January`s real state newsHome Sales Fell 11.3% in 2012

Despite the announcement that the tax incentives for home purchases were to be scrapped at the end of last year, it did not prevent a further contraction in the housing market, and housing sales declined again in 2012, by 11.3% compared to 2011. Thus, according to the latest data published by the National Statistics Institute, the number of housing transactions marked their second year of negative results after the drop of 17.7% experienced in 2011, which followed the positive results of 2010.

The abolition of the tax credit for home purchases and the increase in VAT did, however, cushion the fall in housing transactions in 2012, which was the most moderate in recent years. The worst years for housing transactions were registered in 2009 and 2008, when sales slumped by 24.9% and 28.6%, respectively. Only 2010 registered positive results, with the sale of homes increasing by 6.8%.

Although the National Statistics Institute has stated that it will publish a more detailed explanation of the annual results of these operations on 20th February, El Mundo estimates that around 320,000 house purchases were carried out in 2012 compared to 361,831 a year earlier (-11.3%) – a figure approaching the 300,000 break-even balance which experts have always defended, and far below the nearly one million transactions closed in 2006, during the boom.

In 2012, sales of new homes fell 9.3% from a year earlier, while sales of used homes shrank by 13.2%. The majority of transactions for home purchases in the past year were for private housing. In total, the sale of such homes fell 10% in 2012, while public housing operations decreased by 20%.

In the last month of 2012, housing sales increased by 2.3% compared to December 2011, reaching 23,523 operations, in contrast to the decline of 6.1% registered in November. December’s year-on-year increase was due to sales of both used homes and new, although transactions on the latter increased slightly more.

Specifically, the sale of second-hand homes rose 0.9% in December year-on-year, to 12,235 operations, while that of new homes rose 3.8%, to 11,288 transactions.

89.7% of the housing transactions in December were for private homes. Sales of this type of housing rose by 5.7% to 21,089 operations, while public housing operations totalled 2,434, a decrease of 19.9% compared to December 2011.

Month-on-month (December over November), housing sales dropped by 8.3%, much less than in December 2011 (-15.8%) and in line with the monthly declines of 2008 and 2009.

Andalucía Lead the Market in December

In December 2012, the highest number of home sales per 100,000 population occurred in Valencia (82) and Extremadura (78), and nearly 60% of the housing transactions carried out in December were registered in: Andalusia (4,539 operations); Valencia (3,380); Catalonia (2,885) and Madrid (2,783). The regions which made fewer house sales in December were La Rioja (174 operations), Navarra (282) and Cantabria (347).

In relative terms, the regions which increased house sales most in December, year-on-year, were Aragon (+61.1%) and Extremadura (+54.9%), while the largest decreases were for Navarre (-31.7%), the Basque Country (-27.5%) and La Rioja (-26%).



Russians overtake Germans to become second biggest group of foreign buyers in Marbella

Russian buyers have overtaken Germans to become the second largest group of international home owners in parts of Spain, it has been confirmed.

According to the Malaga Developer’s Association Russians now make up 9% of foreign property buyers, ahead of the Germans at 7%, with British buyers still ahead at 35%.

Marbella agent Spanish Hot Properties believes this is a trend to continue. ‘Russian buyers tend to be quite privileged and have money to spend on top quality homes. Most are seeking a villa, as opposed to an apartment, and some are drawn to secure, private, gated communities such as La Zagaleta, one of Spain’s most coveted country estates. Price tags of two million euros, ten million euros, don’t tend to scare them,’ said Nick Stuart, director of Spanish Hot Properties.

As a sign that the Russian community is set to integrate the largest Russian Orthodox Church in Spain is being built 10 kilometers west of Marbella. It is sponsored by the Moscow Patriarchate and designed by a Russian Architect and is set to also become a cultural and social centre for meetings celebrations and events.

Local retailers are starting to stock Russian produce, restaurants catering to Russian taste buds and everyone from gymnasium owners to health clinics are learning the language in order to communicate professionally with this potentially lucrative market.

‘The kind of Russian who comes to Marbella has a healthy bank account and will spend good money on golf courses, in elite fashion boutiques and fine dining restaurants, up to double that of their British counterparts. Little wonder Costa enterprises are adapting their business models accordingly. And, as Marbella will always have something that Russia doesn’t, endless bright sunshine and long warm summers, we can expect our new Russian neighbours to be around for some time,’ added Stuart.

The Spanish Consulates in Moscow and St Petersburg have had to double the number of staff handling visa applications, although complaints are made about Spanish bureaucracy, the time it takes to obtain permits and the restrictive nature of the maximum 90 day visas.

However, if the Spanish government goes ahead with its proposal to offer residency to foreigners who spend more than €160,000 euros on a property, the number of Russians, and indeed Chinese and other investors outside of the European Union, participating in Marbella’s property market could really surge.

According to Stuart it is a very welcome ray of light in a market that is still adjusting to reduced overall buyer activity, suppressed prices and very little new construction at all.

Overseas buyers are also attracted by lower prices in this part of Spain. And while the majority of the Spanish property market is seeing reductions between 20 and 40%, and in some extraordinary cases even further, the luxury sector is profiting from wealthy Russian and Asian buyers across the globe, according to agents Fine & Country Spain.

The firm’s managing director Michael Lovett also reports a surge in Russian buyers.‘The Russian middle class is now growing and becoming more affluent, snapping up properties overseas in sought after locations. In the past it was only a select few oil rich Russians that had immense buying power. This has clearly changed and evolved into a much more open market,’ he said.

He believes that Russians will pay elevated prices if the product meets their expectations, keeping state of the art new builds on the Marbella beach front in high demand. These types of properties have been recession proof, where developers continually invest in the latest designs and construction techniques while still reducing the sale price accordingly with the market.

‘Today’s buyers are changing too, insisting almost exclusively on sea views and quality designs meaning we are obliged to offer only the very best of what the market has to offer. Interest in Andalucian rustic style homes is very rare now, as most buyers do not settle for second best,’ explained Lovett.

‘The proposed residency law has definitely had an effect as well. Middle Eastern and Asian groups have expressed interest in this and purchased property purely to meet the requirement for residency. In many cases they will never even make use of that property with their sole interest being Spanish or European residency,’ he added.