How coronavirus pandemic is driving down apartment prices in Barcelona

For those looking for an apartment in Barcelona, the coronavirus is proving to have a silver lining.

How coronavirus pandemic is driving down apartment prices in Barcelona
Rental prices are dropping with the lack of tourists. Photo: AFP

A new study published by APATUR (the Association for Tourism Rental Apartments in Barcelona) found that a whopping 62 percent of the city’s short-term tourist rentals – over 5,900 apartments – have been converted to residential apartments since May.

Tourist rentals have long been a controversial topic in Barcelona, where rents have soared well above the Spanish average in recent years, and short-term rental platforms like AirBnB are blamed for driving up prices and angering locals.

A protest in Barcelona demanding a stop to mass tourism before coronavirus hit. Photo: AFP

But COVID-19 fears and travel restrictions have, for the first time in a decade, slowed the flow of tourists into the city: in August the popular tourist routes like Las Ramblas were all but empty, and international tourism basically disappeared. 

A woman walks her dog through an otherwise empty Ramblas during lockdown. Photo: AFP

To top it off, at the end of August, the city government (ayuntamiento) introduced a 1-year ban on renting out individual rooms to tourists, going against the regional government’s (Generalitat) decree in August allowing private apartments to rent out rooms to up to four people for a maximum of 31 days, provided the owner was also living in and sharing the flat. 

The city government said the law was “dictated by AirBnb” and demanded more restrictions and oversight of tourism  rentals.

Are real estate prices coming down?

According to the real estate platform Idealista, the average price of rental apartments listed on their website has plummeted 9 percent since May (-3.9 percent when compared to prices in August 2019), and the average sales price has dropped 4 percent. 

Evolution of rental prices in Barcelona over the last five years. Source: Idealista

Part of this could be due to the influx of short term rentals that have become residential apartments. As the pandemic prompts more people to telework, there’s also increased speculation that populations will shift away from cities.

Colliers International Spain said that second-hand home prices in popular Spanish tourist destinations–including Barcelona– could drop by as much as 10 percent by the end of the year, with prices in Barcelona falling even in central neighborhoods. 

 If you are looking to purchase property in Barcelona (or move to a different flat), now could well be a good time to start your search. 

By Sam Harrison in Barcelona


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EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

If you get locked out, have a break-in or need to change or fix the door lock at your home in Spain, here are the rates and advice you need before calling a Spanish locksmith (cerrajero).

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

Like anywhere, locksmiths are generally expensive and the price can vary greatly depending on the service you need and where you are.

It also depends on when you need them, as it’ll cost much more to call them out on a Saturday night than a Monday morning, for example.

Nor would it cost the same to open your front door as it would a reinforced security door.

But locksmiths don’t just make copies of keys and bail you out when you’re stuck outside your flat.

They also offer a whole host of different services including, but not limited to, opening safes, creating master keys, installing security doors, anti-drill doors, cutting specialist locks that reject copied keys, and even unlocking the boot of your car.

How much does a locksmith cost in Spain?

Given all these variables, the price can range massively.

According to Cronoshare, the average price for a nationwide call out in Spain can start from €80 anywhere up to €400.

On average, for a basic service, you can expect to pay anywhere between €40-€70 an hour for the labour, with the price of changing or installing a basic lock anywhere between €80-€200. 

For basic door openings, it depends on the situation you find yourself in: for doors locked with a key, which is a more complex task, prices average around €200, and for doors that are jammed or slammed shut, slightly cheaper in the €80-€100 range.

For an armoured or security door, prices can start at around €300.

In short, a general rule is that the more complex the task is, the higher the prices.

And as always, prices can vary depending on where you are in Spain, the quality of the locksmith, the time of the day and week you need his or her services, and if its a public holiday or not. 

So, as always, compare prices to try and find the most economical solution without skimping on quality.

As such, the following rates are estimations taken from average prices from locksmith.

Weekend/holiday rates

Where prices can really start to add up, however, is when you have an emergency situation requiring a locksmith’s assistance at the weekend, on a public holiday, or outside of normal working hours.

And if you live in Spain, you probably know there’s quite a few of those days throughout the year.

If you really need a cerrajero on a public holiday or during non-working hours (usually defined as anything between 8pm-8am) prices can reach €300 or €500 due to the fact you’ll have to cover the cost of travel, which starts from around €40 plus the increased rate.

Then you must also include the price of labour to the flat rate, which is usually somewhere between €40 and €70 an hour regardless of when you call them out.

Key vocabulary 

We’ve put together some of the basic vocabulary you might need if you find yourself needing a locksmith while in Spain.

el cerrajero – locksmith

la llave – the key

la llave de repuesto – the spare key

la puerta – the door

la cerradura – the lock

la bisagra – the hinge

día festivo – public holiday

cambio de bombín – change of cylinder lock

puerta blindada – armoured door

coste de mano de obra – labour costs

quedarse afuera – get locked out 

puerta cerrada de un portazo – door slammed shut

puerta cerrada con llave – locked door

Tips relating to choosing a good locksmith in Spain 

If you’ve just started renting a new place or have bought a property, it’s advisable to change the lock as you don’t know who has keys to your front door. If you’re a tenant, try to negotiate this with your landlord as it’s in both of your interests that only you two have keys to the property.

If there has been a burglary in your property while you’re living in it and there’s no sign of forced entry, then there’s a very big chance that the burglars had a copy of your keys, and you should definitely change the locks. 

If you’ve lost your keys and you think it happened close to your home, again it’s advisable for you to change the locks.

One of the best ways to avoid being locked out and having to cough up a hefty sum is to give a spare set to someone that you trust that lives in your town or city in Spain. 

When it comes to choosing a locksmith in Spain, you should make sure he or she is a reputable one. Asking friends and family first can be your first port of call.

If not, make sure you read reviews online if available to get any insight beforehand.

In order to avoid any nasty surprises, ask them on the phone for a budget (presupuesto) for all the costs attached to their services before accepting.

Be wary of cerrajeros that automatically want to change the whole lock when a simpler and less costly option is possible. 

Usually they should offer you a contract for you to read carefully before signing. It should include a three-month guarantee for the potential new lock or at least a breakdown of the costs.

Make sure that they are not charging you an excessively high price if it’s an emergency, as this is not actually legal.

There’s also asking them to prove their accreditation with the Unión Cerrajeros de Seguridad (UCES).

Weekend and holiday rates can be higher nonetheless, so consider your options and if it’s worth staying with a friend or family member for a night to save some money. A trustworthy and honest cerrajero will let you know about the money you could save if you choose to wait as well.