MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish house sales in April surpassed 2019 levels, official data showed on Tuesday, a sign the property market is not just recovering from last year's slump but is hotter than before COVID-19 struck.
Data from Spain's College of Registrars, who underwrite real estate transactions, showed that April's house sales were 3.1% higher than in 2019, and 91% higher than in the same period last year, a near-doubling of activity from Spain's first full month under lockdown.
The number of mortgages taken out on homes shot up by 31.5% over the year as buyers sought to change homes or refinance to make the most of unusually low interest rates. Compared with April 2019, residential mortgages were up 8.8%, the data showed.
Spain has sought to reopen itself to both business and travel in recent weeks, emboldened by its accelerating vaccination campaign and ebbing coronavirus infections, with policies allowing pent-up investor demand to find an outlet.
Overall real estate transactions - rather than just residential sales - grew 9.3% compared to April 2019, the registrar data showed.
Intensifying economic activity and high demand for bigger, brighter and greener homes appears to have pushed prices up too, with property surveyors Tinsa reporting a 1.3% rise in house prices in May year-on-year.
Spain's islands and Mediterranean coast experienced the sharpest price rises, Tinsa said.
(Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette; Editing by Nathan Allen and David Gregorio)