Gov’t Approves New Mortgage Bill That Favours Borrowers

7 November 2017 – Inmodiario

The Government has approved the Mortgage Bill, which transposes the corresponding European Directive and seeks to increase the transparency of mortgage contracts, according to explanations provided by the Minister for the Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Luis de Guindos (pictured below, left).

In terms of the transposition, De Guindos said that the legislation has opted for the alternatives that are most favourable for the mortgage holder in every case. In this way, commissions for the early repayment of variable rate loans will be reduced, and even cancelled from the fifth year onwards; a maximum commission (cap) will be set for fixed-rate loans, compared to the current situation where up to two commissions may be applied, one of which has no kind of limit.

Moreover, the legislation establishes the right of consumers to change the currency of a loan taken out in a foreign currency to the domestic currency or any other; plus it prohibits cross-selling – which obliges the consumer to contract a series of financial products as conditions to obtaining a mortgage – and it regulates the legal framework for mortgage brokers.

The Ministry of Economy has said that the bill is not limited to simply transposing the EU Directive, but also responds to legal rulings that have expressed the need for greater transparency in terms of mortgage regulation.

In this sense, the legislation facilitates the conversion of variable rate mortgages to fixed-rate products, for both new mortgages as well as those already underway. The commissions for making such a change will be cancelled from the third year and the notary and registration fees will be reduced.

Other changes mean that the lender must provide the client with detailed documentation about the mortgage, including the most “sensitive” clauses and scenarios showing the evolution of instalments. Moreover, the borrower will be entitled to receive free advice from the notary about the contents of the contract for seven days prior to signing.

The legislation also regulates the early repayment of loans, “in such a way that it avoids any kind of discretion when it comes to agreeing this clause”, according to Luis de Guindos. The requirement for a financial entity to be able to initiate the foreclosure of a mortgage is extended to nine unpaid monthly instalments or an amount that exceeds 2% of the capital granted during the first half of the mortgage term; and 4% or twelve unpaid instalments during the second half.

Original story: Inmodiario

Translation: Carmel Drake

House Prices: How Much Upwards Wiggle Room Is There?

13 June 2017 – El Mundo

In many respects, the housing sector has been restored to its former glory: house sales are rising at an increasingly faster rate, the development of new homes has resumed and the granting of mortgages is growing apace. However, the jubilation in the residential market can be felt, above all, in the significant increase that prices are experiencing in the new real estate cycle.

House prices rose by 7.7% in YoY terms during the first quarter of 2017, according to Real Estate Statistics from the College of Property Registrars. In the historical series published by that body, that figure represents the highest increase in house prices since 2007, in what is now the third consecutive year of increases in the market after seven years of severe decreases. (…).

The Registrars highlight the favourable behaviour of the real estate and mortgage markets, but warn that this strong dynamism “does not justify any intensification of growth towards double digits anytime soon”.

The registrars reiterate in their analysis that “From a global perspective, the market is debating between sustainable growth and an intensification towards forgotten figures”. They attribute the significant increase in house prices to the consolidation of economic growth, creation of employment, low interest rates, activity in the mortgage market and overseas demand.

The main consequence of the variables listed by the registrars, which work in favour of rising prices is, clearly, the increase in the number of potential buyers of homes, as highlighted by Julio Gil, Managing Partner at Horizone Consulting Inmobiliario. “The factors that are driving the appreciation in house prices nowadays are demand-driven, with three very clear facets: pent-up demand from previous years, which is now coming into play, demand to reposition and demand to invest”, reflects Gil. (…).

Moreover, all indications are that prices will continue to rise, at least, in the medium term (…). What is not so clear is the intensity of that increase. (…).

According to the registrars “Our predictions are based on forecasts of moderate growth rates, defined to be YoY rates of around 5%-6%, although there may be cyclical periods of more intensive QoQ rates. It would seem that “the social and economic reality does not justify an intensification much greater than these amounts”. And they highlight: “The evolution in terms of the number of inhabitants, wage levels, the outlook in terms of interest rates etc. ought to put the brakes on the upwards trend, to a certain extent”.

