House Sales to Foreigners Fall Sharply in the Balearic and Canary Islands

13 May 2019 – El Confidencial

According to data from the General Council of Notaries, sales to foreigners fell by 15.3% in the Canary Islands and by 13.5% in the Balearic Islands during the second half of 2018, compared to the same period a year earlier. This is significant because overseas buyers currently account for almost 38.5% of sales in the Balearic Islands and 34% in the Canary Islands.

Several property developers have been feeling the pinch. Competition has increased a lot, above all in some local markets, and prices have risen in certain areas, due to a shortage of land and increased competition, which is deterring demand.

House purchases by foreigners have also been showing some signs of stagnation at the national level, with lower growth rates recorded in 2018. Foreigners closed 50,249 operations last year, which represented an increase of just 1.4% YoY.

The Brits are back

Despite the decreases, the most active buyers during H2 2018 were the Brits (15.3%), followed by other foreigners from outside the EU (12.1%) and then the French (8.0%), Germans (7.5%) and Romanians (7.1%). In the case of the British, it seems that the initial shock of the results of the Brexit referendum (which caused purchases by Brits to fall by 23.6% in H2 2016 and by 16.1% in H1 2017) has worn off.

Original story: El Confidencial (by E. Sanz)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

Global Geopolitics Fuels Demand for Luxury Homes in Madrid

12 May 2019 – El Confidencial

Wealthy investors and families from China, Russia, Venezuela and Mexico are particularly active in the luxury home segment in Madrid, in particular in the districts of Salamanca, Chamberí, Retiro and Moncloa-Aravaca.

According to the College of Property Registrars, foreigners accounted for 6.7% of all residential purchases over €500,000 in the Community of Madrid in 2017, a figure that rose to 8.4% in 2018.

There are several pull-factors motivating these buyers including tax exemptions, golden visas (thanks to Law 14/2013), (relative) legal certainty, low rates of crime and affordable prices, compared to Miami and other European capitals. The language, climate and excellent transport infrastructure also play their role, as do the world-class universities and business schools in the Spanish capital.

A number of push-factors are also evident, which is where the geopolitical developments come into play. The political and economic crisis in Venezuela, the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as the President of Mexico in December, the political uncertainty in Cataluña and even the on-going Brexit saga, are all important reasons for wealthy buyers to turn their backs on their home countries in favour of Madrid when it comes to buying a property.

To date, since they were introduced in 2014, 2,948 golden visas have been granted for the purchase of luxury homes, with half going to Chinese citizens (1,476) and a fifth going to Russians (621).

Moreover, according to official statistics from Spain’s National Institute for Statistics, the number of Mexican residents in Spain has risen from just over 20,000 in 2014 to more than 25,200 by the end of 2018, of whom one third live in Madrid.

Meanwhile, the number of Venezuelan residents has increased from just over 32,000 five years ago to 57,120 in 2018. Nevertheless, in both cases, the real number of arrivals is higher since many move to Spain through family links making them entitled to Spanish passports.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Marcos García)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

High Land Costs Drive up House Prices in the Balearic Islands

27 February 2019 – Diario de Mallorca

The property market in the Balearic Islands is experiencing the perfect storm. Very high land prices are driving up the cost of the few new homes that are being built. As such, local residents are facing serious difficulties when it comes to affording a home.

Not only are land prices high; in many cases, the plots are owned by large business groups, which are opting to hold onto them to benefit from further capital appreciation rather than develop or sell them immediately. What’s more, the few new homes that are being developed are very expensive, beyond the reach of most local families.

These factors are compounded by the complete failure on the part of the public authorities to construct any social housing in recent years, which only serves to aggravate the housing shortage in the market.

There is a great deal of demand, not only from local families, but also from foreigners, who want homes of their own on the island, and from seasonal workers moving from other parts of the country. Moreover, supply is limited and as such, prices are soaring. This situation is made worse by the fact that many overseas buyers and renters can afford to pay more than most islanders, which is driving out the locals.

All in all, it’s a gloomy picture for island residents.

Original story: Diario de Mallorca (by F. Guijarro)

Summary/Translation: Carmel Drake

The Proptech Sonneil Will Triple its Sales in 2019

4 February 2019 – Eje Prime

Sonneil is broadening its horizons. The Spanish proptech, founded in 2014 by the former director of the international team at Solvia, Alfredo Millá Ferrero, expects to close this year with turnover of €1.5 million, triple the figure recorded last year. The startup now has a portfolio comprising more than 3,700 homes, 1,000 of which it is marketing exclusively. Over the medium term, the company does not rule out entering new markets, although it is not something that it is considering for this year.

