Big Spanish Property Price Drop – Real Case Study

Published on 09/03/2011 in Your Spanish Home

Last week’s article “Spain 2011, To Buy or Not to Buy? That Is the Question!” really got some people fired up! Just read the comments on that page.

Yes, it was written by an estate agent and yes, he is promoting bank properties. We know the banks have thousands of properties to sell and they have reduced the prices and most are offering 100% mortgages on these properties.

Getting a mortgage on a non-bank owned property is much more difficult requiring you to stump up at least 30% as a deposit.

All that is true, whether we like it or not.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading all sorts of reports that property prices have fallen by 30%, or is it 20%? I think some are saying another 5% this year?

Empty properties SpainWho really knows. There are so many conflicting reports and if you follow Mark Stucklin’s blog on Spanish Property Insight, you’ll know that much of the official data on property prices, etc, is actually quite unreliable.

Latest data also shows that 2010 saw a small increase on 2009 in terms of property sales. But how many of those were the banks completing on their own properties and how many were REAL sales?

The true picture is very unclear.

So what can we believe about the real state of property prices in Spain today?

The Case Study

There is nothing better than a real case study so I’m offering to share how the value of my own apartment in Manilva, on the Costa del Sol, has changed over the past several years.

Obviously, every property and every area is unique but this is just one (real) example for you to understand how prices have been affected in one area of Spain.

I actually got the idea to write this article yesterday as I was walking down the hill (battling the high winds, it’s not always sunny here!) on my way to the town of Sabinillas. It’s a good half hour walk.

Just on this short walk you can see so many finished and unfinished apartments. I estimated that from just the ones I could see there must have been at least 3,000 mostly empty, unsold apartments. Then there are all the shells of those that never got anywhere near completed. All of these are now owned by the banks.

The photos here are just some of those I saw.

The walk and the realisation that we still have a long way to go before these apartments become someone’s home or second home, got me thinking about the impact this has had on my own apartment in Manilva.

So here goes, the timeline of the price of my apartment and where I see it heading over the next couple of years.

Winding Back to 2003

We bought off plan in 2003, which seems a very long time ago now. Our apartment was actually very cheap at the time as most were going for considerably more. It’s a 3 bedroom apartment in Manilva, and as we all know, most developers actually built mainly 2 beds, so that’s definitely a positive.

It’s also right in the village, walking distance to everything here.

Off plan price: €112,000

After taxes: €122,000

For a 3 bed, this was actually a fantastic price back then. Remember, we are going back 8 years to the property boom period.

Stopped construction in SpainCompletion in 2005

We completed in the summer of 2005, even though everything wasn’t quite ready, but we wanted to move in. Now it was time to get the mortgage and as was “the norm”, the valuation came in rather nicely high:

Valuation in 2005: €198,000

Theoretical increase: 61%

That’s a pretty decent return in just two years, although at the time I probably couldn’t have sold it at that price. Another 3 bed was sold then for €180,000 so a bit less than the valuation but still, in theory, in profit.

Just down the road, off plan 2 bedroom apartments were being sold for between €240,000 and €270,000, which just seemed ridiculous at the time. To prove that point, today you can pick one up for just €120,000.

Getting Tougher in 2008

Early in 2008 was when we first realised that something major was happening. Things started slowing considerably in terms of people looking at apartments here and those that were had no intention of paying the valuation level prices.

Many people I know decided not to sell and hold on to their apartments and wait for prices to go up again! I know, it seems silly now, but that’s the reality.

Huge Drop by 2009

2009 was literally the “just get out now before it’s too late” year. Prices had fallen so much by early 2009 that most of us were wondering if there was ever going to be any value left whatsoever in our properties.

My friend sells his 3 bedroom apartment for just €115,000.


From his point of view he was just happy to get out before he lost any more money.

My apartment is slightly larger and with a better view than the one my friend had so I reckoned at the time that I could expect perhaps, €120,000 for mine.  I didn't want to sell at the time so I was still relatively happy.

2009 was the year my apartment was worth less than what I originally bought it for, including the purchase taxes.  If I wanted to sell it this is what I could have expected:

Possible Sale Price 2009: €120,000

Estate Agent Commission: €6,000

Proceeds from Sale: €114,000

Giving it Back to the Bank in 2010

Realising in 2010 that prices still had some way to fall, I spoke to the bank about a possible “Dacion en Pago”, whereby you hand your property back to the bank and pay off whatever is the difference between the valuation at the time and the outstanding mortgage.

It is possible to do this in Spain but most banks don’t seem to entertain it.

Mine certainly wouldn’t. They would, under no circumstances, take my property. If I had been in their shoes, I wouldn’t have taken it either!

However, they did change my mortgage to interest-only for a couple of years, and I think most banks will do this if you push them.

The Price Today: 2011

I had an email from an estate agent friend the other day asking me if I knew of any 3 beds here for sale for less than €105,000!

Another agent has one at this price but is struggling to sell it.

Oh dear. Things aren’t looking good this year.

Another estate agent friend of mine in the area says he could, at a push, perhaps get €90,000 for it but the most likely price is €80,000…and that’s including his commission.

So let’s take a midway point, thinking positive here:

Selling Price 2011: €85,000

Estate Agent Commission: €4,250

Proceeds From Sale: €80, 750

More stopped building work in SpainTo Recap

2003 price including taxes: €122,000

Top possible price in 2008: €180,000

Top possible price in 2011: €85,000

Money-in-hand on sale in 2011: €80,750

Total loss in 8 years: €41,250

Percentage loss in 8 years: 34%

Percentage drop from 2008 peak: 65%

I don’t know about you but that’s a lot of money to lose, and remember, we bought off plan in 2003 when prices were still “reasonable”.

The Currency Factor

However, there is also something else that needs to be taken into consideration here and that’s the currency fluctuation factor.

In 2005 when we completed, we transferred the month from our UK account at a rate of around €1.42 per pound sterling.

If I were to sell the apartment today and return the money to the UK, I would be looking at a rate of around €1.17 per pound sterling. Now, I know this isn’t the actual rate I would get but it’s the relative difference I’m looking at here.

It roughly equates to a 20% increase in the exchange rate alone, which would be in my favour were I to return the money to the UK. So, after paying off the outstanding mortgage you should take this into account if this is you.

