Figures issued last week by the Malaga Colegio de Arquitectos confirm the recovery of the construction sector in Malaga province. Last year the association, which has to approve all construction plans before permission can be granted, put its stamp on 61 per cent more residential properties than the previous year: a total of 4,895, the highest figure since 2008. The rate of growth is almost three times that of 2016, when it was 24 per cent.
For the head of the association, Francisco Sarabia, these figures reflect “sustained growth” - they have increased for three consecutive years - so it can now be said that the sector is coming out of the economic crisis. However, he stressed that the numbers are still small compared with the pre-crisis period.
“In 2006 we approved plans for 45,000 homes in Malaga,” he said, although he believes that number was disproportionate and that 20,000 to 25,000 a year would be reasonable for the province now. If the present rate of growth is maintained, he expects that level to be reached in four or five years.
Sarabia warns that a new property bubble cannot be ruled out, because “this would not be the first time that people have failed to learn from a crisis,” but the president of the association of builders and developers ACP, Emilio López, doesn't agree. In fact, he thinks it is unlikely.
“Prices are going up moderately and they are starting from levels which are 30 per cent lower than before the crisis. Also, developers used to be able to obtain a loan without having to put any money down, because banks were financing everything. Now, a developer has to provide money, have a good project and have sold some properties if they want a loan,” he said.
López is pleased about the way the construction sector is reviving, and believes that this year, barring anything unusual happening, the figures will be even better.
Francisco Sarabia, however, offers a note of caution: the regional government's reform of planning laws, which is being prepared at the moment, could mark a “turning point” in the evolution of the construction sector, he said, because information obtained by the Colegio shows that urban growth will be restricted as part of the aim of creating “consolidated towns”.
Investment in the 4,895 residential properties approved in 2017 totalled 825 million euros, according to the Colegio. Of these, 1,145 were houses, with an investment of 259 million euros; 3,625 were apartments, at 555 million; and 125 of the plans were for subsidised housing, which had almost disappeared from the property market.
The number of residential properties completed in 2017 doubled, to 2,583. In this sense, last year was the best since 2012, when 2,755 homes were finished. Francisco Sarabia attributes this to the fact that the first developments planned after the crisis are now being completed.
The coast is the attraction
The growth in new projects applies to nearly all the municipalities in the province, apart from a few exceptions such as Ronda and Torrox.
Malaga city heads the list, with plans being approved for 1,214 homes: an increase of 38 per cent compared with last year. It is followed by two towns on the western coast: Estepona, with an increase of 64 per cent (800 properties) and Mijas, where the figure practically doubled to 516. In Marbella the increase is more modest, with 252 properties of which half are houses.
Construction is also recovering on the eastern Costa, where almost twice as many plans were approved in 2017, with Rincón de la Victoria in the lead. Most municipalities in the inland region of the province also saw an increase last year, although the figures there are much lower.