More Mortgages Written in January

Despite the number of property sales falling slightly at the start of the year, when compared to last year, the number of new mortgages written in Spain increased in January by over 10% with 23,275 new mortgages recorded.

Also on the increase is the average amount of the mortgages written which increased by 14.2% compared to January 2015, to stand at 133,461 Euros.

The total value of mortgages written on urban properties amounted to 4,229.4 million Euros, representing a 16.3% increase over the previous year. Of those, the amount borrowed against residential property increased by 10.8% to 2,459.7 million Euros. Mortgages on residential properties accounted for 55.3% of capital borrowed in January.

Interest Rates

The majority of new mortgages written in January (89.8%) were variable rate mortgages, compared to only 10.2% on a fixed rate. In 94% of cases interest was based on the Euribor rate which has been consistently low in recent months.

The average rate of interest applied to new mortgages in January was 3.21% with the average term being 22 years. On residential property the average rate was 3.27%, representing a slight fall of 0.4% compared to January 2015.

By Community

Andalucia, Madrid and Catalonia registered the highest amount of new mortgages with 4,684, 3,976 and 3,857 new mortgages, respectively.

By growth, the winning communities were Castilla-La-Mancha which saw a 30.4% increase, followed by Madrid with 22.9% more mortgages and Andalucia with 22.2% more than in January last year.

When comparing communities based on the total amount of borrowed capital Madrid easily dominates with 576.9 million euros lent out during January. Catalonia followed with 457.2 million and Andalucia with 411.8 million Euros.

The largest monthly variation recorded, when compared to the previous month (Dec 2015), was Castilla y León which saw an increase of 53%, while the number of mortgages written in Castilla-La Mancha increased 43.6%.

The only two communities that recorded a fall in the number of mortgages written were Cantabria (-10.9%) and Galicia (-8.0%).

Read the full report here: INE (in Spanish).

 

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Tourist Numbers Increased 14% In February

Tourist numbers continue to rise
Tourist numbers continue to rise

Tourists continue to flock to Spain as other once favoured destinations are avoided due to continuing security fears.

February saw 3.7 million international tourists travel to Spain representing a 13.7% increase over the same period in the previous year, according to data released by the National Statistics Institute.

British tourists came in the largest numbers, once again, accounting for 22% (806,835) of the total arrivals during February. This representas an increase of 17.1% when compared to February 2015.

French and German tourists were the second largest groups with 529,716 and 481,219, respectively. French travellers increased by 8.5% on the annual rate, while Germans increased by 7.4%.

The UK, France and Germany have long been the largest source of tourists for Spain but this year has seen increases in numbers from other countries too. Traveller numbers from Russia have increased substantially showing a 19.8% gain, when compared to Feb 2015. American traveller numbers increased by 18.4% while the number of tourists from Ireland grew by 17.3% during February.

Tourist Destinations

The Canary Islands proved to be the most popular area attracting 30.3% of the total travellers. This was followed by Catalonia with 25.3% of the total, while Andalucia accounted for 13.4%.

The Canary Islands saw a 10.5% increase, when compared to the same period in 2015, rising to 1,114,737 tourists. The majority came from the UK with 31.9% of the total, while Nordic countries accounted for 22.3%.

The number of tourists visiting Catalonia during February increased by 13% over the same month in 2015, to over 930,000, while Andalucia saw annual growth of 14.3%, representing almost half a million tourists.

The Balearic Islands saw phenomenal growth for February with an annual increase of 42.1%. This has been put down, in part, to increased supply of accommodation. Valencia saw an increase of 24.4% whle Madrid saw gains of 12% over 2015.

Where, Why, and How long?

Hotel stays increased by 16.3% during February while the numbers renting a private property for their stay fell by 2.1% on the annual rate.

The number of tourists staying with friends or family rose by 13.6%.

The main reason stated by travellers for the visit was leisure, recreation and holidays, accounting for 2,814,038. This represents annual growth of 7.3%.

