WHEN John Stephenson moved to San Pedro 13 years ago and set up Andalucian Properties, 90% of buyers were British expats.
But that has all changed now, with Belgians, French, Scandinavians and many from outside Europe searching for their dream Spanish home.
And variety is certainly the spice of life for John and his wife Kathy, as they previously owned a restaurant, a butchers and even a nursing home back in the north-east of England.
“We were on our way to Australia but thought we would spend a year in Spain first and sell our home in Nueva Andalucia before moving on,” said John, 65.
However, they never made it to the home of their son down under, after getting hooked on the Costa del Sol and the opportunities on offer.
And there has never been a better time than now to buy a home in the Marbella area, with John confirming prices are as low as they will go and 2014 will see a slow but steady rise.
Andalucian Properties mostly sell homes between Marbella and Estepona, with prices ranging from €20,000 to €2 million.
Unsurprisingly, those homes at the higher end of the scale are situated in the coast’s most exclusive estate, La Zagaleta, where Hugh Grant and the mayor of Moscow are known to have taken up residence.
John, who owns a boat in La Linea and enjoys sailing and skiing, has even dabbled in TV fame, appearing on several episodes of the BBC’s ‘Living in the Sun’ property programme.
“It was very interesting and I was very fortunate to be asked to appear on it.”
“People from across Northern Europe occasionally come in and say they have seen me on the programme, it was undoubtedly good for the business.”
The reason so many have lost faith in the area’s market, with countless demolitions and legality issues, is the number of unofficial estate agents, explained John.
“We have seen a lot of people claiming to be estate agents, but if you play the game properly and professionally then it is absolutely fine,” he said.
“It is a pity that there aren’t tighter regulations against any old person deciding to sell property.”
Nonetheless, with the economic crisis slowing down, the coast’s property market appears to be a beacon of hope.
“Over the next couple of years we will see prices slowly going back up, a natural process as the cheapest properties in an area are all sold and people are forced to move up a rung,” he said.
And no, they don’t have plans to move on from their nearby El Paraiso home just yet, with the climate, culture and ambience keeping them put.