By the way, our friends at Moneycorp have an excellent opportunity available to those looking to return funds to the UK. Get in touch with them to find out more. Yes, blatant plug!

I’m not returning to the UK so for me, the 34% loss is very real.

Remember also that I mentioned that someone bought a similar 3 bed apartment to mine for €180,000 in 2005? The loss that person has made makes mine pale into insignificance. Their loss is aound 65%…in just 6 years.

No Point in Crying

Am I bitter? Not at all. It’s just the way life is. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. The positives for me personally is that at least the apartment was finished and it has its licence and the location isn’t bad, so one day I may even get my money back.

And when might that be?

I predict that over the next couple of years the value of the apartment will drop to around €50,000. And, going by the still huge amount of unsold stock in the area, I predict it will take at least 10 years for my apartment to return to its 2003 value.

Prices still have to drop significantly before we see any sort of recovery.

If I’m right it means that from my initial deposit buying the apartment off plan, 18 years later it will still be worth the same.

That is possibly the worst investment I have ever made. Thankfully I’m in it for the long haul and as with most things in Spain, patience is always tested to the limit.

There’s always rentals or simply enjoying the property for yourself if you can’t sell it. We’re in it and that’s what we’ve got. There’s no point getting angry, upset of frustrated. It’s going to get worse before it gets better but it will, eventually, pick up. Just be patient and try to enjoy your place in the sun.

I truly feel for those whose properties have not been built and have lost huge amounts of money. I hope all those affected manage to eventually get their money back one day. I know how tough it’s proving for many.

On a final note, please note that this is just my personal situation. Every area, every community will have their own trends and the big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona will be very different.

How about you?

What price did you buy at and what do you think you could get for it today?

Leave your response in the comments below.

Written by: Justin Aldridge (EOS)

About the author:

Justin has been running Eye on Spain for over 5 years and recently with his partner Susan launched their popular moving to Spain video guide, Spain Uncut.

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Baz said:
09 November 2012 @ 12:46

Just clicked onto this and what a fantastic read it is.
Hopefully i have just sold my house in Spain, deposit paid etc etc, took 4 weeks 2 days to sell, did i sell to cheap? no because it's a case of do you want to "Have a house to sell, or do you want to sell it". Things are changing everywhere, i know folk in the UK who have the best house going but cant even get a looker let alone an offer. Talk of asking for a bank valuation to show buyers the value is pure rubbish, what do banks know about house valuations? they lend money, borrow 1 pound pay back 2 pounds anyone can do that, and does anyone trust a bank these days? and with most of them a few years ago if you could push a pen with your nose across the contract you were a house owner. Where is the point of having a paper valuation of say €250,000 if your house wont sell, the fact is if it wont sell that is proof enough it just might be to expensive, or in the wrong location, it's also true it's not wise to undersell your house but this makes no sense at all if you need to sell and it's not selling.
We love Spain, will move their today, will buy again no problem, and if anyone thinks Spain has gone up in price then take a good look at England again.
The biggest gripe about Spain has been from expats who went their with the exchange rate of about 1.50ish to the pound then it dropped so they were worse of, so they said, my friends have said just that, but they forget the fact that they eat out most nights, sit in the sun for most months, use their swimming pool for 8/9 months of the year, pay next to no council tax, get better medical care, no TV licence, try doing any of this in England with the damp and cold. We struggled last Sunday at 6pm to find a place open to eat. And as for folk buying of-plan for something you cant see or touch, honestly does that need any explaining when you see folk here that wont buy a box of screws in B&Q without seeing them first. Spain has problems, UK has problems, the world has problems, it's how you sort out the problems and understand them that counts before you make your decision.
My own house here in the UK which we bought new from the builder was built on land he didn't own, our so called top notch solicitor told us this on the day of moving just before we left our house for the new buyers to move into. So much for honest ole blighty then!

foxilady said:
18 May 2012 @ 14:22

just found this article and although i am not an irish estate agent, i am irish lol and have been watching what has been going on in europe for some years now and decided not to buy abroad and invested in central london instead. i am 100% with Rachel on this, and believe once the euro crumbles as we know it, spain and other places will plummet even more, the banks are still holding out for top dollar at the moment as well and this will change imho. come on lets face it the writing has been on the wall for many years, over building everywhere, it had to end - no brainer. i am of course sorry for people who have lost loads but at the end of the day its only money and as long as we have our health we have the world. we rent now whenever we want a long break in a hot country, have done Spain twice now off to India for a longish spell, so cheap.

bg9208 said:
15 March 2012 @ 15:37

Bill, congrats on managing to sell privately. Where did you advertise

IAN said:
31 October 2011 @ 11:07

Accurate assessment of Spanish housing market
but we have experienced the same with a city centre property in Sunderland UK. Therefore for me the climate and lifestyle in Marbella has a large value which offset any property problems.

Terry said:
17 October 2011 @ 15:03

What costa areas are currently the cheapest to buy in

Ranger said:
20 May 2011 @ 21:05

I bought a good (near the beach, larger than standard third floor) two bed as an investment in Manilva in 2003 for 165 + costs. Closed in 2009, now hoping to recoup some of part payments, now being offered 120K.

Having a hard time coming to terms with the loss. Is this a fair price. Like Ireland I can't see the market improving for 10 years. Property problems are only starting in Spain, wait until the IMF bailout, the banks will stop lending period.

Chris said:
07 May 2011 @ 09:45

I bought in Fuerteventura in 2002 which due to exchange rates from when we bought is still profitable now even with a further 20% drop in prices.I was nearly lured in to the mainland spain property bubble which was over developed and populated,i decided to go where it is sunny all year and far less populated.With the banks screwing you and repossesing your property and selling it far below market value they will never loose as they always get there money unless you go bankrupt.I predict prices in the UK will get back to the same as 2002 by 2022 and mainland Spain will be 2032 by the time people have enough spare cash to buy something abroad again.