Business travellers represented 439,747 visitors during February, a huge 45.4% increase, while 37.4% of travellers stated “other” as their reason for travelling.

The number of travellers that stayed for between four and seven nights increased 17.1% to 1.8 million, while 681,851 travellers stayed for between eight and 15 nights. Long stay travellers (more than 15 nights) increased by 6.5% on the annual rate to 275,876.

Semana Santa (Easter) came early this year and has just passed. It was very, very busy with unusally hot weather for this time of year adding to the madness. Marbella and Puerto Banus were chaotic! The roads were jammed, parking was scarce and the beaches were full. I look forward to seeing the offical figures for March and expect them to be high!

If the trends of the first few months continue then 2016 is going to be a great year for tourism!

 

Spain Ranks Third For Investment in Europe

Madrid remains popular amongst investors
Madrid remains popular amongst investors

Further to my previous article regarding foreign investment in Spain, research released by the CBRE has placed Spain as the third choice for European investment in real-estate.

According to the ‘Global Investors Intentions Survey 2016’, 10.2% of respondents suggested that Spain would be their third choice for European investment during 2016. Only Germany and the UK came ahead with 17% and 15.1% respectively, beating other once popular European countries like France and the Netherlands.

When looking at cities within Europe, Madrid maintained its position as the second most attractive city on the continent for real-estate investment, chosen by 12.2% of respondents, just behind London, but ahead of Paris, Berlin and Warsaw.

Diversification is the word of 2016 according to the report with more cities getting a mention than in similar research conducted in previous years. The top 15 saw first time entries for cities including Budapest, Prague and Bucharest.

Product Choice

While 30% of investors specified the housing market as their first product choice, other markets have also made gains with student residences, health centres and leisure facilities all being noted as worthy of investment this year.

The retail sector also appears to be making a recovery thanks to rising consumer confidence and increased consumption. The sector accounted for 22% of investment in 2015 with a predicted rise to 27% in 2016.

Despite this, office property continues to hold high interest for investors with 37% of respondents stating they have or would invest in business premises.

Backing up thoughts that residential property is back on investors’ shopping lists is a 7% increase in residential investment making it the fastest growing sector with 12% of respondents putting their money into homes.

Of the respondents 82% stated that their investment activity during 2016 will be the same or greater than in the previous year.

Rest of the World

North America was the global first choice with 48% saying they had or would invest in the USA in 2016, while 26% named Europe as their first choice. Other once popular regions didn’t fare so well with Asia Pacific seeing reduced interest partly due to concerns about the China slowdown and a “murky outlook” for other emerging markets in the region.

Only 4% suggested Central and South America as their investment choice while 1% chose Africa for their money. Central & Eastern Europe also failed to make an impression attracting only 8% of the reports respondents.

 

Foreigners Invested More in Spain in 2015

Foreign residents invested heavily during 2015
Foreign residents invested heavily during 2015

As we continue to see markers suggesting the Spanish property market has recovered from the crisis, the Ministry of Public Works has released data that corroborates what we’ve been seeing.

During 2015, investment in real-estate by foreign residents increased by 15% compared to the previous year. In monetary terms this amounts to 9,918.6 million Euros.

The data shows that of the total investment, the vast majority was for resale, or second-hand, properties accounting for 8,808.6 million Euros of the total. The remaining 1,110 million Euros was invested in new-build properties.

When comparing the data to 2014 we see that the resale market has increased by 14.5% while the market for new-build property grew by 18%, El Economista reported.

There are no surprises when looking at the regional distribution of the invested monies. Andalucia attracted the most investment from foreign residents accounting for 2,255.6 million Euros. The usual suspects, Valencia and Catalonia, predictably came close with 2,202.3 million and 1,797.2 million Euros of foreign investment, respectively.

