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Agence France-Presse
November 21, 2012
In an attempt to promote a stagnant housing sector, foreigners who buy a house in Spain could be offered residency permits.

Targeting rich investors from countries such as China and Russia, Spain's secretary of state for trade, Jaime Garcia-Legaz, announced this week a plan to offer foreigners the right to settle in the country in return for them buying a property worth 160,000 euros ($200,000) or more.

In coming weeks the government will begin to reform a law regarding foreigners in order to reactivate the housing demand. The law would allow foreign buyers to transit freely around the 26-nation Schengen zone including countries such as Germany, France and Italy. Under the scheme foreigners won't be allowed to work.

The measure is supposed to help clean up toxic assets from a housing bubble which burst in 2008. It is not yet clear how long the residence permit will be issued for, or whether the residency permit will be extended to spouses and children under 18.

It won't be the first time that a European nation has put in place such a scheme. Portugal and Ireland implemented laws earlier his year where residency papers are issued in return for property investment of 400,000 euros ($512,516) and 500,000 euros ($640,599) respectively.

Last month, Hungary offered permanent residence to non-EU nationals in exchange for buying a specially issued bond of at least 250,000 euros ($320,365).