That prediction is not shared by Gonzalo Bernardos, Economist and Director of the Masters in Real Estate Management and Development at the University of Barcelona. “House prices will rise by around 8% in 2017 if the net credit available to purchase a home does not increase; and will soar by around 13%, if lending rises by 5%”. For the time being, this expert does not see an obvious risk of a bubble and recalls that that only happened a decade ago after net credit had been increasing for 10 years by almost 20%. (…).

Looking ahead, Bernardos takes it for granted that the steep rise in house prices will be contained when the price of money increases (it currently stands at 0% in Europe). He calculates that, provided nothing changes in the international environment, this turning point in interest rates will happen at the end of 2018, which means that by 2019, the average YoY increase in house prices will be sustained at around 3%-4%-5%. (…).

Original story: El Mundo (by Jorge Salido Cobo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Fitch: House Prices Are Going to Rise At A Faster Rate Than Salaries

20 February 2017 – El Economista

On Thursday, the ratings agency Fitch warned that access to housing in Spain is going to gradually worsen as a result of the difficulties facing the labour market.

In its report about the outlook for the real estate and mortgage market in 2017, the ratings agency forecasts that house prices in Spain are going to rise at a faster rate than salaries, which means that the accessibility of housing is going to deteriorate.

“Fitch expects the accessibility of housing to gradually worsen given that any recovery in salaries will be lower than the increase in house prices, taking into account the challenges facing the labour market”, said the agency, which added that access to the real estate market will be “especially difficult” for first-time buyers.

Fitch expects the positive trend observed in house prices, which rose by 4% during the third quarter of 2016, to continue thanks to “robust economic growth”, the maturity of the mortgage market and foreign demand, which currently accounts for 13% of transactions.

Nevertheless, it says that the two-speed market will continue, given that the “bulk” of the recovery will focus on homes whose quality and location place them above average.

Slow down due to floor clauses

On the other hand, Fitch thinks that the legal uncertainties surrounding the floor clauses and the reform of the mortgage market will slow down the growth experienced since 2014 for the granting of loans to buy homes.

“The rate of growth in loans will slow down from the levels seen in 2015 and during the first half of 2016, given that Spain’s banks will adopt a more cautious approach in the face of the legal uncertainties that are affecting the mortgage market”, said the agency.

Nevertheless, it considers that the rise in house prices and the favourable loan environment, thanks to low interest rates, are still offsetting the repayment of loans in progress.

Finally, Fitch thinks that Spain’s banks will continue to reduce their exposure to toxic assets by divesting their non-strategic businesses, such as their non-performing loans and foreclosed properties.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake

INE: Fixed Rate Mortgages Enjoy Unparalleled Popularity

29 July 2016 – Cinco Días

The mortgage market is not only on track to recovery, it is proving unstoppable. The enormous and increasingly attractive mortgages being offered by the banks to secure new clients are encouraging homebuyers. And that is being reflected in the figures. According to the property registers, the signing of new mortgages for the acquisition of a home recorded a significant YoY increase of 34.1% in May, to reach 26,579 contracts, an increase that was ten basis points higher than the rise recorded in April (24.6%) and twenty points higher than the increase in March. With the YoY rise in May, mortgages recorded 24 consecutive months of increases.

And the data reveal another important fact to keep in mind. It seems that the firm commitment of the financial institutions to fixed rate mortgages is working, with increasingly more clients choosing that option. 80.4% of the mortgages constituted in May had variable rates, compared with 19.6% that had fixed rates. Just a month before, in April, variable rate mortgages accounted for 85.2% of the total, whilst fixed rate mortgages represented 14.8%. But the increase in fixed-rate loans is unquestionable if we compare the latest figures with those from just a year ago. In May 2015, when 19,732 new mortgages were constituted, 92.8% of them were variable rate and 7.2% were fixed rate. In other words, the proportion of new fixed rate mortgages has almost tripled in one year.

And, in recent months, the financial institutions have shown a greater predilection for fixed-rate mortgages, given the low interest rate environment in which they are operating. And, what’s more, the battle to win clients is still very much alive and kicking, with some entities now offering interest rates of less than 2%. There are several examples: BBVA is offering 15-year fixed rate mortgages at 1.90%. Bankinter is offering 1.80% on its 15-year mortgages and 1.60% on its 10-year products. Meanwhile, Activobank’s promotional mortgage to celebrate its anniversary establishes a rate of just 1.50% over 10 years. (…).

