We hear it every day about how property prices have dived and how repossessions are at their highest for years as the so called credit crunch continues to bite us all. But when you look at other countries throughout Europe you see a picture that may be much worse that the UK.
Take Spain for instance that in recent years has relied on foreign investment in second homes from Northern European countries and has seen a high increase in property prices, with the huge demand to have a second home in the sun. The result has seen developments all over Spain which maybe on hindsight has been a bit too optimistic, to go on at a continued rate.
To give and idea of the size of challenge with Spanish property here are some statistics:
Last Year 40% of all real estate agents closed
Property prices are expected to drop by 20% by 2009. (Many believe they already have)
Inflation is now running at 5.1%, compared with the UK at 3.8%
Spanish house sales dropped by over 34% this summer compared to last summer
New mortgages fell by 40%, compared to last year.
It is harder to determine house prices in Spain that other countries due to the process where the true value of a home is not declared at purchase to avoid paying tax on the purchase. Although a legal process it is very common, to the point that most solicitors offer this process.
It is not hard to understand that as many people are finding it harder to afford their first home, and so buying that second home is no longer an option. Even those who would have stretched their budgets, safe in the knowledge that the increase in the property price would be worth the risk, are now more humble about and return from an investment in Spain.
The Finance Minister for Spain has now admitted that they are facing their worse economic crisis ever with the property collapse, many others wonder how Spain ever thought the bubble would continue for ever and questioning why no contingency plan was put in place, or that a reduction in new properties was not planned earlier, at least giving a good chance of ready built homes maintaining their prices.
It is predicted that this current credit crunch will affect Spanish home prices until at least 2010, so new ideas are being considered to try and kick start the mortgage market again, although at this time nothing has been announced.
Although many can see the benefit to kick starting the mortgage industry and there are genuine potential borrowers who want to buy a family home rather than a second one, there are some who would question buying any property where there is no forecast of that homes value increasing, with even the possibility of negative equity.
So it is possible that the absence of mortgage may be protecting some people from buying a property that will just decrease in value, adding more pressure to an already difficult situation.
Of course the bolt on financial organizations are also feeling the squeeze. As homes remain unsold, so do the potential second home insurance policies that would normally be bought to project the investment. The credit card purchase for furniture and other essentials will also remain in the wallet and not deliver interest for banks and organizations.
Property like oil affects our spending habits, so until some confidence is regained, expect money pinching few years.