Spain offers residency to anyone buying a home worth more than £130,000 in bid to save its housing market
Spain plans to offer foreigners residency permits if they buy houses worth more than 160,000 euros – approximately £128,500 – to try and reduce the country’s bloated stock of unsold homes.
Spain currently has more than 700,000 unsold houses following the collapse of its real estate market in 2008.
Trade Ministry secretary Jaime Garcia-Legaz said the plan, expected to be approved in the coming weeks, would be aimed principally at the Chinese and Russian markets as the domestic demand was stagnant and showed no sign of improving.
The country’s economy is still struggling and is currently in recession with 25 per cent unemployment.
Thousands of houses have been repossessed by banks and their owners evicted because they cannot pay their mortgages.
The government last week approved a decree under which evictions would be suspended for two years in specific cases of extreme need.
The country’s offer beats others in bailed-out countries such as Ireland and Portugal, where residency papers are offered to foreigners buying houses worth more than 400,000 euros – around £322,000) and 500,000 euros – approximately £402,000 respectively. It was not immediately clear if the residency would only refer to Spain, and not the European Union.
The stricken state of the country’s real estate market was highlighted Monday by figures from the Bank of Spain which showed that the level of bad debt in the country’s banks had risen to a record 10.7 per cent of their loan total in September.