With just two days left of trading before the end of July, the average Euribor rate currently sits at -0.057%, compared with -0.028% in June. Thus, the decrease in Euribor has doubled in just a month. (…).

According to the provisional data for May, provided by INE yesterday, which comes from public deeds signed in the previous months, the 26,579 mortgages that were constituted during the month represent an increase of 12.6% compared with the 23,607 signed a month earlier.

The value of those mortgages amounted to €2,776.9 million, up by 33.1% compared to a year ago and 8.6% higher than in April. The average mortgage loan amounted to €104,480, which represents a reduction of 0.8% compared to May 2015 and 3.6% compared to a month earlier. (…).

Original story: Cinco Días (by M. Calavia)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Notaries: House Prices Rose By 1.9% YoY In March

18 May 2016 – El Economista

The average house price amounted to €1,261/sqm in March, up by 1.9% with respect to the same month in 2015, according to data from the General Council of Notaries, which reflects an increase in house sales of 5.8% during the period.

Specifically, the notaries registered 38,674 transactions during the third month of the year. By type of home, the sale of flats rose by 4% and by 5.2% in the case of unsubsidised apartments.

The recovery in sales of the latter is due solely to an increase in the sale of second-hand flats, by 8.5% YoY, given that transactions involving new apartments experienced a YoY decline of 18.5%. Meanwhile, the sale of family homes rose by 13%.

Prices increase, as well as sales

In terms of prices, the cost per sqm of the homes purchased in March amounted to €1,261/sqm, which represents an increase of almost 2% YoY. This rise is explained by the increase in the prices of family homes (+7%) and flats (+1.2%).

Meanwhile, the price per sqm of unsubsidised homes rose by 2%. Within this segment, the price of second-hand homes amounted to €1,361/sqm (+1.1%) and of new homes stood at €1,678/sqm (+10.7%).

Finally, the sale of other properties in March amounted to 9,262 operations (+1.2%), of which 37% corresponded to land and plots. The average price of these transactions reached €316/sqm (+96.8%).

Increase in loans

In another vein, the evolution of the mortgage market for the acquisition of homes reflects the recovery in the real estate sector, registering an increase in total loans.

In this way, the number of mortgages granted during the month of March was 29,642, which represents a YoY increase of 4.2%. The average amount of those loans was €153,929, reflecting a YoY rise of 6.2%.

Meanwhile, the number of mortgages granted for the acquisition of properties grew by 16.5% YoY, to 19,611, due to an increase in the granting of loans to purchase homes (+17.1%), as well as a rise in the loans approved for the acquisition of other properties (+10.4%).

Meanwhile, the average amount of these loans reached €134,881 (+5.9%). In the case of homes, the average capital loaned was €125,265, up by 2.7%, and for other properties, the average loan amounted to €240,336, having increased by 29.1%.

More financing for the construction sector

Loans allocated to the construction sector increased by 2.3% YoY in March, to 472 loans in total. The average amount was €277,491, taking the YoY increase to 7%. Meanwhile, the average amount of the loans granted to construct a home rose by 13.7% to €227,582.

Finally, the percentage of homes financed using a mortgage amounted to 46.7%. Moreover, for this type of financing purchase, the loan amount accounted for 78.7% of the property value, on average.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake

Notaries: House Sales Rose By 26.6% YoY In January

16 March 2016 – Expansión

House sales shot up by 27.7% during the first month of 2016.

The number of house sales recorded an increase of 26.6% in January compared with the same month in 2015, with 27,568 operations, although that variation moves up to 28% if we consider the series corrected for seasonal effects, according to statistics prepared by the General Council of Notaries.

The annual increase in the number of sales was driven by an expansion in the sale of apartments (+27.7%), the increase in the sale of single-family homes (+22.6%) and the sale of other properties (+22% YoY).

In the case of apartments, the sale of unsubsidised homes experienced a 28.2% increase with respect to January 2015. Within this segment, the sale of second-hand flats rose by 32.8%, which contrasted with the 3.8% decrease experienced by the sale of new apartments.

