Looking back

As in recent years, 2021 has been a year full of scares, but a good year for the real estate market. We started the year with many restrictions, but we were quickly turning towards optimism as the vaccination progressed; despite that, with all [...]

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How to take advantage of Next Generation funding to improve the efficiency of our building?

What do we know about the Next Generation funding of the European Union?

From AmatZonia we explain those that are destined to update and rehabilitate residential buildings to improve their energy efficiency. Since October 5 last year, these funding are regulated through Royal Decree 853/202in 6 programs aid in residential rehabilitation and social housing of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

So residential buildings are the ones who will receive the most aid and our AmatZonia department will inform and advise you on which is the best option for each individual building or home.

Lots of potential for improvement

Photo by Anthony Esau

Photo by Anthony Esau

In Spain there is great potential to improve these issues. More than 81% of existing buildings are in the letters E, F or G in terms of emissions, and the percentage increases to 84.5% of the buildings if we talk about energy consumption. Therefore, it is clear that there is a significant need for improvement in terms of energy rehabilitation.

This happens because about 45% of the buildings were built before to 1980, when there was no regulation on energy efficiency in newly built buildings.

The distribution of the funding

The purpose of the Next Generation Funding is to reduce at least 30% of energy consumption in residential homes with the purpose of rehabilitating 75,000 homes in 3 years.

Although they have not yet been published and the exact dates are not known, the aid will be distributed among the improvement actions that are carried out, or have been carried out, until June 2026 and will be distributed in 3 annual installments between 2021, 2022 and 2023.

What aid programs are we interested in?

The 6 programs are made up of 5 programs for rehabilitation and 1 of social rental housing construction.

Photo by Scott Webb

Photo by Scott Webb

  1. Rehabilitation actions in the neighborhoods
  2. Support for rehabilitation offices
  3. Rehabilitation actions in buildings
  4. Improvement of energy efficiency in homes
  5. Preparation of the Existing Building Book and drafting of rehabilitation projects
  6. Build social rental housing in energy efficient buildings

The programs that most interest us are number 3 and 4, which promote the rehabilitation of buildings and homes.

Next, we explain them.

No.3. Aid program for rehabilitation actions in buildings

  • Actions in residential buildings to improve energy efficiency.
  • Accredit the reduction of the non-renewable primary energy consumption in a minimum of 30%.
  • Prove the 25% reduction for cooling and heating in climate zone C, which is the one that corresponds to Barcelona and Girona.

At this point in the program are included actions carried out on the building envelope, in facades and roofs; one option would be to install insulation or green roofs that could be complemented with solar panels. But a study of the possible actions must be done by analyzing the data in the table.

No.4. Program to promote energy efficiency in homes

  • Actions to improve energy efficiency in homes, whether single-family or belonging to multi-family buildings.
  • Actions that achieve a reduction of 7% in global annual energy for heating and cooling.
  • The maximum investment that can be subsidized per housing will be €7,000
  • The amount of the subsidy will be 40% of the maximum investment that can be subsidized

In this case, they would be actions more focused on closures and windows.

In order to improve the energy efficiency of a building, different types of actions can be carried out at the same time in order to achieve the necessary objectives to obtain the aid, each building is in a different situation and from AmatZonia we will explain the options to each.

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We present AmatZonia

We have given a name to our advisory service for the energy optimization and efficient buildings: AmatZonia.

Photo by Lily Banse

Photo by Lily Banse

In Amat we have been committed to sustainability and energy efficiency in all types of properties for some time now, and this is one of the reasons why we have been implementing GreenDEX for years our index that marks the amount of green that surrounds a property.

At AmatZonia we work in different lines, either with residential properties such as industrial warehouses or corporate headquarters, making customized projects according to the needs of each client and the possibilities offered by the building.

We analyze the building from a global perspective; the building envelope, facades and roofs, or the recovery of spaces, nowadays so important for the use and enjoyment of families.

Next, we explain some of the possible actions.

AmatZonia creates green roofs

One of the points on which we work the most are green roofs.

Properties have a lot of potential in this case because in the different types of green roofs can be installed.

The benefits they provide are a lot, such as the increase in the value of real estate, the improvement in thermal and acoustic insulation and in air quality, the reduction of temperatures and therefore the reduction of heating and air conditioning consumption, and improves the performance of photovoltaic panels. In addition, a green roof helps increase biodiversity, air quality and generates oxygen while creating new meeting spaces.

