MADRID, Feb 15 (Reuters) - House sales in Spain tumbled 18% in 2020, the National Statistics Institute said on Monday, with tourist hotspots like the Balearic and Canary Islands hardest-hit amid the economic hardships caused by COVID-19.
A months-long home confinement last spring as well as restrictions on regional and global travel delivered hard blows to Spain's real estate market, which had only recently begun to recover from a crash in 2008.
Around 415,000 houses were sold in 2020, the lowest number in four years, while property transactions fell to lows not seen since 2011, though pent-up demand drove a modest recuperation in the second half.
"Once the confinement began winding down, house sales grew," said a spokeswoman for online property portal Fotocasa on Monday. "The dynamism registered in the second half of the year meant sales data recovered rapidly, despite ending the year in the red."
Regions blessed with beaches, plentiful natural space or a low population density like La Rioja, Galicia and Cantabria saw house sales soar between 37% and 28% in December compared with the same month in 2019, as buyers fled the cities seeking the green outdoors - and a lower infection risk. [nL8N2HR658
The Balearic and Canary Islands, two archipelagos favoured by tourists and international investors, respectively lost 20% and 17% of their house sales volume in 2020 as local hospitality sectors suffered a coronavirus-induced paralysis.
The data also showed new-build, single-family properties equipped with terraces and gardens held up better against the downwars trend, as buyers sought to protect themselves from contagion and improve their quality of life in the face of remote working and future lockdowns. (Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette Editing by Nathan Allen and Angus MacSwan)
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