Spanish banks seized 40,000 homes in 2012

Banks seized nearly 40,000 homes in Spain last year due to unpaid mortgages, official data showed Friday, as a sharp economic downturn and record unemployment took its toll.

A total of 39,167 homes were seized in 2012, the Bank of Spain said in a bulletin based on a survey of lenders which approve over 85 percent of mortgages in the country.

It is the first time the central bank has published figures on the number of homes seized by banks.

The Bank of Spain plans to publish the figure each semester from now on.

The vast majority of homes seized last year, 32,490, were considered primary dwellings, with the rest either secondary residences used as holiday properties or rented out.

Over half of the primary dwellings seized last year, or 18,325, were handed over voluntarily while in 14,165 cases lenders had to go to court to gain control of the property.

The jump in evictions has soared to the top of the political agenda due to a series of suicides by people who were about to be thrown out of their homes and television images of weeping families forced out on the street.

It has also sparked a protest movement which sends activists to block the entrance to homes of people about to be evicted in order to prevent police from forcibly removing them from their homes.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government has introduced several measures to help struggling families remain in their homes.

However, it has refused to bow to campaigners' demands to change Spain's mortgage laws to allow defaulters' debts to be erased if they turn in the keys to their home.

Under Spanish law most people still have to pay off their mortgage debt even after eviction.

Spain is grappling with a double-dip recession caused by the collapse of a property bubble in 2008 which has caused the unemployment rate to soar to a record 27 percent.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Spain to give young mid-income earners €250 monthly rental allowance 

Spain’s Prime Minister announced on Tuesday his government will launch a housing scheme whereby 18 to 35 year olds who earn below €23,725 gross per year will be able to get a monthly discount of €250 off their rent.

Spain to give young mid-income earners €250 monthly rental allowance 
The average Spaniard leaves the nest at 29.5 years of age. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez made the announcement during an Urban Affairs Forum in the southern city of Seville, referring to it as a “special plan” aimed at ensuring the emancipation of young people in the country.

“We’re going to create a youth housing benefit of €250 per month for the next two years which will benefit young people between 18 and 35 years old with incomes below €23,725,” Sánchez stated, meaning that these tenants will be able to claim a maximum of €6,000 in total.

The most vulnerable families will receive extra state aid to cover “up to 40 percent” of their monthly rent.

The income limit of €23,725 gross earnings a year amounts to wages of around €1,500 net a month. 

According to a September survey by Spanish property engine Fotocasa, 62 percent of under 35s in Spain face financial obstacles when buying or renting a property.

“We’re going to allocate a public policy specifically to reduce the age of emancipation which is so unbearably high in our country, so that young people can have access to decent rental housing,” Spain’s PM explained. 

The average Spaniard leaves the nest at 29.5 years of age, the sixth latest bloomers in Europe, where the average age of emancipation is 26.2 years old.

Sánchez’s announcement comes just as the Spanish left-wing coalition government of PSOE and Unidas Podemos have agreed on Spain’s Housing Budget for 2022, although the new legislation still has to be approved by the Spanish Cabinet. 

This is likely to include new measures aimed at placing price caps on rentals in Spain, based on a price index put together by Spain’s Ministry of Transport and Urban Affairs.