Buying a property in Spain after Brexit [A guide for UK buyers]

Spain has always been a destination of choice for British travelers. According to housesinspain.com, almost 18 million Britons visit Spain every year and reports from Spanishpropertyinsight reveal that 2,603 Spanish home sales involved a British buyer in the first quarter of the year, according to the latest figures from the Spanish land registrars’ association. So as the appetite amongst Britons is still strong for investment in Spanish property, we offer you an insight into some of the more important things to consider before you buy your place in the sun: 

1.Changes post Brexit >

2.Can I still buy property in Spain after Brexit? >

3.Visa Options for Permanent Residency in Spain>

4.Current state of the property market in Spain >

5.Costs to consider when buying a home in Spain >

6.Renting out your Spanish property post-purchase >

7.Short-term letting in Spain >

1.Changes post Brexit

Since Britain’s exit from the European Union in 2016, new regulations regarding travel and the duration of time spent by British citizens in Spain have come into force.  

British nationals can now only travel to countries in the Schengen area (which includes Spain) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa 

This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training. 

Should you need to stay for a longer period in Spain for work or study, you will need to meet the entry requirements of the Spanish government. Contact the Spanish consulate in the UK for information on the type of visa required. 

2.Can I still buy property in Spain after Brexit?

Yes absolutely. Even though Britain has formally left the European Union, there is nothing restricting non-EU citizens from purchasing property in Spain.  

In fact, most of the fundamental procedures in buying and owning a property in Spain have not changed. So, do not let Brexit deter you from making the decision to buy your dream home in the sun.  

You will need to apply to the Spanish Embassy in the UK or a local commissioner in the area in Spain you wish to make the purchase in order to get a Tax Identification Number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero – NIE). 

3.Visa Options for Permanent Residency in Spain

For those seeking a more permanent move to Spain, there are various visa options available:

Retirement of the Golden Visa

The Spanish government began the process of ending the Golden Visa in April 2024. This change aims to regulate foreign investment and address the rise in holiday rentals. Current Golden Visa holders will not be affected, and applications are still accepted until the program is officially retired.

Alternative Visa Options

  • Entrepreneur Visa: For those looking to start a business and invest in Spain.
  • Non-Lucrative Visa: Allows residency without the need for property investment, ideal for retirees or those with independent income.

Property Purchase and Residency

Foreigners can still buy property in Spain, but ownership will no longer grant residency. The type of visa you hold will affect how you can use any property you purchase. While there is no scheduled replacement for the Golden Visa, the Entrepreneur Visa and other options remain viable for those wishing to live and invest in Spain.

4.Current state of the property market in Spain

Spanish Real Estate Prices in 2023 and 2024

In 2023, Spanish real estate prices increased between 2.1% and 8.15%. Idealista reported the highest rise at 8.15%, followed by Fotocasa at 7.4%. Valuation companies like Tinsa and Gesvalt reported more conservative increases of 4.1% and just over 2%, respectively. Analysts believe the market is stabilising and expect moderate increases in 2024, based on recent trends.

Regional Variations

Real estate prices vary significantly by region. Areas like Valencia, Almeria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Malaga saw the highest increases in 2023.

Higher Prices on the Coast

Analysts from Idealista noted a slowdown in Spain’s largest cities, where prices rise more slowly or even fall due to the high proportion of buyers needing mortgages. However, this trend reverses in coastal areas.

“Most purchases in coastal areas are cash transactions, so interest rate rises have little effect,” said Germán Pérez, President of UVE Valoraciones. Demand in areas like the Costa del Sol, the Balearics, and Costa Blanca is mainly from foreign buyers. As a result, Pérez predicts real estate prices will increase in these regions this year.

In late 2023, property prices on the Costa del Sol hit record highs, a trend mirrored by rental rates. Marbella and Benahavis had the most expensive homes on the market.

