The Spanish property market grew by 10% in January this year, according to monthly data produced by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE). This is the first time the market has grown since the recession began, without artificial stimulation by the government such as temporarily keeping property transfer tax down.
Spanish house prices rose on a quarterly basis at the end of last year, according to data from the Housing Department, for the first time since the first quarter of 2008. BBVA, Spain's second largest bank, has published a new report with upbeat projections for the Spanish housing market in 2015.
According to the INE, the number of new mortgages signed increased by 1.6% in 2014 compared to 2013; the first increase after falling over seven consecutive years, which could mean that mortgage lending may finally have bottomed out. The number of mortgages signed in December last year was up 28.9% compared to the same month in 2013. This is the first time in five years that both the number and value of new residential mortgages has increased in December. Interest rates are also coming down, with a rate for residential mortgaes of 3.5% compared to 4.21% a year earlier.
Added to this, a new law has been introduced in Spain, which offers residency permits to non-EU nationals in return for an investment of not less than €500,000 in Spanish property, the objective being to attract entreprenerus and stimulate foreign investment.
Everything points to resale properties being the leaders in sales during 2015. This means the gap between sales of new build and re-sale properties will continue to increase. The main reason for this is price, with re-sales being cheaper by anything between 5 and 15%. According to the valuation company Tinsa, this equates to a difference of some €400 per square meter on average.
During the first half of 2014, large funds lead the race by foreign investors into Spain however, the second half of the year saw a rise in activity by private investors and Real Estate Investment Trusts - known in Spain as SOCIMIs. The preference also changed from investment in shopping centres and property platforms, to property-backed debt, which until recently was unthinkable, and even residential development land.
Spain has become a solid property investment destination, largely dominated by investment giants such as Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, Lone Star among others. In all, sales to both resident and non-resident foreign buyers in the last quarter of 2014 were up by 13.4% on the previous year and the current strength of the British Pound against the Euro, coupled with very attractive property prices will, in all likelihood, serve to boost sales to British buyers even further.