Is it a good idea to buy or sell a house in Spain at the moment?

Some experts advise buyers to make offers if they have the available funds, while others say it's better to wait.

11 May 2020, Redaction

The impact of the health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the residential market hard: the way in which we buy, rent and sell property is changing and in general, the price of housing is currently frozen and most property sales are on hold. Some experts consulted by idealista/news assure that the recovery of the sector will not be in "V" form, rather more like "U", meaning that we will see "a slow recovery and a part of the transactions disappearing." Why? Because of the demand. A part of the demand will be affected by the impact on employment (such as ERTE (temporary lay offs) and job losses...), as warned Raymond Torres, director of Funcas, the Spanish Foundation of Savings Banks.

There will still be demand, although less of it. Experts say that now is a time for analysis and inflection. "Sellers, even if transactions are not possible, must continue to make their product known through the online showcase. At the same time, they can continue to inform customers so that they have all the necessary information, and resolve their doubts. It is a job already done for when the time comes to get things back to normal," states Luis Corral, the CEO of Foro Consultores Inmobiliarios, a company specialising in real estate marketing.

In the case of buyers, Corral assures that now they have an opportunity to see all the product available on the market online and that now is the time to analyse what they like the most and what they need. This is a process that requires time, time that people usually don't have. "Now is the time," he adds.

Other experts, such as Carlos Ruiz, director of studies at the IEE (Institute of Economic Studies), advise carrying out a widely used maxim in monetary policy: "wait and see". He adds that he thinks that "it's better to wait for the adjustment to be defined before making decisions, although the fall in prices may be a good opportunity for all those who have surplus liquidity and are looking to buy a house".

Gonzalo Bernardos, an economist and professor at the University of Barcelona, goes further and believes that now is the time for home buyers: in his opinion, this situation will only last for the rest of the year and adds that buyers are the ones who are setting the price right now. He even recommends "haggling over the price of a new home with the developer or getting a free parking space or storage room".

As for sellers, Bernardos advises not to lower the price, only 2% or 3% if necessary, unless the house is overvalued. In this case, the price should lowered due to the overvaluation and because of the arrival of the crisis.

Raymond Torres, from Funcas, recommends that sellers, if they can, hold out until the end of the year to sell. "Right now there is an overreaction in the market," he adds. As for buyers, he advises them to sell first before buying to avoid complicated situations. In his opinion, for those who are in a good financial position, the best time to buy is the end of this quarter or the beginning of the next (June or July).  

Mikel Echavarren, the CEO of Colliers Spain, believes that "the most reasonable recommendation in the current situation is to keep a cool head. To home buyers who have committed to new developments, my recommendation is for them to evaluate their economic capacity, their ability to save and the sustainability of family employment. In any case, if they have doubts about their future, I think the best decision should be to talk to the property developer and the bank to analyse solutions that will make their payment rates more flexible. If you panic, or make rash decisions, you are likely to lose some of your savings and additionally lose your dream home," he says.

The same recommendation applies to potential second-hand homebuyers: be prudent in your decision making and be motivated more by your financial ability than "by the possibility of getting bargains that you're probably not going to get".

"To home sellers, I can only recommend patience, being close to your customers, strengthening your marketing and sales teams, being more active in the market, and hanging in there," Echavarren notes.

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