Spanish property: Foreign buyers vs local buyers

Spain’s property market continues to recover, as international demand grows.

The 2015 Statistical Yearbook from the Registration of Real Estate Association of Registrars highlights just how important interest from overseas has become in building the market’s positive momentum: foreign investors now make up 13.2 per cent of all transactions, significantly up from 4.2 per cent in 2009 and the seventh year of growth in a row.

But where are overseas investors buying? And how does that differ to local house-hunters?

We map the data from the Registration of Real Estate Association of Registrars to chart the impact that overseas investors are having upon the country’s market.

Foreign buyers are thought to be attracted primarily to tourist hotspots, both because of their familiarity as holiday home destinations and their potential for rental income. The registrars’ data confirms that to a striking degree: foreign buyers accounted for more than one in three sales in the Balearic Islands (35.6 per cent) in 2015, followed by three in 10 in the Canary Islands (28.1 per cent). Buyers made up one-quarter (26.37 per cent) of all sales in the Valencian Community – home to the Costa Blanca – making it the third most popular region in the country.

The figures are dramatically different for local buyers. While Spanish house-hunters still buy property in the Valencian Community (they make up 73.63 per cent of sales), they dominate in areas such as Galicia (99.39 per cent of sales) and Extremadura (99.19 per cent).

The figures also highlight the importance of Golden Visas, which now make up one in 20 foreign sales, similar to 2014, but up 4.7 per cent from 2013. 38 per cent of Golden Visa buyers were from outside of the EU, however, down from 44.9 per cent in 2014. The Balearics again stand out as the most sought-after market among these wealthier buyers (eligible properties must be bought for at least €500,000), with the islands responsible for 16 per cent of sales.

The contrast in the two buyer demographics can be seen by switching between the two layers on our new map, highlighting the strong preference international investors have for coastal locations:

With Spanish property sales accelerating in the sunny Costas and the Balearics, how will that impact the market’s recovery away from tourist hotspots?