30 December 2017 – Expansión
The real estate market is continuing on the path to recovery, but it has encountered an unexpected obstacle: “the process” (‘el procés’ in Catalan). In fact, the instability generated by the independentist challenge in Cataluña caused a slow down in the rate of growth that had been seen in both Cataluña and Barcelona until September, when the Catalan capital was leading the reactivation of the sector.
The path that Madrid and Barcelona had been following together diverged in the last quarter of 2017 when house prices in Barcelona decreased by 1.7% compared to the previous quarter, whilst in the Spanish capital, they rose by 4.5%, according to the Local Markets Index compiled by the appraisal company Tinsa. That figure represents the first decrease in the Catalan capital since Q2 2016.
“The political situation had a negative impact on house prices in Barcelona during the final quarter (of 2017)”, explained Jorge Ripoll, Director of Research at Tinsa. According to his explanations, “we are seeing a build-up of demand, primarily amongst investors, which has now started to spread to other buyer profiles”.
The quarterly decrease in Barcelona was concentrated in some of the districts that have some of the highest prices, such as Ciutat Vella (which saw a decrease of 5.8%), Les Corts (-5.5%) and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi (-1.1%); and they were not offset by the increases recorded in other neighbourhoods, such as Nou Barris (4.6%) and Sants-Montjüic (4.2%). Meanwhile, the growth in Madrid was boosted by significant increases in the districts of Chamartín (8.4%), La Latina (7.9%) and Carabanchel (6.9%).
This data means that Madrid outperformed Barcelona in terms of cumulative growth over the course of the year. In this way, the Spanish capital went from a YoY increase of 15.5% in Q3 to 17.1% in Q4, the highest of any of the provincial capitals. By contrast, the YoY increase in Barcelona moderated from 20.6% in Q3 to 14.8% in Q4, making it the second-placed municipality. In the Spanish capital, the most significant YoY increases were recorded in the following districts: Centro (21.1%), Salamanca and Retiro (both 17.6%); whilst in the Catalan city, prices soared in Sants-Montjüic (26.5%) and Sant Martí (24%).
The pull of the country’s two largest cities meant that house prices in Spain rose by 4.2% last year, accelerating significantly with respect to the 0.6% recorded in 2016 to reach an average price of €1,264/m2. This represents “moderate growth” according to Ripoll, who highlights that 2017 marked “the start of the recovery”.
Besides Madrid and Barcelona, the cities that recorded the highest price rises were Palma de Mallorca (13.7%), Pamplona (12.5%), Burgos (8.8%) and Vitoria (8.2%). In total, 30 of the 49 provincial capitals analysed in the study recorded positive growth. They also included important urban nuclei such as San Sebastián (6.1%), Sevilla (5.9%), Alicante (5.7%), Málaga (4.5%) and Valencia (3.9%). Of the 19 provincial capitals that recorded negative figures, the most notable decreases were recorded in Bilbao (-3.5%), Vigo (-0.6%) and Zaragoza (-0.8%), although Ciudad Real (-12.6%) recorded the worst result.
The decrease in house prices in Barcelona during the fourth quarter means that the Catalan capital was knocked off of its podium by San Sebastián as the most expensive town in Spain per square metre. In this way, the average house price in the Donostiarra city amounts to €3,231/m2. Meanwhile, the average house price in Barcelona amounts to €3,129/m2, and so, the sizeable gap – of approximately 20% – was maintained with respect to Madrid, where appraisers estimate that the average house price amounts to €2,601/m2 (…).
In terms of the effects that the Catalan crisis may have on the performance of the sector over the medium-term, Ripoll highlights that if the uncertainty experienced over the last quarter is prolonged, the negative evolution in Barcelona “may become endemic and result in a contraction”. Moreover, “we cannot rule out that” that phenomenon “will affect the rest of Spain” (…).
In this way, the average price of €1,264/m2 represents a return to the levels last seen in Q3 2013 and means that prices have decreased by 38.3% on average with respect to the historical maximum reached in 2007 (…).
Original story: Expansión (by Ignacio Bolea)
Translation: Carmel Drake