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The Spanish cabinet has this Tuesday approved the report that is intended to begin the abolition of country's so-called golden visa. This residence permit that wealthy non-EU citizens have been able to obtain since 2013 entitles them to reside in Spain (and, therefore, in Europe) if they buy a home worth at least half a million euros or make a business investment of a million euros. In fact, 94% of the 14,576 visas granted were in exchange for the purchase of real estate, according to the Spanish housing minister, Isabel Rodríguez, who announced the acceptance of the report following today's Spanish cabinet meeting.

In total, buyers have spent around 10 billion euros in exchange for the homes that have given them the right to reside in Spain. However, the minister assured that "these investments put pressure on the market, and increase the price of housing" and has pointed to markets such as Barcelona, where 5% of the housing sold has to do with this type of investment, Marbella, where it amounts to 7%, or some municipalities in the Balearic Islands, where it reaches 10%.

The minister also reviewed the evolution of these visas and justified putting an end to them due to the fact that they doubled in number in 2022. Specifically, 997 golden visas were granted in 2021 and in 2022 they increased to 2,017, while in 2023 there were 3,273. Up till February 2024, 426 visas have been granted in exchange for real estate investments.

Mixed reception 

The announcement of the end to the golden visas has been as positively anticipated by some as it was rejected by others, so the reactions were not long in coming.

The economic spokesman for Sumar in Congress, Carlos Martín Urriza, welcomed the elimination of these visas and called for a next step, that the purchase of homes that are not to be lived in by the buyer should be prohibited. "The purchase of a home that will not be lived in should now be banned, as is the case in Canada and Amsterdam," he said in a message published on the social network X, noting that the proposal to end the golden visa came from Sumar. 

For his part, the Community of Madrid's presidency and justice minister, Miguel Ángel García, asserted that prime minister Pedro Sánchez, "is wrong again in announcing the elimination of the golden visa for foreigners not resident in the European Union who invest more than 500,000 euros" in housing. ""It sends a very negative message to investors who want to come to Spain", he commented, also in a post on 'X'. In his opinion, it is necessary to work so that Spain has "more housing at affordable prices".

Unas viviendas de lujo

Real estate portals have also spoken out. From, Ferran Font stated that the impact of eliminating golden visas in Spain may be "relative", since only 136 permits of this type were granted in 2022, 0.14% of total purchases by foreigners at national level. He indicated that this initiative, which began in 2013, "benefited buyers of Chinese or Russian origin until 2022; and the markets where the most activity of this type has been seen were Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Alicante and Palma de Mallorca," explained Font.

In the same vein, a spokesperson for Idealista, Francisco Iñareta, assured that the measure announced this Monday by Pedro Sánchez will have "no impact on the real estate market". He claimed that purchases due to the scheme represented less than 0.1% of the 4.5 million homes sold in the same period, so removing the golden visa, "will not change anything". Iñareta stressed that the purchase by non-EU foreigners "has not caused any conflict in Spain", since the housing problem in the country, both for sale and for rent, is not caused by the golden visa, but by "the increasing lack of supply and the exponential increase in demand". "The measure, which puts the spotlight on international buyers instead of encouraging the appearance of new homes on the market, represents a further error in diagnosis. It will not change anything because in reality the 'Golden Visas' never had any influence nothing," he concluded.