The Spanish property market typically sees agent commissions of 3%, is very regional and is heavily influenced in many of those regions by foreign buyers.
But what about the portal websites and apps that the agents use to advertise those properties?
At Online Marketplaces we have collected a lot of data on real estate portals over the last few years. We can tell you just about anything about property portals in any given country around the world. In the first in a series of deep dives, we're looking into the real estate portals in our home country of Spain...
Madrid-based idealista, along with its sister portal Yaencontre, is generally thought to be the market leader in Spain. Barcelona-based Fotocasa comes in second and is part of a group of portal sites that also includes Habitaclia and the general classifieds site Milanuncios.
The Spanish real estate market is very regional and third player Pisos.com has a good presence in many regional markets thanks to being owned by Vocento, one of the country's largest media groups...
"we can count on print and digital titles that are clear leaders in their markets and which help us to compete on a level playing field with idealista in many provinces of Spain." Pisos.com CEO, Miguel Ángel Alemany in an interview with Online Marketplaces in 2020.
Here idealista is the clear leader. The site is well known in the portal industry as an example of good SEO and has been able to successfully export its website to both Portugal (where it is a clear market leader) and Italy (where it competes for market leadership with Immobiliare.it).
When we checked (November 2022) idealista and Fotocasa had a very similar number of sales listings overall with idealista having a slightly greater volume of rental properties. Fotocasa had slightly more properties for sale in the city of Barcelona while idealista had more in Madrid.
The number of listings a portal has is not necessarily accurate or a sign of which portal to use though...
Spain is a market where sellers can list their property with more than one agent, and the portals can absolutely make more money by charging different agencies to advertise the same property on their website and app. The de-duplication of listings is a real issue for home hunters in Spain and one that the portals don't seem to be in a hurry to solve.
Fotocasa is owned by the global online classifieds operator Adevinta which is itself a spinoff of the Norwegian media giant Schibsted while Pisos.com is owned and operated by Vocento, publisher of some of the country's most popular media titles including the ABC newspaper.
Idealista is majority owned by the Swedish private equity fund EQT which bought out previous owner APAX Partners in a deal worth €1.3 billion back in 2020. Oakley Capital and APAX Partners (who bought back in five months after selling) are minority shareholders of idealista.
The portals in Spain make most of their money by charging the agents a subscription fee for premium listings packages. All three major portal players also offer agents data intelligence products as well as branding and visibility packages. Idealista and Pisos.com also have software products that they offer agencies as well.
Unlike markets like the UK where major portals do not allow private ads or markets like the U.S. where they are usually relegated to a sub-section of the site, property portals in Spain do allow users to post listings without an agent.
Since we published a report looking at the user experience on 650 portals around the world last year there have been a couple of UX improvements on Spanish portal websites. Pisos.com has added the ability for users to scroll photos from its results pages and Fotocasa now lets users draw their own search area.
Thanks to our friends at EyeSpy360 (who helped us build the most detailed report into the spread of virtual tours in real estate) we also know that the increase in the percentage of listings on idealista that feature a virtual tour has been accelerating over recent months. Now more than 5% of sale listings on the market-leading Spanish portal feature a virtual tour.
In the second quarter of 2022, foreign buyers represented nearly 15% of all Spanish property sales according to the real estate registry statistics of the Association of Property Registrars.
As well as the 'native' Spanish property portals, there are plenty of specialist portals out there advertising to non-Spanish buyers who are looking for a holiday home. We found out just how complicated the portal landscape is in the popular Costa del Sol area when we spoke to local consultant Alfredo Bloy Dawson in 2021 (below).
Apart from the 'overseas' sections of native portals Rightmove and Zoopla, there are also specialist portals such as A Place in the sun, Thinkspain and Kyero... and those are just the ones targeting Britsh buyers!
Our job at Online Marketplaces is to bring you the news and analysis around these portal companies. We track what they've made headlines for since 2020...
Interestingly idealista is the portal tagged in the second most articles marked as 'controversial' internally (after U.S. portal giant Zillow). A protracted fight with Barcelona's government, a row with a fellow Spanish proptech and a legal battle around market leadership claims in Italy.
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