The times they have a’ changed

LAST UPDATED: 28 Feb, 2015 @ 16:21
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chrysler-and-bob-dylan-super-bowl-commercial-2014SPAIN may not have emerged from ‘la crisis’ yet, but, in prime areas of the Costa del Sol, property is selling faster than it has for years and buyers simply have a lot less choice than they did just 12 months ago.

A colleague who has been in the real-estate game in Marbella for 30 years remarked the other day that he had never seen, even at the height of the boom, so many estate agents on the Golden Mile. Whether they will all still be there come the end of 2015 remains to be seen, but, for now, business is, excuse the pun, booming.

Clients may remain cautious, but for those of us on the front line, there’s good reason to believe things have already turned around. Whole developments of luxury apartments have been sold off-plan, such as Taylor Wimpey’s Horizon Beach in Estepona. There, 36 two- and three-bed beachfront units, with prices starting at 429,500€, sold out in just 12 months, although building won’t be finished until June.

There’s a similar story at La Finca de Marbella, a development of 35 three- and four-bedroom villas on private plots in Río Real. Construction only started in January, with prices starting just shy of a million euros, yet the first two phases have already sold and the third looks likely to follow suit. Building plots in good locations are also proving harder to find, especially at sensible prices.

But don’t just take my word for it. Last year, according to a report by CBRE, investment in property across Spain topped 10.2€ billion, the second highest figure ever recorded, after 2007. And things picked up as the year went on. Over a third of the total – 3.4€ billion – came flooding in during the last quarter, 50% more than was registered in the same period of 2013.

According to the General Council of Notaries, the number of residential properties sold in 2014 was 19% higher than the year before. Over 364,600 apartments and houses changed hands, while average prices stabilised for the first time since the crisis began, increasing 0.1%. The other positive news is that credit is flowing again, as the 136,700 properties purchased with a mortgage represented a 42% jump over 2013.

On the Costa del Sol, we are rapidly reaching normal market conditions, where an balance exists between supply and demand and buyers and sellers. This marks the end of an era for those looking for a bargain. Beachfront developments, for example, have very few true front-line units (i.e. with uninterrupted sea views). At one time, there were several for sale in the same building, now buyers must pay a premium if they can find one at all.

As a result, amateur investors have mostly missed the boat; they should have bought when everyone else was too afraid. The savvy money continues to buy older stock and either knock it down to rebuild what people want (modern units), or fix up tired but well-located properties, adding value and earning a return in the process.

There is also a lack of new-build property coming to market, because investors and developers are hard pressed to find land with planning permission that makes economic sense to build on (in Marbella, especially). And, as stock is sold, the rental market is becoming tighter. There is a real shortage of apartments and villas for rent at the upper end of the market, forcing prices to rise, especially in the most in-demand areas.

Now that Greece has (for now) decided to stay in Europe after all, unless some other disaster befalls us, there’s every reason to believe 2015 will be the year that things change. But, if you don’t believe me – after all, I am an estate agent – just take a look at the market and see for yourself.

16 COMMENTS

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  1. What a stupid article – he’s talking about the uber rich who have done very nicely out of the financial crisis because it was only a crisis for the ordinary working stiff and he’s describing one small place which is totally untypical of the Spanish market as a whole.

  2. Course it’s silly, he is a property sales agent. I know Marbella well and there are hundreds, if not thousands of properties that have been lingering on the market for years. Taylor Wimpey are always saying they have sold out but they still keep advertising extensively. Even the rich areas aren’t selling.

  3. Seems a justifiable article – all the facts/trends show that at long last the Spanish property market is coming out of the doldrums. Foreign investment up, economic growth in the general economy rising, even mortgage levels in the domestic market are starting to rise. It doesn’t matter whether you believe BBVA, Baninter, S&P or even Goldman Sachs. They all admit that the corner has been turned. It was always going to happen. But why buy when rents are such good value? Only if you believe that uniquely in Spain rents never rise.

  4. This agent has 584 properties for sale including those sold on his books from his Estepona office, plus 80 for rent. It is an unprecedented number for one agent to be marketing, however other agents show similar numbers which confirms the huge glut for sale in Spain.

    A UK high street agent is fortunate to have 50, but often has less than 20.

    He quotes ‘never seen so many agents on the Golden Mile’ not so when I was there before Xmas, and if so, that is the last thing the Costas need now as it was the boom of here today gone tomorrow agents that caused the last boom and bust. They were totally unregulated and mis-sold as so many unfortunate buyers discovered.

    Heard it all before, you said it Mr Neale, ‘after all’ you are ‘an estate agent’, taken with a very large pinch of salt!!!!!

  5. Mr Neale your website mentioned you have offices in London and Florida but I cannot locate them on search engine, where are they please? Your site also says that you are members of LPA in Spain and that ‘all members are professionally qualified’, what qualifications are these?

    As we all know well, anyone can start up an estate agency in Spain.

  6. This article smacks of sheer desperation and the last paragraph says it all. Things in Greece are far from settled, they only have a four month extension and things could still go very wrong indeed and a Grexit cannot be ruled out by any means.

    Spain is not a good place to invest right now and if Podemos get into power, they are hardly going to do the real estate sector any favours and would probably introduce business unfriendly policies and taxes that would have a negative impact on the property market.

    Europe as a whole is very unsettled at the moment and Greece has not decided to stay in Europe (does he mean the Euro, the EU or both?) and things will get much worse if they default and/or decide to form a close alliance with Russia.

    My advice to investors is to hold off until after the general election in Spain, by which time, we will know what direction Spain is going in and much more about the Greek situation. I’m afraid everything is looking very risky at the moment.

  7. The Euro is at a 7 year low against the Pound/sterling………which is fueling the buying frenzy, we have seen allot of motivated sellers out there, matched with motivated buyers coming over to snap up those bargains. We are in the reform business here on the Costa Del Sol and are now booked up for the rest of 2015. The cloud I saw last week in Sotogrande does have a silver lining.

  8. If I’m a troll (and mad as a hatter ) all you have to do Mike/Angie, to get me to be quiet, is confirm or deny that you are involved in Italian sales. Why the reluctance? Been found out? Go on, show a bit of honesty for the first time in years.

  9. Yes Dick Nessfield you are a Troll, someone with at least 8 aliases, posting on at least 15 sites, but as you are such an exponent of trolling know you won’t be quiet because you need feeding.

    It just shows how bad things are in Spain when their failed Minister of Commerce also takes on the role of Spanish Propoganda Minister from a wee 2nd hand bookshop in a less than salubrious part of London. You also know zilch about the CDS and it’s property market, never owned property in Spain, and failed as a teacher in Valencia region, yet you expect people to believe you, even have the cheek to suggest they buy on your recommendations.

    The majority of posters on here know who you are and your motives but your talk is dangerous to the unwary. Trolling and off topic most of the time, you can hound others which you are known for but you are a rather sad loser, btw have you a Turkish name as well to add to your list Dick?

    Thankfully you cannot post your own topics neither can your multitude of links be clicked on.

  10. Another sign the times have changed – retail sales up 4.1% y o y in Spain for January. Oh, “Mike”/Angie/Scambuster – if you’re going to accuse others of being trolls, you’d better get your own story right. You still haven’t denied or confirmed any link to Casa Travella or any other Italian estate agent – if you’re going to attack people’s businesses here (even if they deserve it) you should do it from an honest position not with a vested interest. Of course you may not have that vested interest, we’re waiting to hear a bit of honesty from you. Strange you can’t answer that simple question, yet you charge around making accusations of others.

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