Ros said:
26 March 2011 @ 00:57

I must say that there are a couple of really insensitive comments - Rachel Corbally - you'd better watch out - you're expecting something really unrealistic. You want to pay less than it costs to buy land and build your fabulous property with pool - why should you expect that? What gives you the right to relish the opportunity to cash in on others' misery? I believe (quite often, not always) what goes around, comes around. You may just wait too late and miss the boat entirely - whilst you carry on renting (they always said that was 'dead money' lol)

mary said:
25 March 2011 @ 21:57

I am looking to rent in spain near the sea, has to be reasonable price had enough of england and the cold., two bed, three would be even better. Few local shops and bars, market fantastic
Must be clean Thankyou

Linda said:
15 March 2011 @ 16:23

The prices at the peak were totally unrealistic, they increased in value far too quickly, it was unsustainable. The bubble had to burst. Far too many people believed they could sell any old rubbish property for any price they liked. Also, the Spanish property market has never had any rhyme nor reason to it. My in-laws live in a large block with 70 apartments and everyone values their property at a different price!! Also, the bank always overvalued property, I don't know if they still do. I sold my property for what I considered a fair price, although I lost money. If you sell your property at a loss (the price on the escritura) you can actually claim back the taxes. I had a refund a year after the sale. The thing about the English property market is you can pretty much say exactly what any house on any street is worth, you can not do that in Spain. What you want and what you get are 2 different things. Most people want far too much, got carried away with the good times and are just plain unrealistic and greedy!

John Garcia said:
14 March 2011 @ 18:01

To Ken Crossley, forget what the agent in Spain is telling you your property is worth. Take it from me they want cheap to sell cheap, plus any interested client is going to knock it further so dont go cheap, but be realistic.
As a Uk agent selling Spanish property i ask clients to pay 240 euros for a valuation from the bank. Then show that to your agent and YOU TELL HIM WHAT YOU WANT FOR YOUR HOUSE. If he is a good agent he will do his best to market at the correct price telling any intersted client that he has a bank valauation to prove the property is worth the asking price. This valuation will also help when a client needs a mortagage. Dont be fooled by the rip off agents in Spain who know nothing about property and open up a shop and think they can sell property.Yes your neighbours can be cheaper than yours but can they say they have a valuation to prove its worth more. To many agents are taking on cheap property and not informing their vendors correctly which is why sio many people are fighting to drop their prices cheaper than their neighbours. We find that here from the Uk clients want properties that have all documentation not just quick and cheap.
Regards John

John Garcia said:
14 March 2011 @ 17:53

Hi ,Chardonnay, in reply to your question, if you were told the property would be ready 2005 and as yet 2011 it is not. I would honestly say the builder is not going to complete on his promise.Being involved in the property market in Spain and knowing well whats going on with developments i would say the builder has already declared bankruptcy. What i must ask you is if you had a bank garantee given when you put down your deposit, all good builders will give you this to secure your deposit.If you do not have this or nothing in writting from the builder, basically your deposit is lost, its harsh but true. A lot of these builders are getting away from their responsibilities by arguing that the client has no bank garantee so why should they pay back the money that has gone into building the development. Another thing you can do is contact your solicitor appointed and say that the due date has expired and you want your deposit back, this you can do. But only if you did not sign an agreement with the builder to wait till it was finished.Let us know further news please
Regards John

Ligia Rodriguez said:
14 March 2011 @ 17:15

We brought a 2 bed detached bungalow on 1000m2 plot in 2002 for 265,000 euros and then spent another 80,000 euros converting and extending the property to a 5 bedroom property with a Hugh kitchen.The bank valued the property at 420,000 when finished and after paying all licenses which we estimated at the time as 5,000 euros for planning and permissions we realised we had done 350,000 euros.We then put in a kitchen which cost 10,000 euros and finally we had our dream home. When the market started dropping out we quickly put the house up for sale as my husband was getting worried with the amount of unsold properties and was worried that ours would devalue with the rest, which it did as we found out. Cut a long story short we ended up selling for 265,000 euros which is what we paid for the property when we first purchased it as a 2 bedroom bungalow.But being back home in the Uk and settling in with family has made it easier for us than living out in Spain and watching the country and the cost of living go up. We have managed within a year to find work and buy a home of our own again, yes Spain was better for lifestyle living and kids but you cant beat the secure feeling of knowing what you are doing and what is happening which in Spain you dont get and never know.
We have loads of friends waiting to sell and while they wait their homes devalue even further, estate agents just want cheap homes because nothing is selling so the cheaper the better and to top it off like i just read above from another person on this page. They then go to Spain and further devalue a persons property by knocking off another 20% of the price. Which brings me to my main point.
In Spain the Goverment want to bring in a tax which basically says that if you buy a property for less than the goverment declare a fair price they can tax you up to 3 years after you have brought that property. So in plain terms if you buy a house at 100,000 euros but the goverment or tax office value it at say 180,000 euros then they have up to 3 years to fine you for buying below a certain price band. Not many are aware of this, i dont know what its called because i cant write it in Spanish but ask around local agents and friends, dont fall into this trap.


rachel corbally said:
13 March 2011 @ 13:16

I thought I would give you the perspective of a potential purchaser. At the minute I am saving & holding on to my money. Why because there are thousands of properties on the market & I dont believe they have hit bottom. Also the Spanish government is warning these banks to get the repo properties off their books & fast this is not happening as people like me at present have to fork out 30% so the 100% mortgage is a complete myth just an advertising ploy. Some people fall for it & are so foolish that by the time they realise they are going to pay out more & not actually get 100% they just pay because now they are buying emotionally not with the head.
I have a guy from a bank calling me twice a week to ask why am I not buying I have told him its still too expensive & take into account no 100% mortgages & the taxes I have to pay NO! I tell himcome back to me when the properties are cheaper, when they honour their promise of 100% mortgages & if Im not busy then maybe I will go see properties & maybe buy.
He is desperately trying to persuade me to buy now!! lol what he doesnt know is I am an Irish Estate Agent which means college for 4 years, serving an apprenticship, & being regestered & having to adhere to a strict code of legal practice unlike here lol
I will buy when I can find a 3 bedroom detached Villa for €130k to €150k max (have found several already for €180k to €200k) so i wait till they drop further, I will buy when the banks truly offer 100% & not try to just get us in their offices, I will buy when the government realises they may have to temporarily lower the purchase taxes to stimulate the market (yeah I know whith the Spanish way of thinking that will be years away) but so what if it is? I rent a beachside apartment in a luxury complex with a mini golf course I have views to the ocean & over the course, well insulated & sound proofed & central heating that works all for €350 per month why oh why would I buy now!! I pay no suma, no maintence fees, no community fees, I dont need to repair the boiler when it breaks I dont even need to buy a new kettle!!! All the time Im saving cash that I could be shelling out on all of these things so when the time is right to buy I will certainly be paying a lot less.
Why am I telling you all this because the majority of buyers are thinking the same way!! We all have conversations on this subject regularly & we all say the same thing to move this market again things will have to change & although very slowly (nothing new for Spain) it will. We can only rely on so many Germans & Russians coming, the Spanish need to look to their domestic market & in that I enclude us ex-pats who live here work here & have business & family here.
I think I will end up buying next year or the year after truth be told because there are going to be drastic measures taken by bankks & governement to get rid of all these properties & get some money coming into the economy yes even the Spanish will realise this soon.