In terms of average prices, the price per square metre of the homes purchased in January amounted to €1,303/m2, which reflects a YoY increase of 2%, due both to the increase in the price per square metre of apartments (+1.5%), as well as the rise in the price of single-family homes (+4.5%). In terms of flats, the price per square metre of second-hand properties amounted to €1,405/m2 (+2.1%) compared with €1,732/m2 (+1.2%) for new homes.

Meanwhile, there were 6,590 operations involving other properties during the first month of the year, which represents a YoY increase of 22%. Of those operations, 38.6% related to plots of land. The average price per square metre of those transactions amounted to €243/2 (up by +34.6% YoY).

In light of this data, the General Council of Notaries believes that the Spanish real estate market is continuing its recovery, which is also being reflected in the evolution of the mortgage market for the acquisition of homes. (…).

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Sabadell Lowers Its 20-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage To 2.90%

3 March 2015 – Expansión

Banco Sabadell has reaffirmed its commitment to fixed rate mortgages. The bank chaired by Josep Oliu has decided to convert its fixed rate mortgages into its star home loan product, and it will therefore recommend that its clients opt for fixed rate products to ensure the stability of their mortgage payments over the long-term. 16% of the bank’s new mortgages are now fixed rate, compared with 10% in 2014.

To demonstrate its commitment, Sabadell has just reduced the interest rate on its 20-year fixed rate mortgage from 3.7% to 2.90%. If the client prefers a 30-year term, a fixed rate of 3.10% will apply.


During the real estate boom, people paid rates of up to 4.75% when Euribor was at 4.1% in 2007.


Other entities, such as Bankinter, Bankia and BMN are also backing fixed rate mortgages, offering interest rates of between 3.4% and 4.60%. CaixaBank offers a rate of between 2.5% and 3%, depending on the degree of connection (of the client with the bank’s other products).

Original story: Expansión (by S. Saborit)

Translation: Carmel Drake

INE: Mortgages Increased By 1.6% In 2014

27 February 2015 – Expansión

The number of mortgages granted for homes increased by 1.6% in 2014 with respect to the previous year, to 202,954, which meant that the mortgage market returned to positive growth after seven consecutive years of decreases; and so a change in the sector’s cycle begins.

The signing of new mortgages for the purchase of homes rose by 1.6% in 2014 to reach 202,954, the first increase after seven years of decline, according to extracts from the Mortgage Statistics published by INE today.

The number of new mortgages had not increased on a year-on-year basis since 2007, a year in which more than a million more mortgage contracts than last year were signed – 1,238,890, to be exact – therefore, despite the recovery that appears to taking place in the sector, the market is still well below its pre-crisis figures.

The signing of mortgages has fallen steadily since 2007: in 2013, the number decreased by 27.1%, whilst in 2012, 2011 and 2008, they fell by more than 32%. In 2009, they dropped by 22.2% and in 2010 and 2007, the declines were more moderate, with decreases of 6.6% and 7.7%, respectively.

Last year the size of the average mortgage taken out over homes also grew, by 2.1% to €102,130, whilst the total amount of capital loaned rose by 3.8% during the course of the year to reach €20,727 million.

In December 2014 alone, the number of new mortgages recorded in the property register grew by 28.9%, compared with the same month in 2013, whereby completing seven consecutive months of increases. During the last month of the year, 15,962 contracts were signed in total, for an average value of €124,059, also higher than a year earlier.

Overall, in 2014, the total number of mortgaged properties increased by 11.7%, to amount to 314,018. Of those, 22,342 were urban (+12.5%) and 1,054 were rural (-3.2%).

For Fernando Encinar, Head of Research at Idealista, “this increase in the number of mortgages granted represents good news for the sector. Banks have started to hang the “mortgage” sign in their branches once again and demand is beginning to respond, encouraged by the economic recovery and the suppression of prices”.

Manuel Gandarias, Director of the Research Unit at offered a similar view: “Everything seems to indicate that the mortgage market will reactivate briskly. Following the significant decreases observed since 2007, the data in 2014 represents the first annual increase in the granting of loans, and the second half of the year really stood out in terms of growth”.

