Buying property in Barcelona as a foreigner (2022)

Zorica Lončar
27.04.22
5 minute read

Dreaming of living in the culture-rich cosmopolitan city of Barcelona? It’s easy to see why so many expats flock there, for the sun-soaked weather, incredible food and a taste of laid-back Mediterranean living.

If you’re looking to buy a property in beautiful Barcelona, whether to live in or rent out, read on. We’ve put together the essential guide for foreign buyers, covering everything from house prices to mortgages.

Let’s start with a quick look at the property market in Barcelona.

What’s the property market like in Barcelona?

The housing market in Spain took a dip during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s now starting to show signs of improvement¹.

Property prices have been dropping slightly year-on-year since mid-2019, and fell by 2.7% by the end of March 2021². Demand is expected to pick up, but this could mean opportunities for buyers to snap up cheaper properties - especially in areas like Sant Martí and Barcelona Old Town².

There may also be more city centre apartments available, as families moved out towards the coast or countryside as a result of the pandemic³.

Is Barcelona a good place to buy property?

If you’re planning to buy an investment property in Spain, Barcelona could be a good place to put your money. Gross rental yields are moderately good, ranging from 4.4% to 5.15%¹ in areas like Barcelona’s old town. However, the rental market is still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Barcelona (along with Madrid and San Sebastián) is one of the most expensive places to buy property in Spain.

But it could be well worth it, especially if you’re considering living there. Barcelona is a fantastic city in which to live and work, and was recently voted one of the world’s top 10 cities to move to in a survey of over 20,000 expats⁴.

Can foreigners buy property in Barcelona?

Foreigners are permitted to buy property in Barcelona, just like in the rest of Spain. The main thing you’ll need is a _Número de Identificación del extranjero _(NIE)⁵. This is a tax identification number, and it’s not difficult to get - although it can sometimes take a long time.

While there are no restrictions on non-Spanish or even non-EU citizens buying property in Barcelona, this doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have the right to live in your new home. You’ll need to look into whether you need to get a visa or residency permit.

Can I buy a property in Barcelona and get Spanish citizenship?

Like a number of other countries, Spain has what is known as a ‘Golden Visa’ scheme. This grants a residency visa to foreign investors who spend at least £500,000 on Spanish real estate⁶.

So provided you spend enough, once you’ve bought your property in Barcelona, you can submit a visa application. If successful, you’ll get a two-year Spanish residence permit, which can be renewed indefinitely. After you’ve been in Spain for 10 years, you can apply for citizenship⁶.

What’s the approximate cost of property in Barcelona?

Barcelona is one of the most expensive places to buy property in Spain, with an average price of €3,995 per square metre. It’s beaten only by San Sebastián (€4,833) and Calvià in Majorca (€4,411)⁷.

To give you an idea of property prices, here’s the average price per square metre in the ten main districts of Barcelona:

LocationAverage price per sq.m⁸
Sarria Sant Gervasi€5,241
Les Corts€4,019
Eixample€4,500
Gràcia€4,217
Ciutat Vella€4,019
Sants-Montjuïc€3,358
Sant Martí€3,531
Sant Andreu€3,060
Horta-Guinardó€3,026
Nou Barris€2,387

How can I find a property in Barcelona?

Property agencies and agents

If you’re not living in Spain or are unfamiliar with the property market in Barcelona, using an estate agent could be a good idea. They’ll have knowledge of the local market, so can help you find what you’re looking for.

In a popular tourist city like Barcelona, You shouldn’t have a problem finding an agent that speaks English either.

Property websites in Barcelona

You can also start browsing properties for sale in Barcelona using an online real estate portal.

Here a few of the most popular property websites to try:

What are the best places to buy property in Barcelona?

Barcelona has ten main districts to choose from, and as you’ll see from the property price table above - some are more expensive than others.

Gracia is a popular choice for foreign buyers, a family-friendly multicultural hub with art galleries and wide boulevards which retains its Catalonian feel. Horta-Guinardó is a green yet affordable neighbourhood popular with students, while Sant Martí and Sants-Montjuïc are ideal for those looking for an active lifestyle.

You’ll get great views above the hustle and bustle of the city in Pedralbes and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, while the suburb of Eixample offers the best nightlife.

