Spanish Property Discounts Revealed

August 17th, 2010

I recently took a bit of flak when I told the Guardian newspaper that buyers should ignore the asking price when buying a property in Spain.

My reason for doing so wasn’t spite, just an observation that since the market peak in late 2007, asking prices hadn’t come down much at all on Kyero.com.

I reasoned that if sellers were advertising their properties at a fair market value in 2007, surely the average asking price should have decreased since then to reflect a tougher market.

Then I got to thinking: “What if our data is wrong?

The resulting dive into our data took me a good while to make sense of. Here’s what I found.

WARNING: Long article ahead. Pressed for time? Skip straight to the conclusion

Before we get started

Kyero started producing the Spanish house price index in 2004. This started as a simple monthly snapshot of property asking prices. Later, we also kept all the raw data for future analysis.

Now, we’ve dived back into all of that archived data to see how properties get discounted over time – and there’s a lot of data.

Currently there are approximately 150,000 properties available on Kyero.com although, over 1 million more have come and gone since we started in 2003.

In 2005, we started recording the price of every live property, every month to create another set of data which now has over 5 million points.

To reduce that down to a useful sample size, I took all current properties for sale and removed the ‘odd’ ones like mobile homes and plots of land.

This resulted in 65,000 properties, each with the current asking price, the highest ever asking price, and how long the property has been advertised for.

I then plotted property discounts over time to see how vendors discount their property as it remains unsold.

The big picture

The vast majority of vendors either don’t discount at all, or they do so by small percentages incrementally over time.

However, there are a few sellers and agents who do discount very aggressively – sometimes in excess of 50% from the highest asking price.

In the two-and-a-half years since the Spanish property market peaked, over half (53%) of properties advertised on Kyero.com have not been discounted at all.

The next most common discount range (10% – 15%) used since then has affected less than 10% of the total number of properties.

The overall effect is that the average asking price of Spanish properties for sale has decreased by under 1% since 2007.

This is consistent with the findings of our quarterly Spanish house price index. Having looked at the data from a number of different angles, I’m happy that what we’re storing and how we report on it is accurate.

In passing, it’s worth noting that over 30% of properties advertised on Kyero.com have been advertised for less than three months, although some have been with us for much longer.

Advertised on Kyero for Total properties analysed
0-3 months 32%
4-6 months 19%
7-9 months 9%
10-12 months 6%
1-2 years 19%
2-3 years 10%
3-4 years 3%
4-5 years 1%

Let’s look at how properties get discounted over time on Kyero.com

Discounted properties advertised for under 3 months

Reduction 0 5% 10% 15%
Properties 96% 1% 1% 1%

There are no great surprises here. The vast majority (96%) of freshly advertised properties don’t get discounted much within the first three months of their advertised life on Kyero.com.

However, because this is the largest groups of properties, percentages can hide some heavy discounts. Almost 800 of these recently advertised properties have been discounted – sometimes by as much as 45%.

I think that this group of 800 properties would be a great place for bargain-hunters to focus on.

Here’s an example of a property in this category:

Mula Country house for saleCountry house for sale in Mula
Was € 185,000
Now € 130,000
30% discount


Discounted properties advertised for 3-6 months

Reduction 0 5% 10% 15% 20% 25%
Properties 88% 3% 4% 2% 1% 1%

As you’d expect, after being advertised for a further three months, more properties get more heavily discounted.

Now, 8% fewer properties are left without a discount compared to three months ago, and the discounts are getting deeper.

Again, the percentages hide that almost 1,500 properties have been discounted. Again, this would be an interesting collection of properties in which to search for bargains.

Here’s an example of a property in this category:

Villa for sale in ZurgenaVilla for sale in Zurgena
Was € 120,750
Now € 78,750
35% discount


Discounted properties advertised for 6-9 months

Reduction 0 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30%
Properties 80% 4% 6% 5% 3% 1% 1%

A further progression of the trend we started to see in the previous example. 8% fewer properties left without a discount, and discounts stretching to 30%.

