At the moment it’s nothing more than a declaration of intention by the government.
Nevertheless, since the announcement of the plan, three weeks ago, to give residency to non-EU foreigners who buy a home in Spain for more than 160,000 euros, the stagnant property market on the Costa del Sol has started to move a little.
With around 15,000 new homes without buyers, a national property market paralysed by the crisis and Europe on a go-slow, estate agents see this new measure as their last chance to offload stock and to get things moving again.
Although there’s no fixed date for the measure to be put into practice yet, those in the property market are already using it as a sales tool. The Russian market, which has become the largest on the Costa, with five per cent of all house sales, is an obvious target but so too is China where the desire to live in Spain has grown enormously. But, because of the bureaucratic obstacles in visiting the country, potential Chinese buyers are insisting on one condition - the proposed residential status.
The ‘Asociacíon de Constructores y Promotores’ (ACP or association of builders and developers), for their part, has great hope in the planned measure although its president, José Prado, recognises that “it’s a very complicated matter which needs time to be resolved before it becomes a reality”.
At the moment a non-EU resident who wants to buy a home in Spain and, naturally, spend as much time in it as possible has two options. The first one is to arrive on a temporary tourist visa which lasts for a maximum of 90 days after which you have to return to your country and apply for a new one. The second is to obtain a temporary resident’s permit, which lasts for a year and carries all sorts of obligations with it, like having to spend six months of the year in Spain, having private medical insurance and schooling children in your care.
The new measure will extend this permit to two years but it’s not a blank cheque to take advantage of Spain’s social services. Those who have it will have to fulfill the existing requirements and prove that they have enough income to support themselves and their families while in Spain.