Canarians focus anti-tourism sentiment on real estate agents for foreigners

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On social media, residents of the Canary Islands are currently directing their dissatisfaction with overtourism at real estate agents who mainly serve foreign customers. The reason is a real estate agent who emphasised special financing options for non-residents on a billboard.

One of the main drivers behind the mass protests against the tourism model in the Canary Islands is the difficulties that many residents experience in finding housing. Real estate agent Getaway Real Estate placed a billboard for a new promotion of 53 homes in Arguineguín, in the tourist municipality of Mogán (Gran Canaria). The financing options for foreigners were particularly emphasised. “Financing up to 70% of housing for non-residents,” the billboard read in Spanish and English. That then led to a wave of outrage and even vandalism with black spray paint.

Social media comments and threats

On Twitter, user @redbentejuí expressed his frustration: “They advertise their benefits to non-residents because they know an employee who lives here will never have access.” According to the newspaper La Provincia, the outrage was not limited to social media. The company also received anonymous calls containing verbal attacks. “We were shouted at and received all kinds of accusations,” complained María Jiménez, the director of the real estate agency, who was surprised by the strong reactions.

Clarification from the real estate agent

In a response to the newspaper, Jiménez emphasised that her company sells the homes “to everyone”. Spaniards can even get credits to finance 80% to 100% of the purchase. “We assumed this was known,” she added. She further reported that 42 of the 53 homes have already been sold. Of these, only two went to foreigners, one of whom had dual nationality. “Our customer is the one who comes and pays, whether it is with their own money or with that of the bank, their nationality does not matter to us,” she concluded.

A growing problem

The situation in the Canary Islands reflects a growing problem in tourist areas. The local population there is finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing. As demand for housing increases for tourists and foreign buyers, prices are pushed up, making it increasingly difficult for locals to secure a home. The new Housing Act is also not helping. Homeowners are bypassing certain provisions in the new law by switching from long-term rentals to short-term rentals. For example, they avoid price regulation or unwanted extensions of rental contracts.

Also read: Historic demonstration against mass tourism in the Canary Islands

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