Here’s an example of a property in this category:

Apartment for sale in La Manga del Mar MenorApartment for sale in La Manga del Mar Menor
Was € 250,000
Now € 106,000
58% discount


Discounted properties advertised for 9-12 months

Reduction 0 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30%
Properties 75% 4% 8% 6% 3% 2% 1%

More of the same trend, although discounts aren’t getting deeper as quickly as before

Here’s an example of a property in this category:

Village house for sale in MontillanaVillage house for sale in Montillana
Was € 300,000
Now € 100,000
67% discount


Discounted properties advertised for 1-2 years

Reduction 0 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40%
Properties 66% 4% 8% 8% 6% 4% 2% 1% 1%

At this phase, 66% of properties still have not been discounted, but this is clearly a time when sellers decide to discount deeper to make a sale. Our database includes over 4,000 discounted properties in this group.

Here’s an example of a property in this category:

Villa for sale in La SellaVilla for sale in La Sella
Was € 600,000
Now € 385,000
36% discount


Discounted properties advertised for 2-3 years

This is the time period I chose to represent the peak of the market – roughly two-and-a-half years ago.

Reduction 0 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45%
Properties 53% 5% 8% 9% 8% 7% 5% 3% 2% 1%

As you can see, 53% of properties have not been discounted.

The most common discount of 15-20% has been applied to 9% of the total number of properties.

The net effect of all this discounting is that the average property price is discounted by under 1%.

Once again, the percentages hide over 3,000 heavily discounted properties in the Kyero database.

Here’s an example of a property in this category:

Terraced house for sale in La RomanaTerraced house for sale in La Romana
Was € 138,000
Now € 72,000
48% discount


Discounted properties advertised for 3-4 years

Reduction 0 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% 50%+
Properties 52% 6% 9% 7% 6% 7% 5% 3% 2% 1% 1% 1%

Fewer properties not discounted and deeper overall discounts.

Here’s an example of a property in this category:

Apartment for sale in Isla PlanaApartment for sale in Isla Plana
Was € 199,500
Now € 90,000
55% discount


Discounted properties advertised for 4-5 years

Reduction 0 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% 50%+
Properties 46% 7% 7% 9% 5% 7% 5% 3% 4% 2% 1% 4%

More of the same trend.

Here’s an example of a property in this category:

Villa for sale in FrigilianaVilla for sale in Frigiliana
Was € 1,500,000
Now € 950,000
37% discount


The big picture

I tried a number of ways of graphing this to make it a bit more intelligible – without much success. However, hopefully you can see the concentration of discounting activity at 15% which increases over time.

Reduction 0 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% 50%+
0-3 mnth 96% 1% 1% 1%
4-6 mnth 88% 3% 4% 2% 1% 1%
7-9 mnth 80% 4% 6% 5% 3% 1% 1%
10-12 mnth 75% 4% 8% 6% 3% 2% 1%
1-2 yr 66% 4% 8% 8% 6% 4% 2% 1% 1%
2-3 yr 53% 5% 8% 9% 8% 7% 5% 3% 2% 1%
3-4 yr 52% 6% 9% 7% 6% 7% 5% 3% 2% 1% 1% 1%
4-5 yr 46% 7% 7% 9% 5% 7% 5% 3% 4% 2% 1% 4%

Some thoughts about discounting

When I sold a house in Almuñecar last year, I advertised it at the price that the agent and I agreed was achievable in the then current market. It sold at the asking price within two weeks.

In the set of data we’ve just analysed, that property would appear in the 0-3 month category as a non-discounted property along with the other 96% of freshly advertised properties.

So, just because a property isn’t discounted doesn’t mean the asking price is inflated.

However, the reason for this analysis is that average asking prices haven’t dropped significantly since 2007.

Surely this means that, on average, asking prices on Kyero.com do not reflect what buyers are willing to pay today?

Of course, vendors who are not in a hurry to sell and have a fixed idea of the price they want to achieve will never discount.

Witness the 46% of vendors who have not discounted their property after advertising it for 4-5 years.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, but buyers looking for a bargain will likely be looking elsewhere.

I think that the vast majority of asking prices also include a little bit of wiggle-room.

Look at the discounting behaviour in the first year of advertising, with discounts of 10-20% beginning to creep in.

