Spanish housing stock drops after lockdown-driven buying spree

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A woman cleans the windows of a house underneath Esteladas (Catalan separatist flags) hanging on balconies at Sant Jaume Square, a day before a meeting between the Catalan regional President Pere Aragones and the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain September 14, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

MADRID, Sept 21 (Reuters) - A rush to buy after the end of coronavirus lockdowns has reduced the stock of homes for sale in Spain's big cities by 4% over the past year, data from leading property advertising portal Idealista on Tuesday showed.

Madrid and the Mediterranean seaside town Valencia both saw their pool of homes for sale drop by 11%, while in the Andalusian tourism hubs of Seville and Malaga the available stock dropped by 6% and 5% respectively over the same period.

Pent-up demand during the first 9 months of 2020 meant that when the harshest coronavirus restrictions in Europe were lifted in September 2020, people rushed to buy homes.

Some Spaniards sought a change of scenery after being confined to their homes for extended periods, while a 6.6% rise in household saving during 2020, according to research by Spanish bank BBVA (BBVA.MC), meant they had more cash for deposits once restrictions eased.

Among the most striking drops in the availability of housing for sale was the northern city of Pamplona, famed for its San Fermin bull-running fiesta, which saw its stock plunge 28% from September 2020, the Idealista data shows.

Barcelona, where the local government established rent controls in September last year, was the only exception, with some 7% more homes for sale than 12 months ago.

"It could be related to the caps on rental prices - landlords might prefer not to rent out their properties and opt to sell them instead," a source with knowledge of Catalonia's real estate market told Reuters.

"There are 40% fewer properties available to rent in Barcelona now than a year ago," the source added.

Spanish property remains popular among foreign investors, with Britons making up around 12% of buyers, Moroccans nearly 9% and French and Germans 7%-8% in the first quarter of this year, data from the College of Registrars showed.

Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette; Editing by Alexander Smith

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