“Similarly, the average size of mortgages has experienced an increase, which is indicative that the banks have recovered the financing role that the sector was has been asking for”, he continued.

“Competitiveness between entities to win the best clients has returned to the mortgage sphere and offers will continue to attract sales and purchases. Everyone will have to pay attention to the evolution of Euribor and the movements of the European Central Bank (ECB), whose measures have accelerated this opportunity. Although the future looks brighter, we should remember that this is the principle of stabilisation. Financing is a fundamental element for families and it is a clear indicator of the process of improvement.

Andalucía, Madrid and Cataluña lead the increases

As usual, the autonomous regions with the highest volumes of mortgages granted in 2014 were Andalucía (36,860), Madrid (35,461) and Cataluña (30,261).

The regions in which the most capital was lent to constitute mortgages were Madrid (€5,134.9 million), Cataluña (€3,439.1 million) and Andalucía (€3,219.0 million).

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Notaries: House Sales Increased & Prices Stabilised In 2014

17 February 2015 – El Economista

House sales grew by 19.1% to 364,601 transactions in 2014 with respect to 2013, a year of minimal activity in the sector, according to the latest statistics from the General Council of Notaries (el Consejo General del Notariado).

So, whilst this rise in the number of transactions should be assessed from that perspective, the statistics reflect the fact that prices have turned the corner on the negative trend observed during the crisis and are growing again, albeit by only 0.1%.

The notaries explain that “last year the real estate market was marked by the stabilisation of monthly figures, in terms of both quantities and prices”.

Increase in sales

In detail, the increase in sales is more evident in the case of single-family homes, a segment that grew by 26.8% to 74,160, versus the 17.3% increase in the sale of flats, although more flats were sold in absolute terms (290,441 transactions).

In the case of the latter, second-hand sales increased by 23.5% to 234,748 transactions, versus an increase of 9.6% in the sale of new flats (39,306).

Prices increase slightly

In terms of the price per square metre, the average value of homes purchased in 2014 was €1,251 (+0.1%). This increase was primarily due to the increase in the value of flats (+1.4%), since the price per square metre of single-family homes fell by 2.7%.

Similarly, sales of second hand properties are driving the sector. The price of used flats increased by 2.4%, whilst the price of new flats remained unchanged.

Finally, 94,586 transactions involving other properties were recorded last year, of which 38.4% related to land or plots.

Therefore, the notaries insist that “the gloomy path of the real estate market ended last year, with the market showing signs of stabilisation compared with the same period in 2013” and they add that “during the first few months of 2015, they expect market figures to continue on the path of stabilisation observed in 2014, although values may be more moderate”.

Improved financing

On the other hand, the mortgage market behaved in line with the stabilisation of the real estate sector in 2014. The market closed the year with a 5% year-on-year increase in the number of new loans granted and with an average amount of €137,878, representing an increase of 10.2%.

In the specific case of mortgage loans granted for the purchase of properties, the number of loans granted last year increased by 39.4%. This increase amounted to 42% in the case of house purchases and 15.6% in the case of other properties.

The average capital of the mortgages granted for the acquisition of a property amounted to €124,217, an increase of 6.4%. In the case of loans for house purchases, the average amount was €117,507, an increase of 5.2%.

More loans for developers

The notarial statistics indicate that the number of mortgage loans granted for construction also increased during the course of the year, by 20.2%. This increase was higher in the case of house construction (23.8%).

In terms of the average loan amount, the figure stood at €288,974 for all mortgages loaned for construction, which represented a year-on-year decrease of 3.5%, slightly higher than the reduction recorded in 2013 (-3%).

Finally, the percentage of homes purchased using mortgage financing stood at 37.5% last year. Moreover, for these purchases, the mortgage represented 75.2% of the value of the home, on average.

Original story: El Economista

Translation: Carmel Drake

Happiness Will Return To The Housing Market In 2015

3 February 2015 – Expansión

REAL ESTATE RECOVERY / The return of banks to the mortgage market and the increase in domestic investment are allowing Spain to emerge from the deepest and most intense crisis to hit the housing market in decades. During 2015, 440,000 homes will be sold, 20% more than last year, but far fewer than the 950,000 transactions recorded in 2006. Some of those currently renting properties will now purchase their own homes, thanks to the low interest rates.

