Government figures show record foreign demand for Spanish property in 2021

Foreigners bought more than 100,000 homes in Spain in 2021 in the best year since the runaway boom year of 2006, according to the latest data from the Spanish government (MITMA).

But the data on foreign demand for property in Spain from the Spanish government doesn’t tally with the data from the Spanish land registrars’ association, which I reported last week in this article on foreign demand for property in Spain in 2021.

According to the registrars, 61,000 Spanish home sales in 2021 involved a buyer from abroad, whilst according to the latest figures from the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda (MITMA), which also includes the Housing Department, based on data from the Spanish notaries association, the figure was 102,995 (69% more).

According to MITMA, foreign demand rose 44% in 2020 and 7% compared to 2019, but only 29% according to the registrars, and 3% down compared to 2019. So foreign demand in 2021 was significantly bigger and more buoyant according to the government’s figures than the land registrars.

Who to believe, and what explains the difference? Those are questions for another article, though if anyone has any ideas please leave them in the comments below. But I will say here that the data from the registras is based on extrapolating from samples, and therefore might be less reliable than the government figures, which I will take at face value for the rest of this article.

As you can see from the chart above, 2021 was the best for foreign demand as far as the figures published by MITMA go back, though if memory serves me correctly I think you would find higher numbers in the boom years prior to 2008 if made available.

The useful thing about the figures from MITMA is they break down the market by residency status, so you can see how many expats (foreigners living in Spain) and foreign non-residents (FNRs) bought property in Spain each year since 2007. Expats include economic migrants from countries like Morocco and Romania, whilst FNRs are mainly second-home buyers from northern European countries like the UK, Germany and France.

In the next two charts you can see how expat demand outstripped FNR demand in the years after 2016, which can be explained by the improvement in the Spanish economy (more economic migrants), whilst FNR demand had a steeper decline and recovery from the pandemic. Last year FNR increased by 51%, and expat demand by 39%.

Foreign demand by region in 2021

Expats and FNRs tend to favour similar regions, but expat demand is more spread around the country, whereas FNR demand is more focused on coastal regions, as you can see from the next chart.

In the next chart you can see how the different segments changed by region last year. Second-home demand in the Balearics increased by more than 100%, whilst expat demand increased the most in the Andalusian province of Huelva, which is also home to the Costa de la Luz. Huelva was also the region where second-home demand increased the most after the Balearics, but percentage increases in regions with small second-home markets (basically everywhere except the Balearics, the Canaries, Malaga province, Girona and Alicante) need to be discounted.

And finally a chart showing the market share of each region by segment, so the Valencian region has the highest share of FNR buyers, and also of expat buyers.

Thoughts on “Government figures show record foreign demand for Spanish property in 2021

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