In 2020, buyers will be kings: they will set the price of real estate in Spain. So far, it was still the sellers who were in a position of strength. Immediate consequence: a stability, even a fall in property prices in Spain. So in 2020, if you want to do good business, come buy in Spain and … negotiate!
It is barely a month to the end of 2019, a year of transition in the real estate market in Spain. A year of market stability after 3 years (2016, 2017 and 2018) a year of strong growth both in volume and in value. So what will the real estate market look like in 2020 in Spain?
2019, LOWER NUMBER OF FOREIGN BUYERS IN SPAIN
In 2019, Spanish residential real estate was characterized by:
- The first decline in the number of foreign buyers since 2010
- After 104,000 foreign buyers in 2018, we should return in 2019 to the level of 2017 with about 100,000 foreign buyers.
- Non-resident foreign buyers in Spain are less numerous (-10%). Resident foreign buyers are numerous (+ 2%).
- The most affected foreign markets are the northern European markets. Nordic (-25% for Swedes, Norwegians and Danes), British (-13%), Germans (-10%) and Belgians (-7%) … and Italians (-7%).
- The foreign markets that resist are the French (-1%), the Russians (-1%), and the Nordic with the exception of the Dutch (+ 2%).
- The markets on the rise are those of resident foreigners in Spain, Moroccans (+ 20%) and Chinese (+ 4%).
- A very slight decline in the domestic buyers market, for the first time since 2013.
- Variations of purchase prices in the old, very contrasted according to the cities: lower prices in Barcelona (impact of political events in Catalonia), very slight increase in Madrid, Seville and Murcia, important increase in Malaga, Granada, Cadiz, San Sebastian, Valencia, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca and Canary Islands.
- Rental prices up sharply throughout Spain (+ 5%). An increase due to the scarcity of supply and especially to the sharp rise in domestic demand.
- Two new laws, the new law on rentals and the new law mortgage, which favored for one, a decline in the rental supply and an increase in rents (owners fearing an increase in unpaid rent), and for the other, a fall in sales contracts in June and July (due to poor preparation of notaries and bankers).
- The generalization of municipal regulations governing the activity of tourist rentals in major cities (Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, San Sebastian, Bilbao, etc.). And the systematic collection by Hacienda (tax services) of personal and detailed data relating to these rentals.
- Historically low interest rates for Spain (and for all of Europe). And this despite new charges for Spanish banks … who are obliged to support the mortgage management fees that were before borne by buyers.
- Foreign tourist attendance up 1.3% in 2019 (67.10 million foreign tourists cumulative in the year 2019 to the end of September against 66.22 million in 2018).
The “Barcelona case”
The Catalan political crisis continues to impact the residential real estate activity of Barcelona, which is unable to recover its activity levels before 2017. Foreign investors have abandoned the Catalan capital for two years, especially in luxury real estate. They turned to other Spanish destinations. Madrid took advantage of this customer transfer. But also Valencia and Malaga, two cities where prices are rising sharply in 2019. Consequence, a moderate price decline but continues in the year 2019 in Barcelona. And stronger at the end of the year because of the bad image conveyed by the violent “events” of October. Beware, this negative image conveyed abroad by Catalan events also begins to negatively impact the rest of Spain for foreign investors.
In Madrid, the sharp price increases of 2017 (+ 7%) and 2018 (+ 20%) gave way to a much more moderate increase in 2019 (+ 2%).
Recall that in the vast majority of Spain, real estate prices at the end of 2019 are still lower than they were before the crisis more than 10 years ago.
WHAT WILL IT BE FOR 2020 IN THE FIELD OF RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE IN SPAIN?
If you had to remember only one word for 2020, it would be NEGOTIATE!
In 2020, buyers will be kings. On the one hand, the prices posted are overvalued in large Spanish cities. Especially in some neighborhoods of Barcelona, Madrid, Palma or Malaga. On the other hand, buyers are fewer. It is now time to negotiate. The minimum discount to obtain is 5% and sometimes 10% or more (for example in luxury real estate Barcelona).
After the general elections of November 2019, the arrival of Podemos (radical left) in power in support of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Party) can also worry investors. For example, Podemos favors the fixing of rents. This can discourage investors and reduce planned rental property programs.
So, in 2020, soft-landing or decline in real estate activity?
Both hypotheses are possible but in different zones:
- Lower activity and lower prices in the two major Spanish cities
- Significant decrease in the number of transactions and selling prices for Barcelona, if the political problem is not solved. Stability in the opposite case.
- Slight drop in number of transactions in Madrid, prices down in overvalued central districts
- Deceleration of real estate growth in other Spanish cities by volume and value
The national market (82% of real estate purchases are made by Spaniards) should also stabilize or even be slightly down. The confidence of Spanish households is undermined by national political instability and the events of Catalonia.
Spain is still in the European lead group for growth forecasts in 2020 with + 1.8%. With + 1.4% at European level, + 1.3% in France, + 1.2% for Germany, + 0.5% for Italy. But black clouds are piling up internationally. Growth rates are down, Brexit is still unresolved and the risks of a global crisis are increasing.
Tourism activity will remain at the record level of 2019.
The international market (purchases of foreigners in Spain) should remain stable, with some local declines (Barcelona in particular). Although they are less numerous than in 2018, foreigners will still be present to invest in Spain, attracted by lower prices than elsewhere in Europe, the sun and the sea!
The demand for real estate in 2020 will therefore be of the same order as that of 2019. With prices slightly down in the two large cities and stable elsewhere.
OUR ASSUMPTIONS FOR THE RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE MARKET IN SPAIN IN 2020
- Stability of the total number of residential real estate transactions at 550-560,000 units sold.
- The volume of foreign transactions will remain stable overall around 100,000 units. But we will note a further decline in Nordic and British customers offset by foreign customers residing in Spain.
- Stable sale prices in the old for sale, or even decline in some areas (Barcelona) or for some products (luxury real estate more than a million euros).
- New purchases will increase by 5% due to higher supply and lower prices.
- Rising prices of real estate rental.
- Spanish banks will continue to facilitate mortgage access for residents. Rates will remain low (2%), the number of mortgages will increase but the share of funding will be down (70%).
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