CLICK HERE for our
FREE Weekly News Bulletin
Spanish Weekly News Round up 14th March 2014
Spanish property sales and prices keep falling, ten years on from the Madrid train bombings and 0% inflation in Spain
Spanish property news round-up
The last seven days have seen the publication of a glut of statistics related to developments in the Spanish property sector during 2013, and those who are confidently predicting an upturn in the market may be keeping a low profile for a few days as their optimism has, at least for the moment, been doused by a deluge of depressing numbers.
First, the Ministry of Development published its final sales figures for 2013, showing that just 300,000 residential properties were bought and sold in the whole country last year. This represents a further decrease of 17.4% on the already low 2012 figure, and although analysts rightly point out that this comparison is affected by tax reforms at the end of 2012 it is practically impossible to interpret the overall figures in a positive way.
Furthermore, the same statistics show that very few of the properties bought were new builds, as purchasers gravitate towards the lower prices asked for second-hand properties. Only about 60,000 new builds were sold during the year, indicating that hopes of eating into the vast stock of such unsold properties in the near future seem unfounded.
One of the most eye-catching aspects of the figures is the extent to which, in a poorly performing market, the little activity there is has become increasingly reliant on purchasers from abroad. Last year approximately a sixth of all purchases in Spain were made by non-Spaniards, and in the Mediterranean coastal provinces this proportion was even higher: in Alicante, where a quarter of all foreign purchasers chose to buy, under half of sales were to the Spanish. Whether such reliance on foreign buyers will be good for the market in the long run remains to be seen.
These figures were soon followed by the 2013 summary issued by leading valuation agency Tinsa, which concludes that prices fell by a further 7.6% last year, and by 11.2% on the Mediterranean coast. In this area over 48% of the value of property at the height of the boom, in December 2007, has now been wiped out.
Both the Ministry of Development and Tinsa confirmed that the last part of the year was slightly less negative than the first, but hopes of an upturn in the figures were dashed.
All of these stats were followed today by the publication of similarly negative figures from Spain’s central statistics unit, showing that the number of property sales registered in January 2014 (which mostly relate to sales actually made in the previous few months) was 23.2% lower than in the same month last year, although the total was higher than in December. Only in Madrid did the number actually rise compared to last year, and falls of between 40% and 56% were recorded in five of Spain’s seventeen Autonomous Communities.
In the midst of of all these statistics, however, Seopan, the group representing Spain’s largest construction firms, has issued its own report stating that in some areas of the country there is actually too little supply in the housing market, and anticipating that residential property construction may return to sustainable levels of around a quarter of a million units per annum in 2016. There is a place for optimism in analysis of the market at the moment, and the poor figures relating to the end of 2016 were expected by most, but even so it would take a brave man to stake money on Seopan’s predictions coming true just at the moment. However, who knows, by next month the statistics may be pointing in a more hopeful direction as the backlash of the 1st January 2013 tax modifications works its way out of the year-on-year comparisons…
An additional problem facing the attempts to stimulate growth in demand for property is Spain’s decreasing population, a problem which is highlighted by two starkly contrasting stories which have emerged recently from Andalucía. One concerns the regional capital, Sevilla, where the population has almost certainly dipped below 700,000, and the other the tiny municipality of Bayárcal, where only around 300 people currently live: the falling numbers in both municipalities are causing the local councils very different types of problems, but both illustrate that domestic demand is becoming increasingly hard to stimulate in terms of residential property.
Its also been interesting this week to see a report in the Mail back in the UK, highlighting just how substantially property prices have fallen in Spain, although whether the headline, "the ghost villages you can buy for £50,000: Thousands of abandoned Spanish hamlets for sale at less than half the price of a London garage, " is good for business or not is open for debate. Will it open the floodgates of buyers looking for a bargain and blinded by the price ticket or have the great British public become a little better informed since the last Spanish property boom.
Yes, buyers can get a lot for their money in Spain, but will non-Spanish speaking British buyers picking up a ruined village in the north of Spain get more than they bargained for and not what they dreamt of?
Or is it wiser to buy in an area where there is an established ex-pat community offering support, warmer weather and access to services in your native tongue?
( Look at the caption on the photo from the report: "Although the structures may be crumbling, the countryside setting is idyllic " which loosely translates as "in the middle of nowhere, with no services or facilities, absolute ruin, needs a packet spending on it." PS. Hope your Galician is fluent........
Spanish news this week.
Terrorism has been an important topic in the news this week, as Spain commemorates the tenth anniversary of the 11-M Madrid train bombings in which 191 people were killed and nearly 2,000 injured. This attack helped to change the course of history, mishandling of the situation by the incumbent government just three days before the elections brought 11 million people out onto the streets in protest, as it was revealed that the attack had not been carried out by ETA as was first believed, but by Islamic militants. Ten years on, the media have been immersed in discussing their belief that Spain is more at threat now from Islamic terrorists than ever before, as increased numbers of American troops take up postings in Spanish bases.
