I did purchase an apartment in Barcelona in August. I had ‘special circumstances’ so I moved ahead with the purchase.
Would I buy now? It depends. I wanted and purchased an atico (penthouse). Because there are not very many of these available in Barcelona, I was not able to negotiate the price down as much as I would have liked.
If you are not looking for something ‘rare’ I think it is a good opportunity to buy now. The owners/agents of almost every apartment I inspected were lowering their asking price while I was there.
You may find the process of getting a mortgage very difficult. If you need a mortgage, you may want to first consult a few banks to see if a mortgage is possible. Also, most of the banks only provide variable-rate mortgages, which is a ticking time-bomb in my mind.
My advice is to take your time, be deliberate and in your negotiations.
Some of my concerns that persist include the stability of the euro, the stability of Spain, increasing crime rates, increasing despair, the potential for the government of Spain to turn fascist, and the move for independence in Catalunya.
Regardless if Catalunya’s move for independence is effective, I fear Spain’s response will be violent and and stupidly punitive.
I am not concerned about values dropping as I am in this for the long term.
Another factor to consider is that if/when prices do drop, the only bargains will be in truly inferior apartments. When I was in the market, the bank-owned properties being advertised were few and overpriced. That has changed, but maybe not so much in Barcelona. Make sure you check the bank listings.
To give you some idea, we paid 325k for a penthouse of 89m2, with 2 terraces that together are 62m2. The escritura showed that the former owner paid $453k in 2006, and he hinted that he actually paid more, off the books. The price we paid is about 100k below his original asking and 32k below his ‘final’ low asking price of 357k. I believe that had the owner been Spanish (he was Russian), we could have negotiated the price even lower, and I expect that the value may fall further, probably to 260k when the markets bottoms-out.
But I also believe that with two terraces, one facing west and the other facing east, with nice views (including sunrise and sunset) and a good location, our atico will always be sellable, so for me it was worth the risk.
If possible, see if you can talk with your potential future neighbors about the ‘communidad’ – the apartment owners association. Ours is a nightmare, not that it would have deterred me.
I don’t know your age, but waiting for the market to bottom-out may be a long wait. The dynamics of the economy are very different in the US, but most people were caught unaware that the market in the San Francisco Bay Area hit bottom early last year.
Finally, I made this purchase knowing that no matter what happens with the market, politics, etc., it will not affect my overall economic ‘health.’ If having the value of your new apartment fall to nothing for a few years will affect your overall economic and/or emotional stability, you may want to hold off. On the other hand, if buying something to enjoy now and for a long time to come will bring you happiness, go for it!
Great post. I may not always agree with your opinions but you obviously have an informed knowledge of the Barcelona housing market and its current situation. Thanks for sharing your insights.