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 Daily news from the Canaries and the islands' biggest English language newspaper on-line
Daily news from the Canaries and the islands
   Daily news from the Canaries and the islands' biggest English language newspaper on-line

The housing market
Rushing to buy
At a time when the Spanish economy is desperately flagging, there appears to be hope on the horizon, even if it does come from far afield.

06.07.2013 -

Russians are now the second highest house purchasers throughout the whole of Spain, and fast catching up with the British market.  That equates to one in five houses being bought by Russians, according to statistics from FIABCI, the international association of estate agents which has two million members.

And the profile between theses greatest buyers couldnt be more different.  Even today, the majority of British people that buy a property in Spain are either already retired or fast approaching retirement age.  Conversely, the Russians tend to be young couples, often with children and usually with a comparatively greater amount of disposable income.

The days when only the very richest Russians had the buying power to invest abroad are long gone.  Even though Russia nowadays holds third place, after the US and China, for the percentage of millionaires in the population, it is the middle class that is now casting around for a brighter future.  There are still potential buyers with millions to spend, but the biggest increase in the market comes in the under 300,000 bracket.

So what is it that is attracting so many Russian buyers to Spain?  It is maybe partly to do with the favourable price comparison.  For instance, a 40m2 apartment in the outskirts of Moscow can cost an average of 150,000 - Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world. 

The recent drop in house prices in Spain has made it an even better option.  In some areas average prices have fallen by 35 per cent and the number of available properties has reached quantities never before seen: its estimated there are currently 3.4 million empty properties in Spain. 

The recent announcement that non-Europeans who buy a house worth 500,000 or more will probably be given automatic residency (with conditions) is also an important draw.

Then of course there is the weather: an appeal for all the foreigners who buy here, it must have an added attraction for those who come from a country with such a harsh climate.  And, of course, there is the quality of life, not to mention the comparative lack of crime.

These things are not only attracting buyers: 1.2 million Russia tourists visited Spain in 2012 and that number is expected to rise significantly in the next few years.  They also provide a welcome boost to the economy: the average visitor apparently spends around 1,500 per stay almost 600 more than any other nationality.  And the market is definitely taking steps to adapt to the change.  Many are the restaurants and hotels that now have information in Russian, direct flights are on the up, and Russian speakers are coveted in the work place.

All of this adds up to many people thinking that the Russian market could prove to be the saviour of the Spanish economy, however, even though tourist numbers are up and sales to foreigners are beginning to reach pre-crisis levels around 40,000 a year the economy as a whole still has a long way to go before any celebrations can take place.

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