Housing starts and completions fall to contemporary lows

Housebuilding activity in Spain hasn’t been this low for at least a generation.

The number of new homes started in Q2 fell an annualised 24pc to 13,679 and completions 53pc to 31,000, according to the latest official figures.

The chart above shows how housing starts have collapsed from a high of almost 180,000 in Q3 2006 to just under 14,000 now (housing starts in blue, completions in green). The home building industry has basically been gutted.

Thanks to long lead-times in the business, starts were greater than completions throughout the boom until the start of 2008, at which point they fell of a cliff whilst completions just kept growing (slow response times are one of the industry’s under-rated risks). Completions have been the greater of the two ever since, but sooner or later that will change.

And when the next boom and bust cycle finally kicks off, completions will be left standing whilst starts explode, and we’ll forget quickly everything we’ve learned so painfully this time and make all the same mistakes again (though maybe not with quite so much gay abandon).

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About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based property market analyst and consultant, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008). He can be reached by email on ms@spanishpropertyinsight.com.