Foreigners living in Spain made 9,502 housing transactions during the second quarter of this year, a growth of 12 percent with respect to the same period in 2011 and the largest number of such transactions since four years ago, when 11,130 were registered.

Despite the fact that the number of transactions has increased for four consecutive quarters, the number of operations continues to be far below the almost 30,000 that were registered, for example, in the second quarter of 2006.

And it needs to be kept in mind that in the present economic circumstances the number of foreigners registered in Spain is below the figure four years ago.

The number of foreigners living in Spain in 2011 was about 5.7 million with the registered number falling by 40,447 people, or 0.7 percent.

In addition, another factor explaining the rise in transactions among foreigners in Spain is the fall in the price of free housing, which in the second quarter dropped 8.3 percent to 1,606.4 euros (about $2109) per square meter (10.56 square feet, i.e. about $200 per square foot), which is about the level at the close of 2004.

In contrast to the maximum values registered in 2008 before the real estate bubble burst, and according to data from the Ministry of Development, the sales of homes by foreigners living in Spain reached an historic minimum in the first quarter of 2009, when just 5,036 transactions occurred.

By location, the majority of the sales occurring in the second quarter were in southern and central Spain, including Andalusia (1,676), Valencia (3,114) and Catalonia (1,615), as well as in the Canary Islands (1,173).

Meanwhile, the fewest number of transactions occurred in the northern region of Cantabria (15), in the autonomous enclave cities on the North African coast of Ceuta and Melilla (16) and in Extremadura in west-central Spain (18).

The investment made by foreigners to date in acquiring real estate in Spain during the year's first three months rebounded 2.5 percent compared to a year earlier to $1.163 billion euros ($1.53 billion).

According to the latest figures from the Banco de España, this figure - the largest expenditure since the second quarter of 2011 - contrasts with the downward trend for investment by foreigners in real estate abroad, which declined about 50 percent to 95 million euros ($125 million). EFE