Home sales inscribed in the Land Registry slumped by 8% in April 2017, according to the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
Excluding subsidised housing there were 28,939 home sales inscribed in the Land Register in April, down 8% on the same month last year, and the biggest decline since February 2014.
With the odd exception sales have increased steadily almost every month for the last four years, and rose by almost 30% in March, so a slump of 8% in April comes as something of a surprise. That said, home sales are still up by 10% year-to-date.
As always, it’s important to bear mind that the INE’s figures are based on sales inscribed in the Land Register, not actual sales that took place in the period. As such they lag the market by about two or three months. So this decline reflects a decline in sales closed around Jan/Feb.
April’s decline might have something to do with the unusually large increase in March. Perhaps sales were brought forward into the March recording period for some reason that escapes me. Some experts quoted in the Spanish press are attributing the decline to Easter falling in April this year, so the decline could be partly explained by seasonality.
As you can see from the following chart, the decline was driven by a modest decline in resales (-5%), and a big decline in new home sales (-22%). New home sales don’t include off-plan sales, which won’t be counted until the homes are built and delivered.
Spanish Home Sales by Region – April 2017
By selected region (where foreigners tend to buy), there was a big increase in Tenerife, up almost 50%, the northern regions of Asturias and Cantabria, and the Costa Brava (Girona province) is finally showing some zip (+6%).
At the other end of the scale it was a bad month for Castellón province, home to the Costa del Azahar (-36%), Valencia City (-29%), Malaga province, home to the Costa del Sol (-28%), and Murcia (-19%). Even the Balearics, which has been one of the hottest markets for years, was down 15%.
Can we spot a pattern in one month’s data? Not really. Brexit is undoubtedly having an impact on sales in Malaga, Alicante, Murcia, and the Balearics, where the British are an important component of demand, but that doesn’t explain the slump in buyer activity in regions like Barcelona and Madrid.
March delivered a huge increase, April a surprising decrease. Who knows what it means. We just have to wait and see if a trend emerges over the next few months.