Marbella is set to be the first part of Spain to recover from the country’s beleaguered real estate hole with property sales reaching their best level in four years, it is claimed.
Figures released by the Marbella tax office shows that 2,499 properties were sold in the first three months of this year, a rise of more than 200% compared to the same period in 2009 when just 820 properties were sold.
In the first quarter of 2008 there were 1,263 sold, 1,602 in the same period in 2007 and 1,224 in 2006. And Marbella mayor Angeles Muñoz says the town’ will be the first out of the crisis’ and is now recovering not just from the fall in the market but also from its illegal property scandals.
She said that its new town plan, which comes into effect this month, means that some 16,000 properties will be legalised, enabling owners to sell them, raise a mortgage or use them as an asset.
The latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics indicate that it is not just Marbella where the property market is picking up. They show that the Spanish property market grew by 16% in February compared to the same month last year. This suggests that the market in some areas is bottoming out and is starting to recovery after two years of decline.
Not including social housing, there were 35,720 home sales in February, 21,368 of them newly built and 19,665 resales. But sales are still 47% below volumes in February 2007.
Most, some 79% of the increase in transactions came from just two regions, with Catalonia up 43% and Madrid up 36%). The market continued to shrink or stagnate in many coastal areas popular with foreign buyers.
Prices are also stabilising with the latest Tinsa Spanish property price index showing that prices fell by 5.3% over the 12 months to the end of March, a slight improvement on the previous month. The figures from Tinsa, one of Spain’s leading appraisal companies, are however based on their own valuations not actual transaction prices.
Since the peaks of December 2007, prices are down 16.2% nationally, 22.5% on the Mediterranean coast, and 13.6% in the Canaries and the Balearics.
But there are no sign of foreign property buyers returning to the Spanish market. The latest figures from the Bank of Spain show that the amount of money invested by foreigners in Spanish property has fallen to the lowest level in a decade.
Foreigners invested €3.7 billion in Spanish property last year, the lowest level since 1999, when it was €2.9 billion. Foreign investment in Spanish real estate was down 32% last year compared to 2008, and by 48% compared to 2003, when foreign investment in Spanish property peaked.