Home » Strong sales at super-prime development Francesc Macià 10 suggest Barcelona is back on track after weathering the headwinds of recent years

Strong sales at super-prime development Francesc Macià 10 suggest Barcelona is back on track after weathering the headwinds of recent years

francesc macià 10 entrance reception
Francesc Macià 10 lobby

With more sales closed this year than any since its launch, results at the super-prime residential development Francesc Macià 10 reflect growing optimism at the top end of Barcelona’s housing market, though the lack of new projects in the pipeline presages a period of shortgages to come.

Francesc Macià 10 has had it’s best year since it was launched in 2016 as the first super-prime development in Spain, with all three remaining full floor apartments either sold or reserved, leaving available for sale only the “jewel in the crown” – The Duplex Penthouse – which had been held back until now.

“There are eight apartments in the building,” says David Rolt, the Sales Director. “Our strategy was to sell the seven single-floor apartments before making the extraordinary duplex penthouse apartment available to selected buyers ‘off market’”.

Stiff headwinds

Selling Francesc Macià 10 has not been easy in the face of stiff headwinds that blew up soon after the project was launched. The regional government’s fruitless attempt to break away from Spain in 2017 scared off local and international investors for a couple of years, followed by the Covid pandemic that kept foreign buyers away just as the political conflict subsided. It’s reasonable to assume that Francesc Macià 10 would have sold quicker in the absence of these external shocks, but even so the project has validated the super-prime segment in Spain.

“Francesc Macià 10 was the first super-prime development in Spain and as such was the pioneer of luxury serviced accommodation in the country,” explains David. “Since we came to market others have followed in our footsteps in both Madrid and Barcelona, where the Mandarin Residences and Antares now give high-end buyers greater choice in Barcelona.”

Francesc Macià 10 has demonstrated that there is a market for super-prime serviced-apartments in Barcelona that has long existed in cities like London, New York and Miami, where prices tend to be much higher (7,000 £/sqft in London).  “Our average sale price is 15,000 €/sqm (1,200 £/sqft) in shell & core condition,” explains David. “Buyers have then designed the interiors to their own taste and specifications. Just over half of the apartments have been sold to Spanish families as their principal residence. The remaining apartments were acquired by foreign nationals from two different continents, as their European base.”

This year, two thirds of reservations have been made by foreign investors, reflecting the growing importance of foreign buyers in Barcelona as confirmed by data from Barcelona City Hall. Foreign buyers in the Catalan capital hit a record high of  2,871 in 2022, up 46% in a year, with an unprecedented 18% share of the market in 2022, rising to 22% in the final quarter of the year.

UHNW appeal of Barcelona

“Barcelona has all of the fundamentals to cater to the world’s UHNW community”, argues David. “The city offers everything you want if you can pick and choose from the world’s most attractive cities, top-class international schools, healthcare, shopping, in excess of 25 michelin-star restaurants, numerous five star hotels, a state of the art superyacht marina catering for vessels up to 180 mts,  hosts for the America’s Cup next year, a formula-one circuit, an excellent international airport, beautiful beaches, good skiing not far away and, of course, a safe and clean city.” The main problem is the lack of new homes for sale at the top of the market. “Given current legislation and the geographical limitations of the city, it is unlikely there will be further developments in the short term.”

barcelona appeal to UHNWI will be boosted by the America's Cup 2024
Barcelona is hosting the America’s Cup in 2024 ©️ 2022 AC37 Event Ltd.

Empty pipeline

New home building in Barcelona collapsed in all segments under the former Mayoress Ada Colau, who imposed a social housing quota of 30% on all new developments above 600 sqm in late 2018. In the first half of this year planning applications were down 80% compared to the same period in 2018, to just 240 new homes for a city of more than 1.6m people. As a result, there are no new residential projects in the pipeline for the foreseeable future.

Colau, however, was ousted after municipal elections in May, and her successor, Jaume Collboni, from the centre-left Socialist party, has said he will review the social housing quota in the autumn because it “hasn’t delivered the promised results”. So the outlook for home-building in Barcelona looks brighter with a new Mayor in City Hall.

In the meantime, foreign and local demand for prime and super-prime property in Barcelona remains strong this year, as demonstrated by sales at Francesc Macià 10. But given how long it can take to bring new developments on stream, shortgages in the coming years look almost inevitable.

Francesc Macià 10 used to advertise at SPI, but has now sold out.