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


Member comments

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


How does Spain’s new website to find cheap homes up for auction work?

Spain’s Tax Agency has created a new web page where you can find great bargains on properties sold at auction. Here’s what you need to know.

How does Spain's new website to find cheap homes up for auction work?

If you’re looking for a property to buy in Spain, one option you may want to consider is buying a home at auction, where you will often pay below the market value.

In Spain, the Agencia Tributaria or Tax Agency owns many properties, most of which have been repossessed or seized due to outstanding debt.

Many of these properties are put up for auction, enabling you to get some great bargains. Up until now, it has been difficult to find out when these auctions are held and the details of the homes being sold, but recently the Agencia Tributaria launched a new web page providing all this information.

The page provides details on all the properties in all the different provinces across the country and is dedicated to the sale of homes, garages, plots of land and commercial spaces with prices from just €20,000. You can access the site here

When you get to the page, simply click on the province that you’re interested in and you’ll find a list of all the properties to be sold at auction there, including photos, information on the size and number of rooms, a description, and a guide price.

The site will also give you financial information such as the minimum bid amount, the auction value and an appraisal of the property.

When you find some properties that you’re interested in, you can go and log-in with your [email protected] PIN to save them to your favourites list and receive notifications to your phone about the date of the auction.

READ ALSO: How to save lots of time on official matters through Spain’s online [email protected] system

According to property giant Idealista in order to place a bid, you must pay 5 percent of the starting price and when the auction is over, if you are the highest bidder, you will have to pay the remaining amount within a particular time frame. You can pay this in cash or through a mortgage. 

Be aware that you may also have to pay several fees, as well as the price of the property such as the Patrimonial Transfer Tax and Tax on Documented Legal Acts. 

If you register on the Auction Portal with your digital certificate or a username and password, you will also be able to see the bids that have already been made on the home, as well as the cadastral reference. You may also be able to place provisional bids ahead of time.

For those who are unsure of how the auction process works in Spain or are nervous about going to their first auction, the Tax Agency website also details all the auction and bidding procedures. For any other information that you can’t find online, you can call 91 598 63 34.