Happiness yes, cause for celebration, no. The party ended in 2007 and there is no prospect of it returning, in either the short or medium term. Nevertheless, despite the high levels of unemployment (5,457,700 people were out of work at the end of 2014) and the low wages earned by a substantial part of the population (7,861,844 employees declared monthly income of less than €967.94 in 2013), the recovery of the housing market will become a reality in 2015.

And we will not only see green shoots, but rather an upwards trend that will be consolidated over the next few years, since the main variables in the housing market (number of sales, prices and new builds) will perform better in 2016 and 2017 than during 2015. Therefore, 2015 will be the year in which the deepest and most intense crisis to hit the housing market in decades, which battered the housing market in Spain for 7 long years, finally came to an end.


The recovery will be significant in terms of the number of transactions, which will increase by approximately 20% with respect to 2014. Thus, if sales in 2014 amounted to approx. 365,000 homes, in 2015 they will be close to 440,000. Although we expect there will be approx. 75,000 more transactions than in 2014, this figure will still be 500,000 below the one recorded in 2006 (when 955,186 homes were sold – the highest number of sales ever made in Spain). Furthermore, the figure will be less than the number of sales made in 2009 (463,719 homes), a year when GDP fell by 3.6%. But that was, undoubtedly, a very different environment to the one we are now facing in 2015, with economic growth forecasts for the year of 2.2%.

The increase in the number of transactions will mainly take place in the large cities and especially in the streets where the wealthiest populations live (the upper and upper-middle classes). In those areas of Barcelona and Madrid, sales growth will be dramatic, exceeding the levels recorded in 2014 by almost 50% in certain cases. The main reasons for this differential behaviour with respect to the rest of the country, aside from the higher wealth and monthly earnings of residents will be: an increase in the desire to invest in housing; an improvement in the ease of access to mortgage lending; and the existence of a considerable latent demand for housing from people who have lived in rented properties until now. Sales will also increase in provincial capitals, tourist areas and small towns (those with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants), although at substantially lower rates.

Why will the demand for housing increase?

The main reasons why the demand for housing will increase considerably are:

a) Growth in mortgage lending. Having passed their stress tests, financial institutions will increase the loans they grant as they face reduced opportunities for generating profits from the purchase and sale of public debt or the disposal of non-core assets. This means that mortgages will become a ‘hook’ product once again, i.e. they will be designed to focus more on attracting new clients or retaining existing clients, than on generating large margins per euro borrowed.

This phenomenon will lead to an overall reduction in the spread over Euribor to 0.75% and the appearance on the mass market of 35-year mortgages. On a selective basis, we will also see the return of loans for financing house moves (when a client first buys his new home and then sells his old one), as well as those granted for 100% of the value of the home for properties that are not owned by the bank.

In light of all of this, unlike in 2014, when credit granted to families to purchase homes decreased by around 3.5%, lending will increase by approximately 8% in 2015. Undoubtedly, this will represent a substantial change that will result in a return to normality for mortgages used to finance home purchases.

b) A substantial increase in the number of domestic investors. Neither the Russians (of whom there will be more sellers than buyers in 2015), the British or the Germans will be the leading players in 2015; the main players in the market will be Spanish. The expectation of the recovery in prices, the high volatility of the stock market, the low nominal returns offered by bonds over the short term and the risk of incurring losses over the long term will all cause investors will return to the housing market.

Acquisitions will predominantly be made in the areas where investors reside (a classic real estate investment) or in the centre of cities, with only a small percentage of buyers preferring to acquire a residence on the beach or in the mountains. Despite the attractive prices (in some cases less than €60,000), almost no one will purchase in small towns. The main reasons are: the extreme difficulty of renting out homes purchased in such locations, given the huge over-supply and the population declinethat many of them have suffered, as well as the poor prospects of any appreciation in the value of such assets in the short and medium term.

c) The displacement of some of the demand for rental towards purchasing. In recent years, many families have chosen to rent (rather than buy) in the hope that: house prices would fall further; the uncertainty surrounding their future in the company they work in would diminish; and they would manage to save the capital required to put down a deposit on a house, which banks do not normally finance. Nowadays, many of them believe that house prices are going to go up rather than down in the near future, they see redundancy at work as a less likely prospect and after years of saving, they are now in a position to be able to buy their dream home.

