C. Vicari Joaquín Fuster in El Molinar, attractive to foreign buyers. | Pilar Pellicer

El Molinar is a place with a personality and idiosyncrasies that make it one of Palma's most charming neighbourhoods. Sea views and proximity to the city centre add to its attractiveness. A week or so ago, it was reported that a property on C. de la Palmera had been sold to a German buyer. Described as being one of the last "Mallorcan houses" with typical shutters and windows, its sale was highlighted amidst the controversy raised by a proposal to introduce a residency qualification for home buying in Mallorca and the Balearics. El Molinar thus acquired a new symbolism.

A local pressure group, Salvem el Molinar, has pointed to what it believes is the problem of speculation and the effect it is having on the neighbourhood. Investors and foreign capital buy old houses, tear them down and build new ones. The character is therefore changing and long-standing residents are moving out.

María José Monzó isn't one of them. She and her husband bought a house on C. Vicari Joaquín Fuster towards the end of the 1990s. She says that there is hardly a day when they don't get letters from estate agencies wanting to sell their property. "But we're not selling."

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María says that a perception that everyone living in El Molinar is rich is a wrong one. "It's not so. My husband is a pensioner, I am self-employed. We are middle class, like most of the residents who have spent half their lives in this area." They bought their house before the introduction of the euro. "Prices then started to rise, and the frontline homes were within the reach of people with money or foreigners."

According to data from the College of Real Estate Agents, the average price per square metre for homes sold between January 2019 and June 2022 in El Molinar was 4,132.16 euros. This price, well above the Palma average, has led to Salvem el Molinar warning of the "indiscriminate purchase of homes by foreign capital".

Spokesperson for the group, Toñi Fernández, says that frontline residents are being given "blank cheques". "This is the type of transaction that is being carried out in El Molinar." Sending a message to Palma town hall, she adds: "We are one step away from losing the idiosyncrasy of the area. We must prevent what has happened to the old centre of Palma. It's in our hands to do so."