60 years as we intend to protect our historic patrimony. In addition, the owner of an apartment in Europe is also owner of the land on which the building is built.

In the Chinese model, land is state property and the buyer of an apartment has only the right on the ground for 70 years. The state auctions the land to private or public developers, creating the main source of revenue for local governments. This explains in part why so many are demolished in order to build new ones: the more space, the more buildings can be built.

(III) Mipim2011 the World’s property market: analyzing topics

14 September, 2012 No Comments

In this second post I limit myself to make a synthesis of ideas presented in Dr. N.Roubini’s conference at MIPIM 2011.  Due to the length of the presentation, I focused on what might be more relevant for the real estate investor. Nonetheless, for those who want full details about the presentation, I included the full video in its original version in my previous post.

Core Observations:

1-The question that Dr. Nouriel Roubini arises: Can countries such as China and other emerging countries tighten their monetary policy and their exchange rate to reduce inflation and maintain economic growth in order to get a soft landing of the economy rather than a hard one?

The strength of the economies of the growing emerging markets encourages the risk of a higher inflation. In these markets, there is a clear economic overheating, excessive credit growth, and note that about two thirds of their consumption basket is: oil, energy, food and transportation

2 – A vivid example would be the current situation in the Middle East: What’s happening right now in the Middle East? Nobody could foresee the political movement that took place in early 2011. We don’t know if this is going to stabilize soon, or if it will spread to other countries. This can have an effect on oil and energy prices … In such case, what would be the consequences of higher oil prices?

* There will be a severe problem of inflation of the overheated emerging markets.

* A lower risk of inflation in developed economies since the recovery from the financial crisis is very slow

* It also has an impact on economic growth. Specifically a destabilizing effect in the investor and consumer’s confidence in particular…

3 – In recent years there has been a massive injection of liquidity into the global economy. There were massive fiscal stimulus in the US, Japan, Europe, and other emerging markets, but if we take a look at the current market (as of 2011) we realize that we are in the opposite side: there is less monetary stimulus and more fiscal austerity (countries in Europe and the UK started to cut on spending and tax incentives, as well as the US, who began to cut costs ….. The question is: Will the private market have the possibility to consume in order to have economic growth when some of the fiscal and monetary stimuli are gone?

Areas with potential growth: the U.S. at a 3%, some parts of Europe at a 1.5 to 2%, and emerging markets, eastern countries and South America at a 5-8% growth rate.


Turkey’s growth prospect is very optimistic for the medium to the long term. There is still growth in its population and as a consequence there is a significant domestic market (As a contrary, China’s population is decreasing). It can be a fast-growing economy although structural reforms need to be done. If these reforms are made at a regular pace, the forecast of growth for the future is very positive (real estate growth comes along).

Prices will increase reasonably which will improve Russia’s fiscal balance, and consequently its economic growth. However, the fact that Russia is not a very well-diversified economy prevents growth of being even greater. For example, in 2010 where there was a global economic recovery countries such as India or China grew at a 9% rate or Brazil at a 7.5%, but Russia instead, grew at a 4.5% rate.

Its current situation (as of 2011) is slow growth and a 2 digit inflation, and unless structural reforms are put in place to accelerate growth, the former will be slowed down. Even though Russia has great potential for growth given its vast natural resources, a good education system, and good scientists, there will be a direct relationship between what happens to oil prices and the growth of Russia. If oil prices rise the Russian economy will be stronger because it will improve the country’s economic balance. But, what should really be a concern is the long-term growth of their economy, and foreign investors are aware of it, and with it, aware of the risk of expropriation.


Currently there is an oversupply of existing houses. Home sales fell up to 80% of its highs, even though now are gradually increasing. However, home prices are still adjusted downward, inflation is present in the economy, unemployment is still high and people who are forced to leave their homes because they can’t pay their mortgages. Prices have adjusted by a 30%, but may have not bottomed out, and it might require a longer period of time for these adjustments to run out.


