There is a real problem with building affordable homes. | A. G.


The difficulties with building affordable housing in the Balearics are forcing developers to look to other, "less hostile" regions of Spain for this type of development. Added to the lack of available land are the obstacles of lengthy bureaucratic procedures and price volatility that makes it almost impossible to set the final cost of a development.

The president of the Proinba property developers association in the Balearics, Luis Martín, says that this has been happening for the past two to three years. "But it's more pronounced now. Developers are leaving. The basic problem is that affordable housing cannot be built here."

The pace of construction of affordable homes has been plummeting. At the same time, the building of luxury homes, mostly for foreign buyers, has been growing. In the meantime, the demand for affordable housing is continuing to rise. "There aren't that many rich people in the Balearics. What developers want is to be able to build homes for everyone." Martín points to "land protectionism colliding head-on with population growth".

Martín explains that developments require pre-sales in order to obtain bank financing. But this can be difficult. "You don't know what is going to happen, how long it is going to take or how much it is going to cost." It can take up to a year to obtain building licences. This can be longer if reports from the likes of the government's water resources directorate are needed. Over all this period, "it is the developer who has to bear the entire burden of the cost of the land".

He notes that since the war in Ukraine started, the cost of construction has risen by some 300 euros per square metre to 1,700 euros, whereas the average on the mainland is around 1,000 euros. "We have a very serious problem with shortages."

The Proinba association believes that the lack of affordable housing is a problem that will be accentuated over the next four to five years. Just to cover current demand, around 20,000 homes would be needed.

The president of the API real estate agents association in the Balearics, Natalia Bueno, agrees that new housing on the islands "is not designed for the middle class". As a consequence, developers are leaving the Balearics "due to the lack of land". "Whoever has a plot of land here knows that they have a gold mine."

And in highlighting bureaucratic slowness, she adds that "there are town halls which are a disaster in terms of urban planning".