The Property Market

13 June 2017

In Barcelona, you rarely hear demands for a greater work-life balance, the concept is already so deeply ingrained in the culture. As Spain’s economy resurges and the global digital nomad culture enables more people to work remotely, the city is becoming a hotspot for young families seeking a higher quality of lifestyle, as well as entrepreneurs with the freedom and flexibility to choose their base. Barcelona, with its laid-back lifestyle, fantastic schools and inherent buzz, is at the top of the list. Buy property in Barcelona and you tap into a lifestyle where community, family, friends and abundant nature are cornerstones of the everyday.

Economics in Barcelona

As Spain emerges from the 2008 crisis, there is a renewed interest in investing in Barcelona. Spain’s Institute of Statistics demonstrate a 36% increase in sales between January 2016 and January 2017. Between Spain and China alone, 8,000 million euros worth of business transactions were processed from January to November in 2016, and as a whole, the Spanish economy grew around 3.2% in 2016. Property prices rose by 15% from 2014 – 2016, though Barcelona remains on average 3.5 times cheaper than London. In 2017, prices are expected to grow in areas like Les Corts, Sarriá, Ciutat Vella, and Eixample by up to 20%, and between 15-18% across the remainder of the city. The time to invest, is now.

The Property Market in Barcelona

In terms of the property trends, developers are buying up old buildings steeped in character and renovating them into luxury properties.  The key areas for this transformation include Ciutat Vella, which encompasses El Gotico, El Raval and El Born, and Eixample, characterised by its beautiful modernist buildings and well-heeled locals. Local statistics indicate that just under 50% of sales in 2016 were for newly renovated properties, as investors seek strong long-term investments where they don’t have to worry about maintenance, ancient wiring or plumbing that can lead to problems in the future. Going into 2017 and 2018, this is the market where demand is predicted to surge as interest outstrips stock. Property prices still remain around 20-30% below their 2007 peak. Historically low-mortgage rates, set by the Euribor (which hit its 12th consecutive month in negative) are also incentivizing investment.

In the first 3 quarters of 2016, €894,925,200 of property transactions were processed. While around a quarter of the buyers who purchased property in Barcelona in 2016 originated from Spain, it was foreign investors from the US/Canada, Sweden, France, the Americas, China and the Uk that contributed to the remaining demographic.  While most European are attracted to Barcelona’s excellent value property and aspirational lifestyle culture, US, Chinese and Latin American investors, supported by a strong dollar, are drawn to Barcelona’s excellent universities and school systems, where purchasing property ensures their children access to a European education as they grow older.

Barcelona is a city encircled in nature, framed by by the rivers Besós and Llobregat to the North and South, the mountains to the West, and the sea to the East. As a result, newbuilds are extremely rare as central Barcelona has so little space available, adding to the value of  already converted properties.  New-developments in themselves are not plentiful as many existing buildings have tenants who benefit from rent control, which gets passed along through the generations and makes families reluctant to sell.  New builds are most likely to be found in neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city, such as Sarriá / Pedralbes (towards the west), Diagonal Mar/ Glories (towards the north), Gavá (towards the south) or even areas of Gracia furthest from the centre.

The Best Schools in Barcelona

Barcelona is renowned for its excellent selection of international schools, the majority of which are concentrated in the up-market residential neighbourhood of Pedralbes (located between 20-30 minutes from Ciutat Vella, Gracia and Eixample).  For English speakers looking to educate their children in the British system, options include the British School in Barcelona, Kensington and Oak House School, while American students are catered for via the Benjamin Franklin International School and the American School.  In addition, there are a host of tri-lingual schools, such as St Paul’s, and well regarded lycées for french-speaking families.  For those considering the move with little ones in tow, there is a fantastic variety of childcare available from government run nurseries to alternative methods including small, family-like groups with high teacher to child ratios, Montessori, Waldorf, and even forest schools available.

Fees for the international schools start from around €700 euros a term per child. For families interested in educating their children in Spanish, there are well regarded public schools where teaching can be tri-lingual, with an emphasis on Catalan.  An excellent compromise are the concertadas, semi-private public schools which are subsidised by the government.  Here, the quality of education is considerably better and there is a strong focus on learning English.  With a large array of education options available for every budget, families moving to Barcelona won’t struggle to find the right fit for their children.

No one in Barcelona actually uses North/East/South/West for direction. The map of Barcelona is usually shown upside down, so to avoid confusion, tap into the local custom and use Besos for North, Al Mar for East, Llobregat for South and Collserole (the name of the park in the mountains) for West.

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