How do I choose the right property?

Unless you’re living in Barcelona, you’ll need to plan a few trips out there to view property. Walk its neighbourhoods to get a feel for what it’d be like to live there. Or if you’re looking for an investment property, do some research (or speak to an expert) to find out about local rental yields.

You should also consider how much space you need, along with your budget. Many apartments in Barcelona are quite small⁹, with larger flats and those with more outdoor space tending to be more costly.

Lastly, you should consider getting a house survey carried out. You can proceed without it, but it could help to spot any potential problems with the property before you buy.

What are the steps to buying a property in Barcelona?¹⁰

  1. Start searching online or with an agent for property to buy in Barcelona.
  2. If you need a mortgage, see if you can get pre-approval from a Spanish bank - this could strengthen your position as a buyer.
  3. Apply for your NIE number.
  4. Hire a solicitor.
  5. Found your perfect property? Make an offer through the seller’s estate agent. Negotiate the price, along with the terms and conditions of the sale.
  6. Sign the Reservation Contract (Contrato de Reserva) and pay the holding fee.
  7. Arrange a house survey.
  8. Your solicitor will carry out the necessary checks, due diligence and paperwork for the purchase.
  9. Get your mortgage confirmed.
  10. Sign the sale contract (Contrato de Arras, or Contrato Privado de Compraventa) and pay the deposit.
  11. Sign the deed in the presence of the notary - this will then be filed at the land registry office.
  12. Transfer the final balance of the purchase price and pay all taxes and costs.
  13. Get the keys to your new pad in Barcelona!

What are the legal requirements for buying a property in Barcelona?

The legal requirements in Barcelona are just the same as buying property elsewhere in Spain. You’ll need a tax identity number (NIE), and it’s important to hire a qualified, independent property lawyer to carry out in-depth searches and due diligence.

How do I get a bank loan/mortgage?

If you need a mortgage, the good news is that Spanish banks do lend to foreign buyers. However, they’ll usually only lend around 60-70% of the purchase price for non-Spanish citizens¹¹, so you’re likely to need a bigger deposit.

To apply for your mortgage, you’ll need the following documents¹²:

  • NIE number
  • Your passport
  • Proof of income/employment,
  • A pre-agreement with the seller
  • Proof the property tax is up to date
  • Details of your current debts, mortgages and current assets.

What kind of taxes and fees will I need to pay?

Here’s a quick look at the costs typically involved in buying property in Barcelona:¹¹

  • Transfer Tax (Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales, ITP) - this is 10% in Catalonia¹³
  • VAT (Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido, IVA) - 10%, plus stamp duty of up to 1.5%. This is for new builds, instead of ITP.
  • Solicitor fees - around 1-2% of the purchase price
  • Notary costs, title deed tax and land registration fees - 1% to 2.5%

The good news though is that the seller usually pays estate agent fees in Spain.

Paying for your property from abroad? Save money with a secure Wise transfer

If you’re buying your Barcelona property while outside of Spain, you’ll need a secure and cost-effective way to send money internationally. After all, there will be all kinds of deposits, solicitors fees and other costs to pay.

Using your bank to send money between the UK and Spain could turn out very expensive, thanks to high transfer fees and unfavourable exchange rates.

But open a Wise multi-currency account instead and you can make international transfers for tiny fees and the real, mid-market exchange rate.

This could save you a small fortune compared to using your bank, and it’s fast, secure and trackable too.

Join Wise today


Sources used for this article:

  1. Global Property Guide - Spain’s housing market
  2. EIN - Barcelona property market
  3. FT - Barcelona’s property market
  4. Spanish Property Insight - best cities to move to
  5. My Spanish residency - requirements to buy a house in Spain
  6. Schengen Visa Info - Spain Golden Visa
  7. TheLocal.es - the most expensive places to buy or rent property in Spain
  8. The Property Finders - Barcelona property market
  9. Spain Advisors - buying property in Barcelona for foreigners
  10. How to buy in Spain - buy property in Spain
  11. Expatica - buying property in Spain
  12. Expatica - Spanish mortgage
  13. Spain Advisors - the cost of buying a property

Sources checked on 25-04-2022.

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