The Costa del Sol property market – post-Covid
No sooner did 2020 start on a good note than it all ended in a rather abrupt fashion with the implementation of the period of confinement and enforced inactivity. Some feared a serious economic crisis and freefall of property values would follow, but not only has this not happened as of yet, a lot of agents are actually reporting a significant increase in enquiries.
There were more than a few people who predicted a severe environment of recession and crashing property prices once we came out of the two-month lockdown period and emerged back into the light of day. Even though for many it would take almost another month before they could properly return to work, the dreaded crash has so far not materialised. Instead, we’ve seen a gradual return to normal, with streets, cafés and restaurants filling along with offices, shops, malls, department stores, beaches and government offices.
Fears of a second wave continue to exist, but in the interim the return from enforced closure of businesses has felt more like a soft landing than a bumpy ride. This is not to say that no-one has suffered the consequences of the Covid-crisis, far from it, but in addition to tourists beginning to return and residents becoming active again, the real estate professionals we spoke with all report a surprisingly high level of interest among potential homebuyers from all the well-known markets, as well as some unusual ones.
Far stronger than expected
Interest in Marbella property and its lifestyle might have waned in the wake of the Covid-crisis, but it didn’t. In fact, there has been a strong revival in the demand for what this region has to offer: space, greenery, a gentle climate and living environment, as well as a healthy seaside setting close to nature and away from large urban centres. It seems that the confinement experience has awoken in many the desire to improve their quality of life and/or have a pleasant, secure getaway should the Coronavirus cause upheaval on a prolonged basis.
“We used modern tools such as virtual tours and Zoom videoconferencing to continue to service our clients,” says Smadar Kahana of Engel & Völkers. “This helped many in the decision-making process, so that the lockdown time was still used in a productive way, but even so we have been surprised by the sheer number of especially high net worth buyers now coming into the market.” They are producing a significant rise in enquiries for Costa del Sol property that is also experienced by many other agents and developers, including the creators of Real de La Quinta, whose country club concept in the hills near Benahavis and Nueva Andalucía are proving a hit.
“People are looking for locations and properties that offer space, views, privacy and proximity to both nature and amenities,” says Simon Boxus of the Otero Group. “A new trend is definitely the willingness to work with modern remote viewing technologies, and this has resulted in 21 out of 24 sales in June not involving a physical viewing.” He finds that demand comes from Northern Europe and Spain primarily, and is well-distributed among a wide range of property types and prices ranges, from €100,000 apartments in Málaga to €3 million villas in Marbella. “People are looking for apartments with sizeable terraces and villas with good but manageable gardens, and a marked new trend is the importance given to being able to work from home with either a room specially dedicated to a home office with all the latest technologies and/or have a co-working centre in the community.”
Covid has produced new consumer trends
Besides the demand for gardens and spacious private areas with good views and close proximity to both services and open nature, people are rethinking the home/work relationship and clearly keen to combine the two in a more flexible manner that doesn’t involve daily commutes and long hours spent in the classic office environment. “We’ve experienced a surge in new clients since the end of lockdown and the kind of modern property we specialise in – with easy to maintain private gardens and spacious open-plan living spaces, as well as flexible off-plan design structures – are very much in demand now,” says Michael Liggan, founder of Altavista Property.
“Most interest is from medium-aged professionals who want to spend part or all of the year in their Marbella property, now not just for holidays but as part of their normal living/working lifestyle. It’s entirely possible to work remotely from your Marbella home and travel as and when needed, so buyers are keen to create work spaces within the property that allow for this kind of flexibility.” Among the Altavista projects offered, the compact modern villas of La Finca de Marbella, CaboRoyale, La Finca de La Cala and La Vera fit the new buyer trends best. “The present moment feels like a period of evolution and change, but it is important to remember that it bears no direct comparison with the financial crisis, since this is not a financial or macroeconomic situation but the result of a pandemic. There is no property bubble or oversupply, and I think this is why people have the confidence to invest here. Though it is true that many are making the move to more tangible assets such as real estate right now.”
About to announce an exciting new project soon, Michael is part of a large group of property professionals on the Costa del Sol who have responded well to the challenges of the Covid-crisis and are currently seeing a wave of interest as people abroad re-evaluate their priorities and opt for the characteristics that have always made this part of the world special—but now seem more important than ever.
First published in Essential Magazine