Again, an apparent discount here might be meaningless. It might simply indicate that the vendor over-estimated the wiggle-room initially, and brought it down to a more realistic figure.

It’s worth bearing in mind that a huge apparent discount doesn’t indicate an absolute bargain, as there are very few reliable benchmarks of what property should sell for in Spain.

Conclusion

I set out to check whether our house price data was an accurate reflection of the trend of advertised property prices on Kyero.com.

I’m satisfied that the data and our reporting of it is sound – but it didn’t hurt to take a fresh look at this stuff again.

Now I’m left wondering how to make the properties which have been discounted more readily available to you?

How would you like to find them? What parameters would you use? Is an apparent discount at all important to you?

Please let me know by leaving a comment below rather than by email so that your idea can perhaps spark an idea in someone else – perhaps we can all do something useful together?

Martin Dell, Kyero.com

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Comments

  1. 17/08/10 09:36   Eunice O´Rourke

    Hi I am a private buyer looking for a discounted property ,I would like to see it advertised as either discounted or exceptional value property – I want to fnd value for momey properties easily an not have to spend hours trawling a website looking for the best buys.


  2. 17/08/10 09:42   Margaret

    I have found that when owners advertise themselves, the prices are always high. However in many of the estate agents´ windows, there are always some properties discounted. I know a few people who want to sell but cannot and because they bought high, they don´t want to lose out. Most of them have resigned themselves to keeping the properties and passing them on to their children.


  3. 17/08/10 10:21   Stuart McGregor-Lovell

    I am an estate agent and have been trying to decide the best way to advertise our house prices. Show that the price has been reduced or just reduce it and don’t shout about it.

    I have come to the conclusion (and I may be wrong) that it is now time to stop advertising prices showing price reductions and let buyers decide what are good prices and what are too high. A good example of what I mean here is the DFS furniture outfit. Has anybody ever gone into one of their stores and paid full price for a 3 piece suite? In essence, we don’t believe that they have been discounted in the first place.

    In today’s property market, it matters little how much you say it has been reduced by, buyers are still going to make an offer. At the end of the day it all boils down to perception of how much something is worth and what a buyer will pay.


  4. 17/08/10 10:23   Peter

    I have already purchased so not highly relevent to me, but I would have found the following useful:

    Have you considered displaying the price per sq mtr of each property based on floor space?


  5. 17/08/10 10:25   Alexander Schuetz

    I am potential buyer with a lot of time and patience. I am watching (from out side the country) the market since more than 3 years for a nice appartment in one of Madrids traditional barrios. Like you, I am following some of those properties since then, and keep a spreadsheet about their changing prices. I observe a) the ones who start really discounting disappear after a while, so I guess the owners come to reason and therefore ultimately sell b) the ones who are not discounted stay forever. Here it is probably a matter of the market crashing as consequence of increasing EURIBOR rates until thos owners finally understand that the party is over and c) there are some smart kids who try to play tricks by increasing the price by 10% on one day, only to go back to the original price next day. The property is the “re-announced” in the mailing list as a discount, which of course is bollocks.

    I think the idea to include a price tracker for each property (original price, on offer since …) and have specific search functionality on finding the really discounted ones is great!


  6. 17/08/10 11:07   ian valentine

    Having scoured your site for the last year or so you could easily incorporate a recently discounted button in the search function to easily identify those properties that have been reduced in the last 3 months. You could also make it clear in the details of each property the date it came on to the market, and finally where a property is being advertised by more than one agent you could instead of having it 3 times on your site at 3 different prices just have it the once with the first agent that placed the ad and a footnote in the details indicating the other agents selling and the price they are selling at. The market is not just corrupted by irregular discounts it is also being manipulated by agents trying to steal a march on other agents.


  7. 17/08/10 12:08   peter richards

    I would certaily like to know the properties discounted in the areas we look at,the price range we have,and the ones that have been reduced since 2007,the estate agentsshould be more open with the places that have been on the market for a long time with no reduction shown at all.


  8. 17/08/10 12:21   M Morris

    Your initial remarks were absolutely correct re: inflated “asking” prices. For instance i know of a v large city luxury appartment where the asking price is 1.2 million, but Ive been told by the agent they would take 900K tommorrow. I believe thats 25%.