AmatZonia installs photovoltaic panels

AmatZonia we will guide and explain you the best photovoltaic installation option, whether in a single-family house, neighborhood communities or in industrial buildings. It is all detailed in the following posts:

AmatZonia rehabilitates buildings

Photo by Brandon Lee

The goal is to achieve more energy efficient buildings, while contributing to the care of the environment and the improvement of people’s health.

The vast majority of our buildings are old, without thermal insulation and with inefficient closures, therefore, we need the most comprehensive rehabilitation possible and with a vision of a new life for the building.

In the next post you will be able to see what energy efficiency is and how it influences our homes and some of the possible actions, such as the change in the facades, in the roofs, double glass with an air chamber window or installing condensing boilers and insulating pipes. It is also important to know that just as photovoltaic panels are the future, we also have to think about charging points for electric cars.

 

Comprehensive counselling from AmatZonia

Our department offers you advising throughout the process, after analyzing the real needs to be covered, selecting the best suppliers in each case, controlling the execution of the work until the end and providing the necessary financial solutions in all moment.

74 years of experience in the real estate sector endorse us and allow us to offer comprehensive consulting on the needs of any type of property.

Our AmatZonia department will be happy to assist you through the following email: nadia.massague@amatimmo.cat

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2020 Market Report

Last week we published the 2020 Market Report made with our data where we explained how we live the rental and sale real estate market, new and second-hand, during a year that was complicated and very different that we had ever lived before.

We called the press on a terrace in Barcelona to explain that in our case the data in the rental market were higher than 2019, but on the other hand, sales were lower, we also talked about how the real estate market was affected by the pandemic of COVID trying to move on.

 

Rent

In the case of the rental market, last year we experienced two important moments. The first, which affected the entire society, the lockdown caused by COVID, and we were without a market for 3 months. The second, the changes in the legal framework that made us withdraw our entire rental product from the market temporarily to adapt to the new regulations. Therefore, in the whole year we had about 8 and a half effective months.

If we focus on the number of contracts in 2020, we made 2% more than the previous year, with June and July being the most intense months, partly thanks to keep marketing different new construction development. About contract renewals, last year we did less because many tenants took the automatic extensions that were approved with the Decree Law during the state of alarm.

As we said, in September, the Rent Regulation Decree was approved which, in our case, the differences with the prices that we already had were very small. This new regulation and the constant changes in the legal framework have ended up causing some owners to decide to withdraw the property from the rental market and sale it, and an investment stoppage. Despite this, the average of the properties that we rented were in higher price ranges than previous years since the vast majority of people were looking for apartments that had terraces, natural light or community services such as swimming pools, or houses. So 60% of new rental contracts were above € 1,000 in rent.

Our experience during 2020 showed us that the rental offer was 10-20% higher than in 2018 and 2019, especially in the city of Barcelona. This happened because the demand that used to look for in the city disappeared, starting to look for rent outside the city with the characteristics that we mentioned previously and because the resignations in the capital increased.

The main characteristics of the properties rented in 2020, as we have already said, was that they had a private terrace or garden, most were apartments of about 90sqm with 3 rooms and with an energy label E, in the case of second-hand, or B if they were of new construction. As for GreenDEX, large parts of the properties were a G3 or a G4.

And the profile of the tenants, the vast majority were between 40 and 50 years old, having a medium economic potential since, as we have commented, the most rented type of properties were more “premium”.

Sale

In 2020, we did 18% less operations than the previous year, despite this, the average prices in which we moved was 6% higher.

In the case of the second-hand real estate market, we carried out 3% more operations and in higher price ranges, we could see that sales above € 500,000 grew a 10%. It was heard a lot that prices could go down, but looking at the data, we have not noticed any change. We have also seen that, if you really want to sell, the owners are willing to listen offers from customers. However, if one thing is clear, it is that the selling prices are related to the supply and sales of each area. In 2020, the market for houses with surfaces greater than 180m2 was very important and the search for properties with more than 4 rooms increased a lot. For this reason, the repercussions have been similar to previous years or even lower; when larger properties are sold, the repercussions per m2 built decrease.

If we focus on brand new properties, our operations on 2019 declined as a result of COVID, expectations of a price drop from potential customers that didn’t happen and due to having some very mature projects that we marketed. These are reflected in a decrease in the average sales per month, we have gone from 7 each month in 2019 to 4 sales per month.

