After several regions around Spain have attempted to bring in limits on property purchases by foreigners, members of Spain’s government coalition have even started floating the idea of an outright ban at a national level.

Several regions around Spain have attempted to put limits on foreigners buying homes and clamped down on tourist rentals. These are mainly in areas traditionally popular with foreigners, and many have become places with highly inflationary property markets.

In 2022 Canary nationalist political party Nueva Canarias demanded the regional government address the large number of property purchases by non-residents in the archipelago, and even suggested a limit on the number of properties that can be bought by foreigners altogether in the popular holiday islands.

But it’s not just a regional issue. In 2024, the debate rumbles on in parts of Spain particularly affected by foreign homeowners and members of the Spanish government are even proposing similar measures at a national level. Though, it should be said, no policy has been decided on yet, and any move such as a ban (in whatever form, on whatever type of property) or even a limit would likely face fierce opposition from the main opposition parties, notably the centre right Partido Popular (PP).

Clearly, non-resident foreigners buying up property in Spain, particularly in its space starved archipelagos, contributes to price inflation, saturates the market, and plays a role in pricing locals out of their own neighbourhoods.

However, it’s not that simple. Clearly, there is a difference between a non-resident foreigner buying a holiday home (perhaps to rent out as tourist accommodation for half the year) and a resident foreigner buying property to live in.

This difference has, for now, been reflected in proposed limits at both the regional and national level, rather than outright bans.

However, foreign homeowners in Spain also make a huge contribution to the Spanish economy. In 2022 foreigners with a second home in Spain contributed €6.35 billion to Spanish GDP and generated more than 105,000 jobs in the tourism sector, according to the study “The economic impact of residential tourism in Spain” done for the Spanish Association of Developers and Builders (APCE) by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The financial contribution made by these second-home owners in Spain is clearly significant. In fact, experts point out that the money brought into the Spanish coffers by foreign homeowners even outstrips some major industries.

The contribution of residential tourism to GDP is triple that of the textile industry, double that of the timber industry and the same as the manufacture of pharmaceutical products in Spain. So, there’s clearly an economic argument against banning foreign property purchases completely.

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