Residents lead foreign demand recovery in the first half of 2020

foreign demand for Spanish property H1 2021

Overall foreign demand for property in Spain recovered surprisingly well in the first half of the year, show the latest figures from the Association of Spanish Notaries, but holiday-homes are still struggling to attract foreign buyers like they did in the years before the pandemic.

There were 47,683 Spanish home sales involving a foreign buyer in the first six months of the year, according to the latest data from the notaries. 34% of buyers (16,171) were non-residents buying second homes, and 66% (31,512) were foreigners resident in Spain. 

The chart above illustrates the evolution of foreign demand for Spanish property going back to the first half of 2007 (H1-07), showing how foreign demand has recovered from a pandemic-induced slump in the first half of 2020 without quite taking back all the ground it lost due to weakness in non-resident demand. 

Foreign demand includes expats living in Spain buying main homes and second-homes, and non-residents buying second-homes and investments. It also includes economic migrants getting on the Spanish property ladder, so the overall figures include disparate market segments. That said, the big picture suggests that foreigners in general are positive about Spanish property as an investment, otherwise they wouldn’t be buying in near record numbers.

In fact, foreigners living in Spain are buying property in record numbers, up 56% on the same period last year, and 3% higher than the previous record year of 2019, meaning expat demand has more than recovered from the pandemic. 

But non-resident demand, mainly northern-Europeans buying second homes in Spain, although up 47% compared to the first half of last year when lockdown was part of the picture, fell 8% compared to 2019, and 11% compared to 2018. 

In the following graph showing the year-on-year change in foreign demand broken down by residency, you can see that non-resident demand has been cooling off since around 2016. There’s much more than Covid-19 to this story, though continued travel restrictions in response to C19 do not help.

change in foreign demand for spanish property

With local demand increasing 69% to 262,007 purchases (compared to foreign demand up 47% to 47,683), the market share of foreign buyers dropped to 18% in the first half, down from a peak of 26% in H2 2015, as you can see in the next chart.

spanish property foreign market share

If you look at foreign demand by country (next chart), Morocco (5,159) was number one for the first time ever, overtaking the Germans (4,186), and beating the British (4,614) to the top spot (Moroccans largely buy in a different market segment to the British and Germans). The following chart shows sales by nationality in H1, and the year-on-year change for each market. The biggest increases came from Switzerland, Morocco and Germany, whilst the biggest declines came from Norway, China, and the UK.

foreign demand for spanish property by nationality h1 2021

If you look at foreign demand by region, the Valencian Community was number one with 11,599 foreign purchases, followed by Andalusia with 9,197 sales, and Catalonia with 7,830. Of the regions of most interest to second-home buyers from abroad, sales rose the most in the Balearics, up 69%.

The notaries produce maps of foreign demand by region showing the top two nationalities in each region, with one map for resident demand, and another for non-residents. Without going into details that I’ll leave for a look at demand by nationality in subsequent articles, you can see that the French are now number one non-resident buyers in most areas, which the British used to be. Resident foreign demand is dominated by Moroccans and Romanians, though the Germans still dominate in the Balearics.

map of foreign demand for property in spain
Non-resident demand by top two nationalities (left map), resident demand (right map)

Lastly, if you look at non-resident demand (final chart below) you can see the Germans were the biggest group with 2,702 purchases, up 85%, followed by the British with 2,249, down 5%. When it comes to non-resident demand, Morocco and Romania are almost insignificant.

In conclusion, overall foreign demand for property in Spain has weathered the pandemic well thanks to strong resident demand, but non-resident demand for holiday-homes, which was already on the decline before the pandemic due to headwinds such as Brexit and Spanish officialdom, has lost even more momentum in the face of Covid-19, though high-end segments may be bucking that trend.

Thoughts on “Residents lead foreign demand recovery in the first half of 2020

  • Thanks Mark, as ever really great data and information here, and well worth paying for which I think you indicated recently is a model you may be moving toward. I was wondering…

    I note that a lot of your charts begin with data from 2007, and I presume that is because maybe there isn’t data going back to say 2000, if there were, then I think there would be some very interesting high peaks in the years 2000-2006 that would maybe present a clearer ‘roller coaster’ view of the market across the then – two full decades.

    We all know there was full blown collapse happening in Spanish real estate by end of 2007, being itself separate and prior to the ‘worldwide credit crisis’ in 2008, as Spain had overbuilt heavily, there was significant competition from so called ’emerging markets’ at the time, allied to negative impacts of many town hall scandals and major corruption being reported along many of the Costa’s, not to mention a huge mess (to this day) with registering illegal builds and licensing issues. Not to mention the UK Sterling exchange rate fall and a general softening of demand from there also as wallets were opening in of all places Bulgaria, Morocco and the like (true madness).

    So it would be interesting to see just how high the charts went or would look from 2000-2006, and just to see if those peaks now 20 years on, could ever be climbed back to.

    Unlikely that they ever will I know, but sometimes history repeats itself, and other unknowable factors will come into play, but perhaps that data isn’t as available or as comparable / reliable, as to what you have now, but I venture any parts that were able to be compared with current data would be fascinating to see.

    So, maybe am alone, but if you have some 20 year charts, I for one would be very interested to see them.

    Thanks as always for these insights, they are the best resource across the internet or anywhere that I can find.

    Cheers

    Chris

    • Mark Stücklin says:

      Thanks Chris,

      I agree, it would be very interesting, but this data set only goes back to 2007, and the Registrars only back to 2006. I have some govt data going further back, but not when it comes to foreign demand.

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