David said:
13 March 2011 @ 06:27

Good article. However you say 'I’m not returning to the UK so for me, the 34% loss is very real.'

You have a nominal loss - you won't have a real loss (or profit) until you sell. Nominal losses don't cost you anything - they just make you twitchy

As ever the real losers are the people who have to sell

John T said:
11 March 2011 @ 19:31

I can not understand any sane person buying in Spain at this time. Prices are low, but they can only go lower.
If you enjoy being in Spain, rent. There really is much one can rent at the moment and at good prices.
Also, when you are bored with it you can alwayse go to Portugal, Italy etc. the world is your oyster.
Buy a place in the UK for a base and travel the world. We did. We now rent in Spain and let the owner worry about leaking basements, damp proofing etc etc.
I tell you after renting in Spain for a few months I can't wait to get back to the UK. Then when weather gets us down travel somewhere else. At least we have a base in Blighty and a system we can trust!

Fiona said:
11 March 2011 @ 18:35

Charles T in answer to your question, yes I can help you out with prices for Benalmadena. Please drop me a line at

Linda said:
11 March 2011 @ 16:14


peter s said:
10 March 2011 @ 22:08

you are so lucky !!
2 weeks after moveing in we found out we were illegal.
that was 4 years ago house now worthless paid 228,000 e near murcia --told it will be made legal that was 3 years ago ---valle del sol

Dave B said:
10 March 2011 @ 21:01

Similar story to Justin, bought off plan in 2005 in a village that we like, a 30 minute drive up the hill from Duquesa. Cost 120000 Euros off plan for a 3 bed apartment in a 3 storey block the builder went bust but fortunately after they were finished. Now worth 90000 euros but of course if you are converting to sterling then at the moment there is no loss as such.
However the bottom line is we bought to have a base in the village and maybe spend long periods there in the future, I never bought as an investment, just to be able to go when I want and stay as long as I want.

Charles T. said:
10 March 2011 @ 19:13

I'm off to Malaga next week..Looking to buy 2 Bed Apartment on Golf complex in Benalmadena.Anyone any idea on prices.

Charles T.

Bev said:
10 March 2011 @ 15:15

We have property in Spain and in the UK. We bought in Spain in 2006. At that time our UK house (which we originally bought in 1990) was worth £215,000, our Spanish house cost us 155,000 euros plus costs, and was a really good buy as we bought it below the going market rate. By 2007 my UK house is now valued at 235,000, my Spanish house probably worth 200,000 euros. 2011 my UK house has recovered slightly in value from it's lowest point and is worth £185,000 and my neighbours in Spain are selling their house for 150,000 but mine is in a better location so worth around 160,000 euros.
Result: since 2007 high points I have lost over 20% on the UK property and 20% on my Spanish house! However as I bought in 2006 at below market value I haven't lost anything on my Spanish house. If I bought the money from the proceeds of the sale of my Spanish house back to the UK even after costs I am no worse off.
Plus we rent out our Spanish house to holiday makers so the house produces an income.
Me? I'm still very happy with my Spanish home. I know the cost of living has risen there but it has also gone up in the UK. I look forward to the UK market making a full recovery (I'll have to be patient!) so I can move to Spain for good.

Guy said:
10 March 2011 @ 14:23

Very good blog. While people point out you haven't included the value of having accomodation- someone said 54k - but also included is the cost of capital - (interest lost on your deposit plus interest paid to bank.)

Fiona said:
10 March 2011 @ 13:36

The important thing is that now Spain has almost stopped building completely, so anyone looking for a home can choose from completed properties on the market and be sure of what they are getting for their money. In my life I have made many investments from stocks, pensions, endowments, emerging markets and properties in Spain, Dubai, England, Scotland and France. My advice to anyone is avoid all financial investment where it is managed by a so called 'expert' and never buy a property in France. We have more than happy with the excellent quality home we have bought here in Spain and as soon as we can free up money held in UK property we will be reinvesting it here in Spain. Contrary to the opinions of many here on the site I know that Spain remains popular with foreigners and so long as you avoid buying those properties that Spain has mass produced then there is still money to be made.

Mark Betteridge said:
10 March 2011 @ 12:10

In answer to Chardonay's query on La Reserva De Marbella my understanding is that the matter is still in the hands of the courts. There are some cases going to appeal on the issue of the buidling on the unofficial urban plans. Our neighbour who is Spanish is confident the courts will resolve in our favour as the enconomy would go into meltdown if thousands of home owners including Spanish were told their homes are illegal. It will take time though so as Justin said be patient.

Bill W said:
10 March 2011 @ 11:22

Great article Justin,

We bought on Polaris World (off plan) in 2005. We completed in 2008 and all in with fees etc. we paid 229K Euros. Looking at the prices for similar apartments, we think we would probably get circa 145K Euros after fees at the moment (assuming you could get a buyer of course). However, with the difference in exchange rates, the drop is approx. £35K (22%).

However, we were fortunate in that we didn't need a mortgage, and we plannned to be involved for the long haul, so for us, it is more theoretical at the moment.

