IT’S the glamorous, grown-up destination that mixes laid-back living with luxury.
The characteristics that put Marbella on the map, haven’t changed in decades: stunning coastal views, incredible restaurants, dazzling homes for every budget and some of the best golf courses in Europe. Civilised and playful, it is no wonder that demand for properties in Marbella is sky-high, despite the Covid crisis.
Indeed, as the crisis in Spain worsens and the majority of resorts face growing problems, Marbella is set to go the other way.
No-one understands this dichotomy better than American Christopher Clover, owner of Panorama Properties, Marbella’s oldest and most respected real estate agency.
“In fact, it’s stronger than ever. Demand is even higher than it was last year. Yes, people are travelling less but we have clients making reservations without even seeing a property in person,” explains Chris, whose long-established family firm now includes his son and daughter, Alex and Katinka.
Rolling up his sleeves in preparation for the turbulent year ahead, he continues: “Challenges make life really interesting and bring out the best of ourselves.”
And his take on the current market is ‘unique’ he claims and very different from the last recession between 2008 and 2012/13.
“It is very different to the crisis of 2008, where demand dropped severely, touching bottom in 2011 and starting recovery 2012,” he insists. “Presently there is a very healthy demand for properties and particularly in the upper end of the market in the Marbella area.”
And when it comes to Marbella, no-one knows the town better. Chris took charge of Panorama in 1970, leaving behind the legacy of his grandfather’s real estate business in Chicago and his father’s agency in Washington and Charlottesville, Virginia.
Half a century on, he has seen it all – and few can compete with the knowledge, experience and professionalism offered by the business that counts on a team of 24 professionals speaking 12 different languages.
Above all, he doesn’t think the current crop of shocks, including Brexit, will dent the growth and popularity of the town.
If anything, Chris believes the state of affairs has pushed people to take a leap of faith and secure the home they have always fantasised.
“Coronavirus has proved that working from home is manageable – so why not move to work in the sunshine? People also don’t want to go through another lockdown in London, they want space, a garden and good weather.
“They think, let’s buy that house we’ve always dreamed of. And for a lot of people, Marbella is the perfect place.”
He predicts that over a relatively short period of three to six months, the market will continue to grow but with a reduced volume of sales, and recovering substantially from April and fully within a year.
“We are optimistic with respect to the Marbella property market and the future of our city,” he added.
Taking that all-important step onto the property ladder – from getting a surveyor’s report to a mortgage – can all seem daunting for buyers and sellers alike and Chris believes that delivering the right advice is key to ensuring a smooth move.
His top tip? Making sure you ask for the right price. “Owners of the best-located properties will fare best in this market,” he said. “The key factor of getting a sales strategy right is getting the asking price right, which will encourage visits to the properties.
“Owners of properties in secondary areas will most likely have more flexibility. Owners who need liquidity urgently will have to adjust their asking prices in order to sell more quickly in what will probably be several more difficult months ahead of us.”
He warns buyers to be equally pragmatic. “Many of them are unrealistically looking for bargains in the best residential areas, and making very low offers which are immediately rejected.
“A buyer should always try to find out what the real value of a property is by examining comparable sales to orient himself and make a realistic offer which will be not so low that the owner hangs up the phone on the agent…high enough, therefore, to engage the owner’s interest in negotiation.
“We believe that there will be more opportunities, more good buys, available in the secondary residential areas than the ultra-prime and prime residential areas.”
For brave buyers, now may be the time they can finally realise that elusive dream: a slice of luxury in Spain’s most emblematic resort.