Archive for October, 2009
Britain has been designated the worst place to live in Europe, compared with nine other major countries, despite the fact that Brits earn by far the highest wages.
Life in sun-soaked Spain, where people retire earlier and live longer, was judged to be the best by researchers at uSwitch.com in the latest European Quality of Life index.
Earning 35,730 pounds ($56,410) a year on average, Brits are 10,000 pounds ($15,790) richer than their European neighbors, but that doesn’t translate into an easier life and they are getting a “raw deal” researchers concluded.
Shoppers in Britain pay higher prices for fuel, food, alcohol and cigarettes and receive poorer healthcare and education, the survey found.
“There is more to good living than money and this report shows why so many Brits are giving up on the UK and heading to France and Spain,” said Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com.
“We have lost all sense of balance between wealth and well-being,” she said.
British workers toil three years longer and die two years younger than their French counterparts.
The Spanish enjoy 2,665 hours of sunshine a year, compared with just 1,397 in Ireland and they pay five percent less taxes than their light-deprived Irish cousins.
The 10 major countries surveyed were ranked in the following order from best to worst quality of life: France, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Britain.
The Spanish house price index figures for September 2009 have just been released. See the graph and the table below for an up to date overview of the real estate market trend in Spain.
Residential Spanish property prices fell by 8.3% over 12 months to the end of September. Nationally, prices are not falling as fast as they were, which may mean the market has touched bottom. It certainly looks that way from the graph above.
Then again, this might just be a temporary pause before prices start accelerating downwards again. After all, thatâ€™s what has happened to property prices on the coast. After stabilising in July and August they lurched lower again in September, falling 11.5% over 12 months, the highest fall of all the regions analysed.
The graph and table data represent the year-on-year evolution of Spanish property values. For example, if the value for August 2009 would be -3.9, then this means that average property prices in August 2009 are 3.9% lower than they were a year earlier, in August 2008.
The graph and table data are based on actual property valuations, as established by one of Spain’s larget independent property valuation companies, Tinsa S.A. They are not based on asking prices or registered selling prices, nor on the statistics as provided by the Spanish Ministry of Housing, and are therefore considered to be the most acurate and reliable source for this kind of information.
Euribor (12 months), the interest rate normally used to calculate mortgage payments in Spain, fell 5.5% in September to a new record low of 1.261%. Euribor has now fallen for 12 consecutive months, and is 77% lower than it was a year ago.
Monthly repayments on the average annually-resetting mortgage (150,000 Euros, 30 years, Euribor +0.85%) will drop by around 435 Euros a month, or 4,150 Euros a year, to 555 Euros/month. However, many borrowers will not benefit thanks to clauses in their contracts that set a floor for interest rates.
There were 58,995 new residential mortgages signed in July, 19% less than a year ago, according to figures from the INE. In the first 7 months of the year new mortgages were down 30% compared to the same period last year.
The fall in new residential mortgages appears to be bottoming out (year-to-date in May -35%, -31% in June, and -30% in July). In value terms, new mortgage lending fell 34% to 6.7 billion Euros in July, or 41% in the first 7 months of the year.