Globalisation and its consequent economic restructuring have implications at the local level. At the same time historical paths and traditions, embeddedness of local actors and institutional factors have all become significant in explaining different neighbourhood trajectories and, particularly, the patterns of urban segregation that emerge following economic restructuring. Given the unusual nature of the Spanish housing model and the massive arrival of immigrants since the end of the 1990s, this paper explores the urban effects of immigration settlement patterns in the context of a market dominated by owner-occupation and a unique framework of social housing policy. Purchase of permanent residences is an essential step in the housing careers of the Spanish population but also for immigrants to Spain. The paper analyses the extent to which this influences urban segregation patterns and neighbourhood characteristics in Spain. Barcelona is referred to as a case study, to illustrate the influence of the existing housing system in the process of the accommodation of newcomers.