ETA itself has remained in the news, police swooping on a suspected collaborator in Bilbao, in the same week that old and infirm ETA prisoners officially request their transfer back to prisons in the North of Spain.The Spanish government remains firm in its determination not to negotiate with ETA, but to dismantle it, in spite of the growing political pressure being applied by the separatist group itself ( see BBC posts video showing weapons disarmament) and political organisations in the Basque Country pushing forward with the separatist cause.
Another inmate seeking his liberty has been Luis Bárcenas, who has again written to the courts asking for his liberty, having spent 8 months in jail without trial for his part in the “Bárcenas b-books” and Caso Gürtel “ cash for contracts investigations, although his case for freedom suffered a bit of a set-back this week when it was revealed that the bank account of his wife showed parallel payments to those listed in the B-books, a set of accounts which allegedly show illegal donations to the PP political party and their subsequent redistribution to high ranking party members.
The Caso Nóos has also continued on its slow way through the courts this week, Judge Castro adopting the same point of view as the public prosection service last week that the Duke of Palma (husband to Princess Cristina of Spain) and his business partner, should not face charges for money laundering. However, other investigations into misappropriation of funds, falsifying documentation, perversion of justice, tax fraud and administrative fraud will continue.
In Granada a Chinese national finds himself facing manslaughter charges after one of two armed thugs raiding his convenience store with a knife ended up dead, and police are still investigating the case of the homeless man who died after drinking what he thought was whisky left behind by partying youngsters in Almería. Having now identified that the bottle contained agricultural poison, the challenge now is to confirm where the youngster had "found " the bottle and whether this was a deliberate attempt to poison or just a tragic accident.
Staying in Almería, readers may find a story about the council decision to declare the figure of the local “Virgin” as honorary Mayoress of the town interesting, something which is not uncommon in Spanish communities, although is provoking a great deal of political mudslinging as it shows the changing face of Spain and modern day immigration.
Emigration, however, is causing a problem in Andalucia, affecting both small and larger population centres, so we have the situation in a major city like Seville, the capital of the region, where a falling level of population threatens the city with the loss of status of “large city” which means it loses not only councillors, but also state funding should its population drop below the magic 700,000 mark as it did once before. And then in the same region, a local council in Almeria is desperate to attract more families back into the municipality and is offering free housing to the “right type of families” in order to bring in enough children to keep its school open.
The Andalucía Region has also been in the headlines this week after passing what is being viewed as fairly confrontational and controversial legislation giving it the power to expropriate properties on a temporary basis in order to exhume suspected Civil War burials, with or without the permission of property owners.
Protestors have been back on the streets again this week, as women across Spain continue to carry out protests about the proposed amendments to the abortion law, some protesting in marches and demonstrations, others registering their bodies as their own property with municipal property registers across Spain. This topic was picked up by the BBC in the UK, who featured the story in a full length report on International Women’s Day on the main evening news.
Marchers from across Spain are walking to Madrid, as the Marchas de la Dignidad bring protestors on foot from different parts of the country to form together in one mass protest about a wide range of social issues.
There have also been violent protests in Galicia against allocations of the mackerel quotas for northern fishing fleets, although in the same week the tragic loss of a fishing vessel from the fleet has also cast a shadow over the fishing community. The “Santa Ana” turned over on Monday morning, with the immediate loss of 2 lives and rescue of the skipper, but 6 mariners are still missing. Bad weather and the fact that the nets are in the water around the stricken vessel has prevented divers from getting inside the semi-submerged hull, where the bodies of the remaining fishermen are expected to be found, although today, Friday, conditions have improved sufficiently to try and turn the hull over.
Assaults have also continued on the Melilla and Ceuta borders, and the Gibraltan government has also been complaining that the border queues on the Gibraltar-Spain border are once again starting to increase.
The Spanish government however, have this week spoken about a scheme run in collaboration with the Moroccan authorities and fellow European nations to pay immigrants who have made it to the immigramt transit centres to return to their country of origin voluntarily. This, they say, is much cost effective than enforced repatriations and is the preferred option for some immigrants who find that having crossed the border, they would prefer to return back to their own homes.
However, tourists continue to flock to Spain and air traffic figures for February promise another record tourist year, as festivals are unveiled and the coast starts to prepare for Easter, when everything kicks off once again. One little warning though, be careful where you buy tickets: the Tomatina festival in Buñol in Valencia is already warning those buying tickets through the internet should only buy from the official site if they don´t want to be disappointed.
