Why Russian Buyers Choose Barcelona
By Andrew Hawkes – Patron Property Services.
Earlier this year, a major survey was conducted by leading Russian property magazine International Residence at the Moscow International Investment Show. It revealed that Spain is in the top 3 destinations for the buyers in the $12 billion Russian overseas property market. Barcelona has plenty to offer Russian buyers whether they are investing, buying a holiday home or relocating.
Apart from the obvious attractions and climate that make Barcelona a great destination and encourage investment and holidaying, Barcelona is truly a “living city”, one that supports over 7 million visitors annually as well as the 1.6 million people living here. Providing the best of both worlds, most noticeably, there are few cities in the world where you have a view from your office of people sunbathing on the beach below! Or the best football team in the world worshipped both home and internationally, with such a unique culture; or architecture as emblematic as the Sagrada Familia cathedral.
On first glance, the city seems to have defined areas for tourists, business and living. However, looking closer, there remains interaction between everyone using the city: residents, in La Boquería fresh produce market just off Las Ramblas going about their daily grocery shopping, business travellers meeting on the terraces of luxury hotels on Paseo de Gracia, students congregating around Plaza Catalunya, tourists photographing each other outside Casa Batlló and the “elite” tending to their super yachts and entertaining friends at the port area. This international interaction inspires Russians to relocate here.
There is the need for comprehensive and world class services and infrastructure to bring together the “whole experience” from the picture postcard image of the city and Russian buyers expect easy communication links, internationally recognised education, world class healthcare, a community of like-minded people and families and of course the availability of safe, attractive neighbourhoods with a wide range of high quality residential properties. Barcelona can deliver on all of these.
Since the inauguration of the new T1 terminal at Barcelona airport, the management of AENA has had growing success in attracting the airlines to use Barcelona as a direct destination from locations such as Singapore, New York and Pakistan and Spanair are now operating regular flights to numerous Russian destinations (Moscow, Chelyabinsk, Perm, Kazan, Samara, Tyumen…). This is especially important when you consider that one theme has been for Russian families to relocate and for the breadwinner to commute back to Russia during the working week!
There are 27 international schools listed by the Spanish Ministry of Education, with the majority of schools offering education for children between 3 and 18 years of age. Demand is so high that in 2012, The British School of Cataluña is opening another international school in the Maresme area. The two education systems offered by these schools are the Spanish curriculum in a foreign language, and schools that follow another country’s curriculum. English and American curriculums are the main curriculums taught, and are preferred by Russians due to the flexibility to easily integrate into and out of the education, in particular when looking at being educated in the best higher education institutions in the world.
Barcelona is also proud to host two world recognised business schools within the multitude of further and higher education establishments. ESADE and IESE have campuses both in the centre of Barcelona as well as extensive facilities on the outskirts of Barcelona and provide excellent education and integrate the national students with a high proportion of international students enriching the experience for all students and alumni.
Barcelona above is all is an “inclusive” city, very safe and vibrant, with no gated complexes or concerns from its residents about visiting any areas. There are three prime locations for residential properties attractive to the two main types of Russian buyers, those that buy property for investment but also use it as a holiday home and those that buy to relocate.
For investment and holidaying…
Eixample is the result of the expansion of the city in the 19th Century, where the wealthy industrialists built large homes. It is an example of modern town planning, based on a grid layout. The area has evolved in the prime retail and office area over the past 30 years.
Diagonal Mar is one of the city’s most cosmopolitan beachfront neighbourhoods. High end hotels and restaurants are located throughout and the new high rise developments have quality private facilities such as swimming pools, gardens, gymnasiums and security which all enable easy living and convenience and is highly desirable for the Russian buyer.
And for relocation…
Les Corts is varied in nature, including an important retail offering, hospitals and clinics and the Pedralbes area which is the residential neighbourhood par excellence, with a high proportion of large villas, foreign embassies and international schools.
Although these areas do offer the desired product, the Russian buyers are hard to satisfy with the stock available in Barcelona, the quality of finish expected and large room sizes are particularly problematic and are rare in the profile of Barcelona properties!
Around 10% of house purchases in Barcelona involve an overseas buyer, with the main international groups of purchasers being European, Russian and North Americans. In the experience of Lucas Fox, this trend is true specifically for Barcelona real estate, as Cataluña receives 34% of all of Spain’s foreign investment.
Anthony Leaton, Marketing & Publicity Director of Lucas Fox gave his realistic opinion on the market when saying, “There’s been a lot of negative speculation of the Spanish property market. What the press has overlooked is that each region of Spain is different. The limited supply of high end and luxury properties in the region make properties more price resilient than those from other parts of Spain.”
Director of Lucas Fox, Stijn Teeuwen added, “The drop in confidence of the Spanish market has brought around a wider selection of properties to the market… traditionally in the Catalonian market, properties have been passed down from generation to generation. Previously a buyer would never see certain property types on the market. Now these properties are on the market and can be a great opportunity for the overseas buyer.”
It seems that market savvy Russian buyers, who are mainly cash buyers, see Barcelona as a safe place to invest their cash and secure their money and with no mortgages they are the perfect buyers here in Spain.