Comparing the same data for the latest three months of January - all showing elevated numbers of sales because of end-of-year changes to the tax treatment of residences (and keeping in mind that registry documents are released one to two months after the sale takes place), we come up with the above chart.
Incorporating the INE's mortgage value figures, we can also take a (very) wild-eyed guess as to how much extra cash has been devoted to keeping Spanish house sales nearly perfectly flat over the last 13 months, despite economic conditions.
1). Average mortgage value is a suitable proxy for home prices
2). Mortgages are, on average, for 80 percent of house valueThe 45 billion euros that may have been spent on home purchases in the period have been 33 percent cash funded - that's 14.4 billion euros.
The easy conclusion to be drawn here is that the desire to own a first, second or third home is overpowering a limited interest in extending credit on the part of banks - especially if it involves a home not owned by themselves. But that doesn't quite wash. It might be better to think of this as a side effect of Spain's banking and economic crisis and its influence on Spaniards' normally far from deep natural faith in the value of money.
Because of reporting lags and the Easter break, we won't really get a bead on this until summer, but the recently enacted 'solution' to the Cypriot banking disaster may in fact prove to be a boon to the Spanish real estate sector. Most analysts expect home sales to decrease notably in 2013, by the way. If they don't, you'll know why.
As an aside, most outsiders would say that all this is attributable to money laundering. I'm not convinced of that this late in the game - especially after having witnessed (neither as a principal nor an agent) a couple of transactions recently in which all was, surprisingly - especially considering the characters involved, completely above board. Perhaps it's still a factor in rural land deals, but with the banks being the major players in the residential market pricing has become very transparent.