Saturday, 18 June 2016

Four Questions to Shape the Spanish Summer of 2016

Four Questions to Shape the Spanish Summer of 2016

Spain is entering summer with a lot of hope and optimism, but there are some questions that are yet to be answered.

The Spanish summer is heating up and expected to
be one of the busiest ever

June means that summer is starting in Europe and Spain isn’t an exception. The hot temperatures may reach Spain sooner than the rest of Europe but it’s only during June when the resorts begin to really fill up.

Now June is here and summer is really starting. It’s expected that this summer will be one to remember for Spain, but why? Here are four reasons the Spanish summer will be spectacular.
1.      Will it be the busiest ever?
When people think of the perfect beach they think about pure white sand, palm trees along the shore, a lovely surf lapping at their toes, a waiter to give them drinks to keep them cool, and no one else around for miles.

Spain, as great as it is, will offer you almost none of that. Spanish beaches are going to be about as far from that as you can get during the summer. Spain is still likely to see its busiest summer ever this year though with more tourists than ever expected. So the beaches of Costa del Sol are going to be packed to the rafters. It seems people will rather deal with this than the alternatives though. Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia are going to have a lot more space on their beaches but this is in part due to the threat of terrorism that is keeping everyone away.

When you add in the affordability of Spain, the choice on offer, and the accessibility, it’s not hard to understand why so many people flock to Spain each year and will do so again this year.

2.      Will there be a new government?
Spain held a general election last December and the outcome was beyond what most would expect. It was known the vote would be close, but no one could have predicted that, six months later, Spain would still not have a government. Mariano Rajoy is acting as the prime minister, a status quo that many Spaniards voted to end.

Unfortunately not enough of them voted against him to secure brand new government. There are perks to each of the parties and, while some coalitions would be good, none have emerged yet. The next general election is planned for June 26th and it looks like this one could go just how the last one did. Will this deadlock still be there after this second vote? It wouldn’t be the strangest thing to happen. What is true, and is quite amazing really, is that the Spanish cost of living and economy has done a great job of recovering even without a government.
3.      Will the Brits be gone?

The UK will also be going to the polls this year just a few days before the Spaniards will. They are voting on what could very well be the biggest democratic decision seen in a generation. The British media has been filled with talk about the EU referendum for months now and there are plenty of implications for the Brits living in the European Union, including Spain.

Both sides have their share of scaremongers but in the end there is one fact that remains true; if the Brits vote to stay then things carry on how they always have. Brits in Spain have access to free healthcare, better pensions, and the right to live and work in Spain freely. If the “leave” camp wins then things could get pretty bad and, in the worst case scenario, the relationship between Spain and the UK could be so damaged it is almost impossible for Brits to live in Spain. It’s unlikely, true, but is it worth the risk?

4.      Will Spain be European champions?
Another big unknown ahead for Spain this summer is what will happen to their beloved football team. Just four years ago the Spanish football team was on the verge of winning three major championships in a row as they won the 2008 Euros, the 2010 World Cup, and the 2016 Euros.

Things came to a crashing halt two years ago when the Spanish football team was unceremoniously eliminated from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil during the group stages after being crushed by Holland in a 5-1 defeat. The Dutch aren’t in the Euros this year though and Chile, another major figure from 2014, aren’t in the Euros for geographical reasons. As a result people are questioning whether Spain can go back to what made them such a formidable team in 2012. Who knows though; perhaps this is the year for the hosts France, the World Champions Germany or maybe, just maybe, this will finally be the year for perennial dark horses England.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Study Finds The Spanish Property Market Performs Strongly in Europe’s Buy-To-Let Chart

Study Finds The Spanish Property Market Performs Strongly in Europe’s Buy-To-Let

Buy to Let out strips demand in the Costa del Sol which is good news
People looking to become landlords should consider investing outside of the UK if they want to bring in better rental yields. A British investor after good returns from their buy-to-let investment will find it more difficult after the recent hike on stamp duty.

Money transfer company WorldFirst took a look at the situation and saw how poorly British properties performed with rental yields by comparison to the rest of Europe.

This study also discovered that, on the other hand, Spain performed pretty well. Spain came in the top half of nations for bringing in money though rental income.

Going back to the UK though, the study found that a buy-to-let property in the UK would generate an average rental yield of 4.3%. This was enough to rank the UK 21st out of 29. The bottom country was Sweden where there are strict rental controls. In Sweden a tenant is protected from having their rent hiked and this, along with other restrictions, discourage investment.

It was found that countries in Northern Europe, especially in Scandinavia, didn’t have very high rental returns. The only exception to this was the Netherlands where the average yield is 6.57%, making it the best market for buy-to-let properties.

