The Spanish property appraisal company Sociedad de Tasación (ST) has identified eight reasons to be positive about real estate in Spain in 2016.
With house prices showing signs of bottoming out, at least according to data provided by ST showing prices up 1.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2014, and predicting price stability for 2016, ST list the following reasons to be positive about the Spanish property market in 2016:
1. Price stability: property prices bottomed out in 2014. Analysis of data from the last six quarters show slight ups and downs like “the teeth on a saw” and for this year, the ST forecasts stability, with no sharp price increases or decreases.
2. Pent up demand: ST claim there is considerable pent up demand from potential buyers who are waiting for prices to stop falling, and for banks to turn on the mortgage tap. The year has started with another battle for market share from mortgage providers, with differentials around 1 per cent, unthinkable a year ago.
3. Higher consumer spending: domestic spending has grown by 2.6 per cent to the third quarter of 2014 due to an improvement in the economic outlook. This has led to many families buying goods with their savings. In fact, the family financial “cushion” fell in October last year to 9 per cent, its lowest level since 2006. According to economists, the “caution effect” is gradually disappearing from Spanish society in the face of forecasts of economic improvement in the next few months.
4. Record tourism: 61.7 million foreign tourists visited Spain up to November, 7.2 per cent more than last year and the highest on record, according to data from the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. Among this tsunami of tourists will be some property buyers, now even more so as the Euro weakens. For the Spanish property industry, this will be an opportunity to “export” product says Juan Fernández-Aceytuno, Managing Director of ST.
5. Growth and employment: the Spanish economy has gone from contracting by 1.1 per cent in Q3 of 2013 to expanding by 1.3 per cent in Q3 2014. The macroeconomic forecasts for 2015 estimate that the economy will continue to grow. At the same time, the unemployment rate has maintained a downward trend that is likely to continue over the next few months. However, 4.4 million people are still unemployed, according to the Ministry of Employment.
6. Improving housing affordability: the ratio of property prices/ average salary in Spain has dropped from 13.6 years in 2007 to 7.8 years needed to buy a home. Although the ratio has improved, Fernández-Aceytuno points out that this is still a high level; ideally the ratio should be no more than 4 years.
7. Mortgage lending: Banks have started 2016 in a bullish mood judging by their battle for mortgage market share. Banco Santander threw the first punch by launching a mortgage loan with a Euribor differential of +1.69 per cent. The most aggressive offer has come from Kutxabank, with a Euribor differential of +1 per cent.
8. Buy-to-let investors: Small property investors now account for 28 per cent of the total property market compared to 16 per cent previously, according to data from the franchise chain of estate agents Tecnocasa. Dismal returns from bank deposits and investment funds are driving investors towards buy-to-let, which now offers one of the best yields on the market, averaging 5.3 per cent, according to Idealita.com, a property portal.