Fiscal austerity is urgently needed in the Euro zone, the UK and Japan. Even though a period of austerity is a “must”, it will have in the short term a negative effect on economic growth. Austerity means to cut on government spending, to fire public officials… but it will make the economic recovery more effective in the long run.

(II) Mipim2011 the World’s property market: analyzing topics

13 September, 2012 No Comments

I would like this post to be a meeting point for reflection in this crucial time for the real estate and the financial sectors.  Dr. Nouriel Roubini in 2006, was one of the few to alert the financial community of the crisis that was underway.

Nouriel Roubini, who attended to the 2011 economic forum in Davos, is an advisor in the subject of international economics to the White House, the IMF, The World Bank, and is a professor at NYU’s Stern’s School of Business, and Yale University. Mr Roubini has a Phd. in economics from Harvard University among many other degrees and awards for his work.  In this video Mr Roubini presents in a schematically way the current and future situation of the advanced economies and emerging markets so that real estate investors can direct their investments to markets that they consider will have greater potential of response.

* In the first part of his presentation in 2011, Mr Roubini highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the global economy today:


1 + Despite the severe economic and financial crisis, we are at a stage in which we perceive a slight recovery. In the last two years (counting from 2011 and back) the economy, both in emerging countries (Brics..) and advanced economies (USA and parts of Europe) has shown symptoms of growth.

2 + Due to the crisis, corporations in both the U.S. and Europe have had to cut on expenses (personnel, and overall costs…). Therefore, they are now more prepared to invest as they are stronger than two years ago. HOWEVER, the question posed by Roubini is: Will these companies decide to invest in advanced economies (which are slow-growth countries) or in emerging market economies (for faster growth)?.

3 + The rapid growth of the economies of emerging markets, presents itself to the public as the new item that can be the locomotive of the world’s economy (until now it was solely the US and the advanced economies). Mr Roubini does not only speak about BRICS, China, or India, but also other countries from Central Asia, Middle East and Latin America, where great progress is taking place, as these markets are growing very rapidly.

For the real estate market, growth in emerging markets will be a positive event in the medium to the long term, as it leads to industrialization, and thus to the urbanization and the improvement of infrastructures. China and India are currently under a process of rapid and massive urbanization and industrialization.

4 + 2010 was a year of “risk on” “risk off”. Last spring season people got worried amid the recession in Greece, and the US’s double dip recession.

However, throughout the fall, things began to improve in the financial markets, and when looking at the overall 2010, we could say that it ended up with better perspectives as a result of the fiscal stimulus in the U.S. and other measures taken in Europe to help the countries whose economies were in trouble.

Since the global economy is slowly recovering, it follows that financial markets will also recover (becoming a vicious cycle). It would be the opposite of what happened in 2008 when prices and investment sunk, causing the economy to contract.

- Negatives:

1 – In many advanced economies, the recovery is almost inexistent, due to the large amount of debt of the public and private sectors. This will slow growth since corporations and governments must spend less and save more to reduce debt.

2-This paragraph is related to the previous one. There is a significant and sudden increase in risk of the advanced economies. Not only in countries of the Euro zone such as Spain, Greece, Portugal or Ireland but in countries such as the US, the UK, or Japan among others, due to budget deficits and a big stock of public debt. This increased risk due to public debt will remain a problem for many years to come.

Besides the amount of public debt in these economies, another factor comes into play; the aging population will mean an additional cost to social security, pensions, medical care for the elderly, … this will rise even more their debt.

3 – The financial and economic problems still exist in the Euro zone:  in countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and other potential countries, whose financial problems are becoming chronic and won’t be resolved anytime soon despite the aid given by the European Union. We also have to take into account that Spain and Ireland had the real estate bubble, which in hand with a large amounts of private debt will be even harder to straighten up.

Some of these countries are losing competitiveness in the Euro zone, and are experimenting a negative growth. Spain, Ireland and Greece are still struggling with a contracted economy, while Italy’s is a bit more positive.

A summary of the existing problems:

a-Large deficit and public debt as well as private debt

b-Lack of competitiveness in the international market

c-Lack of structural reform

d-Lack of economic reform.

