Owning a second home in Spain remains a deep-rooted dream among Belgians. Last year, more than 4,700 of our compatriots not domiciled in the country acquired a house or an apartment there, and this number continues to increase. But the days when you could afford a villa on the coast for a pittance are definitely over. Hence some changes of destination…
The Spanish real estate market has recovered very well from the health crisis. The total volume of sales and purchases increased by more than 15% between April 2021 and April 2022. According to figures from the Spanish notary, sales prices have increased by more than 8%. New homes have even appreciated by a good 10%.
The Spanish real estate market has recovered very well from the health crisis. The total volume of sales and purchases increased by more than 15% between April 2021 and April 2022. According to figures from the Spanish notary, sales prices have increased by more than 8%. New homes have even appreciated by a good 10%. For Marleen De Vijt, managing partner of the specialized agency Azull, real estate purchases by Belgians are very much in line with this trend. “Transactions had already been 17% higher last year, but perhaps this was, at least in part, a catch-up coming out of the confinements. That said, six months later, it becomes clear that the movement persists. It is as if among all the people who had intended to buy one day in Spain, many had suddenly decided. The pandemic and geopolitical tensions are probably not for nothing. The overwhelming majority of our customers do not buy to invest: 80% of transactions are carried out on a purely personal basis, even possibly to rent to family or friends. were so collapsed that it was easily possible to buy as a pure investment. Those days are definitely over: when you buy there today, it is out of love for the country and because the we want to live there.” Jeroen Bolle, the founder and manager of Vamos Immo, also notes that the number of Belgians looking for a house or an apartment in Spain continues to grow. “Teleworking is now entering the equation, potential customers can look anywhere,” he recalls. The man nevertheless recommends to “pure” investors to confine their research to the tourist coastal region. “There are certainly magnificent inexpensive fincas in the interior of the country, but the number of potential tenants there is obviously relatively limited”, he specifies. One of the most notorious changes in purchasing behavior is indeed geographical. The Costa Blanca has always greatly attracted our compatriots. But the Costa del Sol, located much further south, has been gaining popularity for a few years now. “Previously, we sold almost twice as many properties on the Costa Blanca as on the Costa del Sol, intervenes Marleen De Vijt. Today, the latter represents 40% of the number of transactions. The rise in prices on the Costa Blanca probably has a lot to do with it: the gap between the two continues to narrow. On one side or the other, it is increasingly necessary to count on a budget close to 250,000 euros. Moreover, the Costa Blanca is also the scene of a change: its southern part, towards Alicante, attracts more and more people. The same applies to Murcia and the Costa de Almeria where land, always inexpensive, is sold with the sun as a bonus. “The region of Calpe and Benidorm – basically, the northern Costa Blanca – has always been incredibly popular, says Jeroen Bolle. The southern Costa Blanca is now catching up, and its prices are starting to climb as well. The gap However, it is still relatively high: you can easily count 300,000 euros for a nice two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a good location in the north of the Costa Blanca, compared to 200,000 to 250,000 euros further south. towards Valencia, cities like Denia and Javea are increasingly in demand. In terms of facilities and catering, this region is gradually becoming a continental Ibiza.” “The Belgians are also starting to look towards the Costa Brava, adds Marleen De Vlijt. Real estate has always been more expensive there – and quite often a little more outdated – than on the other tourist coasts, but the region has the advantage of being much more easily accessible by car.Belgians who buy in Spain are generally more inclined to go back and forth than to settle there permanently.And in this respect, accessibility is obviously a major criterion. The fact that at the end of the health crisis, some people are still not very tempted to fly, also pleads in favor of the Costa Brava.” Another observation: the interest now marked for the interior of the country. A concept that should be interpreted in a broad sense. Indeed, while this term previously designated an area a few kilometers at most from the beach, a distance of around thirty minutes by car is no longer enough to discourage purchase candidates. The reason is simple: even if they are still 15% lower than on the Belgian coast, prices have increased considerably on the coast. For people looking for a large plot of land on which to build a house with a garden and beautiful swimming pool, it is now much more interesting to turn to land. Especially since after falling for years, interest rates are now skyrocketing. Financing the purchase of their dream therefore becomes in theory much more expensive for our compatriots. A reality nuanced by both Marleen De Vlijt and Jeroen Bolle, who recall how the vast majority of their Belgian customers pay cash. They therefore have little or no need to call on the banks. As we know, the marked tightening of the insulation and emission standards that real estate, and in particular new buildings, must meet in Belgium, helps to drive up prices. Spain has also required an energy performance certificate for several years, although obviously the issue is much more about protecting oneself from the heat than from the cold. “Most new buildings are fairly well insulated, observes Marleen De Vlijt, and the use of heat pumps is spreading. With regard to existing real estate, on the other hand, the legislation remains much less strict than in Belgium But people who decide to buy a property built in the 1980s or 1990s should know that they will one day or another be called upon to invest large sums in its energy renovation.” Jeroen Bolle recommends Belgians to choose new. “Not only for energy issues, but also because the quality of older real estate is still not the same as what Belgians are used to. New constructions on the coast now correspond much more to northern criteria -European, including in terms of layout and luxury of equipment.Nevertheless, for candidates whose budget is a little tighter, existing real estate is an interesting solution.Especially since the new supply of quality in the tourist coastal areas remains relatively limited, which propels prices up.” It should be noted that the runaway prices for materials are also being felt in Spain. Admittedly, the contracts of the large construction companies do not yet mention the possibility of reviewing the prices, but it would be enough for the contractors to reimburse the deposit to break them – the country works with guarantees not of completion, but of banks. And if the prices of certain materials were to end up exploding, the promoter could decide to interrupt, or even abandon, the projects not started. “Several large entrepreneurs have announced their intention to stop working at a fixed price, warns Marleen De Vijt. It remains to be seen whether the pill will pass.”