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Catalonia: Consistently strong demand for luxury real estate

Located in northeastern Spain, Catalonia is an autonomous region that encompasses the provinces of Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona, and Lleida. The less populated northern area of Catalonia largely consists of the Pyrenees mountains, which border France and Andorra. The capital Barcelona, the Mediterranean coastline with the Costa Brava and Costa Daurada, and the high alpine region of the Pyrenees all have a strong draw on tourists and prospective buyers alike: “The demand for premium properties remains high in many parts of Catalonia. This is illustrated, for example, by the fact that average prices for homes in the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona is 4,506 per square metre. There is also strong interest in luxury properties in the Val d’Aran region and on the Costa Brava. Besides high-end apartments in central locations with terraces or balconies, buyers are increasingly gravitating towards energy-efficient new buildings, as well as houses with idyllic gardens in the surrounding countryside that offer privacy and discretion,” says Juan-Galo Macià, CEO of Engel & Völkers Spain, Portugal and Andorra. 

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- Catalonia: Consistently strong demand for luxury real estate

Barcelona and surrounding region

Famous for its impressive buildings and its unique architecture, the Catalan capital is a popular residential location for both national and international clients. Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, Eixample, and Les Corts are among the highest priced residential areas in Barcelona.
The upmarket district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is located in the northwest of the city, a long way from the hustle and bustle of the centre. Residents here have the highest income per capita, compared with other districts. Galvany and Bonanova are among the most sought-after residential areas in Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. Engel & Völkers is registering prices per square metre here of up to 9,167 euros.
There is also strong demand for properties in Eixample, Barcelona’s largest and most populous district. Eixample is centrally located, almost at the heart of the city, it is made up of more than 400 blocks of symmetrically aligned buildings, and is home to an array of Catalan Art Nouveau “Modernisme” buildings. The residential neighbourhoods close to the two magnificent boulevards “Rambla de Catalunya” and “Passeig de Gràcia”, where the world-famous Gaudí palaces “Casa Milà” and “Casa Batlló” are located, are especially sought-after. The most expensive road in Eixample is the “Passeig de Gràcia”. Exclusive residences here can command prices of up to 7,500 euros per square metre. 

The district of Les Corts is particularly popular with families. It is located in the west of the city and known as being the home of the famous FC Barcelona football stadium “Camp Nou”. Les Corts is also an important financial district and regarded as one of the safest parts of Barcelona. Prestigious homes can be found here surrounded by green hills and affording spectacular views over the city and the sea, they cost up to 8,070 euros per square metre in Les Corts. 

A host of galleries, bars, and restaurants can be found in the two northern districts of Gràcia and Horta-Guinardó, as well as Antoni Gaudí’s famous “Park Güell”. Prices per square metre reach up to 7,424 euros and 4,295 euros, respectively. Meanwhile, locals tend to gravitate strongly towards the districts of Sant Martí and Ciutat Vella. The modern residential area of Sant Martí has the most beaches and ample green open space, while Ciutat Vella is especially popular with culture enthusiasts. The prices per square metre here are up to 7,654 euros and 7,083 euros respectively.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people have been seeking a house or apartment that offers ample space. In line with this trend, interest in properties in the region surrounding Barcelona has risen sharply over the last two years. The most popular regions include Sant Just Desvern and Esplugues de Llobregat. Here, top prices reach 12,600 euros and 9,060 euros per square metre, respectively. In Sant Cugat, detached houses in the districts of Mirasol and Valldoreix are in especially high demand, with top prices of 5,556 euros per square metre.
Just a few minutes drive from Barcelona and close to the sea are the highly desirable towns Gavà, Castelldefels, and Garraf. Clients are attracted here by the proximity to the sea and the good connections to the centre of Barcelona. Average prices for houses or apartments with terraces, gardens or pools here are 3,632 euros per square metre. 

Prices have risen sharpest however in the Vallès Oriental region, with increases of between 2.5 and 10 percent compared to the previous year. Top prices per square metre here are 1,600 euros. While the average price of rents in the outlying districts has risen by 6 percent to around 14 euros per square metre due to increased demand, average prices in the centre of Barcelona remain at around 17 euros per square metre.

In recent months, the majority of property buyers in Barcelona have been Spanish citizens. The share of domestic buyers was around 70 percent. While the ratio of foreign investors fell slightly in 2020 due to travel restrictions in place, demand from international clients for residential property has been steadily rising again since 2021. These clients come first and foremost from France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and China. The Eixample district is especially popular, with 47 percent of all transactions involving clients from abroad. In Pedralbes and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, the ratio is around 17 percent. 

Pyrenees

Between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, the Pyrenees offer sheer endless winter fun with over 30 ski resorts. Second homes, such as those close to the slopes in the Val d’Aran region on the border to France, are highly sought after among prospective buyers. The average asking price for properties in places such as Baqueira is 4,950 euros per square metre, whereas premium properties command prices of up to 8,000 euros per square metre. Compared with the previous year, there was a price increase here of 7.6 percent. Properties in Cerdanya, a high valley in the province of Girona in the eastern Pyrenees with a reputation for luxury second homes, are equally demanded. Among the most popular places here is Bolvir with maximum prices of up to 5,200 euros per square metre.

Coastal region

At some 220 kilometres long, the Costa Brava forms the most northeast stretch of Spain’s Mediterranean coast and, with its breathtaking cliffs, golden sandy beaches, and quaint fishing villages, it is one of the most desirable and expensive residential areas in the whole of Catalonia. The region is extremely popular with international clients, who dominate the market at around 65 percent. The towns of Cadaqués, S’Agaró, and Playa de Aro are especially popular. Top prices per square metre of up to 10,000 euros are being paid for top-end apartments in prime coastal locations.
Equally sought-after properties can be found on the picturesque Costa Daurada, located southwest of Barcelona and known for its quiet beaches. In contrast to the Costa Brava, the majority of buyers here are Spanish nationals. Interest is focused in particular on Salou, Cambrils, Reus, Vilaseca, and Mont-Roig del Camp. Properties changed hands in 2021 for an average price per square metre of between 1,280 euros and 2,200 euros.

Outlook: All-year-round use of holiday residences

Over the coming months, Engel & Völkers expects an ongoing rise in demand and stable high prices for properties in the sought-after areas in and around Barcelona, along with the Pyrenees and the coastal regions. A number of new construction projects are increasing the overall appeal of Catalonia and boosting international demand as a result: “For 2022, we expect the number of international buyers to increase further. With remote and hybrid working models becoming increasingly widespread, second homes are now functioning much more often as temporary first homes, and are being used more and more during seasons that are traditionally more quiet,” says Juan-Galo Macià.

The Engel & Völkers Market Report for Spain 2021/22 can be found (in Spanish) here.

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