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Exhibition statistics, seminar attendance and visitors to the SUR in English stand all confirm a high degree of interest in Spanish property
18.03.11 - 12:39 -
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All roads from Earls Court lead to Spain
It was standing room only at all the seminars on living in Spain.
A visitor to the SUR in English stand at A Place in the Sun Live put it to us straight. “OK tell me, why would I want to live in Spain?” We had all the reasons at our fingertips and in our property supplement, ranging from weather through lifestyle to culture and lack of real language difficulties, but it turned out to be a rhetorical question and our visitor had more to add. “... and it’s so quick and easy to get there, isn’t it?” he answered his own question. “I can’t really think why you’d want to go to some of these other places....”
Without needing to run down what other destinations might be offering, the fact is that the dice were loaded in Spain’s favour at the show at Earl’s Court last weekend. Stands representing the interests of Middle Eastern and African countries were practically deserted. A protest outside Earls Court on Saturday, drawing attention to dubious land ownership practices in Cyprus, would certainly have been noticed by anyone considering buying property there, and a seminar offering information about Cyprus had to be cancelled on Sunday due to lack of interest. Seminars on France and Portugal were better attended, but the exhibition organisers had failed to anticipate the enormous interest in Spain, and it was standing room only at the seminars given by the experts on Spanish law, moving to Spain, and everything else that buying property in Spain entails.
One of the speakers at these seminars was the British Consul in Malaga, Steve Jones, who confirmed to SUR in English that interest in Spain had exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. The Consul himself is optimistic for the future of British property ownership in southern Spain, saying that while there have been plenty of negative reports, the Consulate is still dealing with the same number of changes in residence as it was last year, or even five years ago. “People are still moving to Spain”, he said, “and people are also still moving back to the UK. It is the nature of emigration, people come and go, but we haven’t noticed any real drop despite reports to the contrary”.
Visitors to the SUR in English stand at the show confirmed the high level of interest in Spain. Every one was given a copy of the SUR in English property supplement and many stayed for a chat or filled in a form to win a free subscription to the paper.
Positive interest
For the first time in many years of manning similar stands at international property shows, SUR in English representatives heard only favourable comments about Spain. Particularly striking was that not one visitor to the stand mentioned negative press reports about Spain, or expressed concerns about the legality of properties for sale. The SUR in English stand was busy throughout the three days of the exhibition and the general impression given by visitors was that they were well informed, confident and prepared to “do their homework” before making a well planned move.
Other exhibitors confirmed that they had noticed this characteristic of potential buyers. Richard Alexander, of Richard Alexander Financial Planning, exhibiting at A Place in the Sun Live for the first time, said he was very happy with the response, while Campbell Ferguson of Survey Spain, a recent proud recipient of the Independent Property Professionals award, commented to SUR in English that agents he had been talking to all seemed to be in agreement that the market is “bouncing back Spain’s way” and that buyers “have decided that prices are not going to drop any further”.
The two winners of the Sur in English competition held during last weekend's show are Ian Templeton from Sidcup, Kent and Craig Warren from Bushey, Hertfordshire. They will both receive a year's subscription to Sur in English.
A good feeling in the air
A recent comment piece in this paper by Mike Souter (Travel Special, February 17th) made the point that while official statistics were telling us the number of tourists on the Costa del Sol was creeping back up, experience on the ground was leading him to ask “Where are they?” Restaurants were ominously quiet, shops appeared deserted, and the streets were just not as full of people as they should have been.
Then the compilers of official statistics prepared to set off to Berlin for the international tourism fair, the ITB, full of hopes that the relatively affluent and frequent travellers who are the Germans would come in bigger numbers than ever before to Spain, bearing in mind all the reasons currently discouraging travel to other destinations. But on the eve of their departure to promote safe, warm, well-connected Andalucía came the threat of disruption to air traffic and fears of another crash in statistics.
Statistics though aren’t everything, and experience on the ground can be a better gauge of how things are going. Talking to Costa residents last weekend at the Place in the Sun Live show, we got a clear message. Things ARE picking up. Real estate agents had noticed a definite increase in interest from British buyers, and we all know how much the Costa del Sol depends on this sector. British Consul in Malaga Steve Jones reported that in the two weeks before the exhibition there were unquestionably more people in the streets of Benalmadena than there had been, and more people in the restaurants.
Of the people who came to the SUR in English stand, one couple were going to open a new restaurant in Marbella, another was excited about an imminent move to Malaga to work at the Technology Park, and another was planning an outdoor sports centre near Murcia. And these were just particular instances, in addition to the innumerable visitors to our stand who told us they were looking for somewhere to buy in Spain.
Sometimes it can be useful to “talk up” a situation rather than talk it down, and statistics can be used for both. A feeling in the air is less tangible than a statistic but it can only be read one way, and the feeling at the property show last weekend was a good one.