Furthermore, given the historically low Euribor rate in December 2014 (0.329%) and the expectation that the ECB’s reference interest rate will continue at a very low level for at least the next three years, they note that it is now much more advantageous for them to buy a property rather than rent. The reason is that the monthly interest payable on mortgages taken out now, will be lower than the rent charged for a similar home, in the vast majority of cases.

d) The macroeconomic recovery. Economic growth of 2.2% will generate an increase in profits for a significant number of self-employed people and small business-owners. This will cause some of them to decide to move house or invest in an additional property. However, the creation of more than 350,000 full time equivalent jobs (under the national accounts methodology) will have a minor impact on the demand for housing, since the vast majority of the roles generated will be temporary or part-time and will be poorly paid.


Overall, house prices will increase by around 5% across the country, and the key driver will be the significant increase in demand in the large cities. The highest annual increase will be observed in the best areas of Barcelona and Madrid, where it will exceed 10% in some cases. In the tourist areas that are furthest from the beach, ski resorts and in the neighbourhoods of provincial capitals, where there is already a significant over-supply of properties, no price rises are expected. Activity will return (in terms of the number of transactions) in these locations, but prices will remain stable.

In some small towns, prices will continue to decrease, although at a significantly lower rate than in recent years. The decline in population numbers, low rental yields (less than €200 (per month) in many cases) and the inability of most of the population that live in rental accommodation to obtain a mortgage, mean that demand for housing (in small towns) will continue to remain very low, although it will be higher than in previous years.

According to the historical data provided by the Ministry of Development, the 5% price increase means that by the end of 2015, the average cost of an unsubsidised home will be roughly equal to the prices last seen in the second quarter of 2004. This comparison clearly shows the significant decline that house prices have suffered during the crisis; specifically, house prices fell by 42.8% between the first quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2014. Nevertheless, due to the large speculative bubble in the housing market in 2007, this statistic does not indicate anything conclusive about whether homes now are cheap or not.

In theory, this aspect should allow us to clarify the indicator known as the ‘degree of effort’, which measures the percentage of the salary of an average family (i.e. the one that has an equal number of families earning more and less than it) that is spent on mortgage repayments. This effort, according to calculations published by the Bank of Spain, currently amounts to 35%, which is lower than in September 2008 (41%), but much higher than in December 1990 (20.2%).

My interpretation is that for many families, especially for the majority of those who earn less than €2,500 a month, buying a house is just not an option. By contrast, for those that have accumulated significant wealth or earn a relatively good salary, housing is currently a cheap asset.

New builds

In 2015, developers will begin the processes required to build around 65,000 homes. This figure represents an increase of 60% on the previous year (40,000 in 2014), but nonetheless represents less than 10% of the number of new builds that were expected to be built in 2006 (915,745 homes) and does not represent even a quarter of the number of new homes that should be built in any given “normal” year (350,000 homes).

Unlike in previous years, if a plot of land is well located, banks will provide loans for construction on it to finance around 80% of the total cost of the development. Some entities may even begin to partially finance the purchase of plots of land in the best areas of large cities.

Despite this positive outlook, it is likely that none of the next few years will be considered as “normal” years in terms of house construction, since the huge over-supply of homes in many small towns; in quite a few medium-sized towns; and in numerous tourist areas, will hamper the construction of new homes in 2016 and 2017, with fewer than 175,000 being built each year.

In summary, 2015 will see the beginning of a recovery in the housing market and this will result in a period characterised by moderate price rises and significant growth in terms of the number of transactions. Nevertheless, during the coming years, both variables will continue to remain well below the figures achieved in 2006 and 2007.

Therefore, no one should confuse the recovery that is now beginning with the birth of a new bubble.

Original story: Expansión (by Gonzalo Bernardos, Director of the Masters Program in Real Estate Advice and Consulting, at the University of Barcelona)

Translation: Carmel Drake