WorldFirst believe that this is because of the low property costs in the Netherlands, and the healthy balance between the amount of people that own property and the amount of people that want to rent it.

Outside of Spain and the Netherlands other countries for the buy-to-let market were Belgium with yields of 6.47 and Portugal with yields of 6.29%.

Spain came in almost at the exact middle point by taking the rank of 15th with their average yields of 4.96%. This was the average yield however. In some of the more desirable areas, such as Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca, the yields may be much higher.

These are areas where the rental yields constantly come in at over 5% a year. They also have some very affordable properties for sale and there’s plenty of demand as Spain is one of the most visited countries in Europe. All of this goes together to make Spain a far more attractive country for the buy-to-rent market than these numbers suggest.

Overseas property specialist Simon Conn has himself suggested that when looking at these average yields it is also important to consider the public demand for housing and how easy it is to buy property in that foreign market. For example, the Netherlands may have the best yields but it doesn’t have the same amount of banks willing to lend on a buy-to-let property. Thus Spain, Portugal and Italy actually become the best choices.

In a comment about the study an analyst for WorldFirst, Edward Hardy, said that after the changes to stamp duty British investors may want to look further to find the best deal for high returns on their investment.

Buying property in the Costa del Sol is considered very bullish and the demand for rental property is very strong as many new northern Europeans come to rend first before they buy.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Spanish Property Up with Mortgage Approvals

Spanish Property Up with Mortgage Approvals

The property market is continuing its recovery

Spain has a number of appealing factors, such as having great bargains, beauty, not to mention the sheer charm of the country.

This appeal is no doubt a major factor in the recovery of the Spanish property market as prices, sales, and mortgage approvals are all on the up.

Two sets of data were released recently that would seem to confirm that the Spanish property market truly is looking much healthier these days.

The first came from the financial advice firm Arcano. They analysed the property prices for all 17 regions for Spain and found house prices have risen by an average of 6.9% when compared to last year.

The prices were up in every region. There were also 10% more transactions than in 2015. Arcano believe that the positive changes were brought about because the Spanish economy is recovering – something itself fuelled by the rise in domestic demand – as well as heightened interest from foreign buyers in Britain, Germany and France.

Arcano also found that Spain’s supply of new and completed homes was running out and that there was a rise in planning applications. Only 46,000 homes were built during 2015 but it looks like more could be built in 2016.

The numbers from Arcano and the trends they suggest were backed up by the second set of data from the National Statistics Institute (NSI). Their data showed that mortgage approvals in March were up 14.5% when compared to March, 2015.

Overall there were 22,983 mortgages approved in March with the average mortgage also increasing by 4.8% and increasing to €107,861. This was further evidence, if any was needed, that there is more confidence in the Costa del sol real estate sector with rising house prices and Spanish banks being less restrictive with their lending

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Spanish Hotels Enjoy a Great April With Signs Suggesting It Can Only Get Better

Spanish Hotels Enjoy a Great April With Signs Suggesting It Can Only Get Better

Hotels in Spain saw a bumper number of guests in April when compared to last year and it’s only going to improve.

Hotels in Costa del Sol are all full which is a
positive sign moving forward
Even though Easter was in March this year Spanish hotels received quite the windfall from plenty of tourism during April. Occupancy rate records were actually broken thanks to the influx of British holidaymakers.

Data has been released by the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE) that shows the number of people staying in the country overnight in April increased by 1.3% over last year to 23.4 million.

Given how it is usually Easter that sees this bump in tourism these figures came as a real swerve. This rise in tourism would seem to confirm what people have been saying for a while now; 2016 will be a record breaking year for the Spanish tourism industry.

When you only take the data for foreign tourists then there is actually an 11.5% rise in tourists from outside the country compared to April of last year as just under four million people stayed overnight in Spain.

Holidaymakers are also staying in Spain for longer in general. The data showed that the average stay increased 1.2% to 3.1 nights per person. This is in spite of the average cost per night rising 3.3% to €73.50.

The UK remained the biggest source of foreign tourists as roughly 692,000 Brits visited for 3.6 million overnight stays. Next were the 595,000 Germans with their 3.26 million overnight stays, the 570,000 French with 1.85 million overnight stays, and 225,000 Italians for 623,000 overnight stays.

This number of German visitors was up 4.8% compared to last year but the British remained the dominant source with an 18.1% rise in British tourists over the year.

As April can stay a little chilly in some areas of Spain it’s not surprising at all to hear that the Canary Islands, which are warm all year round, where the top destination and accounted for just over 31% of the overnight stays. Andalucía and Catalonia competed to be second place with 18% of the visitors, a percentage that will surely rise as the temperature does.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Brexit Could Leave British Expat Pensioners 50k Worse Off

Brexit Could Leave British Expat Pensioners 50k Worse Off

Brits retiring and moving to Spain and to other EU member states are able to claim the same incremental pension they would receive if they stayed in the UK. Things could look very different if the Brexit goes through.