Region Location Price in City Centre m2 Price in Suburbs m2
Andalucía Marbella €4,666.67 €2,966.67
The Balearic Islands Palma de Majorca €3,550.00 €2,514.29
The Canary Islands Santa Cruz de Tenerife €2,150.00 €1,640.00
Catalonia Barcelona €4,729.20 €2,945.63
Murcia Murcia €2,020.00 €1,650.67
Valencia Alicante €1,966.67 €1,647.12

Source Numbeo, (as of 3rd of July 2024)

5.Costs to consider when buying a home in Spain

What costs do you need to consider when buying a property in Spain? Assuming you are buying to live in the property there are several tax issues that you need to consider.  Also, note that the taxes due on commercial property differ from residential ones. Below we list some of the more important costs to take into consideration when buying a home in Spain. 

 

 

a. FX rates:

If you are making a money transfer to Spain for the legal process, maintenance, or other associated costs, please be aware that a volatile FX market can have an impact on the amount you pay, and not always in your favour. 

Before the Brexit referendum, the Pound to Euro rate traded above €1.30. However, since 2016, the Pound has traded between €1.06 and €1.21. 

Investors began to sell the pound in September 2022 in response to Prime Minister Liz Truss government’s decision to cut taxes in its mini-budget. Worried that some of these tax cuts that have been announced were not going to be fully funded caused a huge sell-off in sterling, causing record lows against the dollar and euro. 

The table below illustrates the effects of a fall in sterling against the euro and what it could mean for you when buying your home in Spain.  

If you had decided to buy a home for €300,000 in April 2022 and the closing date was the end of September of the same year, the adverse exchange rate movement would have cost you £21,032 (8.5%) if you had not covered your exposure by locking into an exchange rate. 

          14 April 2022          26 September 2022 
Cost in EUR €300,000  €300,00 
Exchange Rate  1.2079  1.1136 
Cost in GBP  £248,364  £269,396 

A forward contract allows you to lock into an exchange rate based on today’s price for either a fixed date in the future or between two specified dates.  

This type of contract allows you to reduce or eliminate your exposure to the potential for adverse exchange rate fluctuation. 

Also note that when transferring currency overseas, your typical high street bank can charge up to 5% more on the exchange rate and fees meaning you could pay substantially more for your transfer.  

Get the advice of a currency transfer specialist who will save you a lot of time and money compared to a typical bank. The savings on an overseas property purchase could make the difference between being able to furnish your new home or not, or even whether you can afford to buy it at all. 

 

Get your free global money transfer quote today


b. Taxes when buying Spanish property:

The amount of tax you pay depends on whether you are buying a new home or a resale property. The former means a property that has never changed hands before. This type of property is usually sold by a developer. 

A resale property is a property that has previously been sold and may also include properties taken on by banks due to a default on the mortgage. 

  • Tax on new properties in Spain 

Two separate taxes need to be paid when buying a new build property in Spain 

  • VAT or Impuesto sobre el valor añadido – IVA  is normally about 10% of the purchase price. For example, if you were to buy a new home in Andalucia for €500,000 the VAT or IVA payable would be  €50,000.  
  • Stamp Duty (AJD—Impuesto sobre Actos Jurídicos Documentados) also called legal documentation tax is a tax on notarial acts to be paid to the public administration through the different Autonomous Regions. Depending on where the property is located, the amount can vary between 0.5% and 1.5%. 

Calculating AJD is not straightforward however and you should engage with a financial advisor or a solicitor to determine the amount to pay. Spectrum Spanish Mortgages explains how this is calculated but we advise doing some independent research and always consulting with a specialist. 

Typical VAT and ADJ by Region in 2022 

Region 

VAT 

AJD 

Andalucía 

10%  

1.2% 

The Balearic Islands  

10% 

1.2% 

The Canary Islands 

6.5% 

0.4% 

Catalonia  

10% 

1.5% 

Murcia 

10% 

1.5% 

Valencia 

10% 

1.5% 

  • Tax on Resale properties in Spain 

The only tax levied on a resale property in Spain is the transfer tax or ITP (Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales).  The general rate is between 6% – 10% of the purchase price. See the rates for 2022 for popular locations amongst Britons. 