 

Property Foreclosures Fell in 2015

Home repossessions fell 13% in 2015
Home repossessions fell 13% in 2015

Following the financial crisis many Spanish mortgage holders defaulted on their mortgage and found their properties being repossessed.

The number of repossessions has since fallen as the market levelled out and 2015 showed a continuation of this trend.

In total, 2015 saw the commencement of foreclosure proceedings on 30,334 primary residences which represents a 13% fall when compared to the previous year, according to data released by the National Statistics Institute.

Q4 – 2015

When looking at the fourth quarter of 2015 the total number of foreclosures registered was 22,540, representing a fall of 16.2% over the previous quarter. This also shows a 27.8% fall when compared to Q4, 2014.

Regular homes accounted for 76.8% of those foreclosures, a huge 23% fewer than in the same period in the previous year. Meanwhile, 2,080 foreclosures were on “second” homes, meaning that the property was not the primary residence of the owner.

Out of all the registered properties in Spain (18,395,100) this suggests a very small proportion, only 0.037%, were affected by foreclosures.

The total number of foreclosures initiated during Q4, 2015, consisted of 14.7% new properties, while the remaining 85.3% represents resale properties. These figures represent falls of 29.1% and 28.1%, respectively.

Many, in fact over half (56%), of the foreclosures are on homes which were mortgaged between 2005 and 2008. 18.5% were mortgaged during 2007, which as we all know is when the market collapsed.

By Community

Andalucia was the community with the highest number of foreclosures registering 5,723 certificates. Valencia followed with 4,011 with Catalonia coming a close third with 3,475. At the other end of the scale, Navarra recorded the fewest foreclosures with only 112 certificates registered, while the Basque Country and La Rioja also showed low figures with 137 and 176, respectively.

When looking at primary residences, Andalucia recorded 3,376 foreclosures with Catalonia and Valencia registering over a third fewer with 2,313 and 2,290, respectively.

Year End – 2015

When looking at the figures for the full year the total number of foreclosure registrations was 101,820 which represents a 15.5% fall when compared to 2014.

Of the total, 30,334 foreclosures were recorded on homes (77.9%). This represents a 13% reduction compared to the previous year. Non-primary residence foreclosures also fell ending the year at 8,609, a fall of 14.4%.

NB: The data provided herein is based on the registration of a certificate of foreclosure but this does not always lead to an eviction/repossession. Legal proceedings and other agreements can change the course of the process.

 

Property Rental Prices Lowest Since Crisis

The cost of renting a property in Spain has fallen by an average of 239 Euros since the peak of 2007, according to analysis by property portal Fotocasa.

Pre-crisis the average cost of a rental property in Spain with an area of 80m² was 810 Euros, or 10.12 Euros per m². In February 2016 the average price had fallen to 571 Euros, representing a 29.6% fall over the last nine years.

Rental costs lowest since 2007
Rental costs lowest since 2007

Beatriz Toribio, responsible for fotocasa studies, said “Renting a home today is almost 30% cheaper than in 2007, but in the last two years we have seen rental prices have begun to recover due to growing interest and increased demand since the crisis erupted. This explains why owners are increasingly reluctant to lower prices and closed 2015 with the highest increase (3.6%) in the history of fotocasa’s real estate index.”

By Community

The autonomous community that registered the largest fall in rental costs was Aragón where rental prices have fallen an average of 349 Euros over the last eight years. Prices in the community peaked in June 2008 at 10.85 p/m², or 868 Euros per month for a property of 80m². The fall is 40.3% with the same example property now costing only 519 Euros per month.

Conversely, Castilla and Leon has seen the slightest fall in prices over recent years. The average reduction in Castilla and Leon is 81 Euros since its peak in May 2008 when an 80m² property would cost 532 Euros to rent. In february this year the cost stood at 451 Euros.

High / Low

During February this year the most expensive part of Spain to rent a property was the Basque Country where the average rent is 813 Euros. Here, prices have fallen by 13.5% since the peak, an equivalent value of 127 Euros.

