How big is the glut of homes on the market?

A recent article in the Spanish press tackles the contentious question of how many (new) homes are languishing on the market in search of a buyer. As usual, it’s not always clear if they are talking about all the homes on the market, or just new homes.

  • 675,000 at the end of last year, says the Association of Promoters and Constructors of Spain (APCE)
  • 684,958 at the end of last year, say the Mortgage Association of Spain (AHE), 65pc higher than 2007 but 1.7pc less than 2009, based on figures from the Government (Fomento)
  • 938,000 says Josep Oliver, author of a report on the market for the savings bank Catalunya Caixa
  • 2.3 million says Ricardo Vergés, a housing market expert

The map above, taken from Oliver’s report for Catalunya Caixa, shows how the number of homes on the market varies by region (as a % of the housing stock).

The truth might help

At least they might all agree it would help to have a definitive study showing how big the problem really is. As José Manuel Galindo, president of the APCE is reported as saying, “It’s crucial to do an audit of how many homes are now on the market.” Uncertainty is often worse than the truth.

Huge inequalities between different areas are another feature the Spanish property market today. Alongside a glut of new homes on the Mediterranean coast, which could take a decade to sell, acute shortages are starting to appear in other areas like the centre of Barcelona and Madrid.

The big problem is the Mediterranean coast, where 60pc of Spain’s housing glut has been built, argues the report by Oliver. According to José Blanco, the government minister responsible for housing, 70pc of the glut is made up of holiday-homes concentrated on the coast.


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