By Anayat Durrani
An increasing number of foreign investors are turning to Spain to live and work.
Interest in Spain comes from people seeking lifestyle changes due to the pandemic and a desire to have inflation proof assets through rural real estate, according to industry experts.
“Typically the clients tend to be from the USA, UAE and now since the finalization of Brexit the UK,” says Mohammad Butt, Barcelona office director at Lucas Fox. “The UK has been the largest growing market for us as before the referendum there was no need for British citizens to have the Golden Visa in order to stay more than 90 days in the EU.”
Butt says as a result of companies being more flexible on remote working and clients seeking out a higher standard of living, his firm is seeing more UK clients release equity from their UK homes in order to finance a property purchase in Spain.
Spain issued more than 370,000 first-time residency permits to non-EU nationals in 2021, marking a 31% increase to 2020 figures, according to new Eurostat data. This figure makes up 13% of the total number of residency visas issued throughout the EU.
Spain’s Golden Visa program
The Golden Visa program was launched in 2013 and requires an investment of at least €500,000 in Spanish real estate. Foreigners can then live and work in Spain legally and move freely within the borderless area of Schengen.
Raúl Piñera, partner at Piñera del Olmo Canals Law Firm in Spain, says people are attracted to Spain for “the good weather, the beaches, the low prices, the cultural offer, the fun parties and attractions and the international cities such as Barcelona.” He says many Americans like Spain because it’s also not too far by plane from the east coast.
“The government changed a lot of the system in July,” says Piñera. “They are trying to facilitate the residency much more than before. With the new regulations it will be easier for people who want to train or study in Spain, to stay after here with a work and residency permit.”
Some 5.4 million foreigners are living in Spain, as of January 2022, according to the country’s National Statistics Institute (INE). In 2021 alone, Spain gained 49,612 foreign residents. Moroccans comprise the largest group of residents living in Spain, then Romanians, UK nationals, Colombians and Italians.
“Now with the rise in oil and gas prices we once again are seeing clients from the UAE looking at purchasing property in Spain. As they tend to work within this sector which can fluctuate based on external economic conditions we have seen a rise in enquiries,” says Butt.
Foreigners investing in Spanish properties
Over the past 12 months, there has been a 141% increase in non-EU-buyers purchasing Spanish properties. British citizens make up 40% of the total nations looking for overseas homes in Spain, followed by 27% of Americans, according to media reports.
“The main reason it has been so popular is the low entry price point of 500,000 Euros and the ability to use the property as an investment vehicle,” says Butt. “We have seen a number of clients purchase the property and then immediately place on the rental market thus making it a solid and safe return on investment and a safe haven for their capital along with the other benefits of no restrictions within the Schengen zone.”
Spain is the thirteenth largest economy in the world. The country is drawing overseas buyers seeking out sunnier climates, rich culture and lifestyle, according to a report. Ugo Bagration, head of business expansion at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices office in Marbella, said in the report that the country is “proving to be a hub and destination for foreign investment within the real estate market.”
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