According to a report adopted by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) of the European Parliament on 23 April, there is an urgent need for investment in the social housing sector which offers leverage to help the EU out of the economic, social and environmental crisis.
The adoption of the report is significant for the fact that it relates specifically to housing although property as such is not an EU competence. It demonstrates the importance which the Parliament now addresses to the issue of social housing and also the way in which it interrelates with other important issues such as economic governance and energy efficiency.
It is with sadness that we announce the death of Serge Winnykamien.
In the name of Claudine Speltz and the Board of CEPI, in the name also of many professionals and colleagues, we wish to express our profound gratitude to Serge for having contributed so importantly to the construction of the European real estate edifice!
After long negotiations on new rules on mortgage credit in the EU, political agreement was reached in trialogue between representatives of the European Parliament, the Commission and the Irish Presidency. The agreement now has to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the European Council. CEPI welcomes the fact that this important issue is close to resolution and the better information and protection which will be offered to consumers by a new Directive.
On 11 April Eurostat published its most recent information on house prices as measured by the House Price Index (price developments of all residential properties purchased by households). House prices in the eurozone fell by 1.8% and by 1.4% in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter of the previous year.
On 14 March the European Parliament voted for an 80% cut in energy used by buildings, which would require a massive increase in renovation targets. The vote was on an own initiative non-binding report on the Commission’s Energy Roadmap by Niki Tzavela MEP (EFD) (EL), but the Parliament is giving a message to the Commission and Member States that measures must be taken.
On 15 March the European Commission hosted a conference on fighting money laundering which was attended by the CEPI Secretariat. Fighting money laundering is an important issue for the real estate sector and CEPI takes a close interest in the anti-money laundering rules currently under review at EU level in the revision of the Third Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Directive. It is important to have clear and proportionate rules and procedures for professionals to follow according to the level of risk involved.
On 12 March the European Parliament approved new rules on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and online dispute resolution (ODR). These take the form of a directive on ADR and regulation on ODR, and will come into force 20 days after their publication in the EU Official Journal. EU Member States will then have 24 months to implement the rules into national law. The ODR platform will be available shortly afterwards. Rules enabling consumers to resolve disputes without court proceedings are important in the real estate sector and CEPI welcomes the agreement which has now been reached.
The European Commission has given SMEs the opportunity to tell them which European legislative acts they find the most restrictive. The results of this consultation were published on 7 March in the form of a Communication “Smart regulation – responding to the needs of SMEs”. Many organisations active in the real estate sector are SMEs, and this reflects also some of their concerns.
The European Housing Forum is an informal platform which was created in 1997, following the adoption of a resolution on the social aspect of housing by the European Parliament. Its members are all major international or European organisations working in the area of housing, representing consumers, providers, professionals and researchers. Membership to this platform represents another opportunity for CEPI to strengthen the voice of real estate professionals in Brussels.
The College of Registrars and the University of Saragosse regularly present statistics on the residential property market. The numbers of sales and their prices have continued to fall, representing 10% in a year. Relatively low prices and interest rates represent favourable indicators for the beginning of a reprise in the market, whilst purchasing power and access to loans constitute obstacles. It seems that rock bottom has been reached.
Jean-François Buet was elected Chairman of FNAIM on May 25, 2012 for a mandate of five years. René Pallincourt was Chairperson since 2004 untill December 2012. We asked Jean-François about his work priorities while the economic downturn is still for part severely striking the real estate sector and while the Minister in charge of Housing is preparing a revision of the legislation to access and exercise in the French market (The interview is in French).
On 5 February the European Commission published its proposal to strengthen the existing EU rules on anti-money laundering in the revision of the Third Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Directive. These rules are of great interest to the real estate sector. CEPI welcomes the fact that the Commission has answered CEPI and CEI’s request to extend the right for self-regulatory bodies to monitor and ensure compliance to estate agents. This will enhance the role which qualifying professional bodies can play and promote cooperation. It also means that estate agents are now included on the same terms as other professionals in the legislation.
According to a survey of Banca d'Italia in last Autumn, estate agents’ opinions regarding the short-term outlook for the housing market remain decidedly pessimistic, if slightly less so than in last spring. Their expectations for the national market over the next two years are less unfavourable, and while the balance between forecasts of an improvement and forecasts of a deterioration remains negative it has narrowed to around 10 percentage points, half its earlier value.
Information based on actual 2012 transaction data collected by brokers associated in the Polish Real Estate Federation (PREF) in the largest Polish cities indicates that Poles can afford increasingly smaller units, time of exposure on the market is getting longer. AMRON reports significant changes on the housing market and price falls of 5 to 10%, which resulted from lack of economic growth as well as the adjustment processes related to restrictive regulation in the building sector and support programmes to young families. According to REAS, the Family Own Home Programme considerably raised young buyers’ interest in purchase of small and inexpensive dwellings but also encouraged developers to expand their offer of dwellings meeting the program’s price limit requirements.
On 1 February, the members of the national council of the Institut professionnel des agents immobiliers (IPI) chose Michel Dussart to be its new president for a four year term. We congratulate him and wish him success. We would also like to express our gratitude to Luc Mahon, the outgoing president, for his unfailing support of the work of CEPI.