The Spanish region of Andalusia agreed to sell real estate to WP Carey for €300 million (HK$2.9 billion) in a sale-and-leaseback deal that is the largest-ever for public property in the country. The Andalusian regional government sold 70 buildings to a unit of New York-based WP Carey, according to a statement posted on its website. Andalusia will rent the properties back for €23.6 million annually over a 20-year period. Cash-strapped regional governments are raising money from the sale of public real estate as investors flock back to Spain after commercial and residential property prices dropped an average of 40 per cent following the market's crash in 2007. Investors spent €4.93 billion on commercial real estate assets in Spain last year, more than double the €2.32 billion invested in 2012, as the economy came out of its second recession since 2008 and prospects of a euro-currency breakup faded, data from brokerage CBRE Group showed. WP Carey's purchase showed interest had spread beyond the country's biggest cities, said Patricio Palomar, director of research and investment strategy at CBRE's Spanish unit. CBRE advised Andalusia on the transaction. "It's truly impressive the speed at which we are seeing a change in gear regarding investment in areas of Spain other than Madrid and Barcelona that are considered prime areas," Palomar said. The sale and leaseback is the country's biggest for government buildings in terms of both the number of properties and total space, at 2.8 million sqft, according to Palomar. Andalusia's regional government in 2011 hired BNP Paribas to sell the buildings. The sale was aborted as investors speculated that prices had not bottomed out. Total investment in Spanish real estate probably would reach €9 billion this year, CBRE estimated. About €10.1 billion was invested in commercial properties when the Spanish market last peaked in 2007.