    So buyers need to be careful when making an offer. Especially British buyers who are likely to think low ball offers are not the “done” thing. Spain is not the UK. No-one will be insulted by a too low offer and you are more likely to get a counter which then gives you some idea of where they would be prepared to settle.


  9. 17/08/10 13:07   M Cherry

    I am an agent on your site and we reduce the price of many of our properties, but other than writing in the description about the reduction I can’t see any other way of highlighting it to buyers. It is frustrating as I know that there are buyers out there looking for the reductions. Any way of doing this would be much appreciated by buyers, sellers and agents. It may also encourage those are sticking their heads in the sand and keeping prices high to get more realistic.


  10. 17/08/10 14:08   Bridget

    I also am looking to buy in Spain, but will NOT pay the inflated prices that so many ex-pats are still asking. Their reasoning of ‘well we paid xxx’ just does not cut it for me. They may have paid inflated money for the property, or perhaps not, but don’t expect me to pay inflated prices, just because they have! Also what the sellers/vendors don’t seem to take any notice of is the £/euro movement. A property which cost 150,000 euros in 2007 is only about 100,000 euros now, and that would effectively be the same money. Vendors don’t see this, and until they do …………………………. I’ll keep my money here and rent when I want to in Spain. It is still cheaper that way!


  11. 17/08/10 14:47   John

    I notice that La Caixa’s property website, http://www.servihabitat.com, is selling properties with very clearly marked discounts, including many which they say have come via auction. I find it helpful in judging the market, since the discounted prices are, perhaps, a better guide to what places are really worth. Are they part of the movement of the Spanish banks trying to unload some of their excess of repossessed properties?


  12. 17/08/10 18:03   Richard

    I am living in Spain, looking to purchase my families first property and am continually frustrated by the Spanish culture/reluctance to DISCOUNT in order to SELL MORE and then in the longer term get the market moving BACK UP in this recession/crisis. Without this discounting I think the Spainish recession will be much longer than other EU nations. I see this reluctance to discount from housing to consumer goods(although there is a government law here that needs amending to adjust the current twice yearly fixed sales.) Indeed, I have noted several shops puting prices up in reaction to falling sales!! I think it a very good step for the wider Spanish market if you can highlight true discounting. Several ideas above that you could use. N.b. Very good comment number 4(point c) highlighting a ‘nasty’ seller trick that you would need to avoid when implementing such a sytem.


  13. 17/08/10 18:31   Sally

    I agree with Stuart, most serious purchasers have an idea of how much they are prepared to pay by comparing like with like and tracking over time. A lot of property has been around for a very long time but anyone starting to look may not realise just how long as agents dont give starting dates. We picked up a bargain recently as we knew the property had been on the market for 3 years so we threw in a silly offer which was accepted, albeit reluctantly. However, we are ‘sitting’ on our first house as there seems little point in putting it on the market at the moment. One problem we have will be that although we will put it on at a realistic price, it will not have been ‘discounted’ so will not be highlighted as the bargain it is!


  14. 17/08/10 20:42   steve

    I’m not sure where I stand on this one. I guess potential purchasers like me will have already researched the market and have a fairly good idea of prices in their area of interest.
    I know of one heavily discounted apartment in Turre but it has no balcony so as that is one of our criteria the price is irrelevant.
    I guess what I am saying is that a discount marker would be no advantage to someone who is monitoring prices and has knowledge of sold prices as we have.
    Also we get email alerts from Kyero and I think I am right in saying that when an agent discounts the price it often appears as a new alert so is brought to your attention.


  15. 17/08/10 21:26   Neil James

    You will probably be aware that Idealista offers potential buyers the option to register an interest if the asking price is reduced and even to specify what level of reduction is being looked for. Is something like this appropriate or practical for Kyero?

    On another tack, unless I’ve missed something, you are merely trying to track reductions on asking prices. Helpful though this is, to be REALY useful, you would need data on actual selling prices. The house we bought near Alcala la Real earlier this year – and appearing on your site – had an “official” reduction of 10% from 88K to 80K. This bore little resemblance to the much lower price we actually paid. I note this not to boast about what a great bargain we got but to highlight the comparative irrelevance of asking prices – exactly your point in the Guardian article!