Its looking more obvious that leaving the EU
will have consequences
The current pension agreement in the UK is a “triple-lock” agreement where British pensioners in the EU have their pensions rise with annual rates of inflation. Experts are warning that this could all change if the UK leaves the European Union.

The UK will hold a vote on if they will leave the EU on the 23rd of June and, should they leave, they will have to strike up new agreements with countries that house British retirees.

The policy that gives British pensioners an incremental increase is an EU-wide policy. The policy says that pensions increase by either wage or price inflation, whichever is higher, with a minimum increase of 2.5%.

If the UK fails to secure an agreement like this with other countries such as Spain, then British expats will find themselves in the same situation that is found in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In these countries the state pension is frozen and stays at the rate it was when they left.

As a result a Brit moving to  Spain or an EU country after the Brexit could find themselves up to £50,000 over 20 years according to calculations by AJ Bell. A 65 year-old retiring today would receive £155.65 per week, but 20 years without a rise on that could easily mount up.

AJ Bell warned that a Brexit would cast the aspirations of people wanting to retire in Europe, or already retired in Europe, into doubt. Some have faith that the government will be able to protect British expats if the Brexit goes ahead, but it should be noted that the UK has yet to set up a deal like this with a non-EU country since 1982, mostly because of how much it would cost.

While people who are not expats themselves may see this as one of the many EU-led costs to taxpayers, there is no doubt that anyone who will benefit from this agreement should chose to vote remain so that their pension is protected.

Ross Altmann, the Minster for Pensions, said that it was important to clarify this matter and make it a part of negotiating the UK’s exit if the votes go that way.

If the UK does vote to leave the EU there will still be a two year time period where EU treaties still apply, so there is likely going to be a lot of political back and forth in that time. Shailesh Vara, the Parliamentary under-secretary of State for Justice said that the Conservative Party don’t have any plans to change the current policy wherein British pensioners abroad have their pension payments frozen.

She added that a Brexit would leave a lot of pensioners who have worked hard to secure their future and enjoy their retirement in the dark. With the current rules the UK and Europe enjoy what is called the “triple lock” system that ensures their state pension is protected.

While the deadline for registering to vote by post has passed it is still possible for expats who have lived abroad for less than 15 years to register a proxy who can vote on their behalf at the upcoming referendum.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Ryanair Offers Cheap Flights for Expats To Go Back Home and Vote Remain

Ryanair Offers Cheap Flights for Expats To Go Back Home and Vote Remain

Irish budget airline Ryanair have begun offering tickets from Spain for British expats to fly home on June 22nd and 23rd. The tickets are just €19.99 and are for expats who want to vote to remain in the EU.
Cheap flights by Ryan Air are received well by expats in Spain

It’s estimated that two million Brits have moved to other countries in the European Union with the majority of them, at least a million, currently living in Spain.

It’s expected that the real number of Brits abroad could be as much as 50% higher than this estimate though, as many of them either forget to register they are living in another country or deregister in the UK. It also doesn’t include the expats who are not permanent residents who spend roughly half the year abroad and half at home.

The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, has said that even though his airline is based in Ireland it remains the largest airline in the UK and is a major source of employment for Britain as a whole.

Roughly 3,000 people work for Ryanair, spread across 13 airports in the UK. They take about 41 million people to and from the UK each year.

O’Leary is strongly against the so-called “Brexit” and says that the open skies policy of the EU has led to a dramatic rise in tourism.

O’Leary says Britain is one of the most competitive economies in Europe thanks in part to the goods, services, and people they are allowed to move around the 28 member states.

He believes that British prime minister David Cameron was able to use the “wish list” he presented to the other member states to ensure Britain never has to join the Euro and will deal with less red tape overall.

O’Leary believes that if Britain were to exit the EU then investment that currently goes to the UK could go to Germany and the Republic of Ireland instead.

These “Fly home to vote remain” tickets, priced at €19.99, are valid at any any UK airport and from any airport in the EU, such as those in Spain. They are also available to any nationality and not just Brits, although the only non-Brits who can vote in the referendum are those that belong to the Commonwealth or are Irish citizens.

Brits living in Spain and the EU are able to fly home and vote as long as they haven’t been outside of the UK for more than 15 years. An appeal was brought by two expats, including the 94-year-old war veteran Harry Schindler in Italy. It was rejected by the High Court and is now headed to the British Supreme Court.

The deadline for Brits abroad to vote by post has now passed and the British embassy in Spain have confirmed that they began sending ballots out on May 23rd.

Some of these ballots have been received and returned, so some expats have already voted in the referendum a month before it will actually be held.