Article by Vivion O’Kelly
Christopher Clover of Panorama Properties – Marbella’s longest established real estate agency – has been writing about the Marbella Property Market for the last 50 years and is the areas go-to source of knowledge about the local market. Last week he released his much-anticipated “Market Perspective” on buying and selling property in Marbella during the coronaviris crisis, and the bottom line is very positive.
A safe place in the sun
A place in the sun: it means a lot more now than it did a few months ago. Apart from a dream come true for many people, owning a place in the sun now means having a bolt-hole where one can lockdown in safety and luxury in case of another pandemic, if we are unfortunate enough to have another. And if not, nothing lost. Our recent (and current) period of forced introspection has made most of us think of the really important things in life, and somewhere close to the top of that list comes a holiday home in Southern Spain where we can relax, reflect and recharge body and soul. And have a lot of fun doing it.
Huge demand for properties in the sun
Perhaps not surprisingly then that enquiries to Marbella estate agents from potential buyers from the UK and Northern Europe have risen sharply over the past month. We at Bright have received more leads since the coronavirus began than in the previous six months, while Christopher Clover said in his report: “Since May 18, agents have been able to show properties to clients in person, and there has been immediate and frenetic activity, a good sign for months to come”.
While Christopher points out that tourism has ground to a halt in the region and sales in the Marbella, Estepona and Benahavis areas will most likely drop by 25% to 30% this year, he also stresses that recovery will be swift. This is in direct contrast to the economic crisis of 2008. Now, as he says, the banks appear to be in a relatively strong position, as are the property developers; the market is not overheating as it was in the years prior to 2008, prices in the Marbella are have not reached pre-2008 highs, potential buyers will have earned and saved since the last crisis, and the beautiful climate and lifestyle of Marbella has become more important than ever before.
During the last financial crisis in 2007-2008 the market took four years to touch bottom before starting to recover, and now, Christopher believes, it will take up to two years to regain the same sales volume as before lockdown began. “This is an approximation backed up by many other professionals in the industry, keeping in mind that market recovery is, in good part, economy dependent, and that we are in unchartered waters”. A statistic from Panorama backs this up: enquiries from potential buyers were down only 2% from the same period last year, whereas similar enquiries virtually disappeared for months on end following the 2008 crisis.
Searches for properties in the sun up by 34%
A recent Guardian article – Surge in Britons Searching for Properties Abroad – paints an equally rosy picture. It hones in on Spain from the beginning, and specifically the Costa del Sol, pointing out that searches for properties in Spain as a whole were up 34% year on year during May, more than in popular areas of France such as the Dordogne and Brittany. They mention that the most popular searches for Spanish property focused on five areas, the Costa del Sol being one of them, and pinpoint Marbella as a prime destination.
Marbella is uinque
The Marbella market, it must be remembered, is also quite different from others in that it is already home to at least 100,000 foreign residents, full or part-time, and many of them are wealthy or super wealthy. “They will not be affected by travel restrictions,” says Christopher, “and many of them will undoubtedly be looking to buy in the coming months, to upgrade their properties or pick up well-priced properties for investment purposes which some owners may need to sell to obtain liquidity.”
And then there is the Spanish holiday home market, often forgotten in the babble of English voices on the Costa del Sol. Spaniards are, historically, the foundations of the Marbella property market, but their numbers dropped slightly after 2008. That will certainly change now. There are a lot of potential buyers in the large cities of the interior, and they have the wherewithal to buy well. In fact, too many of them caused something of a scandal in recent months by flocking to their existing holiday homes on the coasts as a means of escaping the crowded cities, possibly carrying the virus with them. They will now realize the true value of a home in a place like Marbella, and a huge influx of them is expected over the coming months, or whenever travel restrictions are fully relaxed.
Lifestyle goals are a top priority
As a new world order emerges, buyers will demand more properties in the sun with gardens, extensive terraces and swimming pools. “Many property owners in Marbella are already used to working from their homes, whether their businesses are located elsewhere in Europe or even in Marbella itself,” says Christopher Clover. “The result of the lockdown around the world could well be that many more people will feel more comfortable with the idea of working remotely in the future and give increased urgency to their lifestyle goals.”
Very relevant too are the statistics relating to the safety of Marbella and its region with regard to the coronavirus. The contagion rate in Marbella has been five times lower than the national average, the mortality rate three times less than the overall rate for Andalucía, and fourteen times less than the national average in Spain. With its world-class heath care system and state-of-the-art private hospitals and clinics, Marbella is a great place to be when the health chips are down.
“Although nothing will be quite the same in the post-virus world,” Christopher adds, “Marbella will not only endure, but will adapt to new circumstances and prosper.”
We at Bright are certain of that too. Not based on wishful thinking or a positive attitude to life in general, but based on what we have been seeing, reading about in the local press and experiencing over the trying period that we are all, hopefully, on our way out of. It is all about quality – quality of life, quality of climate, quality of properties on offer, quality of investment opportunity and not least, the quality of the people who tend to make this beautiful and unique place their home, permanent or temporary.
You can read Christopher Clover’s full report on the Panorama website: “Buying and selling property in the Marbella area during the coronavirus crisis: a market perspective”.