this is why the Latin countries won’t go to the moon … ever!

The short answer is because we are using the 5% of out brain that works to speculate and to fuck other peoples instead of thinking.

I have a discussion with a friend of mine about the real estate market in Spain. Her argument is that there is a gross surplus of unsold houses and this is the reason that the construction business is stopped. This article (es) states that 20 years of real estate boom on the coast had produces enough houses to satisfy generations of people, that it will take years to sell this houses. It is interesting that the author questions the logics behind this extraordinary growth, pushed by greed of local and foreign investors, residential tourism raising trend and demographic growth.

Nevertheless, the article is shortsighted and probably serves the same people who created and now mantain a crisis. As I no longer work as an architect I can look at this phenomena from afar. Here are my conclusions:

  • People still need house. In fact, in the last four years, Spanish population growth rates have been unprecedented in the country’s history. According to INE (i.e. Spanish Statistical Office) data, from 1900 to 2000, maximum growth between two censuses was reached in 1960-1970, with mean year-on-year growth of 1%. However, since2000, that population growth figure has been exceeded every year and reached a peak of 2.1% in 2003. The second feature of this population increase is that it was unexpected. As can be seen from Graph 4, United Nations population projections for 2050 carried out barely ten years ago clearly underestimated the forecast Spanish population trend. Thus, in the mid-nineties, with a population of 43 million, it was estimated that this figure would hardly be 30 million by 2050. At present, the INE forecasts it to exceed 50 million inhabitants (pdf), 4 a disparity of 24 million (a 50% error) in the demographic projections for the middle of this century. Immigration in Spain has a growth rate of 2.1% a year. And they tell me that we don’t need houses!?
  • what is wrong? Is wrong that politicians are RULED by money and architects are OVERULED by politicians and urbanologists are RULED by architects. Urbanism is a mixed science studying geographic, economic, political, social and cultural factors that should be taken into account when building a city. Of course nobody cared about this, and that is why instead of cities you have now cemeteries as the article author correctly states. This cemeteries can be populated through political action, but this government which responds only to big companies stimulus won’t do it. Not unless you have the next option…
  • The next option is to WAIT. If something is broken, like the real estate now, the Spanish superthinking is the less proactive that you’ll ever see. LET’S WAIT. Maybe the things will go back and fix by themselves. This way we won’t be forced to loose money or to move a finger on social environment. Who will suffer? First the society, people will have to continue to live in favelas. Then let the constructors die and the architects, they are only accessories to the ‘making money from real estate’ business. But waiting is more important. Much more important. Remember the story that during the ’30 crisis in USA they throw the milk on the fields instead of selling to a lower price? Well this is happening now as well. Constructing cheap, which would be a normal response to all this expensive speculative prices, is the BIG adversary now for the people who have invested their money in house speculation. That’s why they want to block the construction permits, in order to keep the current prices until they will sell existing properties, or otherwise somebody could come and construct houses for 20.000 euro and sell them, and they would get stuck with 200.000 euros unsellable houses. So they have to create the impression of an overflow of houses. Tell that to my friends who share apartments.

My conclusion. You must still build as it is still very necessary. Build cheap and you’ll sell everything. And I don’t worry to much for the people who will loose money on existing construction build to be sold at extravagant prices. They had their winning time and they lived very well. For them I have the following advice: learn to loose, but never loose the lesson.

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