Property Purchase Trend Hits Cantabria in Northern Spain

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The northern Spanish coastal region of Cantabria is known for its lush vegetation, archaeological sites, fierce local rowing competitions and the quality of its beef, which has earned certain kinds of native cattle a European Union “Meats of Cantabria” Protected Geographic Denomination. It's a pretty region that makes up part of “Green Spain,” which runs between the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian Mountains.

Cantabria is also known for being home to the port city of Santander and to Spain's third largest livestock market, but other than that the area has little to draw visitors away from the arguably greater attractions of the beaches of southern Spain or the lure of cities such as Barcelona and Madrid. One might therefore be forgiven for thinking that homebuyers would overlook Cantabria, but new data from leading Spanish property portal has revealed that the region is enjoying a significant amount of interest from British land buyers.

The Kyero Enquiry Report for Q1 2015 has shown that of those searching for property in Cantabria, 42% were searching solely for land, while 67% of enquiries were from Brits. The national average figure for those looking for land was just 7%.

Martin Dell, Director of, which lists more than 200,000 homes from 3,000 estate agents, comments,

“The level of interest shown in Cantabria highlights an interesting trend. Price is certainly an influential factor on purchases in the region – 25% of enquiries are for land or properties that cost less than €50k and another 17% are for those costing between €50k and €100k. Buying parcels of land in this way can be a really cost effective way of owning your dream second home in Spain – you buy the land, then build the house that you have always wanted.”

Of course, Spanish red tape can make the process a little more complicated than simply buying and building, but with the right checks before purchase and the right contacts for the design and construction parts of the process, buyers can end up with a home worth far more than they invested. As Just Landed observes,

“It's still possible in many areas to buy a plot of land and build a bigger and better home for less than the cost of a resale property.”

“Always check that the land is designated as a finca urbana,” advises Martin Dell, “And work in partnership with the local town hall to obtain the approval and certificate that you need to build. Don't expect the wheels of bureaucracy to move fast, but persevere and the results could be extremely rewarding. Work with a lawyer before making your purchase and ask him or her to investigate any conditions or regulations placed upon the land that you are considering purchasing. A little outlay in time and expense at the start of the process could be well worth it in the long run.”

As well as control over the design, building your own home provides control over the materials used and over eco friendly factors such as solar energy and rainwater harvesting. This can be particularly important for buyers looking to build their own retirement property, as investment in such components at the design and build stage can lead to significant reductions in energy bills once the home is completed.

The attractions of building your own home are being felt across Spain, with the number of building licence applications for new housing increasing by 38.9% in January 2015 according to the Ministry of Development. Applications to reform or restore homes were also up, by 10.6%.

When it comes to British buyers, the key to Cantabria's popularity may well lie in its ferry link to the UK. Regular sailings from Santander to Plymouth and to Portsmouth provide an economical way to transport people, vehicles and goods between the two countries, with ferries taking around 24 hours to complete a single journey. Even pets can be taken along, with the right documentation.

250 km of coastal scenery and delicious, hearty peasant food add to Cantabria's charms, though the weather isn't quite as delightful as that in the Costa del Sol. Still, easy access to the UK and a cost effective way to own a dream holiday home seems to be a winning combination for many British buyers. For those of an active nature, the region offers some of the best surfing conditions in Spain, with both beach breaks and reef breaks present, as well as rockier areas for a wide variety of surfing fun.

The neighbouring Basque Country provides another surfer's paradise, with Mundaka Beach hosting the World Championships in October each year. Windsurfers and kitesurfers also love the area, with both the Basque Country and Cantabria offering beautiful beach after beautiful beach.

The southern Costas may not have too much to worry about in terms of their overall visitor numbers, but one can't help feeling that those snubbing Torremolinos in favour of settling in the peaceful countryside of Cantabria have discovered a way to enjoy Spain that they would really rather remained a secret.