Jamie Swanson said:
10 March 2011 @ 11:08

To Ken Crossley. Ken, I hope things work out fine for you but "No way will we lose £20,000", is why people lose £35,000. To Richard Davies who feels he can accurately buy at the bottom of the market to average out, catching falling knives is a mugs game and you may be better off looking at other investment / asset classes to diversify into. I guess buying any leveraged investment is no more sensible than going to the bookies but on a solid Bull Market in all classes it is a dead cert. Mortgaging a second property "investment" is no different. There are many thousand of total loss property situations throughout Europe and the USA and I just feel sorry for those who have lost their actual homes whereas thank God most readers here seem to be "bothered" but not devastated. I still love Spain but as many have pointed out, wherby it was "cheap" some time ago it no longer is. There are millions of rubbish built and half built properties which have ruined many of our favourite spots but there asre still many places out of the way that are fine. France has far more unspoilt areas and seems to have avoided much of the mad developments and thereby the terrible bubble that Spain had. But also I think it's a mindset. The French never got caught in the property as an investment disease as much as we Brits and Spanish did. Let's face it when I had friends who are just normal working class people telling me they were buying their second apartment in Torrevieja or Dubai I thought this whole property investment lark was doomed. And when I heard of a friend buying in Lithuania I just knew it. You could buy a village in Lithuania for £100 a few years ago who the hell imagined a 2 bedroomed flat would be WORTH £58,000??? Then again that was all a different world, when Lloyds and BP paid fair dividends and your bank manager was in his 50's and sensible, not a spiky haired salesman.......

David H said:
10 March 2011 @ 10:28

Justin's calculations look about right for the average situation providing we take 18 years to fully recover the purchase price as just a piece of interesting arithmetic. Spain isn't a 'serious' country; too many people are clinging-on to little jobs and are not going to drive the economy at any more than a leisurely pace. Our best hope is that Northern Europeans will be continue to prosper in relative terms and their post-war baby boomers will be attracted to the Mediterranean climate in ever increasing numbers. That should shorten the price recovery period to between 7 and 10 years.

margaret said:
10 March 2011 @ 10:14

We bought off plan in 2005, by the time we got the keys to the apartment in 2007 it cost us 120,000 euros plus 12,000 legal fees.we now have it up for sale for 80,000euros and will probably have to reduce the price very soon. luckily we have no mortgage and our place is legal.

BrianC said:
10 March 2011 @ 09:37

Picked this up from a thread on Spanish Property Insight. Interesting and honest article Justin.

To be honest I'm a bit surprised that more of the estate agents on here haven't jumped it to say 'It's not that bad', 'You are exaggerating', or the like.

foxilady said:
10 March 2011 @ 01:07

Hi, good article Justin and your bang on the money with any recover of Spain. I believe its going to be a very long haul too ie 10 to 20 years to see any recovery. I am so pleased we didnt invest in Spain, and decided on the UK as investment to free us up to rent anywhere we want in the world. There was such a frenzy in the UK over the last 10/15 years to buy abroad, what on earth were people thinking with all this over building by developers, who on earth was going to buy them all?

Justin said:
10 March 2011 @ 00:00

Jeff, Sutton47, why the need to be so bitter all the time? Life is too short and full of mistakes and regrets. You have to take the rough with the smooth. It also takes up way too much energy to be bitter all the time.

As I said in the article, those who have lost money because their properties were never built, well they have my total sympathy and support, but that discussion is not in context with this article which is solely about property price drops.

Almería Teacher said:
09 March 2011 @ 23:50

I bought a one bed flat in Roquetas de Mar for €127,000 (+10k expenses). Probably worth €70,000 now if I was lucky enough to find a buyer. It´s currently rented long term and without a mortgage at least I´m getting some sort of yield. I will probably end up retiring there myself in another 20 years before the price returns to what I paid!

Almería Teacher said:
09 March 2011 @ 23:48

I bought a one bed flat in Roquetas de Mar for €127,000 (+10k expenses). Probably worth €70,000 now if I was lucky enough to find a buyer. It´s currently rented long term and without a mortgage at least I´m getting some sort of yield. I will probably end up retiring there myself in another 20 years before the price returns to what I paid!

Jeff said:
09 March 2011 @ 23:16

Sutton47 is right to ask why we Brits are not bitter about the atrocious quality of the houses that we have purchased. Many of the Brits in my area behave like ostriches. If they bury their heads in the sand the problems might go away.

The builders and agents ripped us off but we were gullible and also believed that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown would save us from the vicious forces of the markets. Why is it only us that lose and our controllers go on to make fortunes.

The only saving grace is that Spain is still a nicer place to live than the UK. The natives are friendly and only get upset when the immigrants do not bother to learn the lingo. Children in Spain have a better life than many in the UK.

So despite the houses being C..P the quality of life is better despite losing so much money. Long may it last.

Emma said:
09 March 2011 @ 22:57

Great article, we bought late 2009 3 bedroom townhouse paid 109,000 seller wanted 223,000 just put in offer thought never would accept but did delighted great time to buy.

Chardonnay said:
09 March 2011 @ 22:54

Does anyone know about La Reserva de marbella? I bought a 2 bed penthouse off plan in 2003 for290,00EUROS. It should have been completed 2005.

As far as I can tell the properties have not been granted a licence. I have paid a 30% deposit. No one has pursued me for the balance of the money.
I do not own/ cannot the mortgagae the property either. What would you do ?

Justin said:
09 March 2011 @ 22:23

Tony, I am predicting yes, 10 years from know to get my money back. I originally bought off plan 8 years ago.

If you saw the ridiculous amount of property in our area you would understand my reasoning. We are not going to see another "boom" as such so when the recovery does commence it will be slow. But we are not even there yet. Ask me in 10 years time if I am right. I am happy to wait.

midasgold said:
09 March 2011 @ 22:16

Hi - My own situation of housing cost reflects, in percentage terms thoes of yours.I own a town house here in mijas costa.It is in an urb of 20 similar very middle class (in Brit terms)with the uaual smattering of Mercs and high end vehicles.The "normal" selling time is now 2 to 3 years before a property is sold.My near neighbour got so fed up waiting he just locked his doors, 2 years ago and left,never to be seen again !

midasgold said:
09 March 2011 @ 22:09

Hi - My own situation of housing cost reflects, in percentage terms thoes of yours.I own a town house here in mijas costa.It is in an urb of 20 similar very middle class (in Brit terms)with the uaual smattering of Mercs and high end vehicles.The "normal" selling time is now 2 to 3 years before a property is sold.My near neighbour got so fed up waiting he just locked his doors, 2 years ago and left,never to be seen again !

robin said:
09 March 2011 @ 22:03

I think it is the most realistic study of the situation and prices. It mirrors the property situation in Bullas,Murcia where prices in my instance are down from asking E92.000 in 2005 to asking E39.000 now fully furnished. There are tales of people now buying on there credit cards which reflects what some people have to settle for.

midasgold said:
09 March 2011 @ 21:40

Hi -great well writen and factual.
You do however have the additional benifit of NOT having paid
a monthly rent of (700e estimate) over 6 years say 54,000 e.

