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2023 - The Full Story

"Overseas buyers accounted for 19.5% of the overall Spanish property market in 2023 but in the Balearics foreign market share was 38.4% and 39% in Málaga province".

With all the full-year statistics now published 2023 turned out to be the best ever year for foreign buyers in Spain, once the distorted figures from the pandemic years 2020 - 2022 are excluded. I pointed out in a recent blog that although 2021/22 statistics had the look of an overseas property market boom it was all a bit of a mirage. If you compare the total of foreign buyers during the 3 pandemic-affected years of 2020/21/22 with the total in the 3 years prior to the pandemic, 2017/18/19 they are very similar. In reality, if the market had just continued to grow by 2% - 3% per year, as it had been doing for several years before the pandemic, it would have been in exactly the same place in terms of the number of overseas buyers. Hardly a boom.  However, with these latest, up-to-date stats we see what can actually be described as a surge. Compared with the previous record for a non-pandemic year, which was in 2018, the number of overseas buyers in Spain in 2023 was up 26.7% with a total of 131,388.

The most accurate and detailed statistics that show how the overseas sector of the property market in Spain is performing are compiled by the Notaries and the Ministry of Transport, Housing & Urban Planning, (MITMA).  The Notaries give breakdowns by nationality, price per square metre and autonomous region, while MITMA cover regional, provincial and municipal figures and these are the figures quoted in this blog.

Overseas buyers accounted for 20.9% of the overall Spanish property market in 2023, a market share that has been very stable for the last decade. However, activity is far from evenly spread and in reality, it is concentrated in just a few locations which can be seen clearly by looking at the statistics at regional, provincial and municipal levels.


The majority of international buyers head for the Mediterranean coasts and the Balearic and Canary Islands. This is nothing new but the trend not only continued in 2023, it grew. In fact, 83% of all overseas buyers in 2023 purchased property in just six regions; the Balearics, the Canaries, Murcia, Cataluña, the Comunidad Valenciana (the Costa Blanca) and Andalucía. The concentration of the overseas market in just a few locations changes the market share that can be attributed to buyers from overseas and not by just a little.  And even within a region, there can be marked differences in activity levels in the different provinces and municipalities.

So, for example, when compared with the 20.9% market share for foreign buyers in Spain, in some of the international buyer hotspots listed above, that average was demolished. In the Balearics, overseas market share in 2023 was 38.4%, in the Canaries 35% and in the Comunidad Valenciana 37.6%. And while the average in Andalucía as a whole was the same as the national average, in Málaga province, which really means the Costa del Sol, 39% of the total number of transactions during 2023 were by overseas purchasers. And the importance of Málaga province in Andalucía’s property market is underlined by the fact that 60% of foreign buyers in the autonomous region bought in Málaga province.

And the same market disparity occurred at the municipal level, a good example of this being, inevitably, Málaga. Although there are 208 municipalities in Málaga province, just four (Málaga, Marbella, Estepona & Benahavís) accounted for 43% of all transactions in the year. And. as already noted, of the 35,515 property transactions in Málaga province in 2023, 15,621 were by foreign buyers, that’s a 39% market share, almost double the 20.9% national average.


It’s clear that foreign buyers matter much more in some locations than others and that the property market in Spain would be a very different place without them. And these latest statistics also make it clear that some nationalities have more impact on the market than others, both in terms of numbers and financial clout.

In the nationality league table the British held on, as usual, to the top spot and even extended their lead over the Germans & French. It’s true that British buyers are down roughly 10% on pre-pandemic levels but the 12,470 total for 2023 put them well ahead of the 9,611 Germans and the French on 8,647. The U.S market performed very strongly, being the only nationality to show an increase on the 2022 total, which as I’ve already explained, was distorted in an upward direction by the pandemic and, in my opinion, was artificially high. More indicative of where the US market is heading is the fact that the 2023 number (2,414) was more than double what it was in 2019, in fact it’s up 121.77%.


Domestic buyers paid an average €1,580 per m2 in 2023. In contrast, the average figure paid by a foreign buyer was €2,175 per m2, 37.6% more. However, some nationalities pay a lot less than this figure, most notably Moroccans on €723per m2, Romanians on €1,094 and Bulgarians on €1,219, some of the nationalities most likely to fall into the category of resident foreigners. When we look at just non-resident foreigners, the average price paid shoots up to €2,715 per m2, 71.8% more than the domestic average. And some nationalities pay even more than that. Swedish buyers averaged €3,077 per m2 followed closely by buyers from the US on €3,066 per m2. And the most expensive region? That would be the Balearics, breaking the €4,000 barrier for the first time with foreign buyers paying an average of €4,051per m2. In contrast, there is one Mediterranean region where the average price paid by foreign buyers was even below the domestic buyer average and that was Murcia, on €1,219 per m2.


There’s no doubt that Spain’s property market would look very different without a strong overseas sector. The reality is that the overseas market is now about 60% bigger than it was at the peak just before the global market meltdown in 2008. In contrast the domestic market is still approximately 30% smaller than it was then. And these latest statistics show much stronger growth from foreign buyers with the sector up 26% when compared with pre-pandemic levels while the domestic sector is up only 10% over the same period. As far as the overseas market is concerned I can't see the supply side deficit improving any time soon.

For a more comprehensive look at the Spanish Property Market 2023/24 please take a look at the annual report here.

About the author

Barbara Wood

Barbara founded The Property Finders in 2003. More than two decades of experience and her in-depth knowledge of the Spanish property market help buyers get the knowledge they need to find the right property for them.

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