Foreign demand: Who are the ‘rest’?

foreign demand for spanish property

When reporting on foreign demand I focus on a handful of key markets, and pay little attention to other countries I lump together as the ‘rest’, which together make up almost half the market of buyers from abroad. I have my reasons for doing this, but a reader recently asked about the ‘rest’, so I thought, for once, I would look at what the numbers tell us about this group.

My main reason for not dwelling on the ‘rest’ when I produce my quarterly and annual reports on foreign demand for Spanish property is the lack of data. The data sources don’t break the numbers down by nationality beyond the top 20 markets. Not much I can do about that.

Also, I tend to focus on markets that are relevant to the bulk of my readers, namely second-home, and ‘lifestyle’ expat markets made up mainly of buyers from northern Europe, plus Golden Visa investors. I assume that much of the demand from the ‘rest’ is made up of economic migrants buying in housing market segments that are not relevant to most of my readers. For example, in the first half of 2020, Germans spent an average of  2,334€/m2 on Spanish property, whilst Moroccan buyers spent 674€/m2, according to data from the Association of Spanish Notaries. By budget and location, they are in completely different market segments, with little common interest. I could write a book about the different market segments, but I doubt anyone would be interested.

With that said, here’s what I can tell you about the rest of the world.

‘Rest of World’ demand for Spanish property

The countries I focus on when reporting foreign demand are the key big markets of the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Russia and China, the last two being the main markets for Golden Visas. I also keep an eye on the smaller markets of Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, and Ireland, though I sometimes lump them in with the rest when looking at the key markets. All other markets are put in the ‘rest’, even though I usually have data on Algeria, Romania, Morocco, the Ukraine, Poland and Bulgaria.

In the latest period for which we have data – the third quarter of 2020 – foreign buyers excluding the big key markets were involved in 5,580 purchases, down 25% compared to the year before (chart at top).

The rest made up 48% of the foreign market, compared to 52% that came from the key markets, as you can see from the pie below.

The ‘rest’ broke down as follows:

That still leaves the ‘rest of the rest’, but I’ll get to that later.

Demand from the rest had been growing at around 20% in the middle of the last decade, but started to cool down in 2018, and stalled completely in 2019, before plunging along with all other markets in 2020 due to the pandemic. The fact is that Spanish property was losing its appeal to all foreign investors before the pandemic struck.

The rest had been growing steadily as a percentage of the foreign market, though it took a dip in Q3 thanks to coronavirus, which I presume was harder on demand from more far-flung countries.

Where do the rest buy? The only data I have is from 2015, but the picture won’t have changed much since then.

And finally, who are the rest of the rest? Once again, the only data I have is from 2015, but you get the picture. Buyers come from all over the world, with investors from 128 countries that year. That’s globalisation for you.

Click to enlarge

SPI Member Comments

Thoughts on “Foreign demand: Who are the ‘rest’?

  • Many thanks, Mark.

    Your article has now completed the hitherto mysterious “rest of the world,” and is much appreciated by this would-be seller, although I well appreciate that it may not be of direct relevance to most of your readers. Thank you again for your research.

  • Thank you for the article Mark.

    One question: Do you have a sales by region graph for all foreign buyers for 2019? I searched the articles on the site, but couldn’t find it.

    Cheers!

  • Certainly in my immediate area, most of the foreign buyers are Dutch. There has been a very definite shift in recent years with UK nationals selling and Dutch nationals buying.

    Looking at the pie chart, the percentage of UK buyers is not as high as you might think.

  • geoffroy reiser says:

    Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to write this article. Indeed we often concentrate on the most important nationalities, while foreign buyers in Spain are truly what is called a long tail, coming from 128 countries as you point out. Definitely enjoyed reading this article !

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