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The Spanish Hotspot “Marbella”

Famous for its designer emporia and mega yachts, chic retreat Marbella is now the leading property hotspot in Spain for sales volume growth. Cyan International Properties looks at what prospects are in store for buyers in the year ahead

When it comes to old-school glamour, celebrities have always flocked to the Spanish hotspot of Marbella – and with 300 blue sky days of sunshine a year – who could blame them? This upscale getaway has it all – beaches, mountains, vintage charm, cosmopolitan atmosphere and services, not to mention scenic countryside and cityscape. From Cabopino to Guadalmina, passing through the pleasure ports of Marbella and Puerto Banús, the coastline is fine sand all the way, and the land that goes back from the beaches is a paradise of luxury housing developments, golf courses and five-star leisure amenities.

Property performance wise – real estate market recovery is comfortably ahead of the rest of Spain, although prices are still 15 to 25% below market highs, even in the most consolidated areas, which bodes well for ‘negotiation’ purchases for the foreseeable future. As for sales volumes – the upturn that first manifested itself in 2012 has continued to gather pace increasing year-on-year and for one simple reason – a cosmopolitan buyer pool means the region is not dependent on domestic investment with 85% of the buyers hailing from overseas. Taken as a whole, the province of Málaga led the nation in the final quarter of 2014 with a 9.6% increase in sales compared to the same period last year, and in Marbella the trend is even more pronounced, leading at first to a stabilising of property values and now a gradual increase in those areas most in demand with cash buyers dominating the market.

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Not only do such buyers make up the vast majority of new homeowners in the Marbella area, they also make up 13% of all property sales in Spain. A strong recovery has put British buyers back at the top of the list, accounting for 15.8% of all property purchases by non-Spaniards, followed by buyers from France (10.1%), Russia (8.1%), Germany (7.5%), Belgium (7.3%), Sweden (5.9%) and Italy (4.7%).

While new construction is gradually resuming – the bulk of properties being sold are re-sales of existing homes; a trend that is likely to continue in the medium term. The primary reason for this is that older properties remain less expensive, but it is also due to a shortage of new build homes and this will take some time to address.

Indeed, the greatest demand at present is for properties that feature contemporary design and technical amenities, and while there are many specialists highly adept at modernising existing homes, one can expect that the weight of the market will gradually shift back to new-build properties once enough supply is available again. However, with land resources limited and Marbella increasingly keen to nurture its luxury appeal, the focus in the coming year will be on quality, not quantity.

So where are the sought-after locations to buy? At the moment, Nueva Andalucia and San Pedro are proving popular, because of their close proximity to Marbella, great beaches and of course Malaga airport. Not to mention the numerous first-class golf courses on their doorstep, a major draw for many prospective buyers. Top of the range homes in Nueva Andalucia are selling for well over €5 million.

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Despite price drops of up to 50% for non-prime locations – inland, without sea views, land, or access to golf – beachside properties continue to command premium prices, with demand dominated by British, Scandinavian and Russian buyers.

A case in point is Estepona. Boasting stunning sea views and panoramic vistas of Gibraltar and North Africa, home luxuries, and a lively Spanish town ambience, this compact cosmopolitan town still retains the charm of whitewashed Andalusian settlements, combined with a sense of civic pride that has seen it win international acclaim for its cultural, architectural and beautification projects. Sought-after townhouse properties find themselves at the heart of it all, at a few paces from a stunning beach, the restaurants, shops, cafés and pretty squares of the old town. The nearby marina offers its own dining venues and nightlife, while the mountainous gateway to the Andalusian hinterland lies only a few kilometres inland. Yet all that Marbella and Puerto Banús have to offer is just a short drive away. In addition come the golf courses, marina, horseriding centres, natural scenery and ambience of the area. For those who love the Andalusian way of life, beachside Estepona is a very attractive option indeed. 

FAST FACTS – GOLDEN VISA PROGRAMME

  • Spain has introduced a new law that offers residency visas to non-EU nationals in return for an investment of €500,000 or more in Spanish property.
  • The objective of the law is to attract entrepreneurs to Spain, and stimulate foreign investment in Spanish real estate, public debt, and job creation. The law can also lead to long-term residency in Spain if certain conditions are fulfilled.
  • Spanish residency, and the ability to travel freely in the European Schengen area (for 90 out of every 180 days), is already proving a major attraction for many non-EU investors with a healthy take up from the Middle East and Russia

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