The number of Spanish homes sold and inscribed in the Land Registry was almost unchanged in January 2019 compared to the same month a year before, as illustrated by the chart above showing sales figures every January since 2007.
There were 42,850 Spanish home sales inscribed in the Land Register in January, and 47,645 if you include subsidised homes (known as VPO), all according to the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), based on source data from the Spanish Land Registrars’ Association.
The latest figures confirm my suspicion that the market expansion, which started in 2014, is running out of steam. Though not yet declining, sales are growing less and less each month. Admittedly, the figures are quite volatile, but this is the first time growth has been in the low single digits for three consecutive months since the expansion began. The next chart illustrates how growth has been consistently lower since about May last year than the previous period.
It’s only thanks to new homes sales that the market didn’t stray into negative territory in January. New home sales were up 12%, whilst resales were down 2%. It’s worth bearing in mind that new home sales tend to reflect purchase decisions made by off-plan buyers many months before. Off-plan sales figures for January aren’t available, but it’s possible they were also lower than the same time last year.
Spanish Property Sales by Region – January 2019
By region January sales were up strongly in small markets on the periphery for foreign investors like Extremadura, Huevla, and Teruel, and down heavily in tourist hot-spots like the Canary Islands and the Balearics. It wasn’t a great month either for the most popular property investor destinations of the Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca, both down in January compared to last year. However, sales were up in the Catalan provinces including Barcelona, the Costa Brava, and Costa Dorada, perhaps because the political problems in Catalonia no longer alarm investors.
So January didn’t bring bad news, but it wasn’t a great start to the year for the property market. The recovery has been going on for several years but the market still looks small for a country like Spain. Home sales are good for the economy, so we can only hope the expansion doesn’t run out of steam so soon.