Resisting the next wave of real estate speculation in Spain

Stop_BlackstoneA new speculative bubble may be taking shape as global investment firms buy devalued real estate in Spain. Will they beat a new path of dispossession?

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Spain was flying high. After extensive economic liberalization and adoption of the euro in the late 1990s, all indicators pointed up. Spain boasted the highest use of cement in the European Union, fifth worldwide, as close to a million houses were built in 2006 alone — more than France, Germany and Italy combined. Many were convinced that prosperity was here to stay.

But the boom was built on an asset bubble, where skyrocketing housing prices and unprecedented amounts of credit for developers and homeowners — and thus vast indebtedness — created the perfect storm. While more than six million new homes were built and house prices increased by over 200 percent from 1996 to 2007, in the years since then Spain has seen millions of vacant properties accumulate, housing production at a standstill, price declines of over 65 percent from their peak, and hundreds of thousands of home repossessions. [Read More]

Spain’s unlikely squatters

[From liberal mainstream press]

To a casual observer, the apartment blocks look much like any other. Well maintained, adequately furnished and with a reliable supply of power and water, few would guess the buildings are squatted by families who lost their jobs and homes to Spain’s long-running economic recession.

Around 250,000 seizure orders were served on properties between 2008 and 2012 but the cash-strapped state offers little support for ruined homeowners. So, in apartments dotted across Spain, grassroots anti- eviction group Platform for Mortgage Affected People [PAH] is attempting to engineer its own housing-crisis solution.
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Cataluña: PAH-occupied flat block is a foot in the door

For the last five months, sixteen families – from a broad range of backgrounds and nationalities, almost all victims of bank foreclosures – have been living together in an abandoned, brand new flat block in a ghostly quiet suburb of the Catalan town of Salt in Spain.

Organised in the PAH (Plataforma por los Afectados por la Hipoteca –the Victims of Mortgages Coalition), the occupiers of Bloc Salt have held out since 23rd March against repeated attempts by the authorities to cut their water supply and intimidate them into leaving, and instead are concentrating on developing their own community, with a living space that suits their needs and desires, as well as preparing for the court-ordered eviction, mooted for 16th October.
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