Fewer households and other demographic changes reduce demand for Spanish property

Given structural declines in demand for housing in Spain, we’ll never see another boom like the last one argues one expert.

“Spaniards of the baby-boom generation went en mass to military service, then to university, and after that to buying a house. But that’s all over.” So said José Luis Jimeno, head of the property company Noteges, quoted in the press, explaining why he thinks we’ll never see a boom like the last one. The collapse in Spanish fertility rates to one of the lowest levels in the world, well below the replacement rate, means there will not be enough future demand to fuel another boom.

Jimeno’s argument is reflected in a recent report on household formation by CatalunyaCaixa, a Spanish savings bank. According to CatalunyaCaixa, household formation (the number of new families) will fall from 400,000 at the peak of the boom, to a forecast of 80,000 in 2015. Fewer Spanish families means lower demand for housing of all types, not least holiday-homes. It follows that Spain will become steadily more reliant of foreign buyers, assuming they can be tempted back to Spain by lower prices.

But in one way “the crisis has been good for us,” argues Jimeno, who says that the only people selling now are forced sellers. “Beforehand everything sold, and the explosion in demand made up for the deficiencies of vendors. That’s no longer the case.” In other words, standards are improving.

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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.