25 Apr Spanish Real Estate and Work Culture
This article delves into Spanish culture where we take a closer look at the working habits of Spanish people as well as the real estate market of Spain.
The Spanish Real-Estate Market
Before the burst of the Spanish property bubble in 2007, the construction industry in Spain was at its peak with 800,000 properties being built on average per year. This was more than the properties being built in Germany, Italy and France put together at the time. One reason for this was the fact that Spanish people culturally take a lot of pride in owning their own home. Furthermore, in these times the cost of buying was very low, particularly due to the low interest rates on mortgages and the willingness of banks to lend. More and more foreign retirees were investing in the market as well as those looking to buy holiday homes. Lastly, the influx of immigrants caused a further rise in demand for properties.
Foreign involvement in Spain’s real estate
The introduction of the ‘Golden Visa’ in 2013 (a scheme which grants visas to those spending over €500,000 on property) meant that more money was being injected into the economy from Russia, China and the Middle East. During these times, as the demand was so high, an emphasis was shifted from interior design to speed and cost, and as a result much of the buildings constructed in this period lack the character and charm that properties before them enjoy.
..and the relevance of Economic Crisis
When the economic crisis hit Spain, the construction industry suffered massively. Lenders couldn’t pay back their huge loans and construction projects were put to a stop. The market was filled with empty and half-built houses. Many agencies shut down and unemployment in this sector rose by 50%. House prices fell by 40%, investors left the market and many people who had bought property were shocked to find that they were illegal (as there was no real planning permission) and as a result the properties were destroyed. All in all, there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel, but things have brightened up.
At this moment in 2017, Spain’s GDP is rising, consumer confidence is following suit and unemployment, though still high, is decreasing. These signs of recovery are breathing new life into the real estate sector. Property prices are recovering from the burst of the bubble and have been slowly since 2014, but are still roughly 35% below the 2007 peak. It is a good time to put trust in the Barcelona property market that is likely to go from strength to strength.
Foreign buyers, primarily those hailing from Britain, France, Belgium, Sweden and Russia, helped fuel demand, with around 17% of all property transactions in 2014 coming from abroad. At Casamona we welcome tremendous amounts of Scandinavians year after year (roughly 80% for sales), who have the tendency to bid significantly higher buying offers than any other nationality. There has not only been a change in the market’s economic outlook but also a change in tastes. There is now an increasing number of owners wanting to invest in old apartments with unique Catalan features such as wooden beams and parquet flooring. It seems that the ‘bubble properties’ demands are falling and property owners may have to think twice about their plastic window trims and plain white ceilings.
The Spanish Working Culture
Delving into the Spanish working environment may not seem as inspirational as working culture of London for example. There is a renowned stereotype that Spanish people, like most Southern Europeans predominantly enjoy a life of leisure and relaxation. This translates into the notions that they are lazy, taking siestas and hardly ever working however this is extremely inaccurate. When I arrived to Spain I was surprised at how long the working hours were. Instead of the 9-5 routine – with which I am accustomed – a typical working day here is from 8am to 8pm.
According to EU statistics, Spanish employees work for 38.5 hours per week, which slightly puts to shame the UK’s 36.3. The Spanish actually sleep less than the average European and only around 20% of them enjoy the siesta. This group largely consists of elderly and retired people living in rural areas; those who live in the city are unlikely to take a midday nap. Employees at Casamona work an 8-hour shift. They still acknowledge the fact that business in Spain does not finish at 5pm as it does in many other countries like the UK. For this reason, they assign a late shift to some certain employees which runs from noon to 7pm every day.
Another major difference between the UK and Spain with regards to the working world are Sundays. Spain observes the Christian tradition of Sunday as a day of rest. In Britain we abandoned this practice many years ago. While Mr. Cameron may insist that we are a ‘Christian country’, I’d be outraged if I couldn’t pop to Tesco for some milk on a Sunday. However, here in Barcelona, it’s advisable to get your weekly shop done in, well, the week. Furthermore, small enterprises tend to close so that during the hottest hours of the day proprietors can take a midday nap. Although, as I mentioned before few actually put head to pillow, perhaps its an excuse for some midday wine. How very Spanish, indeed…
Casamona International Real-Estate
Casamona is a real estate agency in Barcelona which focuses on offering individual properties to international clients for both sale and for long-term rent. Two Danish women, Tine Mathiassen and Anette Kragdahl, founded Casamona in 2004. The were the first online real estate company in Barcelona. They started the business as they perceived the Barcelona real estate market to lack professionalism and customer service. The name ‘Casamona’ translated from Spanish to English literally means ‘cosy house’, which was originally derived from the Danish “hyggeligt hus”. The emphasis on ‘cosy’ is extremely prominent throughout the business. Us employees are only told to reach out to new owners if we ourselves would live in their property. This cosiness together with international emphasis is what distinguishes Casamona from its competitors.
Now, Casamona is one of Barcelona’s leading real estate companies. It features a young, international team that is always changing. Properties offered by the company feature Scandinavian tastes: brightness and spaciousness. For property listings, visit casamona.com. Internships are available for students as well.