Home Sales Defy Crisis to Increase by 3.6% in 2012

According to the latest real estate transaction statistics released by the Ministry of Development – and as already indicated by the notaries (+2.7%) – the housing market showed some signs of recovery in 2012. In total, during the last financial year 361,631 housing transactions were completed, representing a 3.6% increase over 2011. This increase challenges the National Statistics Institute’s data, which reported a drop of 11.3% with several months of declines.

This increase in the number of transactions was mainly due to the spurt of activity experienced in the last quarter of the year, when 132,609 homes were sold, 23.5% more than in the same period of 2011 and 76.1% more than in the previous quarter. This increase was, without doubt, driven by transactions motivated by the imminent end to the tax incentives for home purchase and the VAT increase on new homes from 4% to 10%.

Also noteworthy is the great contribution made to these statistics by foreign residents. Homes sales to this segment jumped 47% in the fourth quarter compared to 2011 (13,873 transactions). Year-on-year the upward trend has now lasted for six consecutive quarters. The provinces which registered the highest number of sales to foreign residents were: Alicante (3,737); Malaga (1,912); Barcelona (1,056); the Balearic Islands (1,050) and Madrid (828).

Specifically, El Mundo reported that sales of private housing rose 88.9% in the fourth quarter of 2012, to 117,825 transactions. Data for the second-hand market is especially notable (+63.9%), reaching 84,728 transactions, while new home purchases increased by 36.1%, to 47,881 transactions. In addition, the number of transactions completed on public housing climbed 11.1% (14,784 transactions).

This mild surge in the market was apparent in all regions except in the Basque Country (-8.9%) and Navarre (-2.8%). Particularly notable were the increases registered in: Aragon (+61.9%); Extremadura (+47.8%); Murcia (+35.3%); Valencia (+34.3%); Ceuta and Melilla (+33.5%) and La Rioja (+32.2%).

These were followed by Andalusia (+28.8%); Catalonia (+25%); the Balearic Islands (+24.4%); Castilla y León (+23.2%); Galicia (+21.8%); Madrid (+19.1%); the Canary Islands (+16.7%); Asturias (+15.4%); Castilla-La Mancha (+10%) and Cantabria (+6.6%).

Year-on-year, only four provinces recorded declines: Gipuzkoa (-21.7%); Guadalajara (-19.8%); Álava (-6.0%) and Navarra (-2.8%). The remaining provinces recorded positive results, with Cáceres standing out with an increase of 72.5%, followed by Zaragoza (+68.5%), Huesca (+67.7%), Soria (+59.9%) and Almeria (+46.9%).

The municipalities which recorded the highest number of sales are Madrid (7,439), Barcelona (3,358), Seville (2,684), Zaragoza (2,352) and Valencia (1,968).

Highlighted for growth among the provincial capitals and municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, are Leganes (+298.7%), Caceres (+247.2%), Palencia (+155.9%), Zaragoza (+102.9%), Badajoz (+90.3%), Fuenlabrada (+88.1%), Jaén (+87.8%) and Parla (+77.0%). As for the largest declines, Móstoles stood out (with a drop of -52.8%), followed by Pamplona (-46.9%), Alcalá de Henares (-35.2%), Toledo (-31.1%), Guadalajara (-22.9%) and Reus (13.6%).