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Spain house sales fall over 30 pct in Q1

Source: Reuters - Thu 9th Jun 2011

Spanish house sales fell by over 30% in the first quarter from a year ago, data showed on Wednesday, after tax breaks were removed at the end of 2010.

Data from the public works ministry showed 74,540 houses were sold in the first quarter, down 30.4% on the same quarter in 2010. In a rush to take advantage of tax breaks on interest payments for homes bought before end-2010, more than 75,000 homes were sold in December alone, the ministry said.

For the full year from the end of the first quarter 2010 to Mar. 31, 2011, house sales fell 1.6%.

Spain's construction sector collapsed in late 2007, sending house sales and prices into a prolonged decline.

Analysts say the market will adjust further given weak domestic demand, high levels of indebtedness and unemployment, and an overhang of unsold houses which the Bank of Spain estimates at around 1 million.

According to a European Union Commission report on Spain published on Tuesday, 6.7 million houses were built between 1996 and 2009, while house prices were overvalued by between 15-20% depending on the indicator and model used.

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