Brexit has not put off British people from buying property in Spain this year
If you are thinking of, or are currently in the process of buying property in Spain, you may be asking yourself if this is the right time to do so. Many people move from the UK to Spain each year – some plan to move for their retirement, lots of families are looking for a holiday home in the warm sun, and many of course are looking to live and work in Spain for a better quality of life.
Whilst it is true that some people have been hesitant about moving to Spain due to the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, many other Brits realise that there has never been a better time to make the move to Spain.
According to The Statistical Information Center of Notaries in Spain, British buyers are still by far the largest number of foreign buyers of Spanish property, making up 14% of all foreign transactions. However, Brits are now buying on average 41 properties per day, or about 14.800 for the last 12 months up to June 2018, in Spain. It is nearly 10 times more than in 2008.
Our own statistics at PSS International Removals show that there is no let up in 2019. The reasons why people move to Spain are very clear and are never going to go away. Brits love the sun, sea, sand and Spanish lifestyle.
Below we look at why many people see the current timing as the perfect opportunity to buy property in Spain.
British property buyers are not put off by Brexit
The number of British people buying property in Spain was up 8% in 2018 compared to 2017. All the signs are that this trend looks to continue in 2019.
The ‘A Place In The Sun’ exhibition (based on the popular Channel 4 TV series), held in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow remains busier than ever with visitors looking to find out more about moving to Spain and other European destinations.
At PSS International Removals, we have found that our customers certainly have not been put off moving to Spain. In fact, have seen continuous year on year growth in international removals to Spain. 2019 in particular has seen a sharp rise in removals to Spain enquiries up 40% on the same period in 2018, and more than double the number of enquiries we received in 2015 – the year before the referendum. As an international removal company, we tend to receive enquiries once people are actually ready to move so these are more likely to be recent property buyers than people just thinking about buying a property overseas.
Whilst this may be in part due to more people choosing PSS over other companies to help them make the move, it is also shows that the Spanish international removals market is still very buoyant.
Many British buyers, especially retirees, are certainly not being put off starting a new life in the Spanish sun. Before April, Brexit could have been motivating people to take action sooner whilst the UK still remains in the EU. However, now we are well past the original expected leave date of 29th March and we are continuing to see an increase in people moving to Spain.
Why now is a good time to move to Spain
Spain has always been a favourite destination for UK sun seekers, be that for an annual holiday in the sun or for more long-term plans involving a move to the country. It is no wonder that after many years of holidaying in Spain hundreds of people choose to relocate there permanently each year. With a current population of over 300,000 Brits residing in Spain, one-third of them retirees, 2019 looks set to be yet another good year to move to Spain.
Spain’s current property market is also another good reason for buying a home there. Despite the impact that the Brexit vote had on the value of the pound, property sales in Spain have actually increased by nearly 20% in the past year according to figures released by the Institute for Statistics (INE). This demonstrates that the popularity and draw of Spain has remained very strong and it will take a lot more than a little political uncertainty to deter buyers.
Another advantage to making a move to Spain this year is that the process of moving within Europe is still easy to complete. We are not sure yet exactly how things will work after the Brexit date of 29th March 2019, and this is worth bearing in mind if you are definitely planning a move to Spain. It could be worth bringing your plans forward so your move falls before this cut-off date. Although moving will likely still be relatively easy during the two year transition, beyond this, there are far more uncertainties.
Buying Spanish property and moving to Spain after Brexit
Although the post-Brexit property purchasing procedures and rights of British people living in Spain are not totally clear, all the indications are that British people won’t have much to worry about.
We spoke to Sarah Coleman, Director of Unique Homes Spain to ask her advice for buying property in Spain after Brexit. Unique Homes Spain are a highly regarded estate agent that specialise in helping British people purchase properties in Spain. She has been been liaising closely with her local contacts in Spain and this is what she told us:
“We have been arranging meetings with local town hall officials and legal and tax officials to gain their input on the Brexit negotiations, and how this will really affect British people relocating or buying a second home in Spain. Their reactions have been surprising and from the Spanish perspective they are not concerned that this will have the impact on UK migrants that the British news portrays to everyone.
In fact, they are all of the same opinion that the majority of the tax and legal implications will remain the same and be unchanged for UK investors and migrants. There will be some small changes for sure, but these will not be as disruptive as first thought. For instance, there will be a visa requirement for those wishing to stay longer than 90 consecutive days who are not resident in Spain. But this will likely be a small charge levied at the airport and can be paid for on arrival into Spain at your arrival destination.”
The Spanish housing market
House prices in Spain have been steadily recovering since the 2008 financial crisis. On average property prices fell by 30% between 2008 and 2014, but are on the increase once again making Spanish property a good investment.
The first few months of 2019 has seen the Spanish property market be particularly buoyant with the average price increasing by 6% nationally and the outlook for the foreseeable future looks positive too.
Even property prices in Barcelona, which had been quiet due to the political unrest in Catalan, has seen prices increase by 1.6% in the first quarter of 2019. After all, Barcelona will always be one of Europe’s most desirable cities, just like the Costas will always have their attraction.
However, despite the rising prices, Spanish property is still very good value for money when compared to buying property in the UK and many British buyers are looking to invest now whilst there are so many good properties bargains available.
Spain is a great alternative for first-time buyers
First-time buyers are increasingly looking to Spain as an option to get onto the property ladder. According to recent research, Spain came out as second of 33 countries as best for first-time buyers. The reasons given were a combination of reasonable property prices combined with a favourable cost of living as well as good average salary growth levels – all good reasons for buying in Spain.
Those countries with the highest salary growth also had more affordable property prices, making places like Spain an ideal place for first-time buyers to settle and work. As the cost of living in Spain is on average 22% cheaper than in the UK, and the rents in Spain are on average 49% cheaper, you can see why it has become a very attractive place for young UK couples to build a life and not just for retirees.
If you want to take a look at how your current UK city compares with your desired place in Spain, use this handy cost of living comparison calculator. It can be very eye-opening to discover how much better off you could be living in Spain!
Spain encourages new investment
Spain is keen to attract foreign property buyers and investors. Foreign purchases made up a surprising 19% of all Spanish property transactions in 2018. Whilst most of these are from EU countries, many are from outside the EU including buyers from Morocco, Russia, and China. So British buyers do not have much to fear about the UK being outside the EU.
Many financial experts are predicting a surge in property sales across Spain after Brexit because they think that London property will become less attractive for investors. In fact, non-EU investors are already looking at the property markets in Barcelona and Madrid for their future investment opportunities and at the potential for good returns.
With such a healthy outlook for the Spanish economy over the coming years, it is no wonder that the Spanish government is still keen to attract Brits to move to Spain and invest in the country. In an interview on the BBC Andrew Mar Show Andrew Marr show, the Spanish foreign minister was keen to reassure us that following Brexit, all British expats living in Spain would have their rights protected, even if the UK leaves with ‘no deal’.
No matter what the outcome of the Brexit deal, the sun will always be shining on the beautiful Spanish beaches and the region will remain a strong attraction to Brits wanting to settle down in a warm and friendly environment. One thing is for sure, now is a good time to make a move to Spain. Waiting around for the outcome of Brexit may see the process not being quite as easy as it is today.
So why delay when you can enjoy your life in the sun now?
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This article was originally published on 1st March 2018 and has been updated