23 February 2016 – El Economista
Spain and Ireland, two of the European countries that suffered the most from the burst of the housing bubble, will see their property prices rise again over the next few years.
That is according to the winter forecasts published by the European Commission, which expects real house prices to increase by 6.5% until 2017 in the case of Ireland and by 6% in the case of Spain during the same period. Malta, where prices are also expected to increase by 6%, completes the podium.
Although house prices are expected to recover, the EU notes that loans taken out to purchase homes continued to decrease (in Spain) in 2015, as well as in Latvia, Hungary, Portgual, Ireland and Greece. In the case of Spain, the decrease amounted to 4% in 2015, below only Latvia and Hungary.
At the other end of the spectrum is Greece, where the EU expects house prices to fall further, in that case by 1.5%. According to the Commission’s report, Greece was the only country not to experience improvements in the financing conditions for homes, which were seen across Europe in 2015. According to the EU, the improvements in financing conditions lie behind the recovery in property prices and only Greece remains at the side-lines. In most countries, the improvement began back in 2014, apart from in Croatia, Lithuania and Italy, which all relaxed their financing conditions in 2015.
Where will prices fall?
Besides Greece, the EU predicts that house prices will fall in three other countries, namely in: Belgium, France and Bulgaria.
The Commission says that the ratio of house prices to disposable income in Spain amounted to 10.1 in 2014, well below the figure of 15.6 recorded in 2007, when the ratio peaked and also significantly above the figure of 8.6 registered in 2000. Ireland has experienced a similar evolution to Spain; there, house prices represented 13x income in 2000, increased to a peak of 16.8x income in 2007, before decreasing to 11x income in 2014.
In 2014 in Portugal, house prices stood at their lowest level since 2000: then they represented 11.2x income, compared with 9x income in 2014. And Germany has also experienced a similar trend – house prices there have decreased from representing 8.6x income to 7.2x income in 15 years.
The property sector in Spain has changed
The reality is that the housing market in Spain has changed (significantly), not only in terms of the decrease in the income requirement to pay for a home, but also in other aspects. The first is the decrease in the number of operations being closed each year: According to INE, 354,132 transactions were closed in 2015, which represents a similar level to 2011. However, that figure represents less than half the number recorded in 2007 (when 775,300 homes were sold).
Another aspect that has changed significantly is the size of the mortgages being granted. In absolute terms, they have decreased from almost €300,000 million in 2006 and 2007, to just over €41,000 million in 2014. On average, the size of mortgages granted has also plummeted, by 37%, to €106,655 in November 2015.
Original story: El Economista (by Inés Calderón)
Translation: Carmel Drake