STAFF REPORTER PALMA

HOUSE sales in the Balearics last year were more than a third down on figures for 2008 but picked up dramatically in the final two months, the National Institute of Statistics (INE) reported yesterday.

The Institute's research confirmed that there were 8'147 house sales closed in the Balearics in 2009, 34 percent less than in 2008. This is noticeably worse than last year's national average slump which stood at 24 percent down on sales registered in 2008.

Nevertheless, as the year went on the market picked up and by November, the year-on-year comparison was down by only 13.3 percent and in December, sales climbed to the point where they were only 5.6 percent behind those of the same month in 2008. Across Spain too, the housing market was looking much better with November sales last year registering just 2.6 percent behind those for 2008 and in December, the decline was even less - just 0.3 percent behind the same month in 2008.

Put into perspective, sales completed last year were less than half those registered in 2007 when 20'498 houses were sold in the Balearics amidst the property boom.

Looking just at figures for December 2009, there were 698 homes sold in the Balearics that month, slightly down on November when 710 transactions were completed. All buying and selling property deals in the Islands last year, including land and commercial buildings, numbered 40'913 compared to 52'861 which took place in 2008. In Spain as a whole, last year's decline in the housing market was most noticeable in second hand homes. The slump of sales in this sector was 29.1 percent down on the previous year and in terms of new property down 20.6 percent.