SHARE
COPY LINK
EXPAT PROPERTY

REAL ESTATE

Spain’s ‘golden visa’ suffers shaky start

Just 72 people have signed on to a controversial Spanish 'visa for cash' scheme which grants automatic Spanish residency to people who buy a property worth at least €500,000 ($685,000).

Spain's 'golden visa' suffers shaky start
Photo: Tomás Fano

The so-called 'golden visa' scheme has reaped only small rewards, according to Spain's El País newspaper.

Introduced in September 2013, the law gives foreigners who invest large sums in Spanish property, public debt and projects of general interest the right to reside in Spain.

For property investors, the mininum investment before taxes and changes is €500,000. Once the extra costs are factored in, however, the real cost is closer to €600,000.

While the law doesn't give people the right to work in Spain, there is one tasty added extra: it gives non-EU citizens access to the entire Schengen area.

To date, however, only 72 people have managed to take advantage of the visa deal via the property route.

Half of these cashed-up foreigners are Chinese and Russians, according to figures from Spain's Secretary of Immigration. People from strife-hit Ukraine, Lebanon and Egypt have also signed up the figures show.

Seven months into the scheme, it is too early to say whether the scheme has been a success. 

But Jason Ham, Head of Business Development, with Barcelona-based high-end real esate agent Lucas Fox is upbeat about the numbers.

"These figures are very similar to the initial take up in Portugal, where there was only a handful in the first six months, but the first year ended up with over 700 successful applications. We expect the same to happen in Spain, " he told The Local.

"We are well aware that Chinese investors in particular take much longer to research new markets, and that last year there was still residual bad press about the poor state of the Spanish economy," Ham explained 

"From our extensive contacts in China and the Far East, we know that there is huge interest over there, and that this will soon convert itself into business and investors aiming to obtain a Golden Visa."

But Ham also admitted a lack of clarity about the rules was causing some problems.

"There are certain areas of the law that could certainly do with clarifying —  even very minor 'grey' areas can cause uncertainty for potential buyers in a new country," he said.

Ham added Portugal was slightly more attractive to some golden visa applicants because it provide an easier route to citizenship.

"We would not be surprised to see a few official 'tweaks' (to the Spanish scheme) in the near future," the property experty said.

But the early figures are still unlikely to provide much comfort to a government trying to stoke up interest in the country's real estate sector.

The Spanish government first touted the golden visa scheme in November 2012, setting the property investment hurdle at €160,000, a figure many believed made Spain look cheap when compared to the €400,000 sum demanded by Portugal and Ireland for non-European Union residency permits.

This figure was then raised to €500,000 before the law was passed in September 2013.

The controversial law was slammed by refugee and immigrant groups who called it a slap in the face to people who spent years making the country their home.

Don't miss stories about Spain, join The Local on Facebook and Twitter.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

PROPERTY

REVEALED: The cheapest most in-demand areas in Spain to buy a house

If you're considering making the move and buying property in Spain, but don't fancy purchasing in a rural village in the middle of nowhere, you should know where the cheapest, most in-demand parts of the country are.

REVEALED: The cheapest most in-demand areas in Spain to buy a house

If you’re thinking about relocating, Spain is a fantastic place to do it. Foreigners have been moving to Spain for decades, not only for its fantastic food and weather, along with a laid-back lifestyle, but housing is generally affordable – if you know where to look.

Though the rise in the Euribor has sent interest rates spiking, house prices in Spain are expected to flatten somewhat in 2023 and it could be a good year to find a bargain, depending on your financial situation.

Knowing what type of house you want and where in Spain you want to live is one thing, but knowing the cheapest, yet most in-demand parts of the country could really help you narrow down your search.

Fortunately, Spain’s leading property website Idealista has put together a list of the most ‘in demand’ municipalities of Spain and where you can find the most expensive and, more importantly for the house hunters among us, the cheapest municipalities of Spain to buy property.

It’s based on data from the last quarter of 2022 and is the average price of housing in towns with more than 1,300 sale announcements and costs valued at more than €1,100 per square metre. 

You can find the ten cheapest areas of Spain to buy property by average price below, but it’s worth noting that Idealista did these rankings by average price across the entire municipality, so there are likely individual towns and villages dotted around Spain where prices are significantly lower.

That said, this list gives you a good idea of the areas to look out for.

READ ALSO:  What will happen with property prices in Spain in 2023?

The 10 cheapest municipalities in Spain to buy property 

Santa Pola (Alicante) – Santa Pola, in the Alicante province, is the cheapest most in-demand municipality to buy a house, according to Idealista’s rankings. The average price for a house in Santa Pola costs just €151,796, though this may come as a surprise given its prime location in a foreign hotspot on the sought-after Costa Blanca. The main town of Santa Pola itself is a small beachfront community with a population of around 35,000. It also has a large foreign population and is a short drive or bus away from both Alicante and Elche.

Ourense (Galicia) – Next on the list is Ourense in Galicia where the average price is €154,941. The municipality is home to several towns and villages, surrounding the main medium-sized town of Ourense itself in southern Galicia. The town has a population of around 105,000 and is a little over an hour’s drive from both Santiago de Compostela and the coastal city of Pontevedra.

Oviedo (Asturias) – Third on the list is the municipality of Oviedo where you’ll pay an average of €154,968 for a property. Another area in northern Spain, the main city Oviedo itself, which is the capital of Asturias and has a population of 220,000. It sits between Cantabrian mountains and the Bay of Biscay. It’s known for its picturesque medieval old town and impressive architecture. 

Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) – Properties cost an average of €155,563 in the municipality of Jerez de la Frontera, or Jerez as it’s commonly referred to. It’s located in the Cádiz province of Andalusia and is a real piece of ‘traditional’ Spain. Jerez city is a decent-sized place with a little over 200,000 people and is known for horses, flamenco dancing and sherry, as well as the Alcázar de Jerez, an 11th-century fortress that harks back to Andalusia’s Moorish past.

READ ALSO: Is it better to buy or rent in Spain right now?

Torrevieja (Alicante) – Another municipality in Alicante and another incredibly popular with foreign homeowners. Properties here go for an average of €155,787. Torrevieja itself has a population of 82,000 and is another coastal town, but also has nature trails and salt plains nearby.

Murcia (Murcia) – Murcia is often overlooked, wedged between Alicante and Andalusia, but you could grab a bargain here with average prices of €157,119. Murcia capital is a bustling city of almost 450,000 people, and is strategically placed for trips to the Costa Blanca, Costa Calida, Costa del Sol, and Costa de Almeria.

Parla (Madrid) – The municipality of Parla lies just 20km south of Madrid and the town of the same name is home to 130,000 residents. It’s a great commuter area for those who work in Getafe or the capital. A house here costs an average of €160,652. 

Salamanca (Castilla y León) – The municipality of Salamanca surrounds the capital of Salamanca in Castilla y León in northwestern Spain. Buying a property in this area costs an average of €162,909. The main city of Salamanca is known for its university, which is the oldest in Spain and dates back to 1218. Understandably, much of Salamanca’s roughly 150,000 residents are students, which gives the town a lively atmosphere.

Burgos (Castilla y León) – Another northwestern Castilla y León municipality, is Burgos has around, where you can buy a house for just €163,164. The city of Burgos has around 180,000 inhabitants and is known for its medieval architecture and grand cathedral. 

Dos Hermanas (Sevilla) – The second most populous municipality in the province of Seville, properties cost an average of €163.274 here. The Andalusian town is just 15km south of Seville, making it great for commuters or those who want plenty of culture nearby. 

SHOW COMMENTS