Holiday Homes: Sussing out the property market in Barcelona, the Spanish city proving popular with cash-strapped millennials

Alasdair Byers
Barcelona is bustling with British buyers, apparently

Barcelona is the millennials’ Paris. There are scores of city-wide events aimed at a younger demographic, the art galleries are overwhelmingly modern, and a cursory glance through social media will net you far more pictures of young couples standing atop one of Barcelona’s several hills than the Eiffel Tower.

The city’s growing popularity means property sales in Barcelona are up 30 per cent from 2007, with a 5.23 per cent residential yield in Q1 of this year alone.

The developers I spoke to in Barcelona estimate there might be as many as 9,000 buildings and apartment blocks with scope for renovation, many of which are set in central Barcelona. Brits lead the international buyers with 22 per cent of the market, attracted by the fact many apartments are available freehold strata and service charges are only €120/quarter typically.

A balcony with a sea view from a luxury apartment at Illa del Mar

Commercial property, particularly around tourism, is also thriving. In the last 10 years, 20 new five star hotels have been built, up from the existing nine. Walk around the city and you’ll see a proliferation of indie hotels and rebooted boutique hostels, too.

As a result, Barcelona’s upgraded offerings are more sophisticated than ex-pat alleys and new blocks on the beach. Diagonal 594 is one such offering on the Avinguda Diagonal by Plaça de Francesc Macià, the high end shopping district. A 1936 block with a refurbished interior, the nine apartments cost around €950,000. For those pining for sand and sea, there’s the Illa Del Mar complex, a modern block featuring apartments with wraparound balconies and the beach on your doorstep from €1.68m.

The Gothic quarter is Barcelona’s fastest growing property offering, with 19th century apartment buildings set on narrow backstreets. For something a little more affordable, The Banys Nous block set on the street of the same name is an 1850 building with 16 apartments from €360,000. Nearby Correu Vell, a 13 apartment conversion, also has homes on sale from €360,000 to €480,000.

A charming modern apartment at Correu Vell in the Gothic quarter

For those looking for a casual AirBnB flip, renting out apartments for short lets may not be an easy option. Lets under three months are required to have a tourist licence and, currently, there’s a moratorium on these for the next two years. Of the previously mentioned developments, only the Diagonal 594 building has secured one for eight of its apartments.

But local developers say they’re not concerned about that. Business schools, international undergrads and growing international businesses all want mid-term accommodation, too. And there’s a proliferation of British couples in their early 30s, wandering around the Gothic quarter late at night, quietly gasping at the price of Barcelona property as they take a break from saving for their hefty London deposit.

While millennials discover art and adventure in Barcelona, they may also find the home-owning security they crave.

Properties described all managed by the newly opened Cluttons Barcelona. Email or call 0207 647 7243.

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