The latest data made public by the property registrars of Spain seem to indicate that the real estate market in this country is in very good health indeed, showing a year-on-year increase of 9.4 per cent in average prices and a 13.4 per cent rise in sales figures.
In terms of sales figures, the total of 128,990 transactions registered between 1st January and 31st March is the highest in any quarter since 2008, at the start of the market collapse, and the running 12-monthly total now stands at almost 480,000, its highest level for nine years. The only possible negative aspect of the figures is that the number of new properties being purchased is still very low, at only 22,000 during the three months, but even this cloud has a couple of silver linings: firstly, the figure is 15.4 per cent higher than in the previous quarter, and secondly it comes as further confirmation that in many parts of the country the excess stock of new-builds which accumulated as a result of the construction frenzy which gripped Spain a decade ago has now been substantially reduced.
Second hand property sales, meanwhile, totalled over 106,000, the highest figure since the second quarter of 2007.
The registrars also include data regarding the number of properties acquired in Spain by non-Spanish nationals, and here again the data are positive. In the first quarter there were over 16,500 such transactions registered, 10 per cent more than in the previous quarter, meaning that foreigners bought 13.1 per cent of all residential properties sold in Spain between January and March.
As ever the most active non-Spanish nationality in the market were the British, who accounted for 14.6 per cent of purchases in this category (approximately 2,460 transactions, 3 per cent more than in the previous quarter). This is more than double the figures for the next most important groups, namely buyers from Germany (7.9 per cent), France (7.6 per cent), Belgium (6.8 per cent), Sweden (6.6 per cent), Italy (5.8 per cent) and Rumania (5.4 per cent).
These proportions are very similar to those identified earlier in the week by Spain’s notaries in data relating to the second half of last year, and appear to indicate that the uncertainties over Brexit are not having a long-term deterrent effect on UK nationals wishing to buy a home in the sun.
But in terms of the percentage of all purchases made by non-Spaniards, are consistently higher than these produced by the property registrars (they calculate a rate of 19.5 per cent in the latter part of 2017, rather than the 13.1 per cent quoted by the registrars). This is probably due to the fact that almost all foreign buyers prefer to perform the official signing of deeds before a notary, although in fact it is not obligatory if no mortgage is involved: some Spaniards opt to waive this procedure, hence discounting themselves from the notaries’ statistical records, and it should be borne in mind that in general terms under half of all purchases at present are financed by mortgage loans.
Of course foreign purchasers are far more common in some regions of Spain than others, and their importance to the regional markets thus differs greatly: the greatest dependence on this sector is in the Balearics, where 31.7 per cent of all sales were to non-Spaniards, the Canaries (29.6 per cent), the Comunidad Valenciana (26.5 per cent, boosted by the 41 per cent in the province of Alicante) and the Region of Murcia (17.5 per cent).
But perhaps the most optimistic element of all those in the registrars report is that these increased sales figures were reached in spite of a 9.4-per-cent increase in average prices, and a 4.5 per cent rise in comparison with the previous quarters. This brings market prices to within 18 per cent of the maximums which were reached in 2007.
Source: Spanish News Today, May 2015