BUYING a home in Spain remains very affordable, and comes with the added bonus of providing a for sunny holidays. But why stop at one house when you could pick up a whole village? After all, there are literally hundreds...
Home values fall 0.11% in Q1 - lowest reduction since 2008 and with price rises in coastal resorts
HOME sale prices fell by 0.11% in the first quarter of 2015 - but this is the lowest drop in value since the start of the financial crisis, when the bursting housing bubble led to property prices plummeting by an average of 30.4%.
This remains great news for anyone planning to invest in a home in Spain, since a reduction in the ongoing fall in values - calculated at 0.7% year-on-year - means long-term, all signs are pointing to bricks and mortar going up in price and providing a healthy return in years to come.
But as home values are still dropping slightly, it means now remains a good time to strike while the iron is hot and snap up one of the many bargains to be found in Spain.
Whilst the UK suffers from a housing shortage nearing crisis point, Spain is in the opposite situation with a glut of homes for sale, making it a buyer's market and meaning purchasers have considerable bargaining power.
And what was once an expensive luxury in 2007 has now become an excellent alternative to a pension fund - but unlike a traditional retirement plan, it is one that the investor can use for some memorable holidays in the meantime.
The average price of a property stands at €1,457.90 per square metre, but the variations are vast, with flats of two or even three bedrooms needing a bit of cosmetic renovation starting at as little as €20,000 in some parts of the country, and the most expensive areas in Spain involving prices of several million for a top-quality villa with 'smart' features to make life easier, central heating and air-conditioning, cinemas, gyms and indoor and outdoor heated pools.
In order to find out the average price per square metre, just under 92,600 valuations were carried out across the country, both mainland and islands.
And compared with the final three months of 2014, when property values fell by 0.36%, figures show that once inflation has been taken into account, prices have actually grown in the last year by 0.9%.
When inflation is borne in mind, properties have fallen in price on average by 36.3% since 2008, when the housing bubble had undeniably burst, although inflated values back then were partly due to banks and sellers over-pricing properties - future home values are likely to be more in line with reality and, in the long term, may rise to those of 2007 again or even more, but this will be a better gauge of what is affordable and what buyers are willing to pay.
Homes of less than five years old continue to hold their value better, with average prices of €1,723.80 per square metre, compared to older properties of €1,448.50 - but this is no indication of what will happen in the long term, since once the current excess of supply begins to dwindle, it is likely homes over five years old will also rise in value.
Seven of Spain's 17 autonomously-governed regions saw an increase in home prices year-on-year between the end of March 2014 and the end of March 2015.
These were, in many cases, the most popular holiday destination regions - the Canary Islands saw a value increase of 3.56%, way ahead of its nearest rival Aragón, one of Spain's most heavily-frequented skiing destinations, with a rise of 1.9%.
Properties in Madrid went up by 1.67% and the Comunidad Valenciana, which includes the attractive and dynamic city of Valencia, the tourist belts of the Costa Blanca and the relatively undiscovered coastal resort areas in the province of Castellón saw an overall increase of 0.69%.
Extremadura, the land-locked western region which borders Andalucía, to its south, and Portugal to the west saw price rises of 0.57%, whilst property in the Balearic Islands went up by 0.1% and in Andalucía, the southern belt of the mainland, by 0.05%.
For popular summer beach tourism areas, only Murcia saw an above-average fall in prices at 1.35%, the same as in the Spanish-owned city-provinces of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Morocco, with the other falls in home prices seen in Asturias, Castilla y León, Navarra, Galicia and the Basque Country.
All of these are picturesque, verdant regions with dramatic scenery and a very 'northern European' feel, sometimes being likened in appearance to Switzerland, central France or Ireland, with mild summers and, in the case of Galicia, Asturias and the Basque Country, greater overall wealth than in more southern areas.
For anyone seeking a bargain property where they can enjoy atypical holidays in the heart of the countryside without the punishing heat of the coasts, all of these regions present an excellent long-term investment with home prices dramatically lower than in more populous areas - and they are all well-connected by airports and main roads.
Figures are not yet available for the second quarter of 2015, which ends on June 30, but the start of summer normally sees an increase in sale prices as this is the time when most potential buyers from abroad are more likely to search for their dream homes.
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