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Residential rents in Barcelona start to fall

After rising 63% between 2002 and 2007, residential rents in Barcelona stagnated, and even fell slightly in the last 6 months of 2008, according to figures from Barcelona’s town hall.

In 2003, the average flat for rent in Barcelona had 92m2 and cost 884 Euros/month. Today, the average flat has 75m2, and costs 1,096 Euros a month to rent. Having broken the 1,000 Euro/month mark in the first half of 2008, rents then fell slightly in the second half of the year.

“Rental prices are falling more than 1%,” says José García Montalvo, professor of economics at the Pompeu Fabra University, quoted in the Spanish press. “Furthermore, in the last quarter we have started to see tenants renegotiating rents with landlords, which doesn’t show up in the statistics.”

García Montalvo says that rents will continue to fall this year, as many people who can’t sell are opting to rent instead.

Juan José Aguilera, head of Comprarcasa, a network of certified estate agents, agrees. “Now everything that doesn’t get sold is put up for rent. The supply of flats for rent exceeds demand, and prices are falling.”

The fall in rents coincides with a wider collapse in the Spanish property market, as Spain goes into a recession of alarming proportions. Property sales in Barcelona province fell close to 45% last year, but the number of new constructions completions fell by only 5% (to 39,964), implying that the inventory of new homes on the market looking for a buyer is still growing. New housing starts, on the other hand, fell by 72%.

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