Spain Explained

Who is buying property in Spain?

One headline after another has provided a confusing picture over the last year of just how well the Spanish housing market is doing. With the release of the ‘Estadística Registral Inmobiliaria’ we can begin to see the true picture. What is clear is that overall, a higher percentage of houses are being sold to foreigners than ever before.

In 2006 8.97% of property bought in Spain was purchased by foreign buyers compared to 11.15% in 2013. The lowest point was in 2009 when only 4.24% of purchases were down to foreigners. Since then, the Spanish housing market has gradually recovered to its present high. During 2013 the total number of homes purchased in Spain was 329,146.

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It’s not just the overall figure that’s interesting, however. Dig further into the detail and we can see other trends emerging. The breakdown of nationalities shows that in 2013, most purchases of houses in Spain were made by people from the UK followed by a strong French and Russian market:

Nationality of purchaser % of foreign purchases  
UK15.10%
France9.84%
Russia8.58%
Belgium7.26%
Germany7.01%
Sweden5.63%
Norway5.27%
Italy3.65%
Algeria3.23%
China3.06%
Top 10 countries

The types of property that people from different countries are buying in Spain varies too. When the statistics are broken down into new property and resale we can see that there is a preference by French, Algerian, Italian and Chinese buyers for Spanish resale property.  On the other hand, Russian and Belgium purchasers prefer to buy from new. In most cases, however, it is a fairly even balance between the two:

Nationality of purchaser New  Resale
UK51.90%48.10%
France34.24%65.76%
Russia57.34%42.66%
Belgium57.86%42.14%
Germany47.2152.79%
Sweden53.43%46.57%
Norway51.40%48.60%
Italy40.59%59.41%
Algeria22.80%77.20%
China34.25%65.75%
Preference for new and resale property

For those wanting to sell their house in Spain it is beneficial to keep an eye on the trends for purchasing differently sized properties.

From the table below you can see that there is a tendency for Spanish property buyers from Norway, the UK and Russia to prefer larger properties. The Swedes, Italians, Algerians and the French, on the other hand have tended to go for slightly smaller homes.

Nationality of purchaserLess than 60m2  60m2 – 100m2Over 100m2
UK20.08%42.76%37.17%
France30.02%41.11%28.86%
Russia21.44%41.89%36.67%
Belgium21.31%43.41%35.27%
Germany25.95%36.20%37.85%
Sweden29.63%43.09%27.29%
Norway14.05%40.54%45.41%
Italy36.29%40.56%23.15%
Algeria26.89%62.32%10.79%
China16.76%56.17%27.07%
Preference according to property size

Where in Spain?

Nationalities do vary when it comes to picking where they want to live in Spain. The Balearic islands, Valencia and the Canaries are particularly popular overall with foreign buyers. Breaking this down even further by nationality we can see that there are definite regional preferences:

Nationality of purchaserPreferred regions
UKAndalucia, Valencia, Murcia, Asturias, Balearic islands, Canaries, the Basque country
FranceCantabria, Cataluña, Navarra, Basque country, Valencia
RussiaValencia, Cataluña, Andalucia,
BelgiumAndalucia,Valencia, Canaries, Murcia
GermanyBalearics, Canaries
SwedenValencia, Andalucia
NorwayValencia, Andalucia
ItalyBalearics, Canaries, Cataluña, Madrid, Navarra,
AlgeriaLa Rioja, Valencia, Aragon
ChinaMadrid, Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha, Cataluña, Basque country,

Particularly notable is the preference of the French for Cataluña, the British for Murcia and the Russians for Valencia.

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In summary

The statistics in themselves are interesting but what do they really tell us about house sales in Spain?

To summarise:

  • The foreign market is strong and getting stronger in relation to the overall purchase of property in Spain
  • The UK market remains the largest foreign market followed by France and Russia
  • Resale homes are most popular amongst French, Italian, Algerian and Chinese buyers
  • New homes are most popular amongst Russian and Belgium buyers
  • Larger homes are preferred by purchasers from Norway, the UK and Russia
  • Smaller homes are preferred by purchasers from Sweden, Italy, Algeria and France
  • Foreign purchasers make up a larger proportion of buyers in Valencia, the Canaries and the Balearic islands
  • There is a strong preference for the French settling in Cataluña, the British in Murcia and the Russians in Valencia
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