Buying Property in Spain
Investors are returning to the Spanish property market in increasing numbers following the bursting of the property bubble and financial crisis of 2008/2009. Property values have fallen by as much as 50 percent and beyond in some areas, creating pain for those who bought at the top of the market, but opportunity for new investors.
It’s not just individual investors who are returning to the market, but also large institutional property investment firms. They typically are purchasing tranches from the “bad bank,” set up by the Spanish government to relieve pressure from its banks, and also directly from banks and other institutions.
Like any investment, we would much rather purchase an asset at the bottom of its cycle than its peak. Easier said than done. I would challenge anyone who purports to be able to pick the top and bottom of any market; however, there are several pertinent points to consider when looking at the present value of the Spanish property market. The market has fallen considerably, Spain’s economic outlook appears to be slowly improving, tourism in many areas actually has picked up over recent years and demand from international individual and institutional investors is increasing.
Buying property in Spain, particularly around the yachting centers of Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, has historically been popular and is becoming popular again, but the cost of purchasing property varies from region to region. In Catalonia, the transfer tax for the purchase of a secondhand dwelling has increased to 10 percent of the purchase price as regions look to increase their tax revenue. When you include notary fees, registration fees, property valuation costs, etc., the purchase costs can be estimated at 13 percent of the purchase price.
Borrowing in Spain, despite what you may hear, is still possible for yacht crew. Most banks will lend a maximum 60 percent of the property’s value to non residents, and a few will now lend up to 70 percent, dependent on the applicant’s financial circumstances.
Assuming the highest loan to value of 70 percent and purchase costs of approximately 13 percent, investors would need equity of at least 43 percent of the purchase price to complete the acquisition. For Spanish residents, the loan to value figure generally increases to 80 percent, again dependent on a person’s circumstances. If the property is subsequently rented, the income is taxed at marginal rates. Ongoing local taxes also apply, although they are relatively low in most municipalities; capital gains tax and inheritance tax may also be levied.
It’s recommended that professional advice be sought before making any property investment. A mortgage broker should be able to source the best terms and conditions for any financing that you may need.