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Q1 2024: Foreign demand close to record levels

Foreign demand was down just 2pc in the first quarter and close to record levels, reveal the latest figures from the government.

Back in May I reported that foreign demand was down 7pc in Q1 according to data from the Land Registry, but new figures just released by the Housing Ministry based on sales witnessed by notaries in the period show that the number of Spanish home sales involving a foreign buyer in the first quarter was down just 2pc compared to last year, and the third best Q1 on record. 

The Land Registry figures come out two months earlier but they are backward looking because it takes several months for sales deeds to be inscribed in the Land Register, so most of the sales inscribed in Q1 probably took place in Q4 the year before. The Housing Ministry figures reflect sales that actually took place in Q1, so they are more timely. In this respect the Housing Ministry figures give us a much more accurate picture of the state of foreign demand in the latest period.

The Land Registry figures break down foreign demand by nationality, whilst the Housing Ministry figures break down by residency status (expat or non resident). They both say something about foreign demand by region, though neither data set breaks down foreign demand by nationality and region, which would be really interesting to know.

Third-best Q1 on record

The latest figures reveal that 159,324 home sales witnessed by notaries in Q1 of this year involved a foreign buyer, 2% lower than the same time last year, and the third-best Q1 on record. Sales were 37pc above the pre-pandemic five-year average, so the foreign appetite for homes in Spain has never looked back from the booster it got from Covid.

By segment, expats were down 1pc and foreign non-residents buying second homes and investments down 4pc.

By region the Valencia Community was the most popular destination amongst foreign buyers, with 34% of the market, followed by Andalusia (18%) and Catalonia (17.5%). In terms of annualised change, Murcia performed the best (+6%), followed by the Valencian region (-2%) and Catalonia (-5%). Sales in Andalusia were down 17%. 

By nationality, the ranking by volume is almost always the same each quarter, with the British, Germans, and French in the lead, but what’s more interesting is the annualised percentage change. In Q1 the Irish were up the most (+11pc), followed by Ukrainians (+8pc), Chinese (+5%), Dutch (+4pc) and Poles (+3.5pc). Everyone else declined, led by the French (-24pc), Russians (-20pc), Germans (-17pc), Americans (-16pc) and British (-11pc). The annualised declines are illustrated in the chart above.

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