Friday, 3 March 2023, 12:46
Malaga, and especially the Costa del Sol, has become the top province per thousand inhabitants for real estate in Spain. This was the message behind a roundtable event hosted by SUR in English in conjunction with Marbella town hall at the Hotel Don Pepe Gran Meliá on Thursday 23 February.
Mayor of Marbella Ángeles Muñoz gave a welcome speech, after which five experts from the property sector debated a wide range of issues from what has made the Costa del Sol a top destination for tourists and investors alike for over 50 years, to sustainable housing and the impact of the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.
Vanessa Dávila, Listings and Marketing Executive at The Spanish Estate Agent; Juan Goñi Uriarte, CEO of Klic Arquitectos; Félix Romero, first deputy mayor at Marbella town hall; Marc Damian Elliott de Lama, owner and founder of Fluent Finance Abroad; and Setareh Mohregi, director of the international department at Gilmar, all brought their experience and expertise to the debate.
Muñoz also spoke of the effect that the Covid pandemic has had on the town, which the panel picked up on during the debate, saying that Marbella and the Costa del Sol in general are witnessing an influx of people from other parts of Spain and abroad, who are able to work remotely and are choosing to do so here.
Aside from the timeless attractions of almost guaranteed sunshine, excellent beaches and Spain's world-class gastronomy, the panel highlighted important considerations such as safety and services.
Setareh Mohregi highlighted the «exceptional offer of international schools» as an important consideration for families thinking of moving here, while Marc Elliott pointed out that the Costa del Sol is attracting «a younger generation, the 35-year-old professionals who are coming to work at the technology park in Malaga and looking to buy property in Marbella».
Adding to the debate about Malaga and the Costa del Sol attracting a younger demographic, Félix Romero talked about the recent law introduced in Spain to encourage so-called digital nomads to come and work in the country.
The debate moved on to 'hot spots' for investors from different countries and whether there has been a shift in recent years in terms of type and nationality of buyer. This point was closely connected to Brexit and the effect that it has had on British investment on the Costa del Sol.
Setareh Mohregi pointed out that while the British are still buying, both Brexit and the cost of living crisis back home are being felt here. However, there has been a shift towards people from Scandinavian countries as well as more investors from the USA encouraged by the strength of the dollar to the euro, explained Marc Elliott.
Mohregi also referred to the 90-day visa rule for Britons spending time in EU countries brought in after Brexit, but pointed out that many British property owners caught out by the rule are making the most of it by sharing their Spanish homes with family or renting them out when they are unable to come to the country.
Picking up on the mayor's comment about 2022 being a «record year», the panel were asked for their views about last year being seen as a return to normality for the property sector.
Félix Romero reiterated the mayor's words saying that thanks to the weather, luxury market and way of life «Marbella has emerged stronger from the pandemic». He went on to say that last year saw, «records such as the number of companies registering, a reduction in employment and a growth in tourism figures as well as digital initiatives», which he said are all contributing to the town's popularity as a destination.
Setareh Mohregi confirmed the mayor's words with statistics from Spain's national statistics institute (INE). She pointed out that according to the INE, the number of homes sold in Spain in 2022 was up 14.7 per cent on 2021 across Spain and in Malaga province alone, 26 per cent more properties were sold in 2022 than in 2021.
The panel dared to consider that the Costa del Sol had, in a sense, benefited from the consequences of the pandemic. They agreed that the destination has seen an inflow of investment as people are keen to realise dreams and 'seize the day'.
Dávila went on to say, «Since the pandemic some people are conscious of sharing spaces like a lobby or a lift in hotels, so they are investing the money that they would have spent before on hotel accommodation in property instead.»
In terms of the «golden triangle of Marbella, Estepona and Benahavís» which Mohregi spoke about, it is the latter that is in high demand because as a smaller town it gives people the space that they are looking for.
Juan Goñi of Klic Arquitectos also agreed that last year was «the best year on the Costa del Sol since I remember».
Félix Romero stressed: «People can work and play golf, we have good hospitals and warm weather. We have to take advantage of this opportunity.»
However, for the financial sector Marc Elliott pointed out that «things are far from normal» right now. «This time last year inflation was at historic low rates. Now inflation is high,» he said. He highlighted, though, that the «projection is that inflation will start to come down towards the end of the year. Spain is keeping a curb on inflation even though it is high at the moment».
Juan Goñi remarked that industrial inflation is currently «higher than general inflation» and the property development sector «is experiencing a 30 per cent rise in the cost of construction materials» as well as a lack of workforce. He added that land prices are also going up.
Marc Elliott reiterated the point about security in Spain saying, «Spain is an incredibly safe country to live in and also we're far away from the conflict in Ukraine. People feel safe here.»
Félix Romero stressed the importance of both the PGOM and LISTA to give investors greater «legal certainty». He said, «We are convinced the plan is going to attract important investment to the town» and will «offer guarantees».
The panel agreed that much has been done to make housing more sustainable in the last 15 years and Félix Romero highlighted the environment aspects of the PGOM.
Setareh Mohregi said she had come to the symposium «to be positive» and the panel members agreed that there are plenty of reasons to share her optimism for the property market and for foreign investment on the Costa del Sol.
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