Average house prices in Europe down with some countries doing better than others

House prices in the Euro area fell by 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2012 and by 0.7% in the European Union, the latest figures to be published show.

On an annual basis prices in the Euro area are down by 1.8% and in the EU by 1.4%, the figures from Eurostat, the leading provider of high quality statistics on Europe.
Among the Member States for which data is available, the highest annual increases in house prices in the fourth quarter of 2012 were recorded in Latvia where prices increased by 9.8%, followed by Estonia where prices climbed 5.8% and Malta with price growth of 5.4%.

The largest prices falls for the year were in Spain with prices falling 12.8%, followed by Romania where prices were down 9.1%, and Slovenia with prices down 8.8%.

The highest quarterly increase in the fourth quarter of 2012 was in Latvia with prices up 4.2%, Malta with growth of 2.1% and Luxembourg up 1.6%. The largest quarterly fall was in Romania with prices tumbling 7.9%, followed by Slovenia with a fall of 3.5% and Hungary with prices down 2.2%.

Prices are not published for Greece which has been the hardest hit by the current economic downturn in the eurozone, or for Cyprus which is the latest to request a bank bailout. In these cases country data is estimated by Eurostat using data from non harmonised sources and although they are not published but are used to calculate euro area and EU aggregates.

Other countries where prices have fallen considerably include the Netherlands where prices are down 6.1% on an annual basis. But the price fall seems to have moderated with the country recording price falls of just 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the previous quarter.

Similarly, in Ireland the price declines have been moderating. In the first three months of 2012 prices were down 16.3% on an annual basis but that moderated to just 4.5% in the final quarter of the year. The quarterly figures show that prices fell just 1.5% in the third quarter compared with the second quarter and there was no change in the final three months of 2012.

Even although Spain has suffered the largest annual fall in prices that is also slowing. At the start of 2012 the quarterly price fall was 5% but by the end of the year it was just 1.4%.

Prices are also steadying in Portugal with prices falls of 2.4% in the second quarter of 2012 declining to 0.9% in the third quarter and 1.1% in the fourth quarter.

In contrast, Italy is seeing prices fall steadily. In the first three months of 2012 prices were down 0.6% compared with the previous quarter, down 0.8% in the second quarter, down 1.7% in the third quarter and down 1.6% in the fourth quarter. On an annual basis prices are down 4.6%.

In the UK prices have increased overall on an annual basis by 2.3%, remaining pretty much steady throughout 2012.