Foreign Buyers Push Barcelona Sales Higher

Lucas_FoxBuyers from the Middle East, Russia and Asia helped boost Barcelona sales in the first half of 2014, according to a new report from estate agency Lucas Fox.

There is a “great deal more confidence amongst buyers,” and the number of transactions is “slowly increasing”, the firm concludes. The total number of transactions in the first quarter rose 4.7 per cent, to 11,464 deals. (The second quarter was “distorted” by a surge of buyers in the second quarter of 2013 rushing to complete the sale before the new transfer tax went into effect.)

Foreign buyers were driving the increase in transaction, particularly in the prime market, Lucas Fox reports.

Lucas Fox_Q2 2014_Transactions (360 x 273)“The traditional buyer nationalities from Northern Europe and the UK are still dominant but the major change in the last few years has been the big increase in the number of non-European buyers, predominantly from China and South-East Asia and the Middle East,” said Alexander Vaughan, a Lucas Fox founding partner.

Since the beginning of 2014, the agency has “ever been busier,” Mr. Vaughan said. The agency is receiving about 30 offers a month on property in the city center, and closing “two out of every three, many of them close to the asking price.”

Sale prices were averaging €3,250 per square meter by the end of the second quarter, the fourth consecutive quarter posting a “slight” increase, the firm reports. Zona Alta, which includes Les Corts and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, posted the highest average price at €4,129 per square meter.

Lucas Fox_Q2_Prices (360 x 281)“It looks like prices have now stabilized and the number of transactions is slowly increasing,” Mr. Vaughan said. “The big change is that sellers are being more realistic and that asking prices are coming down in line with buyer expectations.”

Rental prices also showed signs of stablisation and improvement. Eight of the 10 districts posted consistent or higher rental rates in the first half of the year, with the overall average coming in at €11.20 per square meter. Rental rates in Sarrià-Sant Gervasi ended the half year at €12.40 per square meter, up from €11.70 at the end of 2013.

In May, more than 50,000 foreign travelers stayed in apartments in Catalonia, most in Barcelona, an increase of more than 10 per cent from a year earlier, the agency notes. The volume of short term rentals has become a major political issue in the city, amidst a movement to impose new regulations on rentals.

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