Balearic government looking at ways to restrict non-resident demand, as similar calls are heard in the Canaries

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Housing access problems in the Balearics have led the regional government to look at ways to restrict non-resident demand for second-homes as politicians in the Canaries make similar noises.

Francina Armengol, the regional president of the Balearics, has confirmed that they are “working on” ways to limit the number of non-resident buyers in order to improve housing access for residents, according to the Spanish news agency EFE.

Responding to a question in the regional parliament Armengol said she takes the problem of housing access in the region seriously and that it is a “key” issue for her administration. 

The Spanish press reports that she sees Spain’s upcoming presidency of the EU as an opportunity to put the unique situation of housing in the Balearics on the European agenda, and create the conditions to make it possible to restrict non-resident demand within the framework of EU laws. 

Under EU law the housing market is open to all EU citizens without restriction, so it would be illegal to stop non-residents from other EU states buying second homes in the Balearics without a rule change at the EU level.

“European regulations can be changed,” says Josep Castell, spokesman of a Menorcan political party MÉS per Menorca, insisting that an exception must be made for the Balearics. 

Similar noises in the Canaries

In the Canaries a party called Nueva Canarias has also called for a commission to study the impact of foreign buyers on the local housing market, implicitly with a view to clearing the way towards restrictions on non-residents or foreigners.

According to data from the land registrars’ association, foreigners were responsible for 34% of home purchases in the Canaries in the third quarter of 2022, and for 31% in the Balearics, the two highest regions in Spain. A similar picture is painted by data from the Spanish government (MITMA) for Q2, with the Balearics on 41% and the Canaries on 37%.

The land scarcity of archipelagos like the Balearics and the Canaries presents a challenge for building homes, which can exacerbate the problem of housing access in markets where there is high demand for second homes.

Experts cited in the Spanish press say the chance of getting special treatment from the EU is vanishingly small, and it is more likely that local politicians are pushing the idea so they can blame the EU for their housing problems when the idea goes nowhere.

Property professionals in the Balearics have pointed out in the past that the regional government exacerbates the housing access problem with its own policies that make it difficult and expensive to build affordable housing.

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