Property in Spain: Has the pandemic changed what foreign buyers look for?

Property in Spain: Has the pandemic changed what foreign buyers look for?
Americans are more interested than ever in buying a property in Spain's interior, such as the medieval city of Toledo. Photo: Greta Schölderle Møller/Unsplash
New data by Spain’s leading property website reveals that rather than change property preferences among budding foreign homeowners, coronavirus lockdowns and travel bans have further cemented what extranjeros (foreigners) look for in a Spanish home.

All that time spent locked up at home during 2020 led to a lot of soul searching among foreigners with an eye on Spain, and for many it instigated a desire to act soon on their dreams of owning a Spanish home.

According to Google Trends, the search “buy flat in Spain” was already huge in 2019, but interest didn’t fade out as a result of the financial and personal insecurity brought on by the pandemic – at some points demand grew.

Spain’s leading property search engine has now compiled and analysed data from the whole of 2020, shedding some light on what foreign buyers – who made up 9.5 percent of searches on Idealista – are looking for in their dream Spanish property in Covid times.

The usual suspects

British, German and French property hunters continued to top the podium in terms of property searches by foreign nationals on Idealista in 2020.

These three nationalities were the ones to buy the most homes in Spain in 2019, followed by Swedish, Italian and Dutch buyers.

Idealista’s data did reveal that from June to September of last year the highest foreign demand for Spanish properties on the coast came from the United States, but not throughout the year.

The same hotspots

In 2020, the provinces which foreign buyers were most interested in buying a property in Spain were Alicante (28.4 percent), Santa Cruz de Tenerife (26.2 percent), the Balearic Islands (25.6 percent), Malaga (22.2 percent) and Las Palmas (19.8 percent).

On the flipside, there was little demand from abroad for properties in Álava in the Basque Country (2.2 percent), Zaragoza in Aragón (2.6 percent), Valladolid in Castilla y León (2.6 percent) and Guadalajara in Castilla y La Mancha (2.9 percent).

So foreigners continue to prefer coastal holiday homes far more than those in Spain’s interior.

Mainly houses outside big cities, but not always

In the majority of cases, foreign property hunters searched for properties outside the big cities and urban areas, preferring a more rural setting but with good transport links and services.

There were nine provinces where budding buyers from abroad were looking for properties in the provincial capitals rather than in quieter towns and villages in the countryside.

These were Cádiz, Valencia, Barcelona, San Sebastian and Bilbao – all cities on the coast – as well the provincial capitals in the interior of Segovia, Madrid, Seville and Toledo.

The southern Spanish city Cádiz is very popular with British property hunters. Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen/Unsplash


Americans are more interested in Spain’s interior

US nationals topped property searches in Madrid, Salamanca, Ávila, Cuenca and Segovia, and came in second in others such as Guadalajara and Seville.

This bucks the trend of what most foreigners look for in a property in Spain – for it to be close to the coast – as all these provinces are situated in Spain’s interior, where summers can be sizzling hot and winters can be bitter cold.

Not all British, French and German buyers want to live on the costas

Although German buyers did top property searches in Spain’s two archipelagos – the Canaries and the Balearics – they also were the foreign property hunters with most interest in interior provinces such as Toledo and Teruel.

British buyers in most cases continue to favour their favourite coastal spots of Alicante, Malaga and Murcia, but there are some exceptions.

They topped searches for Andalusian provinces in the interior such as Jaén and Córdoba, as well as for most provinces in the windswept and rainy (but very green and beautiful) Galicia in Spain’s northwest.

French property searches in Spain for 2020 also produced some interesting results – they searched the most for properties in Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Castellón provinces, some of Spain’s most popular tourist spots.

Properties in Spain

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