In a move designed to improve the country’s flagging property market, the Spanish Secretary of State for Trade announced plans to offer residency as an incentive to any expats buying a property in Spain for over €160 000.
The new policy is designed to appeal primarily to Russian and Chinese expats looking for a base in the EU as any residents of Spain are able to travel freely around the 25 nation Schengen zone.
Ireland and Portugal have recently enacted similar rules designed to remove thousands of empty properties from the market but the two countries have put in place thresholds higher than that proposed by Spain.
Speaking at a conference in Madrid, Jaime Garcia-Legaz said, "In coming weeks, we will start to reform the law regarding foreigners to reactivate demand abroad and contribute toward reducing housing stock,"
Addressing the €160 000 qualifying boundary the Secretary of State added, "It's a balanced figure. Any lower and it might create a massive demand for residence permits with housing as the excuse to get them."
Criticizing the proposal, Spain’s second largest train union UGT said, “It wants to attract foreigners who are obviously rich and able to buy and can supposedly remain in Spain without working with the aim of getting rid of a stock of houses that are largely in the hands of the banks”