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13/05/2020

How does coronavirus affect property prices in Spain?

How does coronavirus affect property prices in Spain?
"How are the property prices? Are they falling?” – these are the questions which our clients, current and potential, ask us most often lately. There is no clear answer to those questions yet. I face them in this entry by reaching for the opinions of recognized experts of the Spanish real estate market.

A quick look at 2019

In April, we published an article summarizing 2019 on the Spanish real estate market. The main conclusion is that 2019 was the first year to see a slowdown in the Spanish property market after more than eight years of uninterrupted growth. Despite this, the average price of apartments in Spain increased by 4.6% year-on-year (comparison of data from December 2018 to December 2019). As much as an introduction, because as you know, the end of the first quarter of 2020 brought us coronavirus and the total lockdown.

What were the real estate prices in Spain in the first quarter of 2020?

Of course, no one expected CoVid19 or lockdown that covered most of the world. The state of emergency was introduced in Spain on March 14. So it's worth taking a look at the price level in Q1 2020 to have the most up-to-date material for comparison. Since there are several different institutions monitoring the price level on the Spanish real estate market, and the factors on which these institutions base their calculations are different, I chose two, in my opinion credible:

  1. Tinsa is a recognized company dealing in the valuation of various types of real estate, cooperating, among others, with many banks in granting mortgage loans. Tinsa based on its valuations found 3.5% increase in Spanish property prices in the first quarter of this year.
  2. Idealista.com is the largest Spanish real estate portal, which not only allows you to advertise real estate for sale on its platform, but primarily deals with researching many aspects of the Spanish real estate market. The portal based on the asking prices from the secondary market put out on the platform stated an increase of 3.2%.

It can therefore be assumed that 2020 started on the real estate market in Spain with a upward trend not only in terms of prices, but also the number of transactions, because according to the National Statistical Institute (INE) in February 2020, real estate sales increased by 0.1% compared to of the previous year, and the total number of operations was 44,104.

Coronavirus and its impact on the real estate market in the second quarter of 2020

The situation is dynamic. The Spanish state of emergency caused by the coronavirus began on March 14. and completely paralyzed the real estate market. This state will last until May 24, unless the government introduces another extension of the 'estado de alarma'.

Compared with 500,000 housing transactions recorded last year, in 2020 this figure may fall from 15% to 25%. This would mean between 70,000 and 125,000 fewer properties sold. Ferran Font, market research director of Pisos.com, the second largest real estate portal in Spain, dealing mainly with the local market, states that "the key is the purchasing opportunities of Spanish families at the end of the crisis." In his opinion, housing prices will follow a decline in GDP, which, according to forecasts by the Bank of Spain, will be between 6.6% and 13.6%. The Spanish government predicts the end of the crisis for 2021.

Real estate prices in Spain according to banks

The banks assess the situation similarly. Two of them, the giant Swiss bank UBS and the medium-sized Spanish Bankinter, have recently published their predictions about falling property prices in Spain as a result of a coronavirus pandemic. Both forecast indicate an average of 6%. It is worth noting, however, that UBS stresses that price drops will be higher than the forecast 6% in second and third class locations, while the best locations, especially in city centers and on the coasts, will cope better due to stronger demand.

The primary market will do better than the secondary market

Interesting is also the opinion of Mikel Echavarren, CEO of Colliers International Spain, who claims that the primary market will cope better with the negative effects of coronavirus and developers should not have problems with closing transactions already started. He also does not anticipate significant price drops on this market. In his opinion, possible changes in real estate prices on the secondary market, which includes about 75% of real estate for sale, are difficult to estimate now. Based on previous experience, he expects prices reductions by a maximum of about 10%. This is mainly due to the fact that, unlike the 2008 crisis, there are mechanisms to eliminate liquidity or financing shortages.

Will the real estate market in Spain bounce back? If yes, when?

We are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic, and thus the forecasts for the Spanish real estate market are different. Let two experts from the Spanish market speak.President of Sociedad de Tasacion, Juan Fernández-Aceytuno:

"Our main scenario is that April and May will be months of virtually zero transactions; June, July, August and September will bring a timid recovery and we will start to observe numbers (of property sales) slightly below the previous year, but in November and December these numbers should be similar (to 2019). To restore the normal rhythm of real estate sales, around 42,000 transactions a month would have to be closed in Spain. "

It is worth noting that Juan Fernández-Aceytuno believes that to return to these numbers, we must wait until the end of the year.

Fernando Encinar, head of Idealista.com's market research department, predicts that:

"The number of real estate sales transactions will fall in 2020 not only because of the forced absence of operations, but also because of the withdrawal of foreign buyers, who are a significant group of buyers. In 2021, however, data on real estate purchase transactions on both the local and foreign market can improve significantly. "

Summarizing:

  • There are no significant similarities between the 2008 crisis and the one caused by coronavirus (CoVid19), so 1:1 comparisons should be avoided because they can be confusing.
  • Some reduction in real estate prices can be expected on both the primary and secondary market. Projected framework: from 6% to around 14%.
  • The real estate market situation in Spain should return to normal in 2021.

[Sources: Tinsa, Idealista.com, economiadigital.es, Pisos.com, Spanish Property Insight / title photo by Tonik on Unsplash / photo in the text by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash]