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What was Happening in the Housing Market in Spain Before Covid-19?

House prices in Spain grew slightly during the first quarter of 2020, whereby maintaining the upward trend registered over the last five years, although they were showing signs of peaking.

The average house price in Spain reached €1,767 per square metre in the first quarter of 2020, according to data collected by the Brains RE big data platform. During that period, the average amount spent on a purchase transaction was €260,029.

These prices represent quarterly growth of 0.06% and interannual growth of 1.09% compared to the same quarter in 2019. “Over the last 5 years, prices have risen by almost 8% but since 2019 they have been showing signs of stagnation”, explains Laura López, Data Scientist at Brains RE.

Second-hand housing went up by the least but is more expensive in absolute terms

During the first quarter of 2020, the average price of new build homes stood at €1,906 per square metre, compared to €1,765 per square metre for second-hand homes. The prices of both types have shown positive growth over the last year with new builds up by 3% and second-hand homes up by 1%.

However, during the first quarter on 2020, the value of new build homes registered a decrease of 0.21% compared to the last quarter of 2019; meanwhile, the price of second-hand homes remained practically stable, with a slight rise of 0.06%.

For its part, the average ticket for sales of new build homes stood at €209,355, almost €50,000 less than the figure for second-hand homes, which had an average ticket of €260,691, according to data from the Brains RE big data platform.

“Although the prices of second-hand homes have been above those of new build properties for at least the last five years – by 24% in the case of the first quarter of 2020-, the prices per square metre of new builds have been higher than those of second-hand homes for two years, and were 8% higher in the first quarter of 2020 ″, says Laura López, Data Scientist at Brains RE. “That is because, in most cases, new builds tend to be concentrated on the outskirts of cities, whereas second-hand homes are usually in the centre or in more consolidated and sought-after areas, where prices are higher. In addition, second-hand properties also include homes that have been renovated and which, in many cases, are as expensive or more expensive than new builds”, she explains.

By type of property, single-family homes are more expensive than multi-family properties. In this way, at the end of the first quarter, houses for sale in Spain had an average price of €383,782, compared to homes in apartment blocks, which were going for €196,548 on average.

“Nevertheless, if we look at the average price per surface area, the cost per square metre of multi-family homes is 22% more expensive than that of single-family properties: €1,968 per square metre compared to €1,603 per square metre,” says Laura López.

Three-bed flats, the most abundant product on the market

During the 3 months to March, the supply of flats for sale in Spain accounted for 66% of the total. They were mostly 3-bedroom flats (29%), followed by 2-bedroom flats; meanwhile, the single-family home market accounted for just 34% of the supply. In the case of single-family homes, the majority of the existing supply have 4 bedrooms. By surface area, the size of flats for sale was around 100 square metres on average nationwide, compared to 239 square metres for the average house.

In terms of the prices of the different types of homes: a 1-bedroom flat in Spain costs €130,311 on average, and has the highest average price per square metre of all home types at €2,163/m². A 2-bedroom flat has an average price of €164,105 (equivalent to around €2,020 per square metre). A 3-bedroom flat, the most abundant type on the market, goes for an average of €185,658 (€1,824/m²) and a 4-bedroom flat costs €269,900 (€ 2,016/m²) on average.

“In absolute terms, in the one- and two-bedroom segment, there is practically no difference between the prices of multi-family and single-family homes. However, the average price of a 3-bedroom multi-family home in the first quarter of 2020 was €185,658, whereas the price of a 3-bedroom single-family home was €249,925, a difference of almost €65,000. The price difference between a multi-family and single-family home with 4 bedrooms is even greater, at more than €100,000”, says the Data Scientist from Brains RE.

Publication period

The average publication period of homes for sale in Spain during the first quarter of 2020 was 3.7 months, according to data collected by Brains RE from more than one hundred real estate portals and agencies.

Multi-family homes are the most liquid product, since they manage to sell in 3.5 months, whereas single-family homes take an average of 4.1 months to sell. “The bigger the house and the more bedrooms it has, and therefore more expensive it is, the longer it takes to find a suitable buyer,” says Laura López.

Over the last 2 years, the publication period of homes in Spain has been decreasing steadily, thanks to growing demand, down from 5.2 months in the second quarter of 2018 to 3.7 months in the first quarter of 2020.

Structure of the purchase and sale market

Homes for sale account for almost 9 out of every ten homes on the market. Specifically, in the first quarter of 2020, they accounted for 87.7% of the total market share, compared to 12.3% in the case of homes for rent.

However, homes for sale had longer publication periods, in fact, they were double. “On average, a home for sale remains on the market for 3.7 months whereas a home for rent remains on the market for 1.8 months; half the time”, says the expert from Brains RE.

With respect to the marketing of properties, in Spain, most home sellers opt to engage real estate agencies rather than to arrange a sale directly between individuals. However, the levels of professionalism are below those seen in other European countries. “If we analyse who manages the assets for sale, we see that the sector enjoys a high degree of professionalisation, with 85.5% of the products in the hands of real estate agents and only 14.5% of home sales managed by individuals. However, that figure is much lower in countries such as Italy or Portugal, where fewer than 5% of home sales are managed by individuals”, says López.

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