May 13, 2020 / 11:01 AM / 15 days ago

Property transactions in Spain plummet 29% year-on-year in March

MADRID, May 13 (Reuters) - The number of property transactions in Spain slumped 29% in March from a year ago, data showed on Wednesday - the first official release on the real estate market for the month when Spain imposed its strict lockdown over the coronavirus.

The transactions covered by the National Statistics Institute data include inheritances, donations and sales, among others. The number of property sales alone registered in March fell by just over a fifth, compared to both the same month of 2019 and the previous month.

Spain is one of the world’s worst-hit countries by the pandemic, having declared its state of emergency, now in its ninth week, on March 14. The lockdown confined most of the population to their homes and severely crippled the economy.

It has started to relax restrictions since early May with a view to return to normality by the end of June, but the euro zone’s fourth-largest, tourism-dependent economy is expected to contract sharply this year - by almost 9.5% according to estimates by the European Commission.

The hardest-hit regions in terms of property sales were Madrid, Asturias, and Navarra, showing drops in March of 30.8%, 26.4%, and 26% respectively.

Following the state of emergency’s declaration, Spain’s Property Registers only attended to essential cases where delay might cause financial or patrimonial harm - and even then, only provided service via email or phone.

“What is very possible is that the fall we’ll see during the month of April will be heavier than in March, given that March benefited from two weeks of normality,” said Anaïs Lopez, communications director at Fotocasa, Spain’s second-largest property portal. (Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette; Editing by Andrei Khalip)

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