Amat Luxury

Operations above € 1,000,000 were higher than in 2019, in fact, it was one of the most reactivated segments after leaving the strictest lockdown, because as we have said before, people were looking to leave the city of Barcelona to have houses with private garden, swimming pool and bright spaces and the trend has been sustained until now. Therefore, despite being a small market in terms of the number of operations, it is important in the amounts of the properties.

What didn’t work so well was the plot market because buyers were looking for being able to occupy the property immediately and not have to wait for the building of the house.

If you want to see the whole report in a more exhaustive way, you can do it below.

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How to install solar panels if we live in a neighbors association

In a previous post we talked about what it means economically to install solar panels and how to compensate for surplus energy in the electricity bill.

If we want to have these economically and energetically savings, we have to be able to install the panels. Doing it in a building of a neighbors association is not as simple as doing it in a single-family house, because in the building there are many who must agree. Therefore, what do we need to know if we want our building to be ecological by installing solar panels?

First of all, it must be clear who will use the energy generated by the photovoltaic panels, if it will only be used for the light of the community, if there are only a few neighbors who want it for their private consumption or if there are an agreement between all the neighbors to distribute the energy between all the flats and the community. There are as many options as neighbors association, but the most important thing is to always talk about it beforehand and make sure everything is clear with a contract in between.

Pre-installation steps: inform and organize neighbors

It is not necessary that all neighbors want to use solar panels so that a few can do it, those who use them will assume the cost of the panels. But if a neighbor wants to join it after the years, they will have to pay the amount that would correspond to the initial installation.

Photo by Nirmal Rajendharkumar

Photo by Nirmal Rajendharkumar

Therefore, in the cases where only a few want to use solar panels, the first thing to do in the neighbors association is to know who is interested by informing all of them and organizing those who want energy from the panels. It is necessary to request budgets, assembly conditions and an energy report so that everyone can make a correct assessment and make a decision.

As we said before, it is not necessary for all the neighbors to participate if they are not interested. In this case, the energy will be distributed according to the agreements reached between the group of interested ones. On the other hand, it is necessary for the entire community to vote to approve the project, since in most cases the panels are installed on the roof of the building which is usually community property, and this is why it is necessary to reach an agreement with the rest of the owners of the neighbors although not all of them want to use the panels. According to the Civil Code of Catalonia, it is necessary to approve the project proposal in a general meeting of the neighbors association by different majorities depending on the characteristics of the project, such as whether the plates are for private or community use, or if they are placed in an area for community use or not.

In most cases, a simple majority of the total votes is necessary (more votes in favor than votes against). Although in case of physical innovations are necessary in the property for the installation, it is needed the favorable vote of 4/5, and if common elements of common use have to be transferred for free, all votes in favor are needed. There is also the option that a person proposes to rent part of the community cover for their individual enjoyment (install the panels), and here the necessary majorities change depending on the duration of the rental, if it is less than 15 years it is a simple majority, if the period of time is higher, 4/5 parts of votes in favor.

Therefore, once we know which owners want to use photovoltaic panels, the agreements that must be reached are the following:

– Agreement for the use of a community space to install the new infrastructure with the entire community of neighbors.

– Agreement of economic participation and financing of each participant.

– Agreement for the distribution of the energy generated.

At the time of the contracts and agreements, there is an option in which you can choose to sell the excess energy to third ones. If you choose this option, things can get complicated because then it is necessary to configure the neighbor association as a company. This is reason why is more worthwhile to pour the excess energy into the network and receive a discount on the bill.

We already have an agreement, what’s next?

It is time to choose which company is going to do the installation, choosing the budget that best suits the interests of future users, and sign the contract with them. The most advisable thing is to use a type of contract that allows you to avoid a final price higher than budgeted one. With this contract, the company undertakes to:

Photo by Guillherme Schneider

Photo by Guillherme Schneider

– Make a technical visit and the project.

– Manage the license.

– Manage subsidies or bonuses.

– Manage and install all the elements.

– Start up.

– Legalization.

– Have a minimum guarantee.

One of the important points of the installation is the generation meter; the installation company must place it as indicated by the electrical distribution company of the building, which is the one in charge of taking note of the light consumed. This one sends it to each trading company so that it can bill correctly according to the agreed energy distribution from the solar panels.

 

If you finally choose to install solar panels in your building, either for the entire community or for private use, you can contact your administrators so that they can help you follow the steps indicated above.

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Is it worth installing solar panels?

Every winter we have a rise in the price of electricity in the coldest days, but do we know if we would have had solar panels it would have affected us in the same way? This depend of the light contract that we have, but for sure, the price wouldn’t have been so high.

