Who’s winning the post-Brexit sales race

Third quarter data from the Registrars shows Almeria is the rising star in a strengthening Spanish housing market.

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Reading Spanish property statistics is as much art as science, and the story can quickly change depending on your source. Last week the Notaries generated a stream of headlines from their September housing data which showed a 10% annual rise in sales.

This should have been helpful, but they neglected to tell us anything about where these sales happened.

Luckily, Registradores de España came to the rescue (if you know where to look). Their less championed monthly statistics on the “Transfer of Property Rights” includes house purchases by province, and these provide a much fuller picture of local market trends.

They also tell us about the all important first quarter since the Brexit vote.

Q3 house sales rose 11%

The picture is undeniably healthy. The registrars reported 34,931 transactions in September, and a total of 103,516 in the period July – September 2016 (Q3), a rise of 11.2% versus 2015.

House sales in Spain (2012 - Q3 2016)

In case you thought it was a blip, this also marks 10 consecutive quarters of annual growth. 2016 has been the best year to sell houses in Spain for a very long time.

Almeria’s explosive growth

Studying Q3 housing transactions by province reveals mixed success in the battle for summer sales, but perhaps the most remarkable winner is Almeria.

Around a quarter of sales here go to foreign buyers, and the province recorded a 93% increase in sales in Q3 (rising from 1,810 sales in Q3 2015 to 3,497 this year).

House sales in Spain, Q3 2016

In short, the market effectively doubled in size. With the rest of Spain growing modestly, Almeria stands out as enjoying a significant boom.

Sharon Garner, Sales Director for Almeria-based Spanish Property Choice, comments “Property here costs a fraction of what it does in the neighbouring Costas. Our coastal towns remain full of charm and character and just a 15-minute drive away, you can find yourself in wonderful countryside. This lifestyle is sought by a new influx of foreign buyers including French, Dutch and Germans.”

“Of course, there is still as steady flow of Brits searching for their little slice of the Spanish lifestyle. We’ve been shocked at the response to the Brexit vote by British buyers: We’ve seen a sharp rise in sales and long term lets, both of which have superseded our expectations for the year.”

Spanish Property Choice has had to expand its staff team twice already during 2016 to cope with increased buyer demand. The company’s data also reveals a shifting clientele in the past couple of years. When the company opened in 2007, overseas buyers in Almeria were largely between 55 and 65 years old. Now, it is 45 to 60 year olds who are looking for a second home in the sunshine, with early retirees joined by those looking to bring up their family in a safe, healthy environment.

Winners and losers

Alicante province is the bellwether for foreign activity, both by volume and buyer ratio (over half of all house sales here go to international buyers). Therefore it’s positive news for the entire market to see a 7% annual rise there.

The Balearics, Barcelona and the western Canaries are also very significant areas of foreign investment – and all saw very strong rises in excess of 20%.

The notable weakness (at least by volume) is in Málaga, Murcia and the eastern Canaries (Las Palmas): Sales growth seems to have stalled here and buyer enquiries via Kyero.com are showing up some imbalance between supply and demand, particularly on the Costa del Sol. Prices appear to be running ahead of post-Brexit buyer budgets, and it might be sensible for agents here to act early and adjust price expectations.

The following are all Q3 sales by province, also available direct from INE.es.

Province Q3 2016 Q3 2015 Change
Madrid 14,913 13,214 12.9%
Barcelona 12,601 9,815 28.4%
Alicante 7,898 7,388 6.9%
Málaga 6,573 6,515 0.9%
Valencia 5,381 4,949 8.7%
Balearic Islands 3,537 2,755 28.4%
Almería 3,497 1,810 93.2%
Seville 3,302 3,081 7.2%
Murcia 2,954 3,109 5.0%
Las Palmas 2,549 2,610 2.3%
Santa Cruz de Tenerife 2,444 2,008 21.7%
Tarragona 2,385 1,969 21.1%
Girona 2,383 1,960 21.6%
Cádiz 2,352 2,686 12.4%
Biscay 1,972 2,082 5.3%
Zaragoza 1,964 1,810 8.5%
Granada 1,820 1,832 0.7%
Castellón 1,701 1,652 3.0%
Asturias 1,584 1,416 11.9%
A Coruña 1,422 1,298 9.6%
Cantabria 1,306 1,152 13.4%
Guipuzkoa 1,277 1,217 4.9%
Toledo 1,232 1,184 4.1%
Navarre 1,184 1,049 12.9%
Córdoba 1,130 1,106 2.2%
Pontevedra 1,106 979 13.0%
Huelva 1,091 1,019 7.1%
Valladolid 1,010 934 8.1%
Badajoz 986 829 18.9%
Jaén 866 807 7.3%
Lleida 786 757 3.8%
Burgos 698 818 14.7%
León 687 609 12.8%
La Rioja 632 642 1.6%
Ciudad Real 617 547 12.8%
Guadalajara 552 573 3.7%
Cáceres 527 457 15.3%
Salamanca 517 457 13.1%
Álava 497 496 0.2%
Albacete 487 481 1.2%
Huesca 447 421 6.2%
Lugo 393 447 12.1%
Segovia 352 362 2.8%
Ourense 350 330 6.1%
Palencia 274 308 11.0%
Zamora 262 208 26.0%
Ávila 236 226 4.4%
Cuenca 226 254 11.0%
Soria 174 153 13.7%
Teruel 169 166 1.8%
Melilla 127 128 0.8%
Ceuta 86 40 115.0%

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