Real Estate

Expat real estate: Irish buyers in Spain are younger, wealthier and keen for investments

(Editor’s note: Spain is one of the most popular destinations for British, Irish and American expats. Dispatches receives no remuneration for this post, which is meant to convey expert insights.)

Debbie Lush, Irish national, property consultant and director at Cloud Nine Spain, has seen a change in the buyer profile of Irish clients over the last year. She’s seen a younger demographic looking to move permanently for a better quality of life with family.

There’s also a higher average spend over the past year, with more people appreciating the investment potential of Spanish property and looking for off-plan and properties that have good rental potential, as well as opportunities to improve and add value.

Eighty percent of Lush’s clients are cash-buyers who know the area well and are ready to make an investment and enjoy everything the area has to offer.

We asked Debbie to explain what she’s seeing on the ground on the Costa del Sol.

High-level investments in property from Irish buyers

“This year I’ve been really surprised to see the budgets increasing from my Irish clients. There’s still a large spectrum of budgets, starting at 350,000 euros, but many buyers are up over 1 or 2 million euros,” she said.

There’s a lot of money coming out of Ireland at the moment and they’re investing in property, Lush noted. “Whereas before, I’m not sure that they realised the investment opportunities that Spain can give them, for rentals, for flipping properties, buying off-plan, or renovating and adding value, I definitely see an interest in the investment side of property purchases.”

These buyers are predominantly cash buyers. There will be the occasional person who wants a mortgage or perhaps needs a top-up because they’ve seen a property that’s slightly over their budget, but Lush says 80 percent of her clients are cash buyers at the moment.

A younger buyer demographic looking for a better lifestyle

More recently, she’s seen younger people buying properties over in Spain. “I think COVID has changed a lot for people. Those who can work around the world are now asking themselves, ‘Well, do I really need to be in the rain in Ireland?’ ” They are looking for somewhere less expensive, with better weather, less traffic and a safe place to live a more balanced and better quality of life, Lush says.

Spain is a huge attraction for them because it’s “not the other side of the world. If you need to pop home, it’s two- and three-quarter hours on a flight. It’s easy. It’s safe here. You’ve got fantastic weather, fantastic food. The quality of life is great and it’s not expensive.”

Spain is also appealing to these buyers because they can join a vibrant international community. There are international schools. They can take full advantage of the Spanish way of life and mix with all the nationalities that live on the Costa del Sol, she says.

“They definitely don’t want to be right next to an Irish bar, or just limit themselves to the Irish community! They want the best of all worlds here and they really are finding it.”

A demanding buyer

Lush loves working with Irish clients and believes that from a trust point of view, it makes a big difference when you’re dealing with a fellow countryman. It also helps to know the country and understand where they’re coming from in Ireland, as this gives me a better feel for their surroundings, their expectations and property requirements, she notes.

“However, I will admit that Irish buyers are quite demanding, because they want everything, even when they are impossible to combine,” Lush added. “For example, I’m often asked to find a property which is both easy walking distance to all the bars, restaurants, shops and the beach, but without any noise whatsoever.

“Clearly, that’s not an option.”

Once Irish people are in Spain, Lush says she tries to help them to understand what’s out there and make a decision between conflicting ideas. “I try and show them as many options as I can, so they can make an informed decision of what the compromise will need to be and be happy with the property they choose.”


Originally from Sutton, Dublin, Debbie Lush moved to Spain in 2016. A certified interior designer, she is passionate about property and sold houses for Sherry Fitzgerald and Douglas Newman Good in Dublin, as well as working in architecture and design for a property developer. She has worked for Cloud Nine Spain for seven years.


Read more about real estate 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.

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