House sales statistics
Data extracted on 12 July 2021
Planned article update: 14 October 2021
In the first quarter of 2021, when compared to the first quarter of 2020, the number of housing transactions increased in 9 out of the 11 EU countries covered.
This article covers changes in the total number and value of dwellings (both new and existing houses and apartments) sold to households. Quarterly and annual figures on the number of housing transactions are presented for a subset of EU Member States that provided data covering at least the period from 2018 to the first quarter of 2021. Annual figures on the total value of transactions are presented together with house prices for the euro area.
Quarterly and annual number of housing transactions: annual changes
In the first quarter of 2021, when compared to the same quarter of 2020, the number of housing transactions increased in 9 out of the 11 EU countries covered. Decreases were only observed in Slovenia (-11.2 %) and Ireland (-6.9 %).
In the second and third quarters of 2020, when compared with the same quarters of 2019, the number of housing transactions declined in most EU countries covered. In particular, in the second quarter of 2020, when lock-down measures due to COVID-19 were particularly strict in many EU countries, 9 countries recorded a decline of more than 10 %. The highest annual decreases in that quarter were recorded in Ireland (-40.3 %), Slovenia (-38.6 %), Bulgaria (-28.3 %), Portugal (-21.6 %) and Luxembourg (-20.3 %).
Annual increases were recorded for each of the four quarters of 2020 only in Denmark and the Netherlands, whereas only Belgium and Slovenia recorded annual decreases in each of the four quarters. In the second and third quarters of 2020, the largest annual decreases were recorded in Ireland (respectively -40.3 % and -32.5 %). In the fourth quarter of 2020, in 7 out of 11 countries, the number of housing transactions was larger than in the same quarter of 2019.
In Belgium, taxes for mortgages were changed in January 2020; this may explain, at least partially, the annual increase of 40 % in housing transactions in the fourth quarter of 2019, followed by an annual decrease of 29.3 % in the first quarter of 2020. The annual increase of 54.1 % in the first quarter of 2021 is also related to the very low numbers in the first quarter of 2020.
In 2020, the number of housing transactions decreased in several EU countries compared to 2019 despite a continued upwards trend in house prices. This drop in the number of transactions comes after an increase in nearly all of those countries in 2019 compared to 2018. Data on number of housing transactions are available for 13 EU countries.
The largest decreases in the number of transactions in 2020 were recorded in Cyprus (-23.3 %), Slovenia (-17.5 %), Belgium (-17.4 %) and Ireland (-16.4 %). Three countries recorded an increase in the number of housing transactions: Finland (+7.7 %), the Netherlands (+10.0 %) and Denmark (+20.1 %).
The drop in the number of transaction can be linked to COVID-19 lockdown measures, in particular in the second quarter of 2020, which included a temporary suspension of real estate activity.
When considering the quarterly number of housing transactions between 2015 and 2020, seasonal patterns could be observed among the 12 EU countries represented in the graph below (Figure 3). The number of housing transactions is the highest in the second or third quarters in 4 countries (Denmark, France, Hungary and Finland), and in the fourth quarter in 7 countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia). In 9 of the 12 countries covered, the first quarter of the year shows the lowest number of housing transactions.
Annual value of housing transactions and house prices: changes
The total value of housing transactions is equal to the sum of the transaction prices of all houses sold in the respective period. As shown in Figure 4, between 2012 and 2017, changes in the total value in the euro area outscored significantly the changes in house prices. This suggests that, in the years when prices decreased, less dwellings were sold; and when prices increased, more dwellings were sold. This amplification mechanism was particularly visible in 2012, when prices decreased by -2.1 % and the value of transactions by -14.5 %, and in 2017, when prices increased by 4.3 % and the value of transactions by 15.3 %. In 2018, and to a lesser extent in 2019, increases in house prices were just slightly lower than increases in the total value of transactions, suggesting a low increase in the number of transactions. In 2020, House prices increased significantly by 5.2 % which is the highest increase since 2006 (+7 %) whereas the value of transactions decreased by 1.3 % suggesting a significant decrease of the number of transactions in the euro area linked to COVID-19 lock-down measures (see also figure 2 above).
Source data for tables and graphs
House sales statistics are sent by Member States to Eurostat on a voluntary basis. This explains why only a subset of EU countries send their data to Eurostat.
Depending on the tables, between 13 and 21 EU Member States, as well as the EFTA country Norway and the United Kingdom, report data. It is expected that progressively more and more country data will become available.
Annual and quarterly tables reflecting the number and value of housing transactions are available:
Due to missing countries, the EU (EU-27) and euro area aggregates are not available in the online tables with house sales statistics, but for the purpose of this publication, in Figure 3, the change in the total annual value of housing transactions for the euro area has been estimated based on data available from 15 countries representing 70 % of the euro area GDP in 2019 (GDP at market price expressed in purchasing power standards as available in table NAMA_10_GDP).
Figure 3 also shows, for the euro area, the annual rate of change of house prices available in table PRC_HPI_A.
Statistics on house sales and house prices sent by countries cover the same statistical universe: namely the transactions of new and existing dwellings (apartments and houses) where the buyer is a household.
In addition to house price statistics, house sales statistics are important to policy makers to have a more complete picture of the residential real estate market.
- Statistics Explained article: Housing price statistics - house price index
- House price and sales index (PRC_HPI_INX)
- House sales index of number of transactions (2015=100) - annual data (PRC_HPI_HSNA)
- House sales index of number of transactions (2015=100) - quarterly data (PRC_HPI_HSNQ)
- House sales index of value of transactions (2015=100) - annual data (PRC_HPI_HSVA)
- House sales index of value of transactions (2015=100) - quarterly data (PRC_HPI_HSVQ)
- See national metadata: House price and sales index (ESMS metadata file — prc_hpi_inx_esms)
House sales statistics are sent by countries to Eurostat on a voluntary basis.