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Viva España: Is Spanish Real Estate Making A Comeback?

By James L. Knobloch September 28, 2016

[otw_shortcode_dropcap label=”S” font=”Bowlby One SC” color_class=”otw-black-text” background_color_class=”otw-no-background” size=”large” border_color_class=”otw-no-border-color”][/otw_shortcode_dropcap]pain’s financial crisis, perhaps more than most, was well documented and displayed—often seen through the lens of its eerie, half-finished ghost towns. In 2013, BBC’s popular car enthusiast show Top Gear evenfilmed an episode that featured the hosts racing through the abandoned city streets. If Trump thinks our airports are bad, he’s clearly never landed his obnoxious plane at Ciudad Real airport—spoiler alert, Don: it’s not in Mexico.

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Throughout Spain, massive developments in various states of completion and decay stand testament to the country’s wildly unsustainable urban expansion. Take Bilbao, for example. Bilbao, the economic capital of Basque Country located in Northern Spain, saw prices fall dramatically from 2012 to 2014, even as numerous markets around the world recovered. Over that time period, average home prices fell almost 25 percent.

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“2012, 2013 and 2014 were terrible years for the real estate business in Bilbao and Basque Country…,”said Fernando Renteria, a real estate agent with Puerto Banus Properties, which has offices in Bilbao.

Finally, though, things might be looking up, even if it’s happening slowly. After years of decline, due to a sluggish economy and severely over-saturated housing market, home prices in Spain rose over four percent.

“It is clear that demand is up, mortgage lending is growing, and the price of property that people actually want to buy is stable or rising,” said Mark Stücklin, the founder of the market tracking company Spanish Property Insight. “However, there is still a vast glut of homes built in the wrong place for which there is little demand.”

And while prices remain low, there’s been a 10 percent increase in the number of sales last year.

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So, now that things are improving, what can buyers look for in desirable and comparatively stable markets like Basque? Someone call HGTV because I can practically hear the Basque episode of House Hunters International already.

“House Number One” is a 5,350-square-foot, eight-bedroom, five-bathroom British-styled apartment on the third floor of a 97-year-old building located in the city center. Beautifully renovated, the $1.62 million property actually has three master bedrooms and a separate mini apartment, a remnant of the days when homes had a “staff.” It’s also surrounded by some of the best restaurants, landmarks, and parks the area has to offer. With coffee shop-lined streets and convenient public transit, it’s easy to see why this is one of the areas that’s beginning to recover.

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It’s too early too say for sure, but Spain appears to be slowly making its way out of its housing crash woods. Perhaps the haunted days of Spanish ghost towns will eventually be little more than a bad dream.

James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

A creative professional with a sharp tongue and a big smile, taking on city living one slightly-veiled sarcastic comment at a time. Born and raised just outside of New Orleans, James is a living testament to his own mantra, “Southern hospitality is a privilege, not a right,” giving his work a unique, dry humor meets charm perspective.

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