Sunday, March 30, 2008

Here I go again: another uninvited harangue

Those of you who know me in real life know that there is one theme I love to complain about above all other things: access to housing in Spain.

A bit of background: my husband and I have spent the last two and a half years oscillating between looking for a home to buy and looking for an unfurnished, nicer-than-current-house rental. Basically, we started to look for something to buy - got completely fed up with the whole thing after seeing that we could not afford anything we wanted to live in, then decided to rent. Once we started searching for a rental, we realized that rental prices had skyrocketed so much that it almost seemed more worth it to buy, so we stopped the rental search and started the purchase search again. And so the cycle has gone over and over again and we are finally back on looking for a rental again. And I am exhausted.

I have no idea what it is like in the rest of the world (aside from the U.S. which I think we can all agree is in crisis), but let me just say one thing about Spain in this regard: THIS BITES. In Spain average HOUSEHOLD income in 2007 was 23,400€ according to this article in El Mundo, and the average 80 square meter flat costs 190,000 euros to buy and 880€ to rent (according to Tasamadrid.com average per meter housing prices are 2374.61€ for Seville and according to idealista.com rental prices are at 11€ per square meter per month in Seville). To give you some visual examples, here is what you can buy if you are really well-to-do for 296,000€:



Here is the link if you are interested in purchasing it, as you can see, it is only missing a few small finishing touches, such as walls, and is practically "para entrar".

If that is a little out of your price range, consider this bargain, which is much cozier anyway (listed here on idealista.com):

95.000 euros, 15.807.000 pta
estudio de 9 m² exterior
bajo
1 wc
10.556 euros/m²

For that low mortgage payment, hell, I could get used to living in 96 square feet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (9 square meters).

If buying is not your cup of tea and you would rather wait, like me, to see if prices get better, you could choose to rent. Imagine cooking in a spacious, state of the art kitchen like this one in this home for just 420€/month:



Imagine the convenience of being able to wash your pots and pans WHILE you are cooking in them over your camp stove.

Please can someone explain how this makes any sense?????? And can someone also please explain the logic of "prices are never going to go down" that I have been listening to ad-nauseam for the last three years???????????

I am sorry but I know I am a real Debbie-Downer to some when I say that this situation cannot sustain itself and housing prices ARE dropping and I think they have a long way to go still. I am very sorry for all of the people that invested in real estate or those who had their hearts set on retiring a millionaire just by selling the crappy flat they owned.

But, alas, maybe I am wrong. I present you with the alternative, albeit sarcastically, a bit of humor I found in an anecdote someone posted on burbuja.info (a real estate "conspiracy theorist" website I like to hang out):

(Sorry if you don´t speak Spanish):

"Pues no, la vivienda nunca bajará. Mirad lo que explica un viajero del futuro:


Me he decidido a coger mi máquina del tiempo y contaros como van las cosas por el futuro:

Afortunadamante no se han cumplido las previsiones de tantos agoreros burbujistas y la vivienda en España ha seguido subiendo un 17% anual durante los últimos 50 años, de este modo nos hemos convertido en el país mas rico del mundo, porque por ejemplo un ático en la castellana cuesta mas que el estado de California y el palacio imperial de Tokio juntos; claro que ya nadie vive en la Castellana ni en ningún otro sitio de Madrid, por que esas casas son para invertir y no para vivir.

Yo por ejemplo aunque trabajo en Madrid me he comprado un piso de 40 metros la mar de apañao en un pueblo del Norte de Burgos, que con la autovía queda a un paso; para pagar la hipoteca nos hemos juntado con otras tres familias: un notario casado con una catedrática de universidad, un subinspector de hacienda casado con una abogada del estado y un magistrado del supremo (subcontratado a traves de una ett) casado con una arquitecta. De este modo destinamos cinco sueldos a la hipoteca y uno para vivir; estamos contentisimos con la compra porque aunque al principio nos está costando un poco luego seguro que ni se nota, además desde que lo compramos hace un año ya ha subido un 17% y por si fuera poco la mujer del notario esta de buena que lo flipas.

