Housing sales and prices
The small principality of Andorra has an ideal geographical location within the EU, without being a member state. It is however, a member of the EU Customs Union .The residents of Andorra qualify for multiple entry Schengen visas, which are issued by the Spanish consulate in just 20 minutes and they can move and live freely within Spain, Portugal, France and Monaco.
The Andorran real estate market remained relatively illiquid in 2018 – as did most of the European market, except for that in the capitals and financial centers. Larger properties in Andorra remain on the market for long periods of time.
Nevertheless, there appears to be a shift in the market as more investors are attracted to Andorra, which has steadily grown into an affluent financial center.
Similar to other European cities, during the period of 2008-2013 the real estate market did not fare too well in Andorra. According to official statistics, the residential building licenses dropped to just 30 issued for 2013. This was the since 2000. In comparison, during the 2004 building boom, 223 residential building approvals were granted.
Growth in the property price index, for the period 2004-2008, was 60%, which then dropped by an average of 15-20% during the global economic crisis. There has been some growth since 2013, but prices remain stable, yet low in some areas.
After 2014, companies started moving to Andorra, causing a growth in demand and for commercial property which increased prices; this in turn caused the residential market to take off again.
Prices vary according to districts and a 50 m2 apartment can cost about € 50, 000 in one area, whereas a 1500 m2 chalet in La Massana area would be priced at approximately €2.8 million. La Massana is popular with immigrants from the UK and USA. The towns within the Encamp and Canillo areas are popular with French and Spanish citizens who have winter residences there.
Around the capital, the districts of Escalades and Andorra la Vella, have luxury upper level apartments.
One of the advantages of owning property in Andorra is the absence of taxes for all real estate owners, whether they are residents or non- residents. In 2016, after much pressure from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Andorra has applied income tax at relatively low levels.
There is an annual COMU administration fee, relatively small compared to other countries. An example is € 400 for a 500m2 chalet, which would cost an annual € 3,000 if it was situated in Spain. Anyone buying a property of €350,000 and above can claim Andorran residence status.
The principality is close to Barcelona, Toulouse, Madrid, Biarritz and Cote D’Azur. The airport is situated within a 10 minute drive from Andorra – it was built on Spanish territory- and is very accessible with many low cost flights available to and from major European cities. Many popular French and Spanish resorts are within a 2-3 hour driving distance away.
Andorra offers year round tourism, with 5 months of skiing and thermal resorts that are open all year round. This small country has a population of 70,000 but welcomes an average of 8 million tourists annually.
Its position as a financial center was boosted when the “law on investments” was passed in 2012, to encourage foreigners to develop businesses in Andorra. It is now ranked among the top 25 countries for business development and its banks rank amongst the top 20 in the world for private investment allocations.
Prices of consumer goods are 15-30% lower than the average European prices, making it a popular center for shopping. According to the International living index Andorra, ranks 12th.
Rental prices have increased by 5-15 %, as the demand has grown with the influx of foreign investors. Residential real estate yield do not surpass 2.5%, a figure that has remained stable since 2008. On the other hand, the business growth has seen big yields for commercial property.
Rental prices start at €350 for an apartment of 40m2 and about €600 for a three bedroom. House and chalet prices vary according to the area and the state of the house; they range from €1,500-4,000.
Residential property investments can yield higher returns if bought close to ski lifts, where the return can be between 7-15%. These properties can be rented out through the year to skiers, cyclists, golfers and the growing community of eco tourists.
Residential property leases are heavily pro-tenant.
All properties are sold through the Association of Real Estate Agencies of Andorra (AGIA) and its affiliate agents. There are strict building regulations, due to the rocky terrain, which also adds to building costs.
A law passed in 2007, stopped price speculations and there is a progressive tax law on sales. The tax is 15% if the property was bought within that year and then decreases for each year until it reaches 0% after 12 years. There is no inheritance tax in Andorra.
The process of buying real estate is quick and easy, but is relatively costly. The costs of buying or selling a property range from 11-19%, with the buyer responsible for approximately 5% of these and the seller for the remaining amount. The buyer pays a fixed tax of 2% of the object cost to the local COMU, as well as 2% government tax. The buyer pays the cost of notary transaction processing. The real estate agent’s commission is included in that cost and can be anything between5-10%, paid by the seller, but reflected I the price of the property.
Mortgages are not approved to non -resident buyers unless they have the equivalent of three times the value of the property deposited in a bank within the country. This measure is believed to have stopped a price decrease in the market. Interest rates are low.
Tourism accounts for 80% of the Andorran GDP, with Britons making up the majority of visitors. Tourist levels had dropped from 10 million in 2008 to 8 million in 2009, but have remained steady for now.
The banking sector is the next largest contributor to the GDP and the principality is considered to be a partial tax haven.
From 2014 onwards the Andorran economy started showing signs of recovery and their unemployment levels started decreasing.
Andorra has a rising population, albeit mostly from non- Andorran residents.