British expats are ploughing cash into the Spanish property market in increasing numbers despite concerns over their rights after Brexit.
Data from bank BNP Paribas reveals that 17% of all home purchases in Spain were made by foreign buyers – and of those, one in five was from Britain.
Other housing data from the Spanish Registrar’s Association tells a similar story.
The SRA says foreigners snapped up homes accounting for 13.25% of the Spanish housing market, but claimed the British contingent was shrinking due to Brexit.
In 2015, British buyers purchased 21% of homes, while last year, the figure dropped to 19%. However in statistical terms, the numbers are close and do not amount to a trend.
Brits put brakes on buying homes
Market share also moves in line with buyers from more countries investing in Spain and the number of sales growing from 300,000 in 2013 to more than 455,000 in 2016.
Factors blamed for the fall in British buyers include Brexit and the doubts over their rights following the UK leaving the European Union.
This is countered by the greater availability of mortgages in Spain, as the banks have laxer borrowing rules than those in Britain.
Underwriters work out the buyer’s debt ratio, which covers all credit in Spain and overseas, and if test is passed, a mortgage is generally advanced.
Spanish mortgage rates are currently around 1.99%.
Problems with squatters
Spain is a favourite retirement and holiday home destination for the British, with an estimated 308,000 people mainly clustered around the Mediterranean coast, the Balearics and the Canaries.
The only other EU countries with more than 100,000 British expats are France (152,000) and Ireland (106,000), according to Full Fact, the fact checking charity.
Meanwhile, another separate survey reveals the extent of the problem of squatters in Spain.
Around 275,000 squatters are illegally occupying homes, with some moving to expat neighbourhoods as well as the big cities, says the study by Instituto Cerda.
“The evolution of illegal occupation can be explained by the increase in poverty, the scarcity of social housing, and the existence of a stock of empty homes.” says the report.