Tony B said:
09 March 2011 @ 21:33

18 years to recover your money, Justin? What an extremelly uninformed guess that must be. I don't think think there is a qualified humam being with a clear-enough cristal ball to foresee that long into the future.
I have a word of caution for those out there who are thinkging of buying: This is the kind of article that do nothing but to confuse you. For a start, it does lump the spanish housing market into one and the same category. Yo do need to do your own research and avoid thosee areas where most of the excess stock stands. Buy in a nice location close to beaches and amenities, with building hight restrictions to 3 stores. In other words, an area that's popular with many nacionalities, including Spanish people.
And yes, a bit heme park would be an added bonus!

Donna Macfarlane said:
09 March 2011 @ 21:30

Great article! We have a property in Mijas Costa between Malaga and Marbella, rented out at present. We live in Canada. Our tenants are reliable and look after the property very well. I would be interested in the views of other readers whether we would have difficulty renting it out again if we decided to keep it for our own use for a year or so?

Jeff said:
09 March 2011 @ 21:24

Sutton47 is right to ask why we Brits are not bitter about the atrocious quality of the houses that we have purchased. Many of the Brits in my area behave like ostriches. If they bury their heads in the sand the problems might go away.

The builders and agents ripped us off but we were gullible and also believed that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown would save us from the vicious forces of the markets. Why is it only us that lose and our controllers go on to make fortunes.

The only saving grace is that Spain is still a nicer place to live than the UK. The natives are friendly and only get upset when the immigrants do not bother to learn the lingo. Children in Spain have a better life than many in the UK.

So despite the houses being C..P the quality of life is better despite losing so much money. Long may it last.

normansands said:
09 March 2011 @ 21:17

Good stuff - told like it is!
Techno and Goodstitch take note

Paul in Wilts, UK said:
09 March 2011 @ 20:16

If only.....

If only we had transferred our £125k and left it in the Spanish bank for the last 5 years, it' certainly a buyers market.

sutton47 said:
09 March 2011 @ 19:53

The Brits are very philosophical, and without bitterness in these comments. Nowhere do I see a remark of vindication against builders of such c..p dwellings ; builders who have been ripping off buyers for decades, with leaky , uninsulated structures and atrocious electrics. Nowhere do I read,"thank God they're bankrupt", or "I hope they're all on the dole".
I may be getting vindictive with the passing of time.

sutton47 said:
09 March 2011 @ 19:45

The situation here in Mojacar is more or less the same.
The situation in some of the outlying areas is, however a lot different. Many property owners are still under the threat of the bulldozer, and that makes any of our "losses" look just a tad less significant.

john said:
09 March 2011 @ 19:40

Sorry tales indeed, and here in Mojacar the situation is the same.
However, let us be thankful that our properties are LEGAL. Those who bought in Arboleas,Albox and surrounding areas are still under the threat of demolition. now that IS a loss.

ianthomas said:
09 March 2011 @ 19:07

we bought similarly a townhouse in a small gated community as a holiday home off plan on a golf course near Conil on the Costa de la Luz in 2004 completed in 2006. Luckily there are no high rises around here and no unfinished buildings - just a beautiful location. Using a full translated listing on the holiday rentals' german sister website [the UK rental interest is much lower] we have it rented all year round - 95% from Germany or Switzerland - priced to rent out off season with snowbirds from Germany taking it for the complete winter. At least the gross income fully covers the euro repay mortgage [will look at interest free holiday - thanks Justin]and gives us a "no cost" two week holiday every three months so not so bad.

Graham said:
09 March 2011 @ 18:42

I am looking to buy in Murcia now, thinking that perhaps the market had bottomed out. The excellent case study validates my expectations on the price I should expect to pay. However, what is a shocker to me is Justins prophecy that he expects his appartment to fall further from €85,000 to €50,000 and not to reach his original 2003 valuation for 18 years! Clearly I must look on a purchase in Spain for lifestyle reasons, possibly rental income but certainly not as an investment for capital growth return. As a real case study it is very useful and I will be very aggressive in my negotiation on price, to narrow the gap with the expectation of further drop in valuations. I was going to go in with offers 10% lower than the asking price, now I think between 20% and 50% lower might work. Still going to do it though.

davmunster said:
09 March 2011 @ 17:58

Great article and interesting comments - this is more like a thread than a blog. There seems to be 2 markets: the bank repro \ distressed market where prices are as described and a normal market where prices are a bit higher but with very few sales.
We are in uncharted water now and while I would like to think recovery is closer than you think the reality is no one actually knows when we will reach the bottom or how long it will take to climb back up

derek said:
09 March 2011 @ 17:27

Bought 2005 for £260,000 4 bed,pool,550 sqm garden and now have a buyer at 150,000 euros if he can get a mortgage

davmunster said:
09 March 2011 @ 17:26

Great article and interesting comments - this is more like a thread than a blog. There seems to be 2 markets: the bank repro \ distressed market where prices are as described and a normal market where prices are a bit higher but with very few sales.
We are in uncharted water now and while I would like to think recovery is closer than you think the reality is no one actually knows when we will reach the bottom or how long it will take to climb back up

Mike McCarron said:
09 March 2011 @ 17:25

Justin, I bought my 2 bedroom Penthouse in Almerimar near Almeria in 2006 for 233,000 euros plus 17,000 euros IVA and furnished it to a very high standard. There are now Penthouses up for sale at 170,000 euros and they cannot sell. Like some of the other people I have a mortgage which I am finding hard to pay so I will be in serious trouble in a few years time.

