Buying Property in Barcelona
Some recommended real estate agents for buying in BCN
By Duncan Rhodes
Thinking of moving to Barcelona, or investing in a property here, or elsewhere in Catalonia and the Costa Brava? We offer some advice and names of agencies you might want to make a note of…
Why Buy in Barcelona?
Who wouldn’t want to live in Barcelona? Residents of the Catalan capital enjoy an enviable lifestyle of eating out at top-notch restaurants, partying all night at glamorous bars and clubs and relaxing by day on beautiful beaches in and around the city.
With a rich cultural heritage, fashionable shopping scene and a packed programme of summer festivals, not to mention amazing scenery and sights outside of the city, it’s really impossible to be bored with life in Catalonia. Virtually all who make the move will enjoy a better quality of life, which is attested to by the fact that Spain was voted 2nd best country in the world for quality of life by expats in 2019 (Survey by Internations.org).
And even if you’re not planning on moving just yet, you might find buying a property in Barcelona is a sound investment, and one which can earn you considerable rental income too. It can even help you get Spanish citizenship… see our FAQs below.
The Housing Market
The global economic crisis hit Spain pretty hard and from 2008 until around 2013 the housing market was in steady decline. The country’s economy took a while to recover, but from 2015 house prices started to rise and home owners were enjoying a steady year-on-year increase in the value of their investment – that is until the year 2020 struck. Today the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are beginning to show, and the market has seen a decrease in prices, the first in several years. And while this might be bad news for existing investors in the short term, it could open up opportunities for new buyers hoping to find a bargain property, either in Barcelona itself, or the surrounding regions, such as the beautiful Costa Brava, or ‘Wild Coast’, where gorgeous coastal properties abound.
As a pure capital investment, you might stand to make more profit by buying in other, more rapidly developing, parts of the world… even in Spain you might find property prices are set to rise higher in the south than north, where economic growth has more potential. However investing in property in Barcelona is about as safe a bet as they come. The city’s status as one of the world’s most desirable places to live, work and visit means demand for real estate will always be high, and – pandemics and other catastrophes aside – prices are only set to increase. Not only that but your property will be able to net you a sizeable rentable income, if you plan on leasing it.
Whether you plan to live in your new flat or rent it, the more established districts offer you the safest investment, but savvy investors might want to shop around in the up-and-coming zones and nearby towns to where you can still find great deals on apartments, houses, villas and other properties. A good real estate agent will be able to offer you the right advice for your circumstances.
Practicalities & Advice
If you didn’t guess it already, buying a property in Spain is not a piece of cake, and you’ll have to wade through some of the country’s notorious bureaucracy before you get your title deeds. This handy article by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office goes into more detail about some of the paperwork and processes you’ll have to abide by. And naturally finding a good, preferably English speaking, real estate agency is essential for guiding you through the entire process, whilst you may want to solicit specialist legal help as well to ensure you’re protecting every aspect of your investment.
If you’ve got your heart settled on relocating to Barcelona then why not check out our district by district guide to the Catalan capital, for more info on the central barris, whilst below you’ll find a directory of agencies who can help you find your perfect new house or apartment – or help you make a sale.
Barcelona Real Estate Agents
A list of reputable companies operating in the Catalan capital. Click on the title links for more info on them.
This multinational company was founded in 2005 and their team speak every major European language, including English, French, German, Dutch and Russian (and of course Spanish and Catalan!). Their focus is on high end real estate, not just in BCN, but in fashionable locations around Spain, such as Marbella, Ibiza, Majorca, Madrid and the Costa Brava.
A small real estate agency, with plenty of experience helping international home buyers and investors to buy in Barcelona / Catalonia, Ficasso pride themselves on their personal approach, integrity and customer service. They also deal with long and short term rentals and property management.
ShBarcelona is a real estate agency, founded in 2000. Its professionals specialise in monthly apartment rentals in Barcelona, as well, as long-term or touristic rentals. Additionally, they handle an extensive portfolio of properties to buy in Barcelona. The agency accompanies the new landlord or the investor through the entire purchasing process, helping them start to finish and managing their doubts and problems. They also act as an intermediary between landlords and tenants, so if you plan on buying an apartment for the purpose of renting it, this is your agency.
“If you plan to make your acquisition profitable, be sure to buy in one of the most in demand districts in the city, like Eixample or Gràcia.”
Delphine Castel, Communications Director, ShBarcelona.
FAQs for Buying Property in Barcelona
We attempt to answer your frequently asked questions, or point you in the direction of the experts…
Can foreigners buy property in Spain?
Non-residents can buy property in Spain, however they need to first to attain their N.I.E number (foreigners identity number), and they must have a Spanish bank account. Spain encourages foreign property investment, and those that invest over €500,000 may be eligible for a 'Golden Visa' (see below).
How much does an apartment cost in Barcelona?
The average price of property in Barcelona is €4,111 per square metre, as of early 2020, meaning that a 100 square metre apartment will cost you €411,100 on average. The city's official website keeps track of the average prices in each barrio, a useful tool for potential investors.
Is buying property in Barcelona a good investment?
The city's reputation and the quality of life it offers makes investing in property a sound longterm investment, especially if you intend on making rental income. For more analysis check this blog post.
Can I get residency in Spain if I buy a house?
Yes, if you invest over €500,000 of foreign income (i.e. your mortgage provider should be from outside Spain), you will be eligible for a 'Golden Visa' and by extension your Spanish residency and eventually Spanish citizenship. More info here.
How do I get a N.I.E.?
Getting a N.I.E (Número de identidad de extranjero) is key to doing business in Spain, including investing in property, and involves registering with the national police. In theory it should be simple, but the demand for N.I.E.s in Barcelona can make even getting an appointment difficult. Immigration law experts like Murla i Contreras can help.
What are the pitfalls of buying property in Spain?
As ever when making a large investment there are a number of scary pitfalls to avoid, mostly legal and bureaucratic, and these can be further complicated when doing business in a foreign language. Do your research and get expert legal advice, as well as a reputable real estate agent.
Expatica have a very handy overview of buying property in Spain.
Spanish Property Insights has some useful market data and statistics.
If you’re from the UK, be sure to read this advice from The Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
About the Author
Duncan established Barcelona Life in 2009, whilst freelancing for the likes of Conde Nast, The Guardian, Easyjet Magazine, CNN Traveller and many more. From interviews with Ferran Adria to revealing the secrets of the city’s poetry brothels, he knows the city inside out… and shares all his best tips right here.