The housing market on the Costa del Sol is recovering slowly from the pandemic, with some areas doing better than others, especially Fuengirola, where sales boomed in the first quarter of this year.
Home sales on the Costa del Sol had been declining gradually for a while before the pandemic struck at the beginning of 2020, after years of strong growth. The pandemic then crushed sales by 60% in the second quarter of last year, followed by a recovery that has not yet been strong enough to claw back all the ground lost to the virus. Only in Fuengirola are sales now significantly above the levels they were before the pandemic.
The chart above shows the evolution of combined sales in the municipalities that make up the Costa del Sol (Benahavís, Benalmádena, Casares, Estepona, Fuengirola, Manilva, Marbella, Mijas, and Torremolinos) going back to the first quarter of 2017, using the latest figures from the Spanish Government’s Housing Department (part of the ministry now known by the acronym MITMA) up to the first quarter of this year. The columns show sales each quarter, with the first quarter of each year in black, and the red line shows the annualised change in sales per quarter measured on the right axis.
The negative impact of the pandemic on sales in the first half of last year is clear to see, followed by recovery with sales up 18% in the first quarter of this year. However, this year’s growth is mainly due to last year’s decline, when Q1 was impaired by two weeks of lockdown. If you use 2019 as a pre-pandemic benchmark, sales are still down by 2%, and by 10% compared to 2018. In short, the market has not yet recovered to where it was before the pandemic, which is understandable given that travel restrictions are still making it difficult for foreign buyers to visit.
But for some reason sales in Fuengirola, between Marbella and Malaga, exploded in the first quarter. There were 753 sales registered, up 121% on last year, and 86% on 2019. The explanation is probably a one-off factor like one big portfolio purchase by a fund, rather than a fundamental increase in demand. Q2 will show whether the surge in sales in Fuengirola is short lived or not.
Of the other municipalities on the Costa del Sol, Marbella is recovering best, with sales up 22% in Q1, and up a fraction compared to 2019. But Mijas is struggling, with sales down 2% compared even to last year, and by 21% compared to 2019. Sales in Estepona are up a fraction compared to 2019, but down almost 10% on last year, when the market was hit by two weeks of lockdown. So this far at least, the recovery on the Costa del Sol is moving forward slowly, and unevenly.