Foreigners now buy one in three homes sold in Malaga province

Foreigners now buy one in three homes sold in Malaga province

The Costa del Sol outperforms the Balearic Islands in attracting foreign investors and is third in Spain behind Alicante and Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Cristina Vallejo


Friday, 8 September 2023, 09:14


Malaga is the third most important province in Spain when it comes to foreigners buying homes, behind only Alicante and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This is what can be deduced from the latest real estate statistics from the Colegio de Registradores (the association of registrars), which show that in the second quarter of this year foreign buyers accounted for 32% of property sales in the province, compared to 38% in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and 44.67% in Alicante. This year Malaga has overtaken the Balearic Islands in attracting foreign investment for real estate, which is a real milestone, as the property market on the islands has had more international presence than that of the Costa del Sol, every year since 2018.

According to the most recent data, non-Spanish buyers account for 30.38% of the total in the archipelago, which includes Mallora and Ibiza. A year ago, in the second quarter of 2022, foreign investors accounted for 34.60% of the island's real estate purchases, two points higher than in the province of Malaga. The tables have now turned.

This means that of the 8,931 properties sold in Malaga province between April and June, 2,860 were bought by people born outside Spain. While the province is third in Spain in terms of the proportion of foreign buyers, it is fifth in terms of the total number of property transactions, behind only Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante and Valencia, figures which further highlight the importance of foreign investment in the provincial real estate market.

More than in Spain and Andalucía

These figures are well above those for Spain as a whole. During the second quarter of 2023, home purchases by foreigners in the country barely reached 15%. The figure for Andalucía as a whole is even lower than the national proportion: property purchases by foreign buyers in the region accounted for 14.19% of the total between April and June. Within the southern Spanish region, the province that comes closest to Malaga is Almeria, with 20% of transactions involving people born outside Spain. In Seville, the proportion of purchases by foreigners fell to 2.3%.

The study carried out by the the association of registrars also refers to the last twelve months. In this case, foreign buyers accounted for 33.3% of the total, i.e. they accounted for mathematically one in three of the transactions made in this period in the province of Malaga. The total for the 12 months was 38,203, so it is calculated that foreigners bought 12,722 properties.

This proportion of homes purchased by foreign buyers in Malaga in the last twelve months is also above the figure for the Balearics (31.84% of the 16,260 homes sold in total), beating the islands for first time in at least the last five years. Twelve months ago the foreign buyers in the Balearics accounted for 36% of property sales, while in Malaga the proportion was 31.19%. Five years ago, in 2018, foreigners bought 26.71% of the homes sold in the province of Malaga, while in the Balearic Islands the proportion was 29%.

Patricio Palomar, director of alternative investments at AIRE Partners, has said that one of the keys to this change may lie in an announcement made last January by the previous Balearic government: it was considering limiting access to home purchases by non-residents to help curb prices.

This, said Palomar, may have encouraged foreign buyers to be cautious. The analyst has also suggested that the order of the ranking of provinces that attract the most foreign money is influenced by the behaviour of each nationality, because in Malaga it is mainly the British who buy, while in the Balearic Islands there are more Germans. And, according to the registrars association, UK nationals in general have had the greatest influence on property purchases in Spain (8.8%), followed by Germans (7.25%) in the second quarter of the year. In absolute terms, there were almost 2,000 British buyers, compared to 1,619 Germans.

Cristina Arias, director of Tinsa's research department, added that in the Balearic Islands, the controversy over residential prices has led buyers to turn to coastal areas of the Spanish mainland.

Reasons for international presence

In Palomar's opinion, the Costa del Sol is increasing in popularity among foreign home buyers in part thanks to the city of Malaga's real estate promotion abroad, with a presence at the most important trade fairs in the sector - ahead even of Barcelona.

Furthermore, the city and province are in the sights of digital nomads as well as foreign residents, who, although they tend to rent at first, once they are more settled here, they buy. The expert also brings another factor into the equation: the statistics will most likely include operations carried out by investment funds domiciled in other countries.

According to Ferrán Font, research director at, Malaga is a holiday and residential destination for young and old people with high purchasing power from many European countries, North Africa and the Middle East.

"The presence of foreign investors in Malaga will continue to grow because they have a greater spending power; prices, although they have risen, are still cheap compared to their countries of origin"

Patricio Palomar

Director of alternative investment at AIRE Partners

"The high proportion of foreign buyers has an impact on the overall market, both in terms of sales and rental prices"

Ferrán Font

Research director at

"The presence of foreigners can bring dynamism to some areas. On the other hand, if the concentration of buyers with higher purchasing power than the local population is very high, this could lead to price tension"

Cristina Arias

Director of research at Tinsa

Similarly, Palomar said that it is to be expected that the presence of foreigners in the Malaga market will continue to grow. And he considers this to be the case due to three factors: the purchasing power of foreigners is greater than that of locals; the natural population growth locally has halted, another factor that plays against the progress of operations among local people and in favour of international demand; and, finally, property on the Costa del Sol - despite being among the most expensive in Spain - continues to be cheap - or competitive - in comparison with that of the countries of origin of international buyers.

Ferrán Font added that the high presence of foreigners has an impact on the functioning of real estate markets. He said that this is an important factor behind the rise in prices in both the buy-to-let and rental markets. Malaga has seen some of the biggest rises in both markets in the country. According to Font, his statistics show that the price of housing will have risen by around 17% in the last year, while the increase in rents will have been around 20%.

Font said that it is precisely locations with a high presence of foreign buyers, such as Marbella, Benahavís or Estepona, where prices are the most expensive.

Cristina Arias highlights the two effects of the great importance of foreign investment in a market: "The presence of foreigners can bring dynamism to some areas, stimulates business activity and contributes to GDP. On the other hand, if the concentration of buyers with greater purchasing power than the local population is very high in some areas, this could lead to tension in residential prices."

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