Region

ITP (Property Transfer Tax)

Andalucía

8-10%

The Balearic Islands

8%

The Canary Islands

6.5%

Catalonia

10%

Murcia

8%

Valencia

10%

c. Other costs

As well as taxes, there are other costs that must be factored in when buying your property in Spain. Some of the more important ones are: 

  • Notary charges 

This fee is charged for the preparation of title deeds for the sale and witnessing the signing of the same by both parties. Fees can be higher if you are taking out a mortgage given the complexity of that process. The purchase price is also a factor in determining the fee but expect to pay between 0.5 and 1%. 

  • Legal fees 

Availing of the services of a competent and experienced solicitor is always a good decision when buying a property in Spain. Normally one would expect to pay approximately 1% of the purchase price. This may be higher depending on the complexities involved. 

  • Land Registry fees 

The fees for Registro de la Propiedad (Land registry) depend on the purchase price and whether a mortgage is used in the purchase. Expect to pay between 0.5% and 1% to have your name registered as the official owner of the property. 

 

 

6.Renting out your Spanish property post-purchase.

Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, any non-EU citizens with rental property in Spain will have to pay a significantly higher rate of income tax on the rental. 

UK residents that let out their Spanish properties before Brexit were subject to rental income tax on the profit at 19%. If, for example, you were earning €12,000 in rental income with deductible expenses of €4,000, your tax liability would have been 1,520 (19% of €8,000). 

Post-Brexit, UK residents are now taxed on their gross income at a rate of 24%. This means that your tax liability now becomes €2,880 (24% of €12,000). 

One other important thing to note is that if you have not let your property out you still have to pay tax on the deemed income. This is based on the rateable value of the property and will now be levied at 24% post-Brexit. 

7.Short-term letting in Spain

If you have bought a property in Spain with the intention of renting short term (holiday lets) you must hold a Tourist Rental License (Estancia Turística y Viviendas – ETV).  

You can apply for this rental license from your local city council. 

There is a shortage of long-term rental homes available, as much of the rental market is taken up by short-term holiday makers. Consequently, the Spanish government has imposed regulations on popular holiday destinations to limit short-term letting. 

  • In Madrid, the maximum amount of time a property can be let for tourist rental is 90 days in the year without a license. 
  • Barcelona is much more restricted in that you need to have a license to rent out to tourists and the period is capped at 120 days in the year. Holiday makers availing of rental property also must pay a tourist tax. 
  • In Mallorca holiday properties can be rented out for up to 60 days of the year in the tourist areas. Please note that you must have a permit to rent out your property for this purpose and failure to comply results in hefty fines.  

In areas like the Costa Brava, less tourist numbers means that obtaining a license for the purpose of short-term holiday letting is much easier. Therefore, many British citizens are mostly investing in areas like Alicante and Benidorm rather than in the more restrictive areas like Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, and Madrid. 

How Fexco can help when you are buying a property in Spain

Fexco International Payments is a leading provider of FX and global payment solutions for individuals with high-value international money transfer needs, like buying or selling overseas property

We have helped thousands of overseas property buyers to protect their funds from adverse movements in exchange rates between reserving the property and paying for it.  

In our example of FX volatility earlier, you could have lost €21,032 had you not locked in a rate. Fexco will provide this service (known as a forward contract) eliminating any losses from adverse movements. 

You will also have a dedicated account manager who will help you through the process. A team of experienced payment specialists are also available to deal with any queries you have regarding transferring your funds. 

Your typical high street bank could charge between 3% and 5% more than an international payment specialist like Fexco through poor exchange rates and hidden fees. This means that on a €300,000 transfer, you could lose between €9,000 and €15,000 on poor FX rates and exorbitant fees. 

 

What our customers say:

‘Fexco provided a superb personalised service. In looking to exchange a significant amount of money to fund a property purchase, I was keen to achieve the best rates possible whilst utilising the time I had before the contract exchange. The daily updates, direct rate watching service and being able to agree firm order triggers, meant I was able to achieve all that I set out to, thanks to the service that Fexco supplied.’ 

Graeme Duncan, Property Buyer, Essex, UK

 

If you would like to see how Fexco can help you to save money when buying your property in Spain, talk to our Edinburgh payments consultant John Dolan or call 0800 840 2887. 

Alternatively, get a free quote for your GBP to EUR exchange below: 

 

Get a FREE GBP to EUR quote for your overseas property purchase today

Get Quote

 

Share this article