The housing market has struggled to start the year. Home sales fell 0.2% in January compared to the same month in 2018, after 47,645 operations were closed, according to the data released Wednesday by the National Institute of Statistics (INE)In that January of the past year the registers were very different, since the annual increase in the sale of houses was of 23%.
Now, it ends nine months of consecutive annual increases, although in absolute figures these 47,645 houses represent the second highest figure since May 2008 (after January 2018, with 47,735 units). In addition, in monthly terms (January 2019 on December 2018), property sales rose 40.8%, registering its second-biggest increase in this month since 2015.
The annual fall of January arrives after the rise in sales of 10.1% in 2018, which marked its highest figure in a decade. This increase was due to the sale of second hand homes, which increased 9.9%, the highest since 2007. But January also broke that trend. Operations on used homes fell by 2.6% to 38,386 transactions. On the other hand, brand-new homes, which barely represent 19.4% of the market because there is still little new construction, increased by 11.2% year-on-year to 9,259 operations. The market was also turned around in the purchase of free and protected houses, since the former (which are 90% of the transmitted) decreased by 0.9%, while that of protected rose by 6.4%
Fernando Encinar, head of studies of idealist, explains that "the data indicate a specific stagnation of the market, but to talk about a change in trend we should still wait for it to consolidate". In addition, he believes that the January sales (which reflect operations closed in the previous two months) may be affected by the judicial and regulatory chaos that the mortgage market experienced during the month of November 2018 and that could delay many purchase decisions.
January was bad for many regions. Eleven autonomous communities registered drops in the sale of homes, compared to six that increased their records. The islands suffered the biggest annual falls: the Canary Islands, with a drop of 22.4% and the Balearic Islands, with 13.7%. Asturias joined this list, where operations plummeted 18% in one year. Neither did Andalusia (-1.6%), Madrid (-0.3%), and Murcia (-8%). On the other hand, Catalonia was successful, with an annual increase of 5.7%; and, above all, Extremadura, where sales grew 36.9%, the record for the month. Also, Galicia (17.5%) and Aragón (16.9%).