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Cloud Nine Spain: 2023 Spanish property market review, 2024 forecast

(Editor’s note: This post on the property market in southern Spain is presented as a services to readers, and Dispatches receives no remuneration.)

In the Spanish property podcast “La Piedra”, Sean Woolley from Cloud Nine Spain and Mark Stücklin from Spanish Property Insight reviewed the market on paper and in the real world to give an overview of the year and a look ahead to 2024.

Sales prices are slightly down nationally, but up in Andalucia

Mark Stücklin has been crunching the numbers and analysing them from a range of sources. Looking at the figures for the first 11 months of 2023 in terms of sales prices, you could see the tail-end of the extraordinary post-pandemic boom, then petering out over the year, with a small national price decline in November 2023 of 1 percent.

Sales prices in Andalucia were up 4.6 percent, compared to the year before, but asking prices were up by 8.5 percent.

This trend was caused by moving from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market, which has seen some small price reductions.

That is testament to the fact that there’s not quite as many buyers in the market as there were in that post-COVID boom, so vendors are having to get a little bit more realistic about their prices.

The experts agree that this is good for the market, as we’re entering a more solid, realistic phase, with a levelling off of prices.

Prices were up in the ultra-desirable areas of Marbella and Sotogrande over the year. As of December 2023, asking prices were up by 12 percent in both Marbella and Sotogrande. These price increases were due to lack of stock in general and particularly around the top international schools, which are driving many people’s location decisions.

Interestingly, 2023 marked the recovery of the prices to 2008 levels, according to the office of statistics, with figures from the notaries and the asking price data on the largest property portal in Spain finishing just under the 2008 figure. 2013 was the year that the market bottomed out after declining from 2007 to 2013. Since then, there’s been 10 years of relatively steady recovery, and the mini-boom caused by the pandemic.

Negative growth in sales in 2023, but only compared to a very strong 2022

In terms of sales, there has been negative growth in 2023. However, the experts agreed that this negative growth is more a reflection of the boom of 2022 than of any kind of weakness or softness in sales in 2023. This combined with increases in interest rates, inflation and cost of living saw a slowing of the market in the last half of the year, representing a textbook soft landing from the post pandemic mini boom.

But to put this negative growth into perspective, if it’s compared to the pre- pandemic year of 2019, November 2023 sales were 13-percent above the same figure in 2019. So, although it’s a decline compared to last year, it’s still a very good year in terms of sales at a national level.

Sean Woolley added that these figures didn’t include the off-plan sales, which have been high in the last part of the year in Andalusia and the Malaga province, due to a lack of resale stock.

A record year for Cloud Nine Spain

Cloud Nine Spain saw a record year in terms of both sales and average sales price, across their Costa del Sol catchment area in 2023. These sales came from all over the world, with 17 nationalities buying last year. The British were the dominant nationality, followed by Americans, Irish, and then Belgium and Spain in equal fourth.

Sean attributes the strong year to the ending of the post Covid boom, plus the branding of Marbella and its surrounding areas as the California of Europe, which has attracted a lot of interest from Americans, and others who can work remotely and commute for meetings. This has introduced a different type of buyer to this area that’s increased the demand, particularly in the areas where everybody wants to be.

But, to counter that demand, the cost-of-living crisis, plus increased inflation and interest rates, put people off, causing a slowing of demand in Q4.

Forecast for 2024

Mark is positive for the year ahead: “On paper, the signs are promising for 2024 – inflation’s down, there’s expectations of interest rate cuts coming later on this year and the Spanish general election is behind us. A lot of things that were unsettling or destabilising last year are moving in the right direction.”

Sean agrees and has started the year strong, “It’s definitely encouraging that the market fundamentals seem to be improving as we head into 2024. We’ve seen our record January so far, with the most sales at the highest values that we’ve ever recorded in 23 years.

Our predictions had been that 2024 would be a steady year, after our best year ever in 2023, but early signs are that we could be in for an even better year ahead.”

You can find the La Piedra podcast on the Cloud Nine Spain YouTube channel on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud.

Please email [email protected] to submit questions and topics you’d like to see covered.

Meet the experts

Sean Woolley is the Founder and Director of leading real estate agency Cloud Nine Spain, which operates on the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca and the Costa Calida. With 20 years’ experience of helping clients buy and sell properties in Spain, he has contributed to a host of publications, offering practical advice and a refreshing manner that is always truly honest, no-nonsense and full of common-sense.

Sean is also the author of an insiders’ guide to buying Spanish property, “From the Ground Up.”

Mark Stücklin is a property specialist, market analyst and commentator – one of the authorities in the industry, often quoted by the British media when they speak about Spanish property. He’s been based in Barcelona since 1999, wrote a column on Spanish property for the Sunday Times for three years and is the author of the book “Need to Know: Buying Property in Spain.”

Since 2003 he has been publishing the latest Spanish property market news, analysis, and guides on his Spanish Property Insight website drawing on his two decades of experience in the sector.

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Read more about real estate in Spain here in Dispatches’ archives.

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Sean Woolley is the founder and director of Cloud Nine Spain. With 20 years’ experience of helping clients buy and sell properties in Spain, he’s known as “The Property Doctor” and has contributed to a host of publications. He has recently written the book “From the Ground Up – The Insider’s Guide to Buying Spanish Property,” sharing his years of experience, real life stories, tips and tricks with buyers interested in investing in Spanish Real Estate.

Cloud Nine
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Cloud Nine Spain is a real estate firm based in Marbella, Spain specializing in luxury properties.

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