Javier Ballester is the Spanish director of the British developer Taylor Wimpey. After reporting a 125-million-euro investment in La Cala Golf under a year ago, last week it was announced that the investment would be increased further, to 166 million euros, to build 1,000 new homes in Mijas. Ballester is encouraged by the firm's good relationship with Mijas town hall and the growth potential of the Costa del Sol.
How did the idea of joining forces with La Cala Golf come about?
As part of our investment strategy we were looking for landowners who weren't developers, but who were willing to provide the land so that we didn't have to pay for it. In exchange the owner receives, not just the value of the land but also part of the future profits of the development. La Cala Golf offered us this possibility. The location, the seriousness and the quality we found made us decide on this project.
Why have you chosen Mijas for your new housing development?
The Costa del Sol in general is an area that we have spent a lot of time working in and where we hope to continue working for years to come. La Cala Golf is located in Mijas and Mijas is on the Costa del Sol.
How is your company's relationship with local government?
Very good. This is a golden age for property developers and the council is setting us realistic requirements.
Why has Taylor Wimpey increased its investment to 166 million euros from 125?
We are now developing the fourth project with La Cala Golf and as we have seen an excellent working relationship between the two businesses we have decided to extend the partnership.
Do you think that you might invest more in the future?
We are currently talking about developing 600 properties together. That means several years of work and we have to look carefully at what is ahead of us, but I think that it is very likely.
That investment, from a British company, would come after Brexit. Are you worried about this change?
The British market represents only 20% of our market, although we have also seen an increase in British buyers in the last year. Whatever happens, British investors will not stop just because of Brexit; if they did it would be due to an unfavourable exchange rate and that would be circumstantial.
What do the new homes being built offer that's different from other developments?
They are houses with modern design and specifications. They will also be built so that they offer views over this amazing area. As if this wasn't enough, the houses developed alongside La Cala will come with an exclusive card that will offer discounts and offers at La Cala golf courses, La Cala hotel, spa services, restaurants...
Are you not worried that a new housing bubble will burst? Is this new investment sustainable?
We are still very far from the production levels and the house prices of properties pre-crisis. And credit providers are being more demanding with buyers. At the moment it doesn't seem as if there's a bubble. We're convinced that we are making a sustainable investment. La Cala Golf is possibly the largest golf resort in Spain and has deserved prestige.
Is there a lot of interest in the new properties?
We are very happy with our current sales. The buyers are mostly northern Europeans: English, Irish, Scandinavians, Belgians, Dutch. As I've said, we're starting our fourth development with La Cala since we first signed our agreement four years ago. We have sold around 80 houses per year and we hope to maintain this rate in the coming years.