The Spanish Government is reportedly studying the possibility of changing some of its current immigration laws (Reglamento de Extranjería) to make properties in Spain more attractive to overseas buyers. The main change being proposed is to grant automatic and guaranteed rights to residency for foreigners who make a minimal investment in property (from 250,000 Euros), a move which is hoped will encourage the purchase of Spanish properties from foreign investors.
The proposal has been drafted by a panel of experts, amongst them Jacinto Solen Matutes, professor at the Pompeu Fabra University and member of Energy Partners, and will have important implications for both Spain and foreign buyers.
“The new breed of wealthy clients from Russia, China, South America or Middle Eastern countries could acquire several properties in Spain, which offers excellent weather, a high quality of life, attractive and competitive prices and, something which is very important for non-Europeans, is a country which forms part of the European Union,” explains Mr. Solen.
“Currently, thousands of these potential buyers are snapping up property in countries such as France, Cyprus and the UK so that they can gain European residency. We are only suggesting that Spain adopts a similar residency for investment policy to that which other member states already offer.”
While reductions in housing prices for properties held by Spanish banks is still dragging on, the Spanish Government have not overlooked the latest sales figures for foreign buyers, which in the first quarter of 2012 had increased 36.2% over the same period last year.
Mr. Soler and the rest of the experts have drafted a detailed document which not only outlines the plan, but which also calls for a speedy issuing of permits because, as he puts it, “right now you never really know how long a residency permit will take to issue!”. They have also asked for long term permits (between 2 and 5 years) to not be withdrawn if the holder spends more than 6 months outside of Spain, as long as the holder maintains a property in Spain.
The expert panel also estimates that around 10% of the 300,000 properties sold in Spain each year could be bought by foreign investors keen to take advantage of this new change, representing an income of 8.000 Million Euros for the country! This is, of course, a “modest” estimate, as the client profile for this new scheme are usually buyers looking for luxury properties in exclusive areas, properties with a price tag which usually exceeds 1,000,000 Euros!
The document is currently in the hands of María del Corral, the Spanish Secretary General of Immigration.