Barcelona: Demand for residential property continues to exceed availability

With a population of almost 1.6 million, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and for many years now has been one of the most popular destinations in Europe for a short break. As well as being a sought-after holiday destination though, this Mediterranean metropolis is also an attractive residential and investment location. Barcelona’s real estate market proved to be resistant to crisis in 2022, as reflected in the findings of the latest Engel & Völkers Market Report on Residential Property in Spain and Andorra: “Residential real estate in Barcelona remains a safe investment. The demand for premium property is as high as ever. Expats and foreign investors in particular have been drawn here in increasing numbers since the pandemic. Due to the limited availability of properties and high level of demand, prices are expected to flatline in the future. This is also evidenced by the price increase compared with the previous year. The average price per square meter increased by 4 percent to 4,691 euros (2021: 4,506 euros),” says Juan-Galo Macià, CEO of Engel & Völkers Spain, Portugal and Andorra. 

Top prices for real estate in exclusive neighborhoods 

The most popular residential districts in Barcelona include Eixample, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi and Sant Martí. This is where Engel & Völkers closed the highest number of sales and purchases in 2022. The average price per square meter across all neighborhoods was in excess of 5,000 euros. The central district of Eixample is the most populous district in Barcelona, with some 11,000 inhabitants. It is known for its quadrangular blocks with angled street corners and its various grand buildings designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The world-famous buildings “Casa Milà”, “Casa Batlló” and the magnificent cathedral “La Sagrada Familia” are all located here. Residential addresses close to the two grand boulevards “Rambla de Catalunya” and “Passeig de Gràcia” are especially sought-after. In 2022, the average price per square meter was 5,295 euros; while prices for premium properties in the same period peaked at 13,220 euros per square meter. The central location of this district is a major factor attracting international investors. 

Outside of the city center to the northwest lies the upmarket residential district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, which is particularly desirable among local buyers. This neighborhood has a rural charm and is especially sought-after with families looking for a home with plenty of space that nonetheless still benefits from close proximity to city life. The residential properties in this district tend to be large and spacious, with balconies or terraces. The traditional architecture with its centuries-old buildings has been complemented over the years by newer villas in a typical Catalan style and elegant apartments. Average prices per square meter here were 5,089 euros in 2022, while exclusive properties commanded prices of up to 8,893 euros per square meter.

The district of Sant Martí in the east of Barcelona is also very popular with buyers. Its main draws are its proximity to the beach and exclusive new residential complexes, as well as the green open spaces and good shopping facilities. The relatively moderate prices and particularly good transport links to the city center attract many local and international clients alike. There is growing interest in spacious, modern apartments with sea views. Prices per square meter averaged 5,022 euros in 2022, while the top prices per square meter for apartments reached as much as 13,798 euros. The former industrial area of Diagonal Mar, which forms part of the San Martí district, has evolved into one of the most desirable residential areas in the Catalan capital over recent years, and this area of the city is popular with international clients too. It was here that Engel & Völkers brokered the sale of the most expensive property in its portfolio in 2022, selling for a price per square meter of 13,798 euros. 

International buyers focused on Barcelona 

The majority of property buyers in Barcelona – around 60 percent – are Spanish nationals. The ratio of international buyers has risen since last year. Accounting for around 40 percent of market activity, most of this buyer group originates from France, Italy and Germany and is especially drawn to the districts of Ciutat Vella, Eixample, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi and Sant Martí. The mild climate, high quality of life and moderate prices compared to other popular European cities are just some of the reasons why international prospective buyers see Barcelona as an attractive residential and investment location. Thus, last year around 68 percent of Engel & Völkers' search clients were looking for a property in Barcelona as a permanent residence and 12 percent as a second home. 

Region surrounding Barcelona becoming increasingly attractive 

Demand for large properties in Barcelona’s surrounding region has increased enormously. Prices of properties sold through Engel & Völkers rose by 8.6 percent here as a result (2021: 2,347 euros). The towns witnessing strong demand include Gava, Sant Cugat del Vallès and Matadepera. Search clients in these places are primarily interested in detached properties offering interiors upwards of 230 square meters, with ample space and a garden. The average price per square meter in 2022 ranged from 6,250 to 8,523 euros. Transactions carried out by Engel & Völkers involved local buyers for the most part (in 74 percent of cases). “Foreign buyers are also showing a growing interest in this surrounding region, however, and their numbers have tripled since 2022. German, French and Chinese clients in particular are making their presence known here,” says Juan-Galo Macià. 

Outlook: Prices expected to flatline at a high level in 2023 

Inflation, rising interest rates, stricter lending terms and increasing energy prices are all having an impact on the real estate market in Barcelona, but Engel & Völkers nonetheless anticipates positive development on the residential market in 2023: “The consistent demand from domestic and international buyers reaffirms the fact that Barcelona is one of the most popular cities in the world. We expect prices to remain stable at a high level, even though a slight drop of up to five percent cannot be ruled out,” Juan-Galo Macià predicts.

Hamburg - Exklusive villa in the center of Sant Just Desvern (c) Engel & Völkers Market Center Barcelona

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