A chart from the Optinver blog at the financial website Rankia.com shows how house price declines in Spain compare to the UK, the US, and Ireland – all countries that had a property boom in the lead up to the financial crisis.
House prices have fallen by 50pc in Ireland, 34.2pc in the US, 10.2pc in the UK (distored by London), and 24.3pc in Spain.
The first thought that comes to mind is that Spanish house prices have much further to fall, as the boom in Spain was just as bad as Ireland.
But to some extent, apples are being compared with oranges, as asking prices in Spain are being compared to sales prices in the UK, US, and Ireland.
The UK figures come from the Nationwide House Price Index, based on actual sales prices, and the US figures come from the Case Shiller Inex, also based on real sale prices, whilst the Spanish figures are based on a asking price index published by Idealista.com, a property portal. Asking prices and sales prices are not the same.
If we had a reliable house price index in Spain, based on actual sales prices, we would see a curve more like the Irish one. From what I can tell, Spanish house prices have declined by between 40pc and 50pc, whatever asking prices and official figures would have us believe.
New housing pipeline
Here is another interesting chart from the same source. It shows housing starts and construction completions over the last 20 years, with the 12-month average of planning approvals in blue (bold) and the 12-month average for construction completions in red (bold). It’s a tragic tale of boom and bust, and makes abundantly clear how bad the collapse in building has been. But at least planning approvals appear to have bottomed out. At some point, they will have to start rising again, but never again to the heights of the boom, at least not in my lifetime.