The shell of a development which was never completed in the Torrequebrada area of Benalmádena Costa. / MARINA RIVAS

Some 3,000 rescued properties in province of Malaga still for sale ten years after financial crisis

Most of the homes, commercial premises and plots of land acquired by the 'bad bank' a decade ago are on the Costa del Sol


The aftermath of the bursting of the real estate bubble on the Costa del Sol is still very much in evidence and one of the major signs of that is the number of properties listed with Sareb ten years after it was created.

Often referred to as the 'bad bank', Sareb was set up by public funding and the major banks in 2012 to rescue about a dozen financial entities which were drowning in debt from construction companies which were unable to repay their mortgage loans after the sector collapsed. Sareb stands for Sociedad de Gestión de Activos procedentes de la Reestructuración Bancaria.

In Malaga province, the purchase of these toxic assets (properties and loans) resulted in 4,221 properties being acquired from the financial entities in question (107,446 in the whole of the country).

Most of the properties were residential, but there were also plots of land which had never been developed, commercial premises and half-finished developments. Little by little some of this stock has been sold on, but the real estate cemetery that Sareb inherited still has 2,857 properties in Malaga province. These include 557 finished houses or apartments (some are rented but most are ready for sale), 580 plots of land zoned for different uses (residential, hotel or industrial), 918 homes in developments that were abandoned, 117 buildings such as offices, warehouses and shops and 685 garages and storage rooms. They are all still waiting for a buyer.

Since the middle of this year, the sale of all such properties to private individuals (and the management of loans to developers which are still outstanding) has been handled by Hipoges and Anticipa-Aliseda, after the contract which the company had with Altamira, Haya Real Estate, Servihabitat and Solvia since 2014 came to an end.

Where are all these properties? There are some to be found in 34 municipalities in Malaga province, although the largest numbers are in the Malaga metropolitan area and towns on the coast.

According to the latest list from Sareb, Mijas has the most of these properties (518), with 114 completed homes, 134 unfinished residential properties and 142 pieces of land for development.

Estepona also has 219 plots of land of that type, and Malaga city has 49, including the site it inherited on the old Repsol land where the construction project for a 34-storey tower block and another three council-owned properties are currently up for sale.

Never finished

With regard to developments which had to be abandoned, the idea is to sell these to investors or get them finished via Árqura Homes, the developer set up by Sareb to complete projects of this type and put them on the market.

There are all types, ranging from mere skeletons of buildings to others which were in their final phase and only waiting for their occupancy licence.

Elsewhere in the province, apart from the 134 properties in Mijas which are waiting to be completed, there are 311 in Benalmádena, 138 in Benahavís and another 274 in Casares after an agreement was formalised last year to include a residential complex of 269 homes near the golf courses at Finca Cortesín and Casares Golf.

The fact that Sareb is still in existence after ten years is because in some cases, such as that of Casares, it has only just been possible to obtain legal possession of these loans to developers.

Other developments in progress are in Pizarra (33 homes), Benamocarra (14), Malaga (6), Torrox (7) and Coín (1).

Of the 557 homes which are finished, 114 are in Mijas, 98 in Malaga, 56 in Pizarra, 54 in Estepona and 50 in Rincón de la Victoria. However, Sareb says they are not all available because some have been rented. They did not give details of how many this applies to, but it is certain that most are for sale.

The same thing applies to the 117 buildings for offices, shops and industrial units; they are all waiting for new owners or for tenants.

Affordable rental properties, a way of shortening the list

The long list of these sites and empty homes and the problems so many young people face in getting on the property ladder, have led Sareb to propose a couple of solutions which would help to solve that issue.

One is for plots of land to be ceded to private investors to build affordable rental homes and the other is to sell ready-completed properties to regional governments to be used for the same purpose.

It is the second of these ideas which is the most advanced as the Spanish government has now authorised a payment of 10 million euros to the regional authorities so they can purchase existing properties and use them for affordable rental or for social housing.

With regard to the private investors, the plan would be for the land to be ceded to them for an estimated 50 years. The developers could then build and manage affordable rental properties during that period.