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House Hunting in ... Barcelona

2,300,000 EUROS ($3,013,714)
This four-bedroom four-bath house with a terrace on the roof, a courtyard at the back and a pool in the basement is set behind a decorative iron fence on a pedestrian street in central Barcelona. Spanning almost 3,700 square feet, with wooden shutters and an orange stucco exterior, it went up in 2000 on the site of a teardown. The current owners worked with an architect in designing the open floor plan. Almost all floors and wood details are of Indonesian teak; most kitchen appliances are by Gaggenau; bath fixtures throughout are by Hansgrohe, Dornbracht, Jacob Delafon or Geberit.
The tiny vestibule opens to a large, airy living room, anchored at its far end by a floating staircase and a small glass elevator that travels from basement to rooftop. The room adjoins the dining area and the kitchen, which has a stainless-steel island topped with a thick slab of wood, and a wall of glass doors. These open to the walled courtyard, which in addition to a modular wooden deck has cypresses and flowering plants around a pebbled seating area.
The courtyard has stairs to the skylighted basement, which has a large living room, a full bath and a laundry room in addition to the heated swimming pool. When the modular deck in the courtyard is removed, sunlight flows into the pool area through skylights. “At night it’s quite nice because you can have a swim,” said José Pablo Canal, an owner. “You see the stars, but no one can see you.”
The master suite and two other bedrooms share the second floor; the rooftop terrace, one flight up, is tiled with slate and has panoramic views of the neighborhood.
Despite the central location, the house is extraordinarily quiet because it is on a pedestrian-only street, said David Franks of Lucas Fox International Realty, the listing agency. It is in Sant Gervasi, a residential neighborhood, near the border with Gràcia, a more commercial area filled with small shops, tapas bars and cafes. The Eixample, an adjacent area dating to the 19th and early 20th centuries, is marked by the work of architects like Antoni Gaudí. Passeig de Gràcia, a wide, bustling shopping street, is about seven minutes’ walk.
The housing market, like the rest of the economy, is in turmoil, resulting from a crash followed by severe austerity measures. Residential property prices are generally 35 percent lower than before 2008, according to Mr. Franks, although he added that for prime areas in Barcelona, the decline is closer to 25 percent. The trend is expected to persist over the next year or two, leveling out at 3 or 4 percent below current values. Although Mr. Franks sees the market as eventually improving, it won’t again reach the levels of 2007, which he described as “outrageous” and “surreal.”
Foreign buyers in Spain come primarily from Western Europe and North America. Mr. Franks says Barcelona also has Russian and Chinese buyers.
A notary public handles the property transfer, but buyers are also advised to hire a lawyer, and to expect a fee from $2,500 to $6,500. The lawyer arranges for property inspections, obtains the registration number required for foreign purchases, and drafts the purchase agreement with the seller’s lawyer.
In view of Spain’s depressed banking system, said José Ángel Cano Muñoz, a partner at Gómez-Acebo & Pombo, a Barcelona law firm, foreign buyers should obtain financing from their home countries. But Mr. Franks says some Spanish banks are giving mortgages to qualified foreign buyers able to pay 50 percent of the purchase price.
Barcelona tourism: barcelonaturisme.com
Barcelona portal: bcn.cat
Modernista architecture guide: barcelonamodernista.com
Catalonia guide: catalunya.com
Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque; euro (1 euro = $1.30)
The transfer tax is 8 percent of the sale price; the property tax is about $3,000 a year; notary services cost $1,500 to $2,600.
David Franks, Lucas Fox International Properties, 011 34 933 562 989; lucasfox.com

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