Chinese and Russian buyers account for nearly half of the visas issued, with the rest coming from such countries as Ukraine, Lebanon, Ecuador, Qatar, Egypt and Iran, according to Department of Immigration data reviewed by El Pais, the daily newspaper.
The visa-related transactions have totaled about €100 million, the paper reports.
Spain followed the example of several other countries, including Portugal and Cyprus, when it launched the visa program last September, offering a visa in exchange for an investment of €500,000. In a competitive market, the opportunity for a visa is often cited as one of the most popular incentives for international property buyers.
The visa program was designed to encourage different forms of investment, but only nine have been issued thus far for investments outside property, El Pais reports.
The numbers may be disappointing to boosters hoping for a jolt in the market, but they also reflect the overall state of the market, which is only now showing signs of stablising. And it is a new program, full of complexities. It is unrealistic to think that a new visa program would spark a buying surge, especially considering the global competition for buyers.
Despite the initial results, there is no doubt the visa is appealing to buyers. Portugal issued 772 visas in the 15 months of its program, primarily to Chinese investors, according to published reports.
But there are other elements that go into the decision to buy property.
“Spain has beaches, great cities and their prices are much lower than those of other European countries,” “Mustafa W,” an Egyptian buyer who used the program in Spain, told El Pais. Those factors are not necessarily related to a visa.
International buyers interested in the program may be taking a cautious approach, considering the fragile economy and the many elements to a property buying decision. Once taxes and extra charges are added to the transaction, the minimum investment is closer to €600,000, analysts note. Even Chinese and Russian buyers eager for a visa may be taking a wait-and-see approach until they are convinced the property recovery is for real.