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PROPERTY

Foreign and Spanish companies and landowners compete for the best deals on plots, as prices are set to rise
29.05.15 - 13:11 -
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Agents report a surge in demand for land on the Costa ahead of new construction projects
A plot currently on sale in Monte Mayor Golf. :: SUR
For the first time in years, the Costa del Sol is beginning to see a new wave of development projects. The renewed confidence that investors have in Marbella’s property market is becoming apparent. Not only can it be seen in the appearance of cranes and billboard adverts overhead, but in the growing demand for land, particularly good plots in the best locations with the best views. This is becoming the Costa’s new luxury product.
The real question is this: is there any land of this description left in Marbella? The answer, according to the professionals, is yes. And they all agree that the struggle for land is only just beginning, although we are already starting to see a knock-on effect on prices.
“The landscape is changing again,” states Pia Arrieta, an associate at Diana Morales Properties, one of the main agencies for Marbella’s luxury area. “In the last year and a half we’ve seen rising construction activity which is now translating into higher demand for land.”
Another striking change, though, has appeared in the preferences of the clients. Attitudes have changed dramatically, and many people are now looking to build their own houses and get much more involved in the project themselves. This has primarily been a market interesting clients from Northern Europe, France and Belgium.
But prices are starting to climb, as Arrieta notes.
This increase in demand is causing landowners, who already own the sought-after plots, to be less flexible, when it comes to negotiating a final price. Or in some cases, they simply “prefer to wait and not put them on the market, as they know that the price will soon increase.”
Ignacio Peinado, managing director of Casa de las Torres, a company specialising in selling properties on behalf of large financial and handling firms, says that even these bigger organisations have started to push harder in price negotiation. “We’ve had cases, where, having offered the asking price on an organisation’s property, they have then told us that they’re revising their price. Property holders can see that their situation is improving and they’re trying to squeeze a bit more out of each sale.” This means that deals are taking longer to work out, when barely a year ago, they would close quickly.”
In these cases the buyers are foreign or even Spanish companies, but with a very clear intention: to build properties and sell them exclusively to foreigners as second homes. “They see a stronger property market in Spain, but they have no faith in locals’ job stability, so they’re going for projects targeting foreign buyers,” explains Peinado.
Prices
The businesses involved all seem to agree that there are many factors at play, when setting a plot’s price and that they can differ greatly. Of course, both size and location play a significant part.
Prices can therefore vary from 1,500-2,000 euros per square metre in Marbella’s Casablanca area, some 1,300 euros in Sierra Blanca, 800 euros in Guadalmina Baja down to 90 euros in Monte Mayor.
“They don’t sell quickly, but they certainly attract a lot of interest with many visits,” says Pia Arrieta, who uses some of her own company’s properties as an example. One of her plots, a 12,000-square-metre piece of land in La Zagaleta is on the market for 10.5 million euros; “it’s one of our most exclusive plots,” she says. Another, with almost 6,000 square metres, in El Madroñal, is going for 1.2 million euros.
Nevado Realty, another big Marbella agency focusing on more central areas of the town, also claim that there is still land available here. Here, though, it often means reforming or demolishing already-existing properties on the land.
In the centre
Good views, in the town or close to the sea are the most frequent requirements for buyers.
At Nevado Realty they insist that one of the best plots in the centre is right next to the Gran Meliá Don Pepe Hotel. “At the moment we have several architectural firms competing for this project to create a building with 10 super-luxury apartments between 300 and 400 square metres. They’ll be right on the beach with exclusive designs and top-of-the-range quality and services.”
The town is seeing a revival of these kinds of projects; companies buy a plot with an existing building, which they then knock down in order to create a whole new building.
Spanish investors are also participating in the race to get the best land, even though foreign firms are still dominating the market.
Some of them are buying land in advance, while prices are still at an acceptable level, with the intention of waiting for a recovery in the construction market before starting to build on the land.
Despite this recent surge in interest in Marbella’s property market, companies say that it is still possible to find a bargain among the town’s ever-high prices.

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