4-Important public sector debt: lets take the US as example and set the problems the country faces

-Unemployment is high and job creation is insignificant.

-The housing sector has fallen again since 2010 to 2011, with the consequent negative effect on consumption. Failure to pay home mortgages requires owners to leave their homes.

-The states government’s fiscal deficit is very high. While Europe and the UK, are paying attention to their own fiscal problems, in the U.S., politicians don’t conclude any measures.

Until this point of the presentation, we have discussed Roubini’s  global economic analysis. In the next post, there is a reference to emerging economies, entering to further analyze the current economy and future prospects in certain specific countries.

(II) HOMES in China

27 August, 2011 No Comments

This post is based on the conclusions of a Spanish entrepreneur who moved with his family to China, and he did his own market research to find a home there.

In China, homes are concessions of 70 years (apparently, they are considering to extend the concession to 90 years). If an investor purchases a brand new home, the concession is for the whole period.

In regards to the Real Estate second hand market;

* If the home is bought in the second hand market, the new owner should subtract the years that the home was previously inhabited to the total period of the concession.
* An interesting fact is that there is small market for rehabilitation of buildings or homes. Chinese are not used to perform regular maintenance to a home (ie; to give maintenance to the building’s garage or facades, or to paint the stairs and the house itself). This leads to visible impairments in a short period of time and therefore the buyer chooses to buy a new apartment or house. (This might be a possible gap in the market that should be carefully studied and be a great business opportunity).
* It could be inferred that second-hand homes in China are not as attractive as new homes. The vast majority tend to search for first hand properties due to the large existing supply across the country. We are talking about an immense market of new homes. However, in the country’s main cities, especially in the city centre (first ring) where the housing market has settled, supply of homes in the second hand market does exist.

The loans offered for the purchase of a home, can amount to 50% of the total investment. NO matter if home prices are fixed, one should always negotiate with the seller, in addition to a 2% discount for early payment. The realtor’s commission is paid by both parties.

Since China is a developing country of considerable size, large cities such as Beijing or Shanghai are not the only ones experiencing this kind of growth, existing cities in the suburbs referred to as “third” or “fourth ring” also follow this trend. These peripheral areas are usually well connected with either high speed trains or a growing subway network.

High speed train networks communicate in a quickly manner people’s homes with the city centers and workplaces. As well as the subway, which makes up the price a house along a station and with good communication (as would happen here).

There are ghost towns, mostly bought by investors who want to own. Taking into account that his mentality is geared toward work all day, have few expenses, and thus, saving. This allowed them to pay a flat to a son (usually one child per family), although now  it is changing, as children salaries are older than the parents’.

In order to appreciate the different areas, despite the large price increase that homes have suffered throughout the country, we see that:

The Hainan Province is a high class residential area with tax advantages. There are promotions of modern design, with resorts and golf courses. It is a very nice, and quite wet area due to its proximity to the sea, located in the south of the country. It is best to buy high apartments and away from the sea to avoid deterioration. The capital, Haikou, and the area of Sanya are also quite expensive. Sanya is a tourist town with an artificial island connected by a bridge. The group of MAD Architects has designed PHOENIX 2, a luxury destination that will be completed by 2014. Since Northern China is very cold, this area is considered a good summer place to spend under the sun. Its target customers are Russian and Northern Chinese. The price of housing in the area is rising at a fast pace, reaching five times its annual price.

Other parts of China are more affordable. Areas that can be a good place to reside are: Guangzhou (near Hong Kong), and Guiling, a beautiful city that will be connected to Shanghai by a high speed train (340km / h), that is still under construction. The price of the area will rise considerably. As of 2010, the highest price to pay would be around 2,000 € / m2, but one can also find housing for 200 € / m2 outside the cities.

Beijing, the capital, has a very extreme weather, such that good conditions only last two months because August can reach up to 40º C. It’s a dense city in terms of people and with high pollution levels. It would be interesting to buy a house in the capital for investment purposes.