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House Hunting in … Barcelona | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A two-bedroom loft apartment on the top floor of a 19th-century former textile factory in Barcelona’s Old Town is on the market for $2.7 million.



This loft is on the top floor of a five-story former textile factory built in 1826 in the Old Town section of Barcelona. The 3,153-square-foot apartment has 16-foot ceilings, exposed beams and windows facing three directions. There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a private terrace. The loft was renovated in 2004 by the owner, Cristina Rodriguez, the interior designer responsible for the interiors of all 24 apartments in the building. Furniture is included in the asking price.

The front door of the L-shape apartment opens to a foyer and, beyond that, a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom; an office is separated from the bedroom by curtains. Floors in the living areas are African teak hardwood, and most walls are painted brick. Off the entry is a living room, separated from an open kitchen by a bookcase. The eat-in kitchen has stainless-steel appliances, and the open dining area flows into another living room with a fireplace and a swing. Beyond the fireplace is the master bedroom, which has an en-suite bathroom with a sunken tub. Bedrooms and bathrooms have walls and floors of polished cement and in-floor heating. Off the master bath is a patio with a spiral staircase to the roof.

There are two elevators and a receptionist in the building. There are parking garages nearby, said Markus Thoene, a managing partner at Barcelona Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing.

The building is on Passatge Sert, a quiet pedestrian street in the neighborhood of El Born. The building is on the edge of the Eixample district, with the Placa de Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona’s main shopping street, within 12 minutes by foot, the beach about a half-hour. Coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques and markets are nearby, as are stops for the metro, train and airport shuttle bus, Mr. Thoene said. The airport is about a 30-minute drive.


The global real estate crisis hit Spain in early 2007. In Barcelona, home prices plunged by as much as 40 percent and sales didn’t pick up until 2014, said Alexander Vaughan, a partner at Lucas Fox International Properties.

“From 2014, there were a lot of international and institutional investors coming into Spain, and that really brought confidence back into the market,” he said. “Only last year prices started going up slightly, but they’re not yet close to recovery.”

While prices in popular neighborhoods such as the Eixample, Ciutat Vella and El Born, which are all popular with foreign home seekers, increased by 18 percent last year, Barcelona is still a bargain compared with other large European cities, including London and Paris, Mr. Thoene said.

Refurbished apartments of about 100 square meters (or 1,076 square feet) in the city center can be had for about 5,000 euros a square meter, or about $500 a square foot, Mr. Vaughan said. An unrenovated apartment in the city center could sell for as little as 2,500 euros a square meter, or about $250 a square foot, while luxury penthouses or villas in prime areas could cost as much as 20,000 euros a square meter, or about $2,000 a square foot.

A well-priced apartment or home can sell within a week, Mr. Thoene said.

“Right now, there aren’t enough properties to meet the demand,” said Mark Stücklin, the founder of the website Spanish Property Insight. “There’s a pipeline of new projects coming that might help things in the next year or two.”

A lot of the development is taking place near the beaches along the Mediterranean in the neighborhood of El Poblenou, said Emanuel Haurigot, the director of Group Saint Laurent, an affiliate of Prestige Property Group.


The French have been the largest group of foreign homebuyers in Barcelona, followed by those from Italy, Britain, Russia, Morocco and Germany, Mr. Stücklin said. Recently, Chinese homebuyers have been attracted by the Golden Visa program of 2013, which offers residency status to non-European Union citizens investing at least 500,000 euros, or about $535,000, in a property, he said.

Mr. Haurigot said Turkish buyers were partaking of the Golden Visa program as well.

International buyers also include residents of Algeria, Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Ukraine, and the United States, among others, brokers said.


There are no restrictions on foreign homebuyers in Spain. They must generally obtain an identification number to open a Spanish bank account to complete a property purchase, Mr. Thoene said.

Most brokers advise hiring a lawyer, though a notary can complete the transaction, Mr. Haurigot said. The lawyer’s fee is about 1 percent of the sale price, he said.

Homebuyers pay a transfer tax of 10 percent of the sale price, as well as notary and registration fees, bringing closing costs to about 12 percent of the price, brokers said.

Foreign homebuyers can obtain a mortgage from Spanish banks, which typically finance from 30 percent to 70 percent of assessed value, brokers said.


City of Barcelona: barcelona.cat

Barcelona tourism: barcelonaturisme.com

Spain tourism: spain.info


Spanish, Catalan, Aranese, Catalan Sign Language; euro (1 euro = $1.07)


Annual property taxes on this loft are about 1,000 to 1,500 euros, or about $1,069 to $1,604.

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