And thoughts turn to the emergence of Spain from the current economic crisis as 0% inflation is presented as the February inflation figure: Ferrari have announced a 100 million euro agreement with Port Aventura in Cataluña to build a “Ferrariland” themed park alongside the existing Port Aventura installations, taking advantage of the 4 million tourists who already visit the park every year.
Click for this week’s currency exchange report between sterling and the Euro.
Murcia news www.murciatoday.com
A new regional president for Murcia, good air traffic figures, property prices at lowest since July 2003
This week the most important news for the region is the appointment of a new regional president to replace President Valcárcel, who officially steps down from office on the 6th April.
Alberto Garre López is the current first Vice-president of the Regional Assembly, which is the regional parliament and although he has no direct governmental experience, has spent a lifetime in politics, mainly as a PP spokesman first for the town hall of Torre Pacheco, then as a member of the regional parliament and was also spokesman for the PP in the national parliament for 7 years. Trained as a lawyer, he has already promised substantial changes for the direction in which the government has been pushing, although little is clear about who will remain in their current positions at the moment. The new premier inherits the tricky situation of Corvera airport, the ongoing issues caused by a substantial regional budgetary deficit, high unemployment and other issues such as the Med Corridor rail link, El Gorguel, and Marina de Cope, with just one year to resolve some of the outstanding problems before the next round of local elections. The PP currently dominates the region with a massive overall majority, but the last three years have been difficult for the region and the economic situation leaves much to be desired.
The issue of Corvera airport still looms large, with no noticeable progress this week, although San Javier managed to turn in a good set of results for February, with passenger figures up 14% from the same month last year. However, there’s no hiding from the fact that 27,000 passengers is another ball game altogether when compared to the construction boom years when over 100,000 passengers passed through the airport during the same month.
Although agents are reporting positive interest and are busy with enquiries, the property market in Murcia continues to wallow as it does nationwide. Final figures for 2013 are being released at the moment and show that prices fell by -13.8% in Murcia last year, which is nearly double the national average. Sales also fell last year against 2012 figures, falling in Murcia by -12.8%, but this is less of a drop than the national average, so shows that canny buyers have been negotiating hard and pushing the prices down, to pick up a bargain, giving Murcia more positive sales activity than in many other areas.
It’s interesting to note that one in 5 properties sold in Murcia last year were to foreign buyers, again, higher than the national average, although not as high as across the border in the Alicante province where almost a quarter of the entire national sales to foreigners in the whole of Spain were concentrated.
Agents working with Murcia Today are reporting increased enquiries, as news filters out into the UK media that property in Spain is once again cheap: Tinsa this week said Mediterranean coastal property in Spain was back to July 2003 levels, having fallen by 48.6% from peak levels. More Murcia property news ( and a few bargains to boot) in the dedicated Murcia property section.
An interesting side effect of the construction collapse has been that more land once destined for construction is now being returned to the agricultural sector, production of tomatoes increasing again for the first time since 2009 and in La Manga, land once destined for construction is being converted into a natural park.
Other news has been fairly thin on the ground: A huge fire destroyed a scrapyard in Lorca last night, the cold night temperatures in the north-west have threatened the precious peach crop, and the Guardia have been busy hoovering up thieves dismantling the abandoned mineworkings in the Sierra Minera, but summer is on it’s way and at least we’ve got George Benson to look forward to in the San Javier Jazz Festival this coming summer!
Valencia Today www.valenciatoday.es
Valencia ready to go up in smoke, tempers still smoking in Orihuela over market transfers and Irish feet on fire as Saint Patricks Day looms
At this time of year in the Comunitat Valenciana it hardly matters what else happens in the fields of politics, economics, sport and culture, there’s only one thing on the minds of the population of the regional capital and many other parts of the region: the Fallas.
Preparations have been under way behind the scenes almost since last year’s festivities ended and the atmosphere on the streets has been building since the start of the month (causing problems for those who have to drive in the city!), but the main events really get under way this Friday. Every day between now and next Wednesday the streets will be adorned by the gigantic temporary statues depicting topical and emblematic tableaux, and the culmination of the celebrations takes place on the last two nights, on the 18th/19th March with the Nit del Foc and on the 19th/20th March with the Cremà, when these figures and tableaux are ceremoniously burnt. For more details of the main events, click here.
There are also smaller Fallas celebrations in many other towns in the province of Valencia, and a few in Castellón (Burriana, Benicarló and Vall de Uxó, for example) and Alicante (including Denia, Calpe, Pego, Benidorm and Elda).
