Trends in Ibiza Real Estate
By Jerry Brownstein
Anybody who is looking to rent or buy a home in Ibiza is well aware of how intense the market for housing has become. The cost of rentals has skyrocketed, and they are hard to find. The situation for purchasing a home is similar as the prices for all levels of housing, from small flats to massive villas, are much higher than in other areas of Spain. The most obvious reason why demand for Ibiza real estate is so strong is that this is a very special place – all of us who live here know that. The other factor is that Ibiza property has proven to be a good investment. For several decades property values here have consistently increased, and they have weathered economic downturns faster and better than other locations. Let’s have a look at how this market has evolved over the past 40 years, and what the future may hold.
Ibiza’s fame and popularity as a place to live or visit grew rapidly throughout the 80s and 90s. The prices for housing consistently rose during those years to levels that were unimaginable just a decade before. But that was just a prelude to the much sharper rise that occurred from 1997 to 2007 as housing costs surged to new levels. It seemed like the real estate boom would never end, but it came to a screeching halt when the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 crippled our economies.
(It is interesting to note that this crisis was primarily caused by a massive ‘bubble’ of over-priced housing in the US and other western countries). The Ibiza property market that had risen to new heights over the previous decade suddenly became frozen. The number of potential buyers dropped sharply, and many homes were taken off the market rather than be offered at a much lower price. For homes that needed to be sold the prices plummeted. It took some years for the world’s economy to recover, but by 2013 the crisis was over and the market for Ibiza real estate was once again rising.
By 2017 prices had returned to their pre-crisis levels of 2007, and they continued to be strong until 2020. We all know what happened that year!
The severe restrictions that were mandated due to fear of Covid were a disaster for many businesses, and real estate on Ibiza was no exception. However, once the lock-downs and masking were finally abandoned, the international desire to own property on Ibiza returned stronger than ever, and prices have continued to rise. So where are we now? For working people who rent and new residents who hope to start a life here the situation is difficult.
As noted above both rents and the cost of buying a home or flat are much higher here than in the rest of Spain. As a result, many people who were part of the social fabric that makes Ibiza special have been forced to leave.
The high prices also make it difficult to attract young people who want to bring their gifts and talents to our island. On the luxury end of the market, rising prices have not dimmed the popularity of Ibiza as a trendy and desirable place to own property. However, the demand is so high that there are not enough luxury properties available for sale.The answer to both of these problems might come from the classic economic theory of supply and demand.
Stated simply: when there is a scarcity of homes the prices rise; this spurs investors to construct more housing; as a result the housing shortage eases and prices stabilise. So the high prices in Ibiza should trigger a building boom, and this seems to be happening. Drive through Santa Eulalia or Jesus and you will see a forest of construction cranes, as apartment blocks are being constructed on every empty lot. Thousands of new flats will soon be available throughout Ibiza, and there is a similar reaction in the luxury market. In urbanizations like Roca Llisa many new homes are rising in locations that were formerly vacant. This is how the market is supposed to function, but will it work on Ibiza?
An analysis of recent trends may hold the answer.
People buy homes here for three reasons: as their primary residence, as a holiday home or as an investment (to rent and/or resell). There is strong evidence that over 80% of higher-priced property sales are being purchased either as holiday homes or for investment. That means less than 20% will actually be lived in by island residents. In less expensive apartments the percentage of sales for residential use is likely somewhat higher, but even in that sector a large number are for holidays or investment. The result is that a substantial majority of the new homes that we are building will sit empty most of the year. This will not increase the number of houses available for island residents, and thus does not help to ease prices. Is there a way to control the problem of having so much “empty housing”, or is this an inevitable feature of popular tourist destinations? If so, then how will it be possible to retain the energy of freedom and nonconformity that made this island so special, if housing is unaffordable - particularly for young people?Fortunately, the government and many local businesses are aware of the situation and are working on possible solutions.
Several measures have recently gone into effect including new regulations to promote reasonable rental prices for workers and residents. The island government has also limited the amount of tourist rental licenses, and strengthened enforcement against non-licensed renters. In addition, they are continuing to safeguard our natural resources by banning new construction in some protected areas. An interesting proposal in this regard is to offset limitations on new building by legalizing the renovation of more old buildings. It is hoped that this type of progressive planning can balance the continued growth and prosperity of Ibiza, with our desire to protect its natural beauty and the uniqueness of its character.