FOREIGN DEMAND: British buyers stampede into Spain pushing foreign demand to record levels

Foreign demand as percentage of overall Spanish housing market. Source: Registradores

Foreign demand as percentage of overall Spanish housing market. Source: Registradores

Foreign demand for property in Spain hit a record high at the end of 2015, driven by explosive growth in the number of British buyers.

14.4% of all Spanish home sales inscribed in the Property Register in the last quarter (Q4) of 2014 involved a foreign buyer (see chart above), reveals the latest report from the College of Property Registrars (Registradores). That is a record high for the share of foreign buyers in the Spanish property market.

For the year as a whole, foreign demand as a percentage of the market was 13% last year, fractionally down from 13.5% the year before. More than one in ten properties sold in Spain today is bought by a foreigner, including both residents and non-residents.

In absolute terms, foreigners bought 46,000 homes in Spain last year, 12,000 in the last quarter alone. Foreign demand was up 11% last year, and 12% in the last quarter, whilst local demand grew by only 7% in the last quarter.

DEMAND BY NATIONALITY

The British were once again the biggest group of buyers by a large margin with 9,956 acquisitions last year (21% of foreign demand last year), followed by the French with 4,116 (9%), and the Germans with 3,445 (7%).

foreign demand for property in spain 2015

spanish property sales by nationality 2015

What is remarkable is how much British demand surged in the last two quarters of the year, which was not the case with other nationalities. Russian demand declined steadily throughout the year – in both cases the change was influenced by exchange rates, with the Pound strengthening and the Rouble weakening.

foreign demand for property in spain 2015

BRITISH DEMAND SURGES

The big story from last years foreign sales figures was the 81%42% increase in British demand compared to the year before (see correction notification below). The British are clearly back to being the dominant force in foreign demand, though not yet as dominant as they were in the boom years.

foreign demand for Spanish property 2015

British demand has increased from 15% of the foreign market in Q1 2014, to 24% in Q4 last year.

British demand for Spanish property

Low Spanish property prices (down around 50% from the peak) plus a stronger Pound are no doubt fueling British demand, but fears of a Brexit referendum result in June creating uncertainty about the UK’s future in Europe, and a weaker Pound in the short term, could encourage British buyers to sit on the sidelines for the next few months. So don’t be surprised if British demand is significantly down in Q1 of this year when the figures come out.

At the other end of the scale Russian demand was hammered last year, down 43%, thanks to serious economic problems at home pushing the Ruble down around 16% in the last year, and 50% in the last 3 years, leaving many Russians much poorer.

11-Mar-2015 CORRECTION: The original version of this article erroneously stated that British demand increased by 81% last year compared to 2014. The correct figure is 42%.

Comments

comments

9 thoughts on “FOREIGN DEMAND: British buyers stampede into Spain pushing foreign demand to record levels”

  1. Nad B

    Hi Mark, great article !
    For me & possibly many others it would have been further beneficial to highlight the areas of Spain where the demands have increased as Spain is a big country. This would be a great help for future buyers if this information was provided, possibly as another one of your many informative articles.
    Many thanks, keep up the good work !

    1. Barrio 10

      Hi Mark.
      As an English couple living in Spain for 14 years with resident status, what will happen to us and many others should Brexit happen?
      Have you had any contact with, or advice from, anyone who has any idea of the likely outcome regarding this issue.
      Personally I would be very wary of making a purchase here until more is known about the fate of UK nationals living in other parts of Europe.

        1. Barrio 10

          Thank you Rob. I’m more re-assured now thanks to the Vienna convention.
          I suppose a major factor would also be the Spanish/French, other EU governments would be unlikely to want to lose the large pensioner spending power that ex-pats bring and replace it with a possible lesser spending power from economic migration. Just as Dave wouldn’t want us to burden the NHS and further further distort the social housing position in the UK.
          As Graham stated in his good article negative equity and other unseen consequences could evolve rapidly undoing a slowly improving property market, especially in Spain.
          Do you know Rob the procedure for voting in the referendum? Do we have to apply for a ballot paper, or are we sent one automatically?

    2. Profile photo of Mark StücklinMark Stücklin Post Author

      Nad, thanks for your kind words. I agree that it would be interesting to have a breakdown of foreign demand by region. The problem is the registrars don’t publish that information. I should be able to get it from them (I did last year), but it means going through private channels. If and when I get the information I’ll publish it here. Might take a month or two though.

    3. Eric

      I would recommend Barcelona, an always safe place to invest in. It offers you nice weather, beaches, food, people, culture, art, high tech, shopping, architecture, history,….., ski resorts a couple of hours drive from the city! Even during the crisis, the prices were still relatively high and you could more or less easily sell your property!

  2. Graham

    Hello: The growth in UK funded property sales was driven mainly by the good exchange rate last summer. From Christmas of last year, there has been a steep decline in interest, caused by the reversed fortunes of sterling. The Brexit is a continuing problem for sellers in Spain and elsewhere in Europe. If the UK leaves I think there is a real possibility that the whole EU project could start to fall apart? Problems with growth in Europe, China etc cannot be ignored. The Germans have used the EU for many years to allow their own industry to prosper, whilst staying within the European monetary system. Without the ‘Euro’ – nations would have to revert to their original currencies with a German ‘mark’ being of great value, which would make German industry unattractive to the rest of Europe. The Germans aren’t silly, keeping a lid on inflation by using the Euro has served them well. The U.K however, have no great need for the Euro currency. The only people who have benefitted from the UK being ‘in’ are big business for access to cheap labour and those who have migrated for financial gain. Despite what UK politicians say, the vast majority of UK expats in Spain are certainly not economic migrants. Project fear, courtesy of people benefitting from cheap European labour, is a ‘one way’ problem. If the UK exits the EU, the demand for Spanish property will disappear overnight with a return to negative equity on homes that were recently purchase? It’s a nightmare scenario, until around 25th June. I am holding off buying until that time and would advise any other ‘European property investment’ buyers to do so as well …

    1. May thakkar

      V. Interesting articke. Has left me even more confused cause I was hoping to buy a property in Spain this spring / reckon I should wait 4 a bit ???

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