The big question for many property buyers is whether to try to hit the next hot-spot and or to stick to more conservative areas – and perhaps less discounted prices. But Barbara Wood, of The Property Finders, a buying agent that focuses on Spain, says: “Don’t think about ‘up and coming’ and ‘interesting for the future’ – that’s the last thing we recommend. Stick to established, reliable, traditional places. These areas always fall in price the least, and recover quickest. And there are certainly a lot of deals to be had, in Mallorca and all the best places on the coast – the northern Costa Brava, Costa Blanca, the smart parts of Catalunya, where the Barcelona wealthy buy their second homes, and of course the wonderful villages going up north towards French border. Don’t go thinking about some untested or untried place that may or not be quite ghastly in 5 years time.”
Wood says there’s a very real reason to be conservative in terms of location. Not only can you guarantee the prices will hold out over time, but – as she puts it – even in Spain’s most sought-after areas, “prices have unwound” and stock is returning to market as sellers are forced to go ahead. According to Wood, prices in top parts of Marbella, such as Puerto Banus, are back to 2003 levels, about 20 per cent down on the boom years of 2006 and 2007 (other parts of Spain that were overdeveloped are down 30 per cent and Wood says the bottom of the market is yet to come). “If you thought you were priced out of these areas in the boom you might have an amazing surprise right now.” Wood just found a villa in Marbella for a buyer whose price had gone from €1.6m down to €900,000. Another client just brought a brand new apartment 20 metres from the beach at San Pedro in Malaga from a seller desperate to unload it. It had started at €1.5m and the buyer got it for €580,000.
Mallorca is a big favourite and should stay that way, says Wood, not least because of the British Airways flights from City airport scheduled to begin regular service to Palma in May. And, following massive investment in its marina facilities, Mallorca has become the biggest port for superyachts in the Mediterranean, taking over from Antibes. And it’s not all about flashy new builds – on Mallorca and the more established, sought-after coastal areas of Andalucia, there “are some beautiful old stone houses with terrific histories and very charming.”
But if you’re really after that authentic Spanish villa, there is much value to be had by looking inland. Consider, for example, a 16th century convent 8km from the beautiful old Andalucian city of Ronda, which was first listed at €1.9m, then €1.5m, then €1.1m. Now the price has come down to €920,000. It’s on 12 acres of land set amid old Roman ruins and has a swimming pool under the cloisters.
And for the same money that would buy “a pretty good all-singing-all-dancing property on the Costa del Sol” in a well renovated property with three quarters of an acre of land, you can go 40 minutes inland via excellent motorways and, reckons Wood, could “easily finish up with 20 acres with paddocks, stables, out buildings, olives.”
Auctions are another great place to snag top properties at bargain prices for buyers with cash who want a fast sale. “More and more property is being auctioned because of repossessions,” says Wood. “We’re seeing examples of unbelievable levels of reduction. A very prime four-bed duplex in Puerto Banus, valued at €1.2m, was recently auctioned by official courts in Malaga and went prior to auction for €410. Now this a property in prime investment territory.”
Turkey is another very attractive place to look for a place in the sun. Ex-banker Julian Walker, of Spot Blue (www.spotblue.co.uk), specialists in Turkish property, says: “People forget that Istanbul has a higher density of millionaires than any other city in Europe. There’s a good deal of cash in that market – so if high end is what you’re after, Turkey has that.” The most popular high-end destinations for foreign holiday home investment are Belek for the golf, Kas, Kalkan, Gocek and down to the bottom peninsula. These locations are plenty luxurious, but the value is a cut above: Walker says that a villa in Kalkan costing €400,000 would be double the price in a more established place,
Walker notes that Antalya airport has reported an increase in passengers of 20 per cent for the two months beginning 2010 compared to the same time last year. Meanwhile, Pegasus Airlines is increasing its flights to Turkey, too, so getting there – no matter where you are baed in the UK – is becoming ever easier. If you’ve been holding back on buying your very own place in the sun, now is a good window of opportunity in which to make fantasy a reality.
A Place in the Sun takes place 26-28 March at Earls Court. www.aplaceinthesun.com.
PUERTO BANUS, €680,000 BUT
Just two kilometres from Puerto Banus, this spacious beachfront villa has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a penthouse with big roof terrace. Contact: www.thepropertyfinders.com, tel: + 34 971 233 207
HILLSIDE VILLAS, KALKAN, TURKEY, FROM £399,000
500m above sea level, surrounded by pines and overlooking the Toros mountains, these four-bedroom glass villas have stunning views of the mountains and Mediterranean. Close to the towns of Islamlar and Uzumlu, 20 minutes drive north from Kalkan town centre, with Dalaman international airport just 90 minutes away. Contact: Spot Blue, www.spotblue.co.uk, tel: 020 8339 6036
SOLLER, MALLORCA €3.9M
This beautiful villa in north-west Mallorca is a five-bedroom finca with pool and guest apartment. The plot is 30,000 sq metres plot and boasts extensive views over Soller town. One of the most desirable spots on the island.
Contact: www.thepropertyfinders.com, tel: + 34 971 233 207
SON PARC, MENORCA €200,000
A fully equipped, fully furnished three-bedroom apartment with great views of Monte Torro, two minutes from one of the island’s best beaches and five minutes from the only golf course and tennis centre on the island. In a small, well-maintained complex with three swimming pools, tennis court and near local amenities. Low cost flights take an hour and three quarters. Contact: Dominic Williams on 07771 725895