23 Mar, 2024 @ 08:22
1 min read

Foreign buyers have never been more important to Spain’s property market, writes expert Mark Stucklin: This is who is buying

By Mark Stucklin

IN a mysterious way Covid-19 turned out to be a real tonic for the Spanish property market, boosting local, and in particular foreign demand to extraordinary highs in the wake of the pandemic. 

The two best years ever for property sales involving a foreign buyer were 2022 and 2023.

Using Land Registry figures (with the Q4 stats just published) we can calculate that 87,365 homes were sold to a foreign buyer last year.

Only 2022 was higher when 94,481 sales involved a buyer from abroad.

And the year-on-year decline of 8% is pretty small and less than the 10% decline recorded by local Spanish buyers in 2023.

Mark Stucklin e
Mark Stucklin

Indeed, mathematicians among you will work out this led to an increase in the market share of foreigners from 14.6% in 2022 to 15% in 2023, the highest level on record. 

So foreign buyers have never been more important to the Spanish property market than last year.

Market comparisons with 2022 say more about that year’s extraordinary boom than the year in hand, so comparisons with 2019, before coronavirus distorted the market, are also helpful for interpretation, as are comparisons with the 10-year average. 

Compared to 2019, sales to foreign buyers were up by a staggering 39% last year, and were up 41% compared to the 10-year average. 

In other words, 2023 was a great year when compared to any period other than 2022.

Sales by nationality

As always the biggest foreign market was the UK, with 8,327 residential property acquisitions in 2023, some 9.5% of the foreign market – a decline of 15% on the previous year – and 5% down compared to 2019. 

The UK has been the biggestmarket for property in Spain since records began, though its dominance has declined in the years since Brexit. 

British buyers head in the greatest numbers to the Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol as you might expect.

The second biggest market was Germany, with a market share of 7.3% and 6,350 sales, down 25% compared to 2023, but up 42% since 2019. 

The extraordinary explosion in the number of German buyers after 2020 was probably caused by changing priorities and lifestyles in the wake of the pandemic. 

Mallorca is the most popular destination for German buyers.

France was the third biggest market with a 6.7% share of the foreign market, which translated into 5,824 sales, down 6% compared to the previous year but up 18% compared to 2019. French buyers head across the border into Catalunya in the greatest numbers.

Of the other markets for which figures are published by the Registrars, sales declined the most year-on-year among the Swedes, down 40%, and increased the most with Russian buyers, up 60%, while Polish buyers are up by 5% among Poles and Irish.

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