Written by Laura Leyshon, our resident estate agent and Las Palmas property expert.
Las Palmas property is a local affair
The first thing to remember is that the Las Palmas property market is mostly local. Las Palmas is a big city and most of the property for sale is owned by Canarians and listed by local estate agents. If you're lucky, either the owner or the agent speak English, but most don't.
If nobody speaks your language and you don't speak Spanish, you're going to need some help to negotiate the price, check the property and sign the paperwork. Otherwise, the notary who oversees the sale won't let you sign the paperwork until he is convinced that you understand the contract.
Las Palmas property prices are stable
Las Palmas property prices, like everywhere in Spain, have fallen by about 40% from the frothy highs of 2005-2006. They are currently stable (and starting to rise) and the best value that they have been for almost 20 years. Within Las Palmas city, property prices range from below 800 euros per square metre in the high-rise buildings well back from the coast, up to 3,500 euros and more per square metre in the most desirable areas such as the front-line of Las Canteras beach.
Many Las Palmas property owners have accepted the new reality of Gran Canaria property prices, but you still find property for sale at inflated prices. This isn't because the owners are greedy or mad, but because they have a huge mortgage and can't afford to sell for anything less than what they paid for their property during the boom.
As a buyer in Las Palmas, you need to know the current market price of property in the zone you are looking at. Otherwise, you have no way of knowing whether a property is priced realistically.
It's not all about location
While location is a big factor in Las Palmas property pricing, others matter too. Flats in buildings with no stairs sell at a discount, as do interior apartments and those without their own parking space. On the other hand, properties with outside space, beach views and underground parking sell at a slight premium. If you ever find a beachfront apartment with outside space AND a parking space, please let us know. They are rare!
You don't always need a lawyer
By all means use a lawyer when you buy a property in Gran Canaria, but don't feel like you have to. A bilingual lawyer will explain the purchase process to you, but is highly unlikely to find anything dishonest hidden in the contract or the land registry.
This is because property rights here are well defined, the land registry is fantastic, purchase contracts protect buyers rights, and the notary is obliged to make sure that both parties understand everything in the contract before letting them sign.
If you have any doubts, consult a lawyer. However, most property purchases in the city take place without one.
But you do need a good estate agent
Estate agency services are free to buyers in Gran Canaria so you have nothing to lose. We advise you to find a good one and use them exclusively. That way you'll get quality service and have somebody looking out for your interests.
Choose one that speaks your language and Spanish, knows the Las Palmas property market well and works for a reputable estate agency with access to the island's shared property database. That way, they will be able to show you almost any property on the market and give you an accurate price estimate.
The alternative is to go on lots of different visits with lots of agents, none of whom are interested in doing anything other than showing you their own properties. It's tiring, time-consuming and unnecessary when you can just get a good agent to arrange all your viewings and come with you to translate and help.
Estate agents save you money
If you have no way of knowing what a property is worth at current market rates, you can't be sure that you are getting a good deal, especially when many owners price their properties at what they would like to make rather than what their property is worth. Because estate agencies know the market value of a property they often save you money when you make an offer.
Rentals are booming
Las Palmas is amongst the Spanish cities with the highest rental yields; it's at almost 5% on average. However, you can also rent your property to tourists for a lot more money. Choose a property close to Las Canteras beach and you can fill it throughout the winter, use it when you like and a make a decent rental return.
Costs are low
Owning a property in Las Palmas is cheap by international standards. There are no local taxes for rubbish removal or municipal services and property tax here (called IBI) is particularly low if you own an apartment in a building as it's paid on the value of the land rather than the value of the property.
Non-resident owners have to pay income tax on rental earnings, or a small a small "property enjoyment tax" if their property is not rented out. The tax on rental income payable for a non-Spanish resident from the EU is 24.75 percent minus expenses. The annual enjoyment tax is 2 percent of the property's cadastral value (the same figure used to calculate the IBI payment).