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Dutch, Irish and Norwegians are buying twice as many homes in Spain

The post-pandemic boom in foreigners buying homes in Spain is continuing, with a few new nationalities buying at record rates.

alfaz del pi
Norwegian and Dutch residents of the village of Alfaz del Pi in Alicante. The municipality has more foreign residents than Spaniards. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)

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.

Online searches

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.

READ ALSO: 15 things you need to know about Spain’s new startups law

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.

READ ALSO: Europeans are moving to Spain’s Canary Islands to avoid winter heating bills

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.

READ ALSO: Foreigners are paying more than ever for property in Spain

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PROPERTY

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.

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