House buying in Spain

A typical homebuyer based in Spain at the moment is female, aged 40, and living with a partner and children, according to recent research.
Now that the pandemic is in its ninth month, estate agencies have collectively said more and more buyers are choosing to wait to ‘see what happens’, or because they are concerned another lockdown might affect their jobs – in fact, 88 percent have shelved their plans. But 21 percent say they intend to buy a property in the next five years – either their first, or to move house.
Not much has changed in terms of the typical profile of a person already living in Spain and seeking to buy a home since before the pandemic – just over half are female, about half of those with the desire to purchase are aged between 25 and 34, but among those who are expected to actually do so, the average age is 40, and normally from a middle-class background and of mid-range earnings.
The regions with the most Spanish residents very seriously considering a purchase, either within the same area or somewhere else altogether, are Andalucía (20 percent), Catalunya and Madrid (16 percent each).
Nationwide research by well-known property sales firms has shown the main reasons why those who have opted not to buy at the moment, and the figures are very similar for each to before the days of Covid-19. About a third say their job situation or income is not conducive to home-buying, and another third say they do not have enough in savings for the deposit and fees, which can be difficult for those not looking to sell a property first, such as those thinking of purchasing a second or subsequent home, or first-time buyers, as mortgages are typically capped at 80 percent of the price or value, whichever is lower, for a main residence and 60 percent for an additional property, such as a holiday home or a buy-to-let. However, a few lenders are still offering 100 percent mortgages.
A quarter say they have ‘other priorities or expenses at the moment’, and 22 percent say they already own a home and are ‘not in a hurry to move’ right now.
About three in 10 say current property prices are beyond their budget, or that they are currently ‘very high’ and they prefer to wait to see if they ‘slow down in a few years’.
This, of course, depends very much on the area; big cities, for example, have some of the highest home values in the country, but for those willing and able to commute, or who are now working from home – meaning where they live does not affect their jobs – properties out in the provinces, even on the coasts, can be a serious bargain.
The 8 percent who say they currently live in a town or city other than the one they would like to buy in, and cannot move house for the moment, and the 4 percent who say they cannot get the mortgage they need or even a mortgage at all, remain unchanged from before the Coronavirus crisis.
Lockdown earlier this year caused residents all over the country to rethink their living arrangements, with major consumer organisation OCU reporting that 28 percent had realised during their confinement that they wanted to move house.
A month into lockdown, various estate agencies reported a typical 40 percent hike in the number of website searches for homes for sale with gardens, balconies or terraces – the national shut-in was far easier for those who had outside spaces, especially large terraces with pools, than for residents who were literally stuck indoors for over two months.
Estate agencies in the province of Valencia reported, about a fortnight after the end of lockdown, that they had seen a fivefold increase in requests to view villas or detached, semi-detached or terraced houses with courtyards, terraces or gardens.

Snapped up
In fact, by mid-June, many were saying that all the ‘reasonably-priced’ ones had been snapped up, and some even reported not having a single property left on their books that was not an apartment.
Those who sought to buy apartments once lockdown rules relaxed to allow viewings to take place wanted balconies or terraces, particularly private ones, since the confinement prevented anyone from straying into communal areas other than for access to essential parts, or to be able to leave the building for necessary errands.
Whatever a person’s budget, and irrespective of where they want to live and in what type of property, the market is alive and well with homes up for grabs ranging from rock-bottom to multi-million price tags.