In a period so affected globally by the Covid crisis, we thought it important to analyse the Marbella property market as restrictions are eased, travel opens up again and there are signs that demand is soaring. We ask Nvoga founder and CEO José Carlos León and Commercial Director Thomas Graham what all these factors hold in store for the Costa del Sol real estate market.
Looking back, would you agree that sales of property on the Costa del Sol maintained a surprisingly high level during the Covid period of the past year.
Being subjected to such a radical and sudden change to their daily routines, many people around the world had the opportunity to question their lifestyles and re-evaluate their priorities. Being cooped up for long periods of time indoors, many realised that they weren’t satisfied with their living environment, and this set in motion a desire to improve one’s lifestyle, which has also become increasingly feasible now that many professionals are working remotely.
For many the ideal mix of ingredients consists of changing to a warmer climate with more freedom and space while remaining within Europe, at two to four hours flying from the main centres of business. This places the Costa del Sol firmly at the top of the list, with its amenities, cosmopolitan environment and outdoor lifestyle.
Has this led to changes in buyer or property profile?
JC: The kind of buyer hasn’t changed much, but most of our clients are now asking for properties that offer more interior living space as well as sufficient outdoor green spaces. They wish for modern homes with the latest amenities but also a sense of space, open views and proximity to nature, and naturally all of this has been shaped at least partly by the Covid experience.
TG: People are also asking for additional lifestyle spaces such as guest accommodation, private gyms, home offices and leisure areas.
Which are the areas most in vogue right now?
JC: Málaga province has stolen a march on Madrid and Barcelona and is attracting serious international attention – not only among homebuyers but also with international firms setting up here – but within the Costa del Sol itself, the greater Marbella area remains the prize, with the likes of Sierra Blanca, Cascada de Camoján, Guadalmina Baja, La Zagaleta and Los Flamingos the most popular residential zones right now.
Are people buying for different reasons now?
JC: Where the Costa del Sol was once a place to retire and come on holiday, it is increasingly becoming somewhere that people buy to live fulltime, or spend ever-longer periods of time in their second home. Both have their impact on the kind of properties demanded, as people are requiring ever more space and comfort from their Marbella homes.
TG: We’re also seeing more and more younger families with small children relocating here and making the most of the educational and lifestyle facilities within a cosmopolitan environment.
Is the ‘teleworking’ factor already having a notable impact?
JC: It’s certainly here to stay, and in the months and years to come it will consolidate itself as a lifestyle trend, which will only add to the appeal of places such as Marbella as an ideal lifestyle destination.
How do you see prices developing over 2021?
JC: Property prices in Marbella held their own very well during the Covid period and are beginning to slowly move up now, which considering the property boom that we are on the threshold of, makes this an excellent time to buy and benefit from strong price growth in the near to mid future. I do hope real estate values won’t go crazy and we maintain a balanced and sustainable market.
TG: The good thing is that there is no real sense of speculation, as the buyers are now overwhelmingly end-users and not purely investors, though every homebuyer is of course an investor in their own right.
Some people say we’ll soon have a shortage of stock on the Costa del Sol…?
JC: A lot depends on the specific area. In some parts of the Costa del Sol there is actually an abundance of properties of similar style and price, while in others, such as Marbella’s Golden Mile, there has been a scarcity of supply relative to demand for some time now. The new urban plan, which should be operational shortly, will create more clarity and open Marbella up to more (sensible) development. Demand for such new projects will be strong.
TG: There is always strong demand for quality properties in good locations, and in some cases a shortage of them.
Do you foresee British people buying on the Costa del Sol to acquire a foothold here?
JC: There is a long relationship and indeed love affair between the UK and the Costa del Sol, and this is not likely to change. The respective governments will eventually work together to ensure Brexit will produce no long-lasting detriment, and the desire of British buyers to obtain Spanish residency status could indeed provide a boost to the market. But nowadays more than ever we are not dependent upon a single market, and are also seeing rapid growth from markets such as Poland, Estonia, Canada and the USA.
Are we through the worst in terms of Covid and slowly going back to ‘normality’?
JC: Of course we can’t predict what is going to happen in the coming months or year, but as in many countries most people in Spain will have been vaccinated by the end of the summer and this should provide a solid step in the right direction. I believe this will be a good summer and that people will enjoy and cherish their stay more than ever, as you never know how important something is to you until it’s taken away. This will make it a sweeter experience than usual.
TG: The Costa del Sol remains one of the most important tourist and lifestyle destinations on this planet, and especially within Europe it is a concept built over 50 years of experiences and memories. So we expect things to bounce back strongly, and if not in one single go, then definitely gradually.
What would you like to see happen so that this region can optimise its appeal and potential?
JC:As we grow, we need to continue upgrading and developing our infrastructure, that is a must. Already, the coastal road is filling, so an obvious solution is to make the toll road free or at least cheaper, so that more traffic is diverted onto this underutilised infrastructure. We would especially like to see long-distance traffic bypass the Costa del Sol on this highway, but also more local vehicles use it, which would alleviate the pressure on the coastal road enormously.
Security is also of prime importance, so we need to invest in law enforcement as we’ve seen how effective this was in the past. We also need to start thinking of the kind of cities and towns we want for the future, and work towards their implementation, so it’s of great importance that there are parties thinking 20 or even 30 years ahead and planning for it. Even the Costa del Sol can’t rely on sun alone!