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Government’s House Price Index down 6.8pc in 2011

The House Price Index published by the Department of Housing shows house prices falling 6.8pc in 2011, and 19pc since the peak.

Last week it was the appraisal company Tinsa’s house price index showing prices down 8pc in 2011. Now it’s the turn of the Government to publish it’s housing price index for 2011, showing a broadly similar decline of 6.8pc over 12 months to the end of December (red line above).

Both the Tinsa index and this one show an almost identical curve with a double-dip starting at the end of 2010 and price-falls accelerating in the course of 2011.

After adjusting for inflation (blue line above), Spanish house prices fell 9.6pc in real terms in 2011. So anyone with an inflation-proof income (the majority of Spaniards with indefinite labour contracts) saw the real cost of buying a house fall by 10pc last year, or more if you include the 50% reduction in VAT on new homes.

Prices fell the most in Aragon (-10.4pc), Madrid (-8.2pc), Andalucia (-7.8pc) and Catalonia (-7.7pc), and the least in The Basque Region (-3.1pc), Asturias (-2.7pc), and Extremadura (-2.1pc).

According to Fernando Encinar, head of research at the portal idealista.com, “there is no reason to think that anything is going to change in 2012.”

Of course you have to take all the official figures with a large pinch of salt. If the official index shows declines of 6.8pc, the reality was probably something between 10 and 15pc.

Soon to be published, and all that remains to be seen for 2011, is the official House Price Index from the National Statistics Institute, which should come out in the next month or two, and which tends to be used by the international press. Based on past form it will probably understate price declines more than any other index, which partly explains why so many articles in the international press say that Spanish property prices haven’t fallen enough.

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