The cheapest place to rent a property is Extremadura where the average cost to rent an 80m² property is 358 Euros. This area saw its peak in June 2008 when the average price was 443 Euros. February’s costs represent a reduction of 85 Euros, or 19.2%.

By Province

When looking at the rental prices across the country’s provinces, Huelva recorded the largest fall. Prices in the province have fallen considerably since their peak in May 2007. Back then, a rental property would have an average monthly rental cost of 851 Euros. By February this year this cost had fallen a massive 43.9% to only 478 Euros per month for an 80m² property.

The lowest fall by province was recorded in Palencia. Here, property rental costs, while still cheaper than they used to be, have only fallen by an average of 38 Euros over the last nine years. Renting a property in Palencia in February 2016 would have set you back an average of 438 Euros, 7.9% lower than prices in 2007 when the average stood at 475 Euros.

 

Property Discount is No Guarantee of a Sale

Selling your property became more difficult in 2015, according to data released by online property portal Fotocasa.

Owners who had a property for sale in 2015 found they had to reduce the original asking price by an average of 14% in order to sell. This is the equivalent of 33,400 Euros, one percentage point below the previous year. Fotocasa reported that the 14% decrease was the slightest reduction required to sell over the last six years, and indicates a continuing recovery in the property market.

Discounts Applied to Properties by Year

On average, 36% of owners who put their property on the market were able to close the deal, an increase over 2014 when only 28% of owners managed to sell. On average it took 10.6 months to sell a property, one month shorter than in 2014 when it took an average of 11.5 months.

In 2015, 44% managed to sell their property in under six months, while 25% needed between seven and 12 months to sell. A further 16% took between 13 and 24 months while 15% took over two years to complete a sale.

Beatriz Toribio from Fotocasa, said “The housing market has not yet recovered, but has been reactivated and therefore is more dynamic than in the worst years of the crisis. In 2015 those who managed to sell their property took less time to complete and applied a lower discount. But to sell, you need to lower the price: 81% of the owners who sold a property in 2015 had to do this,”.

Type of Residence

Of the sellers surveyed for the report, 46% said the property they sold was their main residence, followed by those selling a second home (22%), while a further 18% said the property sold had been inherited.

By types of property 52% were flats and 19% were houses. Apartments made up 7%, with 4% being duplex properties, and 4% penthouses.

Price Reductions Don’t Guarantee a Sale

According to the data, 64% of properties for sale in 2015 failed to sell, despite an average time on sale of 14 months. Of those that didn’t sell, 66% said they had applied a discount to the asking price with an average discount of 14% of the asking price. This translates into 32,797 Euros but this was not a guarantee that the property would sell.

Toribio explained that “The price is one of the factors that influence the purchase of a house, but also the location, distribution, quality and housing characteristics. Not everything is sold,”.

Despite the findings the survey also showed that there is still some resistance to reducing prices with 52% of owners who did not manage to sell said they had not applied a discount and were not willing to do so.

“For the first time during a study we found owners who, despite not selling, are reluctant to lower the asking price, which is very surprising after all that has happened in the housing market,” added Toribio.

How to Sell?

The data also shows that more people are turning to Spanish real-estate agents in order to market and ultimately sell their property. 68% of people who sold their property in 2015 did so through an agent.

Sellers citied the main reasons for using agents rather than selling privately as being the quality of potential buyers (43%), convenience (24%), and avoiding red-tape (16%).

You can read the full report here.

Spanish Hotels Enjoyed a Busy February

February was another great month for tourism in Spain with the number of overnight stays increasing to 16.3 million, an increase of 12.4%, when compared to the same month in 2015.

Hotels reported an average cost per night of 76.6 Euros, representing an annual increase of 7.9%.

