Spanish real estate agents already feeling the Brexit pinch

Published:  28 Feb at 6 PM
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With Article 50 not even triggered as yet, estate agents in Spain are already suffering Brexit doldrums.

At least two years of painful negotiations are on the cards before the UK finally quits the European Union, but businesses reliant on British customers are already beginning to envisage a grim future. Amongst the worst affected are real estate agents in Spain’s expat hotspots, with many reporting a drastic fall in property sales since the June referendum.

Two of the hardest hit provinces to date are the Costa del Sol’s Malaga and Alicante, home to 65,000 British expatriates, the majority of whom are pensioners or small business owners. General Secretary of the region’s Property Developers’Association Violete Aragon Correa told local media her members are feeling the pain along with the local British expat communities unsure about their future in the country.

Since last June, she said, the number of properties bought by Britons has declined month on month, and even formerly agreed property purchase reservations are now being cancelled. Formerly, Britons made up the bulk of purchases on the Costa del Sol, but fears about the falling pound, the possibility of frozen pensions, heathcare worries and the right to remain and run businesses have all taken their toll on the formerly successful local agencies.

Exact figures are at present only available for the country as a whole, with property deeds and trade industry reports indicating the numbers of properties bought by foreigners fell from 24 per cent of the total turnover in 2015 to 16 per cent a year later. Mijas City’s mayor, Carlos Maldonado, refers to the exodus as an earthquake, and the regional real estate managers’ association is reporting sales of formerly British-owned condos and houses surging by 16.5 per cent since the Brexit vote.

Spanish business owners in the region, especially those catering for the expat community, are expressing their concerns at the already evident decline in residential tourism. Businesses serving the region’s expat community include language schools, doctors and law offices as well as the huge number of bars, restaurants and supermarkets. From banks to bakeries and the local English language media, the loss of huge numbers of the expat community can’t be made up through visits by summertime holidaymakers.
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