But there are also other things going on in the region, including interesting news for residential tourism on the Costa Blanca Valencia. The airport at El Altet has had a busy start to the year, and on the property front various statistical reports were published this week showing, among other things, that the real estate market is becoming more and more reliant on the activity of non-Spaniards: in the province of Alicante over half of all purchasers last year were from outside Spain, while a quarter of all foreigners buying in this country chose properties in Alicante. Whether this will be good for the market in the long term remains to be seen, but the same trend is also becoming noticeable on the rest of the Mediterranean coast. Overall, though, property sales were down across the country as a whole, and the Comunitat Valenciana was no exception: 10% fewer properties were sold last year than in 2012. At the same time, the latest figures suggest that prices are still falling, despite recent optimism that the worst of the slump could be over.
The region was unfortunately prominent in Spain’s first known case of an attempt to buy human organs for a transplant, which ended up boosting the reputation of the health service in two ways: the efficiency of their screening procedures meant that the guilty party was caught, and at the same time he eventually received the liver transplant he needed. Elsewhere a group of Bulgarians exploiting their fellow countrymen by sending them to work in the fields of south-eastern Spain for a pittance was dismantled, the authorities in Valencia launched a campaign to clampdown on the activities of unauthorized car mechanics and during the week four columns of the “Dignity March” set out from the region for Madrid, where protesters from all over the country will converge on 22nd March to demand “bread, a roof, rights and dignity”.
In Orihuela, the news continues to be dominated by the seemingly interminable row over the city’s two weekly markets, as the changes in location for both have been temporarily put on hold. Both traders and local residents have protested at the plans to move the Saturday market this weekend after council workers started painting the streets of the historic city centre with bright green markings, and the move has now been postponed by a court order, while the council itself has put back the date of the change of the Tuesday market while it reviews stallholders’ outstanding licence payments. Elsewhere in the municipality the council has spent 30,000 euros on repairing pavements in the outlying district of La Campaneta, and in Orihuela Costa the new footbridge enabling residents of La Regia to cross the N-332 more safely is now fully open.
In Elche the Charca del Prado has been added to the list of the Comunitat Valenciana’s protected wetland wildlife reserves, and in an effort to increase the number of tourists visiting the city centre the Mayoress travelled to Cartagena to see how the newly discovered Civil War air raid shelter might be turned into a museum and visitor centre. In the meantime, her predecessor in the post, Alejandro Soler, was found not guilty of charges of domestic violence.
Torrevieja this week witnessed a double near-drowning which is believed to have been caused by speeding fishermen in the port, where young trainee jobseekers have been painting over graffiti, and the Town Hall proudly published its accounts for last year, which have shown sufficient improvement for there to be a promise of no local tax increases during 2014. The Torrevieja Lions also brought good news in the form of a 5,000-euro donation to the local ALPE centre for handicapped children.
Despite making a commendable effort to save money, though, the council is still investing in improving the municipality, and the renovation of the Policía Local’s fleet of vehicles is now almost complete, while in the city of Alicante the fight against crime includes recent efforts to reduce bicycle theft. This is being done by means of issuing bikes with registration plates similar to those used on cars and motorbikes, and it seems the scheme is beginning to take off.
While some of us are enjoying the Fallas over the next few days, others will be planning to attend the well-known Tomatina event in Bunyol in August. If the popular tomato-throwing event is on your list of things to do this summer, beware unauthorized ticket sales: the Town Hall has had to issue a statement reporting a website selling tickets it doesn’t have, and will be pressing charges against the site’s owners.
And finally, don’t forget: the last day of the Fallas next Wednesday is also the feast day of San José, so congratulations will be in order for a large percentage of your Spanish friends: even if they aren’t called José, it’s also Father’s Day in Spain, and while most shops will be closed for the day, expect restaurants to be full of large family groups!
If you enjoy this free weekly round-up, then please support us by forwarding it on to your friends. If you have received this from a friend and would like to have it sent directly, then click Register for weekly bulletin to sign up.
We GUARANTEE your details will not be passed on, sold, or used for any other purpose, and are maintained in an isolated off-site facility from which you can unsubscribe at any time.
Images: Copyrighted Murcia Today and Efe. Full or partial reproduction prohibited.
Cádiz Province, Andalucia
Granada Province: Andalucia
Huelva Province, Andalucía
Jaén Province, Andalucia
Málaga Province, Andalucía
Region of Andalucia
Seville Province, Andalucía
Córdoba Province, Andalucia
Autonomous Community of Galicia
Castilla La Mancha
Castilla y León
Airlines and Travel SpainCaso BárcenasCaso NóosEbola SpainGibraltarProperty in SpainRodrigo Rato BankiaSareb, Bad Bank, Banco MaloSpanish separatism/ETATourism SpainWeekly Bulletin Spanish NewsWeekly Bulletin Spanish Property