The increase in overnight stays applies to both Spanish residents and non-residents with increases of 11.2% and 13.3% respectively. The average length of a stay was unchanged when compared to the previous year, standing at 2.9 nights per traveller.

Cumulatively, the first two months of 2016 showed an increase of 10.4% over the previous year.

Overnight Stays Spain Feb 2016

Destinations

Andalucia topped the list of most popular destinations with Spanish resident travellers with an increase of 15.1% in the number of overnight stays in the region. Madrid followed closely with a 13.3% increase while Valencia and Catalonia also managed significant increases registering increases of 14.2% and 11.1% respectively.

For non-residents the first choice destination was the Canary Islands who claimed 51.1% of all overnight stays, an increase of 10.6%. Following in second place, but quite some way behind, was Catalonia who recorded 14.7% of the total overnight stays, an increase of 17.2% over the same period last year. Andalucia was next with a 10.3% increase, representing 11.9% of the total overnight stays during February.

Hotels

Hotels reported 49.1% occupancy for February, showing an annual increase of 7.6%. When looking at only the weekends, occupancy increased 6.4% ending the month with an average of 57.2% occupancy.

Hoteliers on the Canary Islands recorded the highest occupancy rates for the month with 77.9%, closely followed by Madrid and the Balearic Islands, with 53.4% and 48.9% respectively.

Within the islands, Gran Canaria reported the highest rates with 83.3% occupancy by number of available places, while Tenerife recorded the highest weekend occupancy, interestingly also 83.3%. The highest number of overnight stays on the islands was Tenerife with more than 2 million overnight stays recorded during February.

Travellers by Origin

The UK remained the largest source of travellers for February accounting for 23.8% of tourists, a massive 22.0% increase over last year. The Germans followed closely with 20.4% of travellers arriving from Germany, an increase of 2.3%.

Other European countries also saw an increase in travellers to Spain. French travellers increased 9.7%, Swedish by 16.6% while the number of Italian travellers increased 16.7%.

Profits

The increase in traveller numbers is great news for the hotel industry. The daily average price charged per occupied room was 76.6 Euros during February, representing an increase of 7.9% over the same period last year.

When looking at the hotels by category, the average turnover per occupied room was 171.2 Euros in a five-star hotel, with averages of 80.7 Euros for four-star, and 57.9 Euros for three-star. By number of available rooms, the average turnovers for five, four and three-star hotels were 111 Euros, 53.7 Euros and 33.8 Euros, respectively.

 

Semana Santa is Coming!

A typical Semana Santa Parade
A typical Semana Santa Parade

As Semana Santa looms, Costa del Sol residents are bracing themselves for the annual influx of tourists with this year predicted to bring larger numbers than 2015.

The season begins today and the airports are expecting over half a million tourists on over 3,000 flights scheduled to arrive from today until Monday 28th. The effects will be felt across the country as the entire transport network feels the pressure, from road to rail and from sea to sky.

Airlines have over half a million seats available on flights to and from Málaga with the busiest day set to be Sunday 27th when there are 354 flights due to land at Andalucia’s busiest airport. Monday 28th will also be a manic day with 323 flights due with a total of 54,814 booked seats.

Following last year’s successful season airlines have increased the number of available seats and the frequency of flights, despite this year’s festivities coming earlier. Usually when Easter is early fewer seats are available as the ski season is still active but this year airlines are ready for the extra travellers who may otherwise have visited Tunisia, Turkey or Egypt, locations that are seeing a huge drop in visitor numbers to due to security concerns.

Málaga’s roads are also expected to suffer under the strain of the visitors. Over half a million long-haul road journeys are expected to make your daily commute that little bit longer.

Accommodation

Hoteliers in the region are predicting a small increase in bookings of 2% compared to the same period last year with their busiest time being from Palm Sunday (20th) to Holy Saturday (26th) with an average occupation of 80%. The figure could increase due to last minute bookings but as always, this will depend on the weather. Of course, those of us who live here know all too well that Semana Santa usually guarantees at least a little rain!

