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Key boxes of tourist flats in a street in Malaga. Migue Fernández
One out of every three properties for rent in Malaga city is a tourist let
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One out of every three properties for rent in Malaga city is a tourist let

Malaga city and Marbella are the places where the Bank of Spain has pinpointed the highest concentration of holiday rentals in all of Spain

Cristina Vallejo

Friday, 26 April 2024, 12:14

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One out of every three homes offered for rent on the outskirts of Malaga and Marbella is for tourist rental. This is the figure that stands out from the data in the latest report published by the Bank of Spain. The actual volume of tourist homes available is equivalent to 51.4% and 54.9% respectively of the number of properties offered for long-term rent in these two areas. This means that, if the conventional residential rental supply on the outskirts of these two places on the Costa del Sol consisted of one hundred properties, the holiday market would be made up of slightly more than fifty additional flats. If we were to aggregate the entire rental market, residential and holiday, we would have just over 150 homes in total, a third of which would therefore be tourist homes. In other words, for every ten long-term rentals, there are at least five more for visitors.

Moreover, in Malaga's city centre holiday homes are equivalent to 22.3% of the residential rental market, which means that for every one hundred houses in conventional rentals, there are more than 22 holiday lets. But in the heart of Marbella their presence is even greater: homes destined for tourist accommodation are the same as 64% of the long-term rental market, meaning that for every one hundred residential rentals there are 64 more for holiday lets.

Extrapolating these numbers if, in Malaga city - according to INE (Spain's National Statistical Office) figures - there are around 30,000 homes for conventional rental, there would be more than 15,000 more for tourism. In Marbella, if there are 10,000 homes for long-term rental, then the holiday rentals would weigh in at a little over 5,000.

In fact, the authors of the Bank of Spain study have calculated these figures by looking at the number of tourist homes available in August 2023, the latest available data on rental properties at municipal level, and the numbers from the last population and housing census of 2021. Their calculations were done on the 25 largest urban areas in the country. Among these, we can see that Malaga and Marbella really stand out. Only one municipality beats them: Elche in Alicante province where, for every one hundred residential rental homes, there are an additional 66 tourist homes.

The figures for Malaga and Marbella therefore exceed those of other major tourist cities, such as Palma de Mallorca. On the outskirts of the Balearic capital, for every 100 conventional rental properties there are another 24 tourist rentals, while in the city centre holiday rentals are equivalent to 2.7% of long-term rentals. Note, however, that a moratorium has been applied in the Balearics to curb the supply of both hotels and flats for visitors. The weight of holiday rentals in the two cities on the Costa del Sol is also higher than in Santa Cruz de Tenerife or Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, because in neither of these two cases do tourist lets represent even 10% of the supply of long-stay rentals.

In addition to the outskirts of Palma city, tourist rentals are also important in Vigo, Alicante, Santander and Gijón, although their weight is half that of Malaga and Marbella as, instead of being equivalent to 50% of the regular rentals market, they represent around 25%. This means that, in these locations on the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean, for every 100 homes for conventional residential rental there are 25 for visitors.

10% is the difference between holiday lets to long-term lets

in Spain as a whole. For national total of properties owned or rented, they are equivalent to 1.8%.

"Holiday rentals hold a modest percentage in the overall residential market, with an estimated ratio of 1.8% of the total number of principal dwellings. However, it is already the equivalent of close to 10% of the size of the rental market," summarises the Bank of Spain report. Holiday lettings, therefore, are highly concentrated mostly in the larger tourist areas, among these especially Malaga and Marbella, being five times over the average.

Under-estimated number of tourist properties

Statistician Julio Rodríguez, INE member and former president of Banco Hipotecario and Caja de Granada, has a "but" to the numbers: he believes that the available data as a whole underestimates the number of holiday homes in Spain. In his opinion, holiday rentals are much higher than the figures published to date show. In fact, sources at the Bank of Spain told this newspaper that, in order to calculate the number of holiday homes, it uses data from the three online platforms most commonly used to book them, so the statistics do not include holiday rentals that are booked outside them.

Rodríguez also has an inkling as to why the figures for Malaga and Marbella are so much higher: in Andalucía residents have been more inclined to buy than rent, so the bulk of the growth in rental supply has been in holiday homes.

"The areas in which there is a greater concentration of tourist rentals - which displace residential housing - experience greater relative increases in house purchase and rental prices," says the Bank of Spain in its report

According to the Bank of Spain, this "boom in holiday rentals has to some extent reduced the potential supply of housing available for residential use, albeit very unevenly across geographical areas".

"This activity is concentrated in the main tourist areas, in certain urban areas - such as Malaga, Marbella, Elche and Palma de Mallorca - and in the central districts of the large cities with the greatest tourist activity - Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Valencia," it said, adding: "According to economic literature, those neighbourhoods where there is a greater presence of tourist rentals displacing residential housing opportunities, experience greater, relative increases in the purchase and rental prices of properties."

On this topic, Patricio Palomar, an expert from AIRE Partners consultancy, said that once holiday homes are equivalent to 30% of properties in any given area, the whole environment is transformed in favour of the needs of tourists and prices increase to such an extent that the original population is pushed out to other areas, meaning that tourist rental properties will then account for one in two of the total number of properties on offer. This is a phenomenon that is also being observed in Granada, where housing that was traditionally rented to university students is now going to short-stay visitors.

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