John in San Pedro said:
09 March 2011 @ 17:21

We bought at 536,000 (+ 10% usual costs) a large 3 bed 3 bath garden apartment on a good urbanisation in 2002. No mortgage. It was for the lifestyle and we have never regretted it. We bought with first instalment 1.58 to the pound next instalments 1.48 & 1.44. In a good area where would probably nett out at what we paid. Then the exchange rate in our benefit.
We are 66 early retirees with no current intention of moving.
We are also early baby boomers and we hope that UK (and other) retirees will be looking for the 'bargains for their place in the sun. But only the finished established no-hassle developments will probably benefit.

Jeff said:
09 March 2011 @ 17:14

All the replies so far show that most people have learnt to accept the situation and make the best of it. No investment is guaranteed and like pension funds the value of property can drop. Its just that we had become used to year on year increases worldwide.

We bought our 3 bed house in Lebrija, Sevilla for €230,000 including taxes and costs in July 2008. Just like any other new house we had not factored in the cost of light fittings, kitchen, bathroom etc so had to spend another €3000 and now have just paid €14000 for sound and damproofing with more to spend if we want to achieve UK standards. That makes €237,000 so far and local agents value it at €90,000. So like others not my best investment but look on the bright side. The money has gone, the sun still shines and will eventually dry the house out.

I am just glad that we kept the narrowboat back in the UK so we can return for the summer to a home that is dry and warm. It always makes me smile when I think about living on a boat floating on water which is drier and warmer than a concrete house in sunny Spain but hey-ho life is full of quirks.

ken crossley said:
09 March 2011 @ 16:58

we bought a 2 bed town house in villa martin a year ago with everthing inside (some things unopened brand new) for £77000 we have now split up and the agents say it it worth £20000 less, it has sea views pool views the list goes on we just want to try and break even, but no way will we lose 20,000, the problem as i see it we are up against the bank(who got us in this mess in the first place) are just trying to recoup some of their self made losses

Andy @ Ronda Today said:
09 March 2011 @ 16:35

Justin this is an excellent article, and as with the other commenters, I commend you for your honesty about the situation. In Ronda we're noticing less severe drops, probably averaging around 30% over the prices from 2008. That is of course a gross generalisation, but it confirms your own thinking.

However, here we are starting to see some signs of buyers returning at the new prices, and we don't have mountains of unfinished property like you do in Manilva. Even so, I expect we're looking at 5 years or more before we see signs of real confidence like we had 10 years ago.

Bill said:
09 March 2011 @ 16:33

Informative article - thanks.

We bought off plan in Madrid in 2004. A 1 bed flat for €265k. We sold it last year for ... wait for it ... €265k!

Yes, after 8 months on the market we managed to sell privately (no agent's fees) for the same price, although in real terms we made a loss of about 25k because we didn't recuperate the initial purchase costs. We were happy though because we didn't over-strecth ourselves when we bought the flat, and were able to overpay the mortgage, so we had plenty of equity and were able to take the opportunity to trade up.

Of course the flat we have now will probably fall in value as well, but again we haven't overstretched ourselves so we're not too worried. If the market in Madrid collapses completely then, provided we've still got jobs, we might even trade up again. However the purchase costs in Spain are so high, and moving is such a hassle in general, that it would take a very large drop of at least another 20% to make trading up again a viable option.

Richard Davies said:
09 March 2011 @ 16:25

Nice article Justin, I would concur the prices in manilva / duquesa will be 50 k for a standard 2 bed on or around the golf courses, but the market cannot recover until the prices hit their nadir, I actually sold my three bed on marina duquesa in June 2010 for 260k ( like you I bought this one in 2003 ) so I did extremly well to offload , but i still have a lemon on duquesa village which I paid 220 k for !!!, luckily I have it interest only with norwich and peterborough in Gib so I will keep it even though my mortgage is 130 k sterling, at least have a nice apartmet to go to. My theory will be to even the loss by buying another property when the prices hit rock bottom, which I would predict late 2012

Ricardo de Oliveira said:
09 March 2011 @ 16:09

Very good article in deed , wich reflects exactly what is hapenning , in my area prices hace droped but not that much altough they never reached the high prices of certain areas, nevertheless Bristish hace the advantaje of the currency, so altough you loose in € you might still make a small profitt on the Pound, Spanish vendores have got it much harder and almost imposible to sell in some cases.
Also people have to take in consideration that if they are selling now to buy somewhere else , whatever thay want to buy will also be much cheaper that what it used to, so it might be a good oportunnity por those who bought at decent prices before the property boom.
Banks have many properties but most of them are not that good, the good ones never come out to the market, there is always a branch manager, employee or related that buys it before getting to general public, bear that in mind.

Kind Regards to everyone!!

Justin said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:56

Fiona, yes valid point, but I just wanted to look at the overall picture of the value of the property, regardless of whether we live in it or not.

It's not actually our main home any more, we have a house too, also lost money on, and the apartment is actually our office.

So no, I don't want to sell it anyway, but if I did the above is realistic of how the value of it has changed over the years. Like any investment, you do tend to be quite interested as to how the value of your investment is doing.

We bought it to live in initially and then I thought it would be good to have as a pension pot. So as long as it's worth something by the time I can no longer tap away on a keyboard, I'll be perfectly happy!

peggy said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:52

An interesting analysis.The previous owners of my property bought it for 172000 euros in 2008. I bought it in 2010 for £125000 sterling excluding taxes etc.I think they had a slightly better exchange rate in 2008 so the price I paid was probably fair. Like you imply in your article it's all "swings and roundabouts". Unless you are speculating the value of our respective properties is arbitrary.

Fiona said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:38

Its good to see such a frank account. However if you have been living in the apartment for the past six years, you have not factored this into any calculations. Also since you intend staying in Spain if you wished to sell to move to a bigger place or another urbanisation then you would hope that the property you wishes to buy had dropped by a similar percentage, which would be in your favour if you were trading up. So perhaps you should be looking at this as an opportunity?????