Coastal hotels often notice a marked difference in bookings between the first week of the festival and the second with a first week occupancy of 75% rising to 86% in the second week.

Spring is also the time that the golf travellers begin to arrive in Spain, and as a result, you will find increases in prices of green fees on many courses. Also you may find you need to book in advance as some courses will also restrict daily player capacity. El Chaparral Golf in La Cala de Mijas, for example, has a maximum player capacity of 200 players per day on both Holy Tuesday and Holy Thursday.

Prepare!

Remember that the Semana Santa parades are a must-see and you can find one in most towns and cities. Holy effigies, holy dress, music and fun will fill the streets and although you may have to park miles away you should definitely see at least one parade if you can.

Expect to see traffic building up, queues getting longer, parking spaces becoming sparse and the beaches filling up (weather permitting) over the next few days and continuing for the next two weeks. Remember that once it’s over the tourists go home and the coast is ours once more. Well, until the summer season begins anyway.

Of course, the regions businesses will receive a well needed financial injection over the holidays so despite how busy it can be we should be grateful that so many tourists choose the Costa del Sol for their Easter getway.

Russians Continue to Love Spain

Russians continue to visit Spain and the Costa del Sol in great numbers and most of them stay a while and spend spend spend!

Tourists from Russia top the league of tourism average expenditure with an average of 1,499 Euros per person, considerably higher than the national average of 1,056 Euros. This amount also dwarfs that of the Germans (959 Euros) and the Brits (895 Euros).

With an eye on maintaining the popularity of the region some Russian tour operators are already adding extra flights to Iberian airports from both Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to data from AENA the number of passengers travelling to Spanish airports from Russia increased 27.3% in February, when compared to the same month in 2015.

This shows a continuation of the increase we saw in 2015 when the number of Russian passengers arriving in Málaga Airport increased 17.62% (compared to 2014) to 71,523. Other than February and November 2014, the number of airline passengers from Russia to Spain has increased every month for the last two years.

Málaga / Costa del Sol

The main source of Russian passengers arriving in Málaga Airport was Moscow accounting for 50.7% of the total, while St. Petersburg accounted for 19.2% of passengers.

The travellers specified their main reasons for visiting the Southern region were the sun and beaches, leisure activities and entertainment, culture, shopping, and gastronomy; all of which epitomise the Costa del Sol and which attract millions of tourists from all over the world year after year.

The availability of direct flights to Málaga was also mentioned as an important reason for visiting.

More than half of Russian passengers (51.3%) said they had used a travel agency to organise their visit with 15.2% of those stating that it was arranged online via a travel website.

More than 4 out of 10 Russian tourists stated that they would stay in a hotel of four or five-star rating which may account for the increased average spend.

Time and Money

Russian spending remains high
Russian spending remains high

The average length of stay for Russian travellers is also slightly above the national average of nine days standing at 10.4 days, with more than half of all Russian visitors to Spain stating that they would or have visited Málaga / Costa del Sol. Most popular among those visitors were Marbella, Málaga, Benalmadena, Nerja and Fuengirola all of which received positive reviews.

When visiting the Costa del Sol, Russian tourists spent almost 25% more per day then other tourists, with an average daily spend of 61.7 Euros per day compared to 48.5 Euros for tourists from other countries.

When asked to rate aspects of the Costa del Sol, the average for overall satisfaction with the region was 8.7 out of 10. Many individual aspects, including landscape, environment, quality and prices, all received averages above nine out of ten. The worst rating was for the coasts taxis which received an average satisfaction rating of 7.1 out of ten.

In line with increases in passenger numbers across Spain’s airports the number of Russians arriving in Málaga airport increased by 24% in the first two months of 2016.

There are now up to 10% more airline seats available for flights to Málaga this year compared to 2015. This is in part thanks to Russian Airline Aeroflot increasing connections to the region.