For some years now, it has been a mandatory for all new construction buildings to offer some kind of energy saving system as photovoltaic panels (solar panels), aerothermal. In the other hand, if our building is old, surely, it doesn’t have any of these systems; but this doesn’t mean that we can’t install them later, either for our own consumption of for community consumption.

Photo by Angie Warren

Photo by Angie Warren

The advantages of installing photovoltaic panels are many, for example:

– One of the best known is the savings we make on the electricity bill.

– Responsible and ecological behavior by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels.

– Reduce emissions from the conventional electricity production system by relying less on external energy.

Obviously, we can also find some small disadvantages such as the fact that solar panels reduce their efficiency from 25ºC of temperature because the cells suffer a long-term degradation and reducing efficiency by 0.5% for each degree higher than 25ºC. This fact has an easy solution and it is to turn the area where the panels are into a green roof so that the ambient temperature gets cooler, so that the panels do not lose efficiency.

Therefore, in the end it does not end up being so serious if we compare it with what the plates give us; having them is always a good option.

Surpluses and compensation

But installing the panels it can be different depending on whether we live in a single family house or in a neighbours association building. In the first case, it is much easier to install them since they can be distributed over different places such as roofs, terraces or even in garden areas to be able to supply the house with the necessary energy because the land where they can be installed is larger than if you live in a building. On the other hand, in the case of living in a neighbours association, when it is time to install it there are several possibilities and several cases that we will talk about in a future post, but in the case that all the neighbors want to have solar energy to use and also want to use for the community, the area where the panels will be placed is usually on the roofs that usually do not have enough space to supply all the floors and the community with the energy that is needed.

Photo by Jose G. Ortega Castro

Photo by Jose G. Ortega Castro

Despite this, in both cases, one of the options when installing the solar panels is that you can decide if you want an internal network with surpluses and compensation. That means that the energy generated and not used can be poured into the network, and that ends up having an impact on our electricity bill, since they will compensate us by subtracting a percentage from the total price we have to pay. This happens because during the time when the panels generate the most energy (the central hours of the day) is when the least energy is usually needed in a residential building.

For this same reason, having solar panels doesn’t mean that you do not have to use the power from the electrical network since during the hours of the day that more power is needed (usually in the afternoon and at night) the panels don’t generate enough and you have to consume a percentage of energy from the electrical network. Therefore, with the internal network that allows surpluses and compensation, we end up paying to our electricity company less than without solar panels for 2 reasons:

– Because we consume less external energy from the electric company.

– Because we pour a percentage of what we produce and they compensate us.

But if what we want is to avoid pouring the energy that we have left over some hours and not consuming from the network for others, there is a small solution and that is, at the time the photovoltaic panels are installed in the building, investing and also placing a battery to save the energy left over from the longest hours of sunshine to consume it during the most necessary moments. The problem is that nowadays batteries have quite high prices and their useful life is shorter than the panels life, which is why the majority of users of photovoltaic panels decide to pour the energy into the network to have a discount.

And… the price of the panels?

Photo by Science in HD

Photo by Science in HD

At the beginning, the amount of money that needs to be paid for the panels and the installation may seem very high (in 2019 the average price of an installation was around 300-400€ per sqm); but you have to know that photovoltaic panels have a useful life of about 25 years and it is proven that the initial investment is recovered, more or less, in 5 years (in the case of a neighborhood association) as savings are made in the power bill. During the other 20 years, once the initial investment is recovered, what we do is pay less for the electricity bill than what we paid up to that moment, therefore, in the long run we save much more than the price that the entire installation cost.

If we still have doubts, we must know that depending of the town we can find regulations that help to implement these types of power generation systems. For example, 50% discount in an real estate tax (IBI) for a certain time, you can find some cities that also give subsidies to make it easier for the neighbors to decide to do the installation, aid from the Program for the Energy Rehabilitation of Buildings (PREE)…

In addition, there are different payment methods for the installation of photovoltaic panels:

– Make the full payment at the time of installation being the owner of the entire infrastructure.

Internal financing with the installation company where payments are made in agreed terms for a certain time.

– Some companies offer the possibility of doing the installation for free by reaching an agreement to rent the roof where the panels are placed and offering a percentage discount on the electricity bill, but in this case the plates wouldn’t be our fate of the installation company.

Whichever option we choose, it is clear that renewable energy are the future and they are increasingly being seen in more places, there are even single-family houses that are built without a power network connection, being 100% autonomous in terms of electricity consumption.

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