The data also shows that new home sales were down 8% from a year earlier and second hand homes up by 16% which could be good news for those who have been unable to sell.
Meanwhile, the latest figures from the General Council of Notaires shows a sharp rise in the number of Chinese buyers in Spain, suggesting that they are responding to the golden visa rules which grant citizenship to non European Union nationals who invest a minimum of €500,000 in real estate.
Looking at non-resident demand for Spanish property in the first quarter of this year broken down by nationality, and comparing it to the same time last year, Chinese demand increased by 666%.
The next best performer in terms of non-resident demand growth since the Spanish Golden Visa scheme came into force last year was the United States with an increase of 143%.
The only other country with an increase of more than 100% was Argentina, up 115% to 28 sales, once again starting from a very low base.
Big increases in purchases by non-residents from countries outside the EU are likely to be driven by golden visa buyers.