Second homes and Golden Visas: Can Brits still buy holiday homes in Spain after Brexit?
When Britain officially left the European Union in early 2020, and the Brexit transition period ended on 31st December of that year, the future of the Spanish property market seemed uncertain. After all, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest share of foreign homebuyers in Spain was British.
Due to national lockdowns and international travel restrictions limiting plans and resources for potential buyers, percentages were dropping throughout 2021 compared to the thriving market in previous years. The pandemic arguably had a greater impact on the number of Britons buying property in Spain than Brexit. However, it’s difficult to measure the response to Brexit without the influence of COVID.
Now that most of the world is lifting COVID restrictions, and Britons want to spend time away in sunny countries more than ever after the last couple of years, things are picking up again for UK buyers of Spanish real estate. If you’re thinking about purchasing a second home in Spain, but aren’t sure what the limitations are after Brexit, this blog from Manzanares Lawyers will hopefully offer some peace of mind.
How has Brexit affected the Spanish property market for UK buyers?
Though there many concerns about Brexit negatively impacting Spanish property prices, any effect has been negligible. The main factors that affect Spanish house prices are the same as most other places in the world – depending largely on the location, size, amenities, demand etc. Villas on the coast and city centre apartments are often more expensive than smaller and more rural homes.
While there are several new rules for UK citizens wanting to spend more time in the country, there are no new Brexit-related restrictions on buying property in Spain. Leaving the EU just means that Brits now have the same rights as non-EU countries, like the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
The major change that might make potential buyers hesitant is that British tourists no longer have the same freedom of movement throughout the Schengen Area. As third-country citizens, Brits are now limited to ‘short stays’ within the Schengen Area. The maximum stay is no more than 90 days out of every 180 days.
What if you want to spend longer than 90 days at your holiday home in Spain?
With visits limited to around 3 months at a time, those who prefer to spend an entire season at their second home in Spain – whether all winter or all summer – will no longer be able to do so without a visa. If you have another holiday home in another Schengen country, the same limit applies across both, meaning you can only spend a maximum of 6 months a year in the Schengen Area as a whole.
However, this might not affect you much at all. If you would be making periodical short visits to your Spanish holiday home, rather than travelling there once or twice a year for months at a time, you could easily stay within the limits and avoid having to apply for a Schengen Visa to extend your visit.
Retirees or foreigners who only spend time in Spain for leisure can apply for a non-lucrative visa. This type of residence visa allows you to stay in Spain beyond the 90-day limit. You just need the financial means to support yourself, as you won’t be working during that time.
Even property owners who reside in Spain for less than half the year (183 days) still have to pay non-resident taxes on Spanish property. Staying in the country for longer than 183 days a year? You’ll become a Spanish tax resident, and have to pay taxes on your global income, too. Luckily, Brexit does not affect the double taxation agreement between the United Kingdom and Spain.
Can British citizens apply for a Spanish Golden Visa?
If you’re in the early stages of researching how to buy property in Spain, you might not know that there’s another option. The Spanish Golden Visa wasn’t on the radar for most British buyers prior to Brexit, because the scheme is only open to non-EU and non-EEA nationals*. However, now that the UK is a non-EU state, British citizens can apply for a Golden Visa in Spain.
Investing a minimum amount of money into Spain could get you on a fast track to legal residency. Purchasing property worth 500,000€ or more can also give you freedom of movement throughout the Schengen Area. You won’t have to fully immigrate to Spain, either. You can spend as much or as little time there as you like. There are no minimum or maximum requirements.
Another benefit of Spain’s Golden Visa scheme is that applicants can include their spouse and dependant family members. This means children and elderly parents could access the same benefits. To be eligible, you must be over 18 and have no criminal convictions. You must also be able to prove that you can support yourself in Spain, and supply these documents:
- – Valid passport from country of origin (with photographs)
- – Evidence of valid property purchase and sufficient income
- – Marriage certificates or birth certificates for spouses or dependants
- – Health record and proof of medical insurance
*Please note that due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Spanish Golden Visas are not available to citizens of Russia.
Why is a second home in Spain still a popular choice for Brits?
Brexit hasn’t changed the house-buying process in Spain, so there’s no new deterrent for British buyers. Any property buyer from any country must pay the same sets of fees. These cover things like registries, certificates, taxes, stamp duty, translations, bank transfers, notaries, and estate agent or legal adviser costs. The only issue for Brits is staying on top of fluctuating currency exchange rates.
British people have been attracted to Spain for a long time before Britain left the EU. It’s likely that they’ll continue to be for a long time after, too. The benefits that make Spain such a great place to buy a home are mostly the same. The country still offers a high quality of life with relatively low expenses. The cost of living is much higher in the UK than in Spain, with properties costing up to twice as much per square metre.
Spain is also in the top 5 of countries with the highest life expectancy, while the UK didn’t even make the top 20 in the World Health Organisation’s most recent list from 2019. This is likely due to the warmer climate and healthier lifestyles of most Spaniards. Vacationing in Spain lets you take advantage of outdoor activities, Mediterranean cuisine, and a slower pace than most stressful modern lifestyles allow.
It also helps that there is a rich culture and lots of beauty and history on offer. Spain is also in the top 5 of countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites (currently in joint fourth place with France), and occupies the number 1 spot for the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in the world.
There’s so much to do and see, and such pleasant ways of life to enjoy in the sun. Who wouldn’t want to buy a holiday home in Spain? It remains a common aspiration for many Brits, regardless of Brexit.
Looking for legal advice in Spain?
Don’t let Brexit spark doubt and deter you from living your dream in the sun. If buying a holiday home in Spain is something you’re interested in, but you’re unfamiliar with Spanish property law and need the professional advice of English-speaking solicitors in Spain, you’re in the right place.
Manzanares Lawyers can help prospective buyers to navigate real estate purchases and more, from Spanish visa applications to tax management in Andalucía. With offices in Marbella and Alhaurín and a team of multi-lingual lawyers, we have the first-hand experience and knowledge to assist you.
To speak to the experts at Manzanares Abogados about property investment in Spain and related legal documents, call us on +34 952 82 41 12 (Marbella) or +34 952 59 50 42 (Alhaurin). You can also send written enquiries by email to email@example.com for a prompt response.