A tale of two housing markets: Malaga’s booming property construction comes as the province sees hundreds of thousands of homes standing empty

MALAGA’S booming housing construction market comes with a remarkable caveat.

A total of 2,074 new homes were registered between January and March in the province, representing an increase of 22.5 per cent compared to the same period in 2023, according to data published by the Malaga Association of Architects.

At the same time, the latest census data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) reveals there are a whopping 152,774 empty homes in the province, ranking Malaga sixth in the country for vacant properties.  

Incredibly, some towns like Benahavís have a staggering 60% vacancy rate.

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Barcelona and Alicante take first and second place with over 200,000 empty homes, while Madrid and Valencia and even A Coruña fill up the top five.

Across Spain as a whole, there are 3.83 million empty homes.

The situation is a conundrum, as there is a nationwide housing shortage of 600,000 units, according to the Bank of Spain.

Malaga itself is identified as an area with particularly high demand, especially for secondary properties sought by foreign investors.

While Malaga has a high number of empty homes, proportionally it’s not the worst. The vacancy rate sits at around 15.33%, similar to the national average.  

Some provinces, on the other hand, see vacancy rates exceeding 40%.

Marbella takes the crown for most empty homes, with a 20% vacancy rate.  

READ MORE: Cost of renting a property surges in Spain’s Malaga: Summer sees prices soar up to €3,000 per week 

Malaga City follows closely behind. The reasons for these numbers are not immediately clear, but it’s speculated that it could be due to overbuilding or outdated properties not meeting modern standards.

The data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) reveals another interesting category: sporadically used homes.  

Around 9% of Malaga’s dwellings fall into this group, with occupancy between one and three months a year – most likely holiday homes or investment properties left vacant for most of the year.

With all these empty homes, it is easy to see a quick solution to Malaga’s housing crisis, which has seen soaring prices and rents, and properties snapped up within days of going on the market.

However, a closer look reveals that the empty homes conundrum may not be the solution to the housing shortage.

Many empty homes are located in less desirable areas experiencing population decline, contributing to the broader phenomenon of ‘Empty Spain’.  

Julio Rodríguez, a spokesperson for Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), cautioned that the vacancy numbers do not necessarily translate into readily available housing stock.  

He pointed out that the condition and location of many vacant properties may render them unsuitable for immediate occupation.

Some experts have suggested that transforming rundown properties, particularly those in city centres, could help alleviate the housing crunch. 

“Converting old buildings into modern housing units is a feasible but time-intensive solution,” said Patricio Palomar from AIRE Partners.

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