The company, headquartered in Alicante, specialises in the sale of new build second homes to foreigners on the Spanish coast. The company, which operates online only, relies on digital marketing to “minimise intermediaries and reduce costs”, explained Millá to Eje Prime.

“Selling to foreigners is a very opaque sector, and with lots of intermediaries, there is a very large accumulation of costs”, said the executive. “There has been a transformation in all sectors, except for the real estate sector, where we are still working with the same model”, he said.

Alongside Millá, the drivers behind the project were Albert Ribera, one of the founders of the portal Trovit; Juan Busquets, Partner at Busquets Abogados, and Juan Pedro Moreno, CEO of Accenture.

Since it was founded, Sonneil has carried out three rounds of financing, subscribed to in their majority by shareholders, but which have also given capital access to investors such as Domingo Caamaño and Vicente Rodero, former directors of BBVA, and Sevenzonic Ventures, the investment group backed by Javier Rodríguez Zapatero, former CEO of Google, and Manuel Gálatas.

The company’s portfolio, which is mostly owned by property developers and family offices, is concentrated along the Mediterranean coast, Mallorca and Ibiza.

Sonneil’s main clients are Belgian Flemish, Russian, British and Dutch, although Millá Ferrero commented that there has been a notable decrease in the number of British clients in recent years, especially since the Brexit referendum (…).

Original story: Eje Prime (by Milana Mishchenko)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Foreigners are Driving the Housing Market in Spain

31 January 2019 – Eje Prime

Foreigners are boosting house sales in Spain. The number of transactions undertaken by foreign residents in Spain is on track to set a new record, with almost 70,000 sales during the 9 months to September 2018, according to the latest data available from the Ministry of Development.

Since 2010, the purchase of homes by foreigners has more than tripled, from just 21,576 transactions during the first nine months of that year. The major boost came with the approval of the so-called golden visa in 2013, a measure to facilitate visas for real estate investments in Spain amounting to more than €500,000.

Since then, real estate investment by foreigners has doubled. The País Vasco, Cataluña and Castilla-La Mancha have been the regions where transactions have been boosted by the most since then, with multiples of six, five and four, respectively.

In the last year, the drivers have been the sun and the beach, and the central area, with double-digit increases in Murcia and the Castillas. Meanwhile, on the islands and in Cataluña, the number of operations involving foreigners has decreased.

The promise of the golden visa

(…). The PP Government introduced the golden visa model in Spain, in which thirteen member states of the European Union currently participate (…).

In fact, it is the most used element of that legislation: until October last year, it was used by 546 people, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, almost equalling the figure for the whole of 2017, when 563 residency permits were granted to foreigners acquiring property for more than €500,000.

At the end of last year, the European Parliament started to place the focus on this visa policy, warning that it was opening the door to crimes such as tax evasion, corruption and money laundering.

In a report, compiled by the MEPs Ludek Niedermayer (Europe’s Partido Popular) and Jeppe Kofod (Socialists and Democrats), the European Parliament warned that the economic benefits of such programs do not compensate the “serious risks” of money laundering and tax evasion, and called on the Member States to withdraw from these types of schemes “as soon as possible”.

Original story: Eje Prime (by C. De Angelis)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Hotels Suffer from the First Decrease in Overnight Stays since 2012

24 January 2019 – Expansión

The record number of tourists registered in 2018 has not removed the bitter taste from the mouths of Spanish hoteliers, who are starting to suffer from symptoms that the sector is worn out. In 2018, Spanish hotels recorded the first decrease in the number of overnight stays in six years. A moderate decrease, of –0.1%, according to data from INE, but one that has not been seen since 2012, when Spain was in the midst of the financial crisis.

Spain is receiving more tourists than ever, and they are increasing their spending year on year, but they are also gradually reducing their average stay, and some of the demand is opting for alternative destinations, such as Turkey, which are competing on price, which is eroding the margins of many hotels at home (…).

According to data from Exceltur, Spain lost 21 million overnight stays in 2018, due to a decrease in the average stay. The boom in low-cost airlines, amongst other factors in the sector, has favoured the democratisation of tourism. Increasingly more people are travelling, but they are doing so for shorter periods. Whilst in 2008, the average stay was 9.4 days, it is now 7.4 days.

That change can be observed most easily amongst overseas tourists, who account for 65.8% of overnight stays and who decreased the number of nights spent in Spain by -0.4%, whereas domestic tourists increased their overnight stays by +0.4%.

The change in trend is being observed primarily in the traditional beach and sun markets, and in the most important months for the sector, in the height of the summer. In the Canary Islands, the primary destination for international tourists, accounting for almost one third of all overnight stays, visits by foreigners decreased by 3.6%(…).

