Spain has long been a destination for foreigners looking to buy a family home or holiday getaway. Traditionally, the majority of these buyers have come from certain countries – mainly Britons, Germans, French, and Americans.
But 2022 has seen a new trend emerging, with both purchases and online demand from newer, smaller European countries on the rise.
According to figures from Spain’s General Council of Notaries (Consejo General de Notariado), foreigners bought 72,987 homes in Spain in the first half of the year, the highest figure since records began back in 2007. Property purchases by non-Spaniards made up a fifth (20.3 percent) of the total number of transactions throughout the country, matching the record high recorded in the second half of 2015.
Among the foreigner buyers, there are the usual suspects who have long made Spain home, or a holiday home, at least, namely the British, Germans and French, although 2022 has also seen newer groups of buyers from different countries.
In the first half of the year the Dutch, Norwegians and Irish have been buying Spanish property in record numbers and significantly boosting property sales in Spain.
In fact, according to the figures, buyers from the Netherlands, Norway and Ireland have between bought more than double the number of properties between January and June compared to the first half of 2021.
Purchases by all nationalities increased by an average of 52.75 percent, but those made by the Dutch (121.5 percent), Norwegians (119.5 percent) and the Irish (106.7 percent) skyrocketed at the start of 2022.
Dutch buyers, for example, bought 3,641 homes in Spain in the first half of 2022, making them the foreign group that buys the seventh most houses in Spain.
Irish buyers completed 1,395 property transactions, the second highest figure since 2007, and though Norewgian buyers only contributed 979 home sales, it is the highest figure in four years.
But it’s not just foreigners coming to Spain and looking for homes that explains this uptick in foreign purchases. Online searches on the Spanish property website Idealista have also surged in the first half of 2022. In fact, the number of searches on the Spanish site from Holland, Ireland and Norway have doubled since 2020.
The Irish in particular seem very keen to find Spanish property online: the number of visits skyrocketed by 32 percent year-on-year so far this year and 122 percent compared to 2020, with approximately 334,000 total searches.
And though the Norwegians aren’t actually buying as many Spanish properties as other nationalities, the online demand is certainly there and could suggest an uptick in the future. Searches for Spanish property in Norway have increased by 18 percent compared to last year and by 111 percent compared to 2020, with almost 131,400 visits.
Why the rise?
So what explains this increase in foreign property buyers in Spain? Luis Corral, CEO of Foro Consultores, told Idealista that some of the driving forces are “Teleworking, retirement, the need for more open spaces, good weather and good communications. And in these times of energy crisis, living in a much warmer area, especially in winter, means significant savings.”
The increase in ‘teleworking’ (teletrabajo), and normalisation of working from home following the COVID-19 pandemic has led many from colder, northern European countries to consider relocating to Spain as a base for their flexible working arrangements. In fact, this is something the Spanish government is hoping to cater to with its recently passed Startups Law that appeals to ‘digital nomads’ and startup businesses.
Obviously, as is the case for many foreigners coming to Spain, the relative cheapness of both properties and the cost of living compared to Northern Europe is also factor, as is the weather and pace of life. However one much more recent trend has been foreigners buying property in Spain, often a second home, in order to spend the colder winter months in Spain as a means of saving money during the energy-intensive colder months in the northern continent.
Despite rocketing energy bills in Spain, prices are still below many other European countries, thanks in part to the government VAT cut (LINK) and the so-called Iberian exception.
Foro Consultores explained that “the rise of teleworking has become a lever of change for foreign investment… which prioritises pleasant environments with complete services to develop their employment. And not only in front of the sea, but also in urban areas of coastal cities.”
According to consultancy, the most popular locations among foreign buyers include the Canary Islands, Costa del Sol and the Valencia region, but Malaga on the Costa del Sol in particular has emerged as a destination for foreigners, especially from the Nordics, where increasing numbers are buying holiday homes or properties for long periods of teleworking.
Type of property
Generally speaking, foreigners aren’t competing with Spaniards for the same properties. According to Foro Consultores, foreign property buyers in Spain usually buy “larger houses than those bought by Spaniards, with large spaces both indoors and outdoors, and adapted to spend long periods.”
And they pay more, too, on average. During the first half of 2022, the Norwegians paid €2701/m2, third only to the Danes and Americans. The Dutch paid €2252/m2, and and Irish €2092/m2. The average price across all foreigners was €2062/m2, and for Spanish buyers just €1560/m2.