A tale of two Spanish property markets

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times... Now we're living in an interesting time, when two very different real-estate markets exist, like parallel realities, at the same time

LAST UPDATED: 15 Oct, 2015 @ 13:57

‘LA crisis’ hit Spain hard and, for many, where it hurt most. Property prices have plunged by 40% on average nationwide since 2008, hitting rock-bottom at the end of 2013, leaving many homeowners with negative equity, the prospect of decades of debt, and at risk of repossession.

Adam-Neale-Property-InsiderBut, since the first quarter of 2014 a slow recovery has been taking place, at least in premium locations – like Madrid, Barcelona, and the Costa del Sol – where the combination of limited stocks of new and resale property, and rising demand from, mostly, overseas clients is
driving prices and sales up.

More than 365,500 homes were bought in Spain in 2014, a jump of 21.6% compared to 2013. While far from the record 955,000 properties sold nationwide in 2006 at the height of the boom, the trend looks set to continue, albeit at a steadier rate than before. In the first eight months of 2015, the number of homes that changed hands nationwide climbed by 12%, year-on-year. House sales Spain-wide rose by over 24% in August, compared to the same month the previous year, reaching a total of 29,369 transactions, according to the latest data from the National Statistics Institute. Equally, there is still – and will be, for quite some time – a sizeable surplus of less desirable housing that languishes unsold, much of it built just before the rollercoaster started heading downhill.

The latest Real-Estate Market Statistics Report by RR de Acuña y Asociados, looking at the 1.6 million homes for sale in Spain at the end of last year, found that more than 650,000 of the total were located in areas ‘with no demand whatsoever.’

From personal experience, I can vouch for the fact that new-build, luxury properties in prime areas of the Costa del Sol are selling like hot cakes. Cash-rich overseas clients, who don’t depend on Spanish banks for finance, are snapping up high-end houses faster than they can be built. Before accusations of irrational exuberance, let me qualify those remarks: this is still a niche market, one that is firmly focused on serving the increasing demand for brand-new, contemporary-style homes.

In Malaga province, licenses for new-build properties rose for the third consecutive quarter from July to September, reaching 922 for the three-month period and taking the annual total to almost
1,800, the highest figure for five years and three times as many as in 2014.

And, in hotspots like Marbella, where demand begins to outstrip supply, the lack of quality resale properties on offer and the shortage of land available to develop is fuelling a sharp upturn in interest among affluent foreign purchasers wanting well-appointed cutting-edge properties.

Norwegian property developer Solvilla is among the companies that are setting their sights on the luxury end of the market. Their Los Olivos project in Nueva  Andalucía, a gated development of 19 modern villas in the Costa del Sol’s Golf Valley, has almost sold out its first phase (six of the seven properties have gone off-plan) and two of the remainder in phase two have already found buyers, despite only being launched in September.

“The market is definitely moving,” Torgeir Wemmestad-Haaland, Solvilla’s CEO, insists. “Agents in Marbella have had the busiest summer in a long time and we see a clear trend that buyers prefer new modern villas. Land prices have doubled in 18 months and that will be reflected in the future price of new-build homes. We started selling mainly to Scandinavians and have seen
increasing interest from French, Italian, and English buyers.”

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  1. property sales are up. Content buyers searching for a econd home and not a bargain investment with rental potential come out winning and happy with the value of their purchased home. Prices are low and currently the value of properties is at a higher tier. Developments are on the rise with amenities in the area and helping with value. Beach front is not as accessible but the british conform with excellent weather and beatiful views minutes drive to the beach. Clients are purchasing cash more frequently than they are with a mortgage and on occasion use a mortgage to maximize thier purchasing power. Marks facts are acurrate you just need to focus on whats worthy of attention in the market today and for the future. Comunity owners are renting thier properties more frequently which has helped convince them of the potential, future forcasts are positive. rent to sale clients are on the rise, and generally modern housing complexes on upper floors are being swiped up in seconds. Buyers who are dreamers thinking they will get a modern beach front property with all their search criterias while on a less than average budget will always complain.

  2. Good to see that licences for new-build properties are rising in some areas – this will create jobs in the construction industry. Obviously there will be other areas where demand is low. As ever location is the key and doing your own research is a must if looking to snap up that bargain.