Here we take a close look at the state of the Spanish real estate market and the relationship between the property portals that operate within it.
State of the Market
Between 1998 and 2007, the real estate market was a major driving force for the Spanish economy, with house prices generally increasing by over 10 percent per year. At the start of 2008, the real estate sector’s contribution to Spain’s GDP reached a remarkable 19 percent.
“Much of this growth came in the new builds sector,” explains Javier Hernandez, country manager for real estate search engine Nestoria in Spain. “Unfortunately, and like in several other European countries, 2008 was a tough year for developers overall. Big and small groups like Martinsa-Fadesa, Llanera, Colonial and Tremon went bankrupt. Others were able to get more time and re-negotiate the terms of the loans they were struggling with.”
Hernandez explains that Spain’s total number of real estate transactions decreased by 38 percent in 2008 compared to August 2007, but adds that the decrease in house prices was not as dramatic as in the US.
According to data from Spain’s Ministry of Housing, just 80,320 private apartments were built in 2009, down from 665,000 in 2006. Despite this decrease, there was still a market surplus, with around 700,000 empty apartments on the Spanish market at the end of 2009.
While Spain has several large real estate agencies such as Alfa, RE/MAX and Don Piso, overall the market remains fragmented. Small, local agents are very important in the industry.
Online Market Structure
World Bank figures show Spain had a population of just under 46 million people in 2009. According to comScore data from January 2011, Schibsted-owned property portal fotocasa.es led the Spanish market in terms of unique visitors with a total of 1,571,000 for the month. fotocasa.es was closely followed by idealista.com, which had a total of 1,357,000.
The gap between these top two players and number three player pisos.com is not insubstantial – pisos.com saw 865,000 unique visitors for the month. The complete top 20 list for January 2011 by unique visitor numbers is below:
1. fotocasa.es: 1,571,000
2. idealista.com: 1,357,000
3. pisos.com: 865,000
4. yaencontre.com: 798,000
5. Trovit Spain Homes: 632,000
6. enalquiler.com: 569,000
7. Nestoria Spain: 429,000
8. globaliza.com: 426,000
9. tucasa.com: 376,000
10. habitaclia.com: 316,000
11. portae.com: 278,000
12. nuroa.es: 253,000
13. mitula.com – Pisos: 227,000
14. servihabitat.com: 186,000
15. Facilisimo Casas: 160,000
16. enzo.es: 159,000
17. comprovendopisocasa.com: 133,000
18. inmobiliaria.com: 125,000
19. miparcela.com: 106,000
20. ventadepisos.com: 103,000
According to Hernandez, the three years since 2008 have seen a few portals – particularly pisos.com and yaencontre.com - begin investing nationwide, challenging the historical tier one players’ dominance.
“As you can see from the list above the Spanish market has many different portals competing,” says Hernandez. ”Agents typically list on several portals, and sellers list their property with several agents. In addition portals accept FSBO listings (usually for free).”
Hernandez adds that this listing environment often results in duplication of listings, as well as agents choosing not to publish exact property addresses for fear of other agents “stealing” the listing.
Montse Yélamos, editor for Spanish rentals portal enalquiler.com, recommends inmodiario.com as a good source of information on the current real estate market in Spain.