  16. 17/08/10 21:46   rose

    I agree with post 3. I have been looking 2 purchase for several years now. Finally dropped our price here in blighty to get a sale by a substantial amount, but have noticed spainsh sellers (ex pats) are trying to hold onto their price and where a reduction is shown it only really matches the difference in exchange rates from 4-8 years ago, therefore no price drop at all. As others have said above, until I find a real bargain I too will hold onto my money! So expats if you want to go home to blighty be realistic because buyers are there waiting in the wings ready to purchase!!


  17. 17/08/10 22:22   Krister Olson

    It is very valuable to see the properties discounted in a way that make them stand out (which is also in your interest). It is also worth marking or indicating objects that have been on th emarket for a long time in order foer buyers to understand whether the sellers are at all open for discussions. Txs for a good site


  18. 18/08/10 13:14   Resale Centre

    One thing you might want to take into consideration is commissions of Estate Agents over the past 4-5 years. We have always been low commission agents (3% sometimes less) – going back to those days I would say the majority of agencies were charging 5% or over, some still are. Many now, over the past year or so, realised that buyers were not a stupid as they first thought, doing their research, studying various property websites seeing properties at dozens of different prices and obviously going for the cheaper advertised property – hence the reason that they have dropped their commission rates. Coupled with the extremely competitive industry that it is now, prices that agencies market their properties for have to be the most competitive to stand a chance to stay in business. Thinking of the seller … you need to be able to sell properties fast to be able to keep hold of the client before they go else where.

    On your comment of “aggressive reductions” – we feel that all houses on the market are in competition with others and urge people to “lead” the market down if they are in need of a quick sale and we like our clients to know that properties have been reduced and obviously we state by how much.


  19. 18/08/10 22:44   culturespain

    A good article, Martin and interesting. Actually, there is a lot of agent knocking – when the reality is that it is the sellers who are generally to blame. One of the greatest traps that sellers fall into is following a market down. By definition, they are always behinnd the market and drop their prices too little too late. Having said that, as we all know, anyone who bought in 2006 and 2007 is very constrained in what they can reduce their price by, given the sizeable loss that they are likely to sustain.


  20. 19/08/10 10:44   Debbie

    Thanks for such an informative article – I suppose the easy answer (for me) although possibly not so easy for you to implement, would be a [sort by largest discount] option


  21. 19/08/10 17:33   admin

    Thanks everyone, some good ideas in there – and there certainly seems to be an interest in discounted properties in Spain. What we’re investigating currently are the following new features:

    You can search for discounted property
    You can distinguish discounted properties in search results
    You can view the price history of an individual property.

    If these work out well and prove to be popular, we’ll also have a look at providing a way of watching properties and getting an email alert when any of their prices change – probably via our current ‘favourite properties’ functionality.


  22. 24/08/10 10:52   Bill Watkinson

    Hi,
    How about indicating,(for those who may not be familiar with a particular area) the average property prices as a percentage,of that area, compared with,say, national and regional averages.
    A property may appear cheap but it could be in relatively low value area.
    Ex. An identical property in Calahonda may be e50k less than the one in Mijas. Is it a bargain, or is property in Calahonda generally cheaper as an average.
    you prob have all this covered,but just an idea that is already used elswhere.
    Thanks Bill


  23. 24/08/10 13:24   admin

    Hi Bill, thanks for your comment. Actually, we do have that information available currently.

    On every property page, there’s a link on the left-hand-side to property prices – see this page for house prices in Mallorca as an example: http://www.kyero.com/house_prices/55563-mallorca-house-prices

    There’s a further drill-down by size of property too: http://www.kyero.com/house_prices_per_beds/55563-mallorca-house-prices-detail


  24. 25/08/10 13:09   anne

    I am not that intersted in the actual discount but what I am ging to have to pay. If a property is being advertised at a certain price all I want to know is whether there is any further room for negotiaiton, whether it is exceptional value, whether the seller wants a quick sale etc..


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