During the past three months Swedes have bought 26 percent more houses in Spain than during the same period last year.
Real estate agent Kristina Lindholm has sold many apartments in Spain, and now she’s moving there herself.
“The biggest reason is that there’s sun there 320 days a year,” she tells Swedish Radio News. “Look at the children, they don’t need to wear gloves or hats, they can go out in shorts all year long.”
A look out the window at a snowy Sweden during the darkest time of the year might support that view.
Swedish Radio News says that like Kristina Lindholm, it’s the weather, all that sunshine, that encourages Swedes to buy a house or apartment abroad. One website just before Christmas listed more than 12,000 homes for sale in Spain. Number two was Turkey, with just 800 home offered. France and Italy were even farther down the list.
Another reason why Spain is popular, Kristina Lindholm says, is the prices.
“It’s much cheaper there,” she says. “In France it’s much more expensive to buy a property.”
Daniel Nilsson, head of the real estate company Fastihetsbyrån Utland, says this popularity is also because of old contacts:
“I think a lot of it is the power of tradition, that since the 50’s Swedes have had a relationship to Spain,” he says. “Many Swedes have been on vacation there, and it’s rather easy to get there.”
It’s a growing and consistent trend. Not only did the number of the Swedish house buys in Spain go up by 26 percent during the third quarter compared to last year, It’s up by 46 percent compared to two years ago. This year 3000 Swedes are expected to buy a home in Spain. But Daniel Nilsson says the type of buyer is changing.
“Ten years ago the typical buyer was probably aged around 55 and had a relatively high income,” he says. “But today we see customers from 35 to 55 with varying incomes.”
And unlike a common perception, people aren’t buying retirement homes.
“No, most are buying a home in the sun they can take advantage of during long weekends, school vacations, or during the summer for shorter periods,” Daniel Nilsson says.
Anders Claesson decided on Spain two years ago, when he was 45. He’d planned to wait until later, but when his family decided to leave Trollhättan and move to the southern coast of Spain, he says things happened quickly.
“We decided the next day to do it,” he says. “So we went back home, sold the house, quit our jobs and everything, and went back to Spain. And we haven’t regretted it for a second.”
But he does say some things abroad need getting used to.
“Something that’s hard to accept in the beginning is the bureaucracy, which is a little confused and old-fashioned, so it’s a bit frustrating,” he says. “ But you just have to take a deep breath and accept it.”
And there are risks buying a home abroad. In connection with the financial crisis in 2008, housing prices in some Spanish tourist areas fell by almost 40 percent, and they’re only beginning to go up again now. There are political risks in some countries, and currency problems, including in the euro zone.
“Yes, the Swedish krona is a small currency,” real estate CEO Daniel Nilsson says. “And if it is weak that will affect demand. As long as it remains in its typical historic range against the euro that really isn’t a factor. But a major weakening of the Swedish krona would certainly affect prices.”