Daisygirl said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:38

Three years ago we went to Spain to buy a property near Denia.
We were there renting and nearly,nearly bought. Thank goodness we didn't.
I see houses and flats in the area that were for sale three years ago for between 300,00 and 500,00 are stool for sale only at half that price, and not surprisingly they stool are not selling. In my opinion anyone who buys in Spain now is being very foolish. Buy in the UK, at least you know it will eventually go up and rent in Spain, with no hassles. Our UK home bought two years ago on a good deal has gone up by at least 10%, even now.
All I can say is, my heart goes out to our friends who bought in Spain and now want to return but can not afford to.
Why buy in Spain if there is a serious risk of your property decreasing in value, when you can rent with no risk.
On another note, on a recent visit I found inflation in Spain to be even worse than the uk.Food and restaurants now are son expensive, far higher than the UK.
No, I am afraid the gloss has gone from Spain!

Karen LaCalaHills said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:37

Hi Justin, Good article.
We were told by agent that our Villa in the Costa Blanca wouldn't sell for less than 150-160,000 euros. We sold for 185,000 and had 3 people fighting for it. Sold it in 2 days! Obviously too cheap but wanted out. So yes we have lost money but really only due to the taxes on purchasing, etc. The buyers are out there - the Scandinavians, the Germans etc. If you have the right property in the right place eventually if you can hold out it WILL sell it thats what you want. Try agents in other countries - advertise in places other than the web - not everyone is computer literate or has the time and energy to look on the web. Good Luck

09 March 2011 @ 15:32

I bought my flat in Riviera del Sol off plan 2003. The builders were Aifos (who have since gone bankrupt) I paid 137.950 euros for a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom flat plus an extra 4.000 for a storage room (which is constantly flooded) In 2008 when I completed the flat it was worth 225.000 euros. I recently had it valued by an estate agent who really wasn't interested in putting it on his books for 120.000. There are so many completed houses and flats lying empty in my area, but I'm lucky that I'm not one of the unfortunate people who paid out large deposits to Aifos before they went bankrupt and have no hope of getting their money back.

Ros said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:27

We bought our cortijo for about 69,000 euros in 2002, just in from the Costa Tropical, and it was worth about 180,000 at its peak. We then had purchasers, who agreed to buy it for 157,000 euros in 2007, the process dragged on for a year because of legal problems; these were then resolved, and the buyers backed out! We then sold it for 105,000 (minus commission of 4,000+). We were really lucky - we think it was the only place for miles around that sold. We about broke even, because we had extended, put a pool in etc. Having said that, we've got several pieces of land, one with a ruin, two with structures, which have been on the market for years, without shifting. They may turn out to be our worst investments ever, or not, depending on final selling price and currency fluctuations. I'm with you Justin - you win some, you lose some. Thanks for doing the case study, as I think it has a lot of resonance - more so than a generalised picture and meaningless statistics would. All the best

Rob in Madrid said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:22

If anyone is interested NPR Planet Money did an excellent job cover Spanish mortgages on thier podcast

Webster said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:21

Thank you, Justin for a touch of realism to a surreal situation. How can you put a monetary value on a home (be it holiday or permanent)? However, (as an offplan 2004 investor) it still makes the loss we have made on Endowment investments look like small change . . . .when it comes to finances, you can never rely on anything anyone says or promises! And the benefit is we still have a lovely apartment we can touch and stay in, that belongs to us and if the value goes up in a decade or several, that is an added bonus.

Rob in Madrid said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:21

Spam protection: Good thing I can add:)

I actually have a good news story, short version, friends bought at the peak of the market with the crash and the Polaris bankrucpy the whole project was cancelled. They are now fighting to get the bank to honour the garantee. The best part, they pulled the money out of the UK at 1.42 So for them buying at the peak actually saved the alot of money, assuming they evenually get all the money and interest back

Liz said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:19

A very true picture.. but Nick managed to make me smile with his comment. I think the word he was looking for was pragmatic!
We bought off plan at Condado de alhama in 2006, paid 132k inc taxes. Now they are going for 90k plus taxes. Like Justin, we are in it for the long haul, been here 6 years already.. and with the rumblings about the Paramount theme park, we may just be luckier than most. We too feel lucky to actually have the bricks, mortar and promised golf course ( although 1 not the 3 on the original plan). Many are not so lucky. But that´s life and we were all speculating for possible gain, sometimes the market goes the other way!

mike walsh said:
09 March 2011 @ 15:10

A masterful and candid analysis; an eye-opener. But, I always say that this situation affects only the buyers and the sellers and is nothing other than academic for the rest of us. Only half of those lose.

I would like to see a similar article on the rental market where the drop in rentals doesn't seem as dramatic. I am looking for an appartment on Mijas Costa. I think I will avoid unrealistic agents and look around using Shank's pony (Mondeo actually).

Sean Nolan said:
09 March 2011 @ 14:53

A well written article & whilst it may make uncomfortable reading for some, it does give a good insight. Although I hope your prophesy of the future of your home is wrong...for your sake

What is really important is that the value of your house/home is irrelevant ... unless you want to sell it, so enjoy it up until that moment & dont let the current situation spoil what was a dream some years ago

We originally placed a deposit for a property in Manilva, Arenal Duquesa but after many delays by the builder withdrew & bought in SW Mallorca...phew! Mallorca hasnt been affected as much, however the same is true....the value of my apartment doesn't matter to me, as I do not wish to sell it.

I just hope those who have to sell do not find themselves in financial difficulty

Sarah said:
09 March 2011 @ 14:53

194,000 euros in 2005 for a two bed two bath off-plan duplex apartment with swimming pool and underground parking, close to Marbella.
235,000 euros peak valuation possibly 2006.
175,000 euros on the market now in 2011.
Priced UNDER the NATIONAL average price per square metre and that's for near Marbella (7km) - a prime spot.
Couple of viewings... no sale... I can but hope.
Or it's interest only for me! Good idea!

Culture Spain said:
09 March 2011 @ 14:45

Justin - a really excellent article and may I commend you for your honesty and for being so phlegmatic.
I suspect that you will be flooded by people saying that everything depends upon type of property and location and this is true. However, there can be no hiding the scale of the crash and I suspect that, across the board, prices have dropped from the peak by around 35% - 45%. Needless to say this is excellent news for buyers and dreadful news for sellers. For those of us here for the long run, it is all regrettable (obviously) but surely we came for the lifestyle not to make a swift 'buck'... NICK

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