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French demand recovers without much verve

The French appetite for property in Spain is recovering with less verve than other foreign markets, but French buyers are also more adventurous about buying off the beaten track.

1,298 Spanish property sales involved a French buyer in the third quarter of the year, according to figures from the Association of Spanish Land Registrars. The chart above shows French demand per quarter in the blue columns (left axis) and the year-on-year change plotted by the dark line (right axis), with a pronounced slump and recovery caused by the pandemic.

Like most other foreign markets, French buyers have returned with the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, but with less enthusiasm than other nationalities. French demand was up 24% in Q3, significantly less than other big markets like Germany (+79%). 

In Q3 France was the third biggest market behind Germany and the UK. For many years the French were in second place behind the British, but a crash in British demand combined with stronger growth from Germany leaves France in third place for the time being.

As a result, the French share of the foreign market for property for sale in Spain stood at 8% compared to Germany’s 10%, and the UK’s 9.9%. In recent quarters Germany has been a growing market, the UK a declining market, and France a stagnant market.

French market share of Spanish property market foreign demand

French demand for property around Spain

The most interesting thing about the French is where they buy (see map below). As holiday-home buyers they are the biggest group in 9 of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, meaning they are far more adventurous house-hunters than other nationalities, according to figures from the Association of Spanish Notaries. The British are the biggest in just two regions (Andalusia and Murcia) and the Germans likewise (The Balearics and Canaries). The French make up 80% of second-home buyers in Extremadura, 50% in Navarre and Catalonia (where they are big buyers of property for sale in Barcelona), 40% in La Rioja, and 32% in the Basque Country. They are even the biggest group in far-flung Galicia with 15%. 

However, when it comes to French buyers resident in Spain, they are not even in the top two in any region, being outnumbered in most of the regions mentioned above by Moroccans and Romanians. 

So, although the French appetite for homes in Spain is recovering with less verve than other foreign markets, the French are also more likely to buy a second home somewhere far from the costas and well-trodden tourist routes than the British or the French.

Maps of foreign demand by nationality and residency status

map of foreign demand for property in spain
Top nationalities: Non-resident (left map) and resident in Spain (right map). Source: Notaries

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