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Rent in Spain falls for first time in six years amid pandemic

Rent across Spain slipped 0.2% in the second quarter from the preceding three months, the first price drop in six years as flats once destined for tourists flooded the residential market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Data released by online property portal Fotocasa on Thursday also showed rent in the Catalan capital of Barcelona fell 4.6%, while prices in other tourist hotspots Seville and Palma de Mallorca dropped 4.1% and 3.5% respectively.

In the capital Madrid, rent dropped in over three-quarters of the 17 districts analysed, while in the same period last year over half the districts presented increases in rent prices.

"We saw a 20% rise in the amount of properties advertised for rent in April and May, at the start of the confinement," Fotocasa communications director Anais Lopez told Reuters. "Everything indicates they used to be touristic."

Faced with the paralysis of domestic and foreign travel amid the pandemic, properties have migrated from websites like Airbnb and Booking.com used by holidaymakers to residential portals like Fotocasa and Idealista, Spain's largest portal.

Rent across Spain was still 9% higher than a year ago, however, and Lopez attributed the quarterly stumble to the mismatch between what touristic properties offer and what post-COVID-19 renters now demand.

"The 40% increase in use of the search term 'balcony' we saw in April carried through to May, and we've seen a sustained spike of interest in semi-detached houses, chalets, and places with gardens, outside the city centre," Ms Lopez said. "Touristic properties don't match that.” (Reuters)

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