Two out of every ten tourists plan to buy a holiday home in Spain?

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A recent article in the Spanish daily El Mundo reported that two out of every ten foreign tourists visiting Spain plan to buy a holiday-home here. Sounds like wishful thinking to me.

The claim is based on a publicity-seeking survey carried out by a real estate company “in the principal spots of the Spanish coast” during July and August, which reportedly found that two in ten foreign visitors plan to buy a second-home in Spain one day.

With tourism numbers breaking all records this year – 65 million foreign visitors in the first seven months (up 6.4% y-o-y) – this sounds like very good news indeed for the property market on the coast. One gets the impression there are millions of foreign tourists seriously getting ready to buy a holiday-home in Spain. If that were true, the second-home market on the coast is on course for a massive boom.

German tourists are the most interested in buying a second-home in Spain, in places like the Costa Blanca, Catalonia, and Mallorca, we are reliably informed. And potential investors from abroad are getting more adventurous, branching out towards Andalusia, Cantabria and Galicia, we are also told. Like Andalusia and it’s world-famous Costa del Sol are just about to be discovered by second-home buyers.

Married men of between 40 and 50 years old are the most likely buyers, the article explains. “The effect of terrorism in the Mediterranean is the main reason given by these future buyers,” one reads. “They understand that the world has changed and it will be risky in the coming years to travel to places like Tunisia, the South of France, Turkey, Egypt, and other Arab countries that have been tourist destination for Europeans until this year.” So the South of France is now off-limits and Spain hits the jackpot as the rest of the world goes down in flames.

Post-crisis discount property, bargain bank repos that are “up to 50% below their value”, and a mad, bad world in which Spain is the safe option, suggest it’s all plain sailing for second-home sales from here on. “In the coming years we will get used to seeing foreign residents both during the summer and at other holiday-times of the year,” we are assured.

I don’t know what Spaniards reading this article thought but it struck me as fanciful nonsense. I get the feeling both the survey and its reporting were devoid of rigour. But the frustrating thing is, Spain could be a destination for millions more European property buyers if transactions costs were lower and Government policy was more favourable. But as things stand, I think just a fraction of people who would consider buying will end up doing so.

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One thought on “Two out of every ten tourists plan to buy a holiday home in Spain?”

  1. Profile photo of GarySFBCNGarySFBCN

    In the last week two different American friends, independently, have asked me for advice about buying in Spain. Of course, I referred them to this site and the ‘guides’ section. But I was surprised by this. I’m not sure I could project my two friends to ‘2 out of every 10’ tourists, but it is interesting. Maybe there is a sense that the economy is no longer broken and some are again looking for a second home.

    Even more important than transaction costs is the lack of recourse when things go wrong and, for Americans anyway, the unbelievable ridiculous backward process that one must undertake to buy a home. There should be no mystery as to fees, no doubts what the government is going to assess in taxes, no difficult mortgage processes for those who pay a high parentage of the price in cash and have solid credit records, etc.

    Frankly, while the transaction cost were high, they are one-time and were the least discouraging part of my home purchase process.

    And, because of that, I’ve been recommending that people rent before they buy.

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About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based property market analyst and consultant, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008). He can be reached by email on ms@spanishpropertyinsight.com.