17 July 2017 – Economía Digital
Foreigners are buying more homes than ever in Spain. Last year saw a new historical high, with more than 53,000 purchases by overseas buyers, despite a decline in acquisitions by the Brits and the French and a stagnation in purchases by the Germans. Instead, the Swedes have arrived and with them, Swedish real estate companies.
Swedes have risen to fourth position in the ranking of house purchases by foreigners. In its latest statistical annual, the College of Property Registrars in Spain highlights that overseas buyers are showing the “greatest strength”. According to the annual, Britons continue to occupy first place in the ranking, accounting for 19% of total sales to foreigners, although that figure has decreased with respect to 2015 (21.3%). They are paying for the effects of Brexit. The French have also lost strength, to account for 8.05% of the total, compared to 8.72% a year earlier. The Germans remained at 7.69%, just a few tenths more than in the previous year. By contrast, the Swedes increased their share to 6.72% from 5.89% a year earlier, which means that they purchased almost 4,000 homes in 2016.
When analysing this data, it is worth taking into account the demographic weight of the respective countries. Sweden had a population of 10 million in January, whilst Germany has a population of 82 million, France 67 million and Great Britain 58 million. And so, although the population is much smaller, Swedes are buying almost as many homes in Spain as the Germans and French.
The strength of the krona compared to the euro
Sources at the Swedish agencies attribute this interest in Spain to several reasons: the exorbitant prices of properties in their own country; the strength of the krona with respect to the euro; the desire of their compatriots to own a second home near a sunny beach; and, also, the publicity campaigns being carried out.
The most well-known of the Swedish real estate companies is Fastighetsbyrán, which forms part of the Swedbank group, the country’s main bank. It has a dozen franchises in Spain. Its CEO, Daniel Nilsson, said that it sold 1,050 homes in Spain to Swedish compatriots last year for a total amount of €250 million. Its market share in the housing segment for Swedes in Spain is almost 25%.
In terms of location, Swedes concentrate their purchases along the coasts in the south of the peninsula – preferably between the province of Alicante to the Portuguese Algarve – as well as in the Canary and Balearic Islands. (…). Investment funds have also arrived, such as Catella, which is headquartered in Stockholm and which last year closed four operations amounting to €84 million: two residential buildings in Madrid, another one in Barcelona and a retail park in Vinaroz (Castellón)
The Swedish real estate companies are unique in that the vast majority of the personnel and clients of the franchised offices come from the same country. (…).
The second largest Swedish real estate company in terms of sales is Bjurfors, with half a dozen franchises in Spain. From their offices in Marbella, they explain that they are open to clients from everywhere, but they acknowledge that, for the time being, all of their clients are Scandinavian, and most of them are Swedish.
Homes with sunny terraces
All of the employees consulted agreed that there is increasingly more demand. Scandinavian clients want homes with outdoor space: they have to have large sunny terraces or patios. Otherwise, they are not interested.
According to a study conducted by the Svenskar i Väriden organisation in 2015, more than 90,000 Swedes live for most of the year in Spain. According to data provided by the Swedish embassy in Madrid, in June 2016, there were 27,000 Swedes registered (empadronados) in Spain and two million travelled here for tourism last year. It is expected that 2.2 million will come this year.
Original story: Economía Digital (by Josep María Casas)
Translation: Carmel Drake