Aunque profesionamente no me va mal (soy director general adjunto de una multinacional, aunque también subcontratado a traves de una ett) la verdad es que la inflación que sufrimos al ser el país mas rico del mundo hace que nos tengamos que apretar un poco el cinturón; de todos modos es cuestión de acostumbrarse, cuando tuvimos que empezar a comer chopped de lagartijas todos nos quejamos y ahora se le da vuelta y vuelta en la plancha y tan rico que queda. De cualquier forma, aprovechando que han bajado la edad laboral a los 10 años a ver si saco al churumbel del colegio y lo meto en la ett, que un sueldo mas seguro que ayuda para la hipoteca.

Mi sueldo es de 2.000 tochos netos, el tocho es la moneda que sustituyo al euro cuando nos echaron de la UE a patadas (que fea y que mala es la envidia) y se cotiza a un centimo de euro. En la caja fuerte del banco de españa ya no se guardan lingotes sino ladrillos, que en este país han demostrado ser un valor mucho mas seguro y rentable que el oro.

Tras las guerras atómicas provocadas por los propietarios de vpo de andalucía la población ha quedado reducida a 5 millones de españoles y 50 millones de ecuatorianos trabajando de paletas, se han seguido construyendo 800.000 viviendas anuales (la construcción supone ya el 98% del PIB) y ahora tocamos a unas 20 viviendas por habitante (casi todas vacías porque como dije son viviendas para invertir, no para vivir) . El 90% del suelo esta ya urbanizado y se plantea empezar a construir ciudades en el fondo del mar (no se puede vivir en el fondo del mar, así que serían ciudades solamente para invertir) . Esto es lo que en el mundo se conoce y admira como "el milagro español" y es objeto de numerosos estudios y tesis doctorales en el campo de la psiquiatría. Cada año nos visitan miles de estudiosos de la mente humana de todo el mundo. No me extrañaría que muchos de esos científicos se quedasen porque la verdad es que como en España no se vive en ningún sitio.

Y eso es todo lo que os puedo contar de lo que os espera; voy a ver si cazo unas lagartijas para cenar

Viajero del futuro"


I hope you laughed as much as I did, if not cried.

- Bluestreak

7 comments:

Catherine Nelson-Pollard said...

Uninvited harangue maybe, but v. interesting.

Try purchasing a property here in Switzerland. We are in our seventh year of renting/ pouring money down the drain, but as an average apartment costs over a million francs (£450,000+) then you understand the dilemma.
Thanks for linking to me. Hi from a drizzly Suisse. (How did you come across me btw?)

Bluestreak said...

Hi from sunny (for now) Spain, Catherine. I don´t recall how I came across your blog, but I like it!

Wow, and I thought our prices were bad! I understand, however, that there in Switzerland there is a culture of renting (and I can see why), that doesn´t exist, or I should say hasn´t existed here. My rental search is not going well, mainly because THERE ARE NO RENTALS, and if you chance upon a good one, it is usually so daintily furnished by a 75 year old. Huge culture here of buying your own home. People are afraid to rent because of damages, renters not paying, etc.

Nice to hear from you!

La Gatita Gringa said...

Personally I like the 50-year mortgages you can get - which I assume that you have to be under 30 to be eligible for.

kate said...

Ugh. We were lucky to get in when it was still possible (we bought our home in 2000, I think it was) but I don't know what we would do if we were looking now. Though I think you are right, prices are falling, and since it's harder to get a mortgage now, buyers are fewer. Hopefully you will find something affordable soon!

By the way, my high school sports teams (not MY teams-- I didn't play sports) were called the Blue Streaks...

Mamacita Chilena said...

hahaha, hilarious! love it!

it's definitely not that bad in Chile. in fact, rent is one of the few things in this city that's actually affordable. I can never get over how cheap it is.

Bluestreak said...

I can only DREAM about what I could have afforded five years ago with the same salary I have now (even accounting for inflation). My husband and I used to rent a beautiful apartment on c/ Sierpes which is in the best part of town, with views of the cathedral, 5 balconies off to the street, hard wood floors....400€/month we paid and that was outrageous at the time. I used to compare it to prices at home and say "Damn this is the good life". Not anymore!

campo di fragole said...

Hi, I lived in Seville for 5 years and my English husband spent almost 15 years there.... we moved up to North of Spain because we finally understood or convinced ourself that there was no way for us to buy something there and for me was impossible even to find a job... Now after 2 years here in Girona I did find a job but the chance to buy a house is still very far. For a "ruina" here they ask for 300.000 euros! Spanish people are prepared to do a mortgage of 40 years and now I'm starting to hear about 50 years mortgage.... then if you consider the bad quality construction they do....