Foreign demand still dominates prime market report Lucas Fox

lucas fox buyer nationality spanish property 2016On the back of rising foreign demand, Barcelona-based Lucas Fox International Properties forecast good years ahead for high-end Spanish property market, and the new development market in particular.

Analysing data from the company’s sales and activity in 2016, Lucas Fox identify three main trends:

  1. Foreign buyers are continuing to drive sales in upmarket segments
  2. New home transactions are rising strongly but a lack of stock is pushing up prices
  3. The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump are starting to affect British and American buying habits

Lucas Fox registered a 31% rise in the number of property sales transactions in 2016 compared to 2015, the biggest increase since the company was founded in 2005.

Home sales handled by the company in Barcelona increased by 69%, driven in part by an increasingly diversified global market – foreign investors represented 65% of all Lucas Fox sales.

Despite the Brexit vote, the British continue to made up the biggest proportion of foreign buyers for Lucas Fox all over Spain (11% but down from last year’s 18%), followed by buyers from the Middle East (8% compared to 5% in 2015), Scandinavia (7% compared to 4% in 2015), France (6% compared to 9% in 2015) and the US (5% compared to 4.5% in 2015). Asian and South American buyers are also on the increase. Spanish buyers accounted for 35% of Lucas Fox sales in 2016, up from 19% in 2015.

“We’re seeing growing national and international demand for homes in leading cities and desirable second-home destinations showing that Spain’s economic recovery is on course despite last year’s political paralysis” explains Lucas Fox co-founder Alexander Vaughan “With interest rates set to remain low, many are turning their backs on investing in traditional savings accounts, and choosing bricks and mortar instead, especially as banks are keen to lend”

Foreign buyers prefer new homes in Spain

New and newly renovated homes accounted for over 100 million euros of Lucas Fox sales in 2016 and just under half of all Lucas Fox Barcelona sales. Three-quarters of these turnkey properties were bought by foreigners, 46% of whom were buying for investment reasons. Lucas Fox data shows that the average selling price of a new home in Barcelona during 2016 was 6,200€/m2 (€720,000), significantly above the Barcelona average.

“New homes are in high demand particularly in prime districts of Barcelona and Madrid but a lack of stock is currently pushing prices up in these areas” explains Lucas Fox Head of New Developments Joanna Papis “The outlook for 2017 looks promising. Our current portfolio consists of more than 350 homes with a value of approximately 250 million euros and we are expecting to take on a further 1000 new homes with an approximate value of 550 million euros in the next 12 months”

new home sales barcelona 2016

Brexit and the ‘Trump effect’ on the Spanish property market

Lucas Fox data shows that both the number of visits to the Lucas Fox website, and the number of enquiries from Americans during 2016, have increased compared to 2015.

Almost 70,000 visitors to the Lucas Fox websites (8% of the total interest) came from the US during 2016, up from 5% in 2015, with the most sought-after locations being Madrid and Barcelona.

The reverse was true of the British (10% of website visitors in 2016, down from 12% in 2015). UK enquiries for all desirable second-home destinations decreased following the Brexit vote, most notably on the Costa del Sol, traditionally popular among British buyers. Lucas Fox data shows that Barcelona and Ibiza were the most searched for destinations among UK buyers during 2016.

“Since the referendum, UK buyers have dropped off due to the weakening of the Pound,” explains Lucas Fox Marbella Partner Stephen Lahiri. “There is still movement at the lower end of the market and towards the latter half of the year there has been an increase in the numbers of sellers of resale properties discounting prices, particularly British sellers who can now afford to reduce the price without affecting what they will make in Sterling.”

About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based Spanish property market analyst, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008).

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