According to explanations provided recently by the Head of Research at Exceltur, Óscar Perelli, these decreases reflect “the recovery of competitor countries”. Hotels, especially those on the beach, are being affected by competition in terms of prices from countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. Those markets have recovered around 12 million tourists in recent years and they are still 20% below the levels they reached before their own crises (…).

Travellers from the United Kingdom and Germany account for 46% of all of the overnight stays made by non-resident visitors, and yet, there was a -0.9% decrease last year in the case of British tourists.

As a result, many hotels are trying to compete through promotional packages and cost reduction policies, and so prices barely increased in 2018. The Index of Hotel Prices from INE reflects a 1.5% increase in hotel tariffs, barely three decimal points above inflation for the year, making it the lowest rise in prices since 2013.

In terms of tourists who increased their hotel stays by the most, those who have to travel long distances, including visitors from the US (6.1%) are also the travellers who spend the most (€113 per tourist per day, compared with €98/tourist/day for those visiting from traditional markets), and so representatives in the sector recommend focusing promotional strategies to attract tourists from those countries.

Original story: Expansión (by Inma Benedito)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Registrars: 400,000 Homes Sold During 9 Months to September 2018

16 November 2018 – Expansión

The housing market is showing a dynamism during 2018 not seen since the years before the crisis. The boost in demand in the last few months has resulted in the sale of almost 400,000 homes during the 9 months to September, the highest figure since 2008, which is driving prices up.

House sales amounted to 396,481 units between January and September, up by 12.5% compared to the same period in 2017, and the highest figure recorded since 2008, when 448,146 units were sold during the first 9 months to September, according to Real Estate Registry Statistics for the third quarter, published yesterday by the College of Registrars.

Data for the first nine months of the year also came close to the figure recorded for 2017 as a whole, bearing in mind that last year 464,223 transactions were closed in total. This year, it is likely that a record figure will be registered, which could reach half a million operations. During the third quarter, 133,295 operations were closed. “These results confirm the notable strength of the housing market (for sales)”, explained sources at the College of Registrars.

The strong dynamism responds in large part to the demand for investment. Buying a home for rent has become an alternative refuge for domestic and overseas investors alike, who find returns in the real estate market that other assets, such as deposits and public debt cannot offer. Moreover, during the last 12 months, the initial interest rate for taking out a mortgage has been at a historical low (2.27%).

The strong activity in the sector is also raising house prices, which increased by 6.7% in YoY terms in the last quarter. The recovery of the sector has allowed prices to rise to 26.5% above their minimum levels. Over the next few months, the registrars expect prices to continue to evolve in line with their current performance, albeit at single-digit rates. The rises will be greater in the main capitals.

These increases are being favoured by the heating up of the sector in certain areas. The largest increases during the third quarter were recorded in Teruel (37%), Huelva (34.8%) and Castellón (33.8%), but Madrid, Barcelona and Málaga led the activity in the market in absolute terms, with 20,048 homes sold in the case of Madrid, 14,217 in Barcelona and 9,828 in Málaga (…).

Foreigners are buying more homes than ever in Spain. According to data from the General Council of Notaries, during the first half of the year, they closed 53,359 operations, the highest absolute figure in the historical series, which began at the start of 2007.

By segment, second-hand homes continue to account for the majority of the market, with 82.4% of sales, compared with 17.57% for new homes (…).

Sources at the College of Registrars detect a possible “scenario that is running out of steam following the intense upward path that has been seen over the last few quarters”, and they warn that we “may have reached a maximum point in the current cycle in terms of the number of house sales”.

That is partly due to the increase in prices, which “is not sustainable or desirable in the current economic situation”. The intense double-digit growth in prices seen in recent months “cannot be borne by a market comprising potential buyers whose incomes cannot absorb such an intense increase in prices”.

But they clarify that it does not mean that we are going to see a correction (reduction) in prices in YoY terms, rather that we can expect more moderate increases (…).

Original story: Expansión (by I. Benedito)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Taylor Wimpey España Invests €68M in Several Developments on the Costa del Sol

30 October 2018 – Eje Prime

Taylor Wimpey España is going for gold on the Costa del Sol. The Spanish subsidiary of the British real estate group, which specialises in second homes for foreigners, has invested €68 million in the launch of several residential developments along the coast of Málaga.

The company has started construction of projects such as Horizon Golf, a complex comprising 55 terraced houses in Mijas; Grandview, a complex comprising sixty lofts and apartments, also in Mijas; Green Golf, a residential development comprising 48 terraced houses in Estepona; and Pier Sotogrande, a residential complex comprising 64 apartments in Sotogrande, in Cádiz.

