SPANISH HOME SALES – MARCH 2019: Recovery subdued, whichever way you look at it

Spanish home sales figures published for March 2019 shows sales inscribed in the Land Register up 8% in March (if you count subsidised housing, 9% if you don’t) according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), whilst sales witnessed by notaries were down 2.9% compared to the same month last year. In both cases the figures are lower than they have been most months in recent years.

Though both sets of figures relate to March, they correspond to sales that took place in slightly different periods. The notary figures refer to sales completed in March, whilst the Land Registry figures refer to sales inscribed in March, but completed in the previous few months. As such the notary figures are more timely, but as I have pointed out before, they are surprisingly volatile, and often significantly revised months later, so I prefer the figures from the INE when it comes to understanding the trend.

INE Spanish home sales figures for March 2019

The following two charts illustrate the figures from the INE (based on data from the Land Registry) for Spanish home sales inscribed in March 2019, and how they compare to the same month in the last four years.

Spanish property market home sales march 2019

Spanish property market home sales march 2019

There were 38,464 home sales inscribed in March excluding subsidised housing known as VPO (42,649 including VPO), up 8% compared to last year, but growth, though on the rise, was not as robust as it has been in most months since the recovery began. Judging by the INE’s figures, it looks like the Spanish property market is going through a soft patch at the start of this year compared to the last 12 months (next char), and especially compared to the last five years (following chart).

Spanish property market home sales march 2019

Spanish property market home sales march 2019

New and resale home figures March 2019

Resales were up 6% and new homes sales up 14% (not including off-plan sales). New home sales have increased most months since the start of 2016 but not enough to get anywhere near the level of new home sales in the boom years more than a decade ago. This is largely because the supply of new homes is still limited by financing constraints and planning delays for developers, rather than a lack of demand for new homes.
Spanish property market home sales march 2019

Spanish property market home sales march 2019

Spanish home sales by region – March 2019

Regionally sales were up in most areas of interest to foreign investors with the exception of the Canary and Balearic islands, where homes sales have been falling now for months. Sales were also down in Alicante province, home to the ever-popular Costa Blanca. It’s a similar picture in the year to date.

Spanish property market home sales march 2019

Spanish property market home sales march 2019

Homes sales have now been falling in the Balearic and Canary islands for months. Why? It’s a question I will have to look into.

Notary Spanish home sales figures for March 2019

The home sales figures from the Association of Spanish Notaries based on sales witnessed by its members shows sales down 2.9% year-on-year to 50,659 in March, and even though these figures tend to be revised significantly after they are published, the trend in the chart below (left) is clear to see – the growth in home sales is on the decline. The chart on the right shows the change in house prices, which grew a moderate 1.7% in March continuing a positive trend of gently rising prices.

Spanish property market home sales march 2019

If the notaries are right, and home sales fell in March confirming a trend of declining growth, why might that be? It could be that the pent-up demand from the crisis years has now largely run through the market, and it could be that many people who would like to buy cannot get financing as banks are still being cautious about mortgage lending. Political uncertainty at a national, regional and municipal level might also give some buyers cause to wait and see. Or it could just be a lull before the market returns to double digit growth in the summer months.

About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based Spanish property market analyst, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008).

2 thoughts on “SPANISH HOME SALES – MARCH 2019: Recovery subdued, whichever way you look at it”

  1. SurveySpain

    It could be the Brexit effect, with many older UK expats finding that with the drop in exchange rates, Spain is not the cheap place to live that it once was. The drop also makes their Spanish houses worth more in UK property terms, so they are ‘getting out while the going is good’. There place is being taken by younger more economically active buyers from the UK, plus increased buying from Belgium and the Nordic countries. However, its not sufficient to take up the reduction in UK retiree buyers or cover the number of houses for sale, and thus prices stagnate

  2. Behrou G.

    It would be great to have a YTD price change graph for the region to compare with the sales data to see if the low supply of new homes is what’s driving sales down in some regions.

    I read an article (I believe it was on El Confidencial) a couple of weeks ago that the number of new homes built in Alicante province has been ridiculously low this year. They mentioned that in Benidorm for example only a single house has been built this year so far!

    This is of course anecdotal evidence but in our area the motto is still “build it and they will come”! New homes are getting snapped up faster than they can build them and the construction activity here reminds of me of Toronto in 2011 where sales were stagnating in some areas but prices kept on rising (for another 6 years in fact.

    I really don’t see that level of construction activity when driving down the cost in places like Javea, Moraira, Altea or Benidorm which may explain why the demand for new homes is so high in the Denia area as the only area you can buy an affordable new home.

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