Taylor Wimpey España’s developments are mainly aimed at British buyers looking for second homes right by golf courses. In fact, Málaga and Cádiz account for more than 71% of all the golf courses in Andalucía, according to a report from New Trends in Golf Tourism: vision to 2020, compiled by the Confederation of Entrepreneurs of Andalucía (CEA), in collaboration with the Ministry for Tourism and Sport.

Spain is still the preferred destination for Brits to buy a home, as highlighted by the UK embassy. There are around 300,000 British people in the whole of Spain and “they are still the main overseas buyers of homes, accounting for 15% of the total”, said Marc Pritchard, Director of Sales and Marketing at Taylor Wimpey España.

In the ranking of overseas nationalities who purchase homes in Spain, the British outrank the French, who account for 8.64%; the Germans (7.77%); the Belgians (6.39%); and the Swedish, who remain as historical investors, accounting for 6.38%.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake

Savills & HomeAway: Spain is the Most Attractive Market for Buying a Second Home

29 September 2018 – Finanzas.com

According to an international study compiled by the real estate consultancy Savills and HomeAwayTM, a global expert platform for holiday rentals, Spain is the most attractive destination for investing in a second home, according to 19.3% of those surveyed, followed by Portugal (13.2%) and France (13.1) in third place.

Spain is attractive for overseas investors

According to the survey, 44% of owners of second residences in Spain are foreigners. The main countries of origin of those owners are the United Kingdom (19%), Germany (12%), The Netherlands (4%), France (3%) and Belgium (2%). The remaining 56% of owners are Spanish.

The main areas where second homes are located in Spain include the Canary Islands (12%), the Costa del Sol (9%) and the Balearic Islands (9%).

Where are they buying homes?

People’s behaviour when it comes to acquiring a second home is different depending on where the buyers come from. The study reveals that British and Dutch owners are those who buy the most second homes outside of their own countries, nevertheless, Spaniards, Italians and Portuguese citizens tend to choose their own countries as the destination for acquiring second homes (around 95%).

Second homes: for personal use and to rent

According to the study, 28% of Spanish owners cover some of their expenses with revenues generated from the rental of their properties and 38% obtain a profit.

Summary of second homes in Spain

The average price of the second homes acquired last year by the Spanish owners surveyed amounted to €245,000, 22% lower than the average acquisition price ten years ago. Moreover, 28% of those surveyed confirmed that they personally financed the acquisition of their second home, 52% acquired it using a mortgage and 8% inherited or were gifted the property.

In the same vein, Spanish owners of second homes obtain an annual income of €12,000 (from their properties) and they rent them out for 19 weeks a year, on average. 43% of owners had the same number of reservations in recent months as they did during the same period a year ago, 41% had more reservations and 16% had fewer.

Second homes, with some specific characteristics

Two-bedroom apartments are the most popular types of second home for the Spanish owners surveyed.

Features that owners are looking for when it comes to buying a second home include: proximity to restaurants and bars (88%), a balcony or terrace (88%) and proximity to the supermarket and shops.

According to Juan Carlos Fernández, Director General for Southern Europe at HomeAway: “The fact that Spain is the most attractive destination for foreigners looking to buy a second home indicates that Spain is a robust market that is very attractive to investors and that is something that we must take care of and promote”.

Owner profile

  • Average age when they acquired the property, in 2017: 51 years old
  • Average number of weeks leased during the year: 19 weeks
  • Typical property type: 2-bedroom apartment
  • Average acquisition price in 2017: €245,000.

Original story: Finanzas.com

Translation: Carmel Drake

INE: Foreign Visitors to Spain Rose by 6% in Q1

4 May 2018 – Eje Prime

Tourism in Spain is on a roll. During the first quarter of 2018, 13.7 million overseas visitors came to Spain, up by 6% compared to the same period in the previous year, according to data from the Statistics of Tourist Movements across Borders (Frontur), compiled by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE).

By country of origin, the British were once again the most prevalent tourists in the country between January and March, with 2.9 million visitors of that nationality. They were followed by German visitors, with 1.9 million people. The number of French tourists, the third most frequent visitor group, amounted to 1.7 million people.

The Canary Islands accounted for most of the international tourist visitors to Spain during the first three months of the year, with more than 3.7 million visitors, becoming the autonomous region of choice. Meanwhile, 3.1 million foreigners arrived in Cataluña, and Andalucía was the region that completed the Top 3 most visited during the period, with 1.9 million tourists.

In March alone, the arrival of overseas visitors to the country gained momentum with an increase of 9.6% with respect to the same month last year, to 5.4 million people. This increase contrasts with the rises recorded in January and February, which amounted to 5.2% and 2.6%, respectively.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake