What to expect in 2015: the Lucas Fox regional directors share their predictions for the property market across Spain in the new year
Alex Vaughan, Lucas Fox Co-Founder, Barcelona
We see 2015 as the recovery year for the Spanish property market, driven mainly by increasing numbers of overseas buyers, including growing numbers of Asian and Middle Eastern investors, in cities such as Barcelona. Those who were deterred by falling prices during the past 7 years or so, such as the British, will return to the market, enticed by some real opportunities.
Prices have fallen by up to 40% in some areas of the city but, in the last 12 months, these prices have stabilised. Some recent figures suggest that in some of the most desirable areas of the city such as Eixample and the beachfront, prices are starting to creep up again. We don’t envisage prices rising across the board for at least another 12 months and, when it does happen, we expect the increase to be slow and steady.
The key change in homes available in Barcelona during 2015 will be the return of quality new developments which have not been seen on the market for several years and where demand currently outstrips supply.
Tom Maidment, Director of Lucas Fox Costa Brava
It is unlikely that we will see much, if any, movement in prices in the Costa Brava in 2015 – though the gap between asking price and selling price should close further during the course of the year.
Given the worsening economic situation in Russia and the Rouble’s continued struggles against the Euro, the number of Russian buyers will inevitably fall further. On the other hand, the strength of the GB Pound and the likelihood that it will strengthen further against the Euro should attract an ever greater number of British buyers to the market in 2015 as they continue to take advantage of reduced priced Spanish property and favourable exchange rates. Buyers will inevitably be looking for good deals in 2015, with a focus on reduced priced properties in prime locations.
With the inevitable drop in Russian buyers and a greater number of British buyers, I would expect sales volume to increase in the coastal areas around Begur, including Aiguablava, Tamariu, Calella and Llafranc – traditionally a very popular area for mid to high end British and northern European buyers. The absence of Russian buyers may also result in a drop in prices in the southern areas of the Costa Brava, such as Blanes, Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar. The market in this area of the coast has been almost entirely driven by Russian investment over the past 2-3 years so the lack of Russian buyers in 2015 should have an impact on property prices in the prime coastal areas.
We may also begin to see an increase in activity from national buyers – though we don’t anticipate the domestic market to pick up in any kind of volume for at least another year.
Rafael Rosendo, Director of Lucas Fox Maresme
In 2014, 35% of our closed transactions came from Russian buyers. Considering the current economic and political situation in Russia, the number of Russian property buyers is certain to decrease in 2015. Indeed we have already seen a significant drop in the level of Russian enquiries and viewings and this could have an impact on properties at the high end of the market (€2m+).
Below the range of €1.5m, we expect to see increased interest from Northern European buyers, especially from the UK and Scandinavian countries. The strength of the GB Pound and Swiss Franc is likely to attract ever greater numbers of British and Swiss buyers looking to take advantage of reduced property prices and favourable exchange rates. This is good news for properties priced between €400,000 and €1,300,000. We also expect to see greater numbers of enquiries from local buyers as the Spanish economy continues its revival and banks start showing signs of approving increased numbers of mortgages.
As for the gap between asking prices and closing prices, we are still around 10% – 15% adrift in the Maresme area but we would expect this to narrow during the course of the year.
Rachel Haslam, Director of Lucas Fox Sitges
Sitges prices are expected to remain stable through 2015 as most owners have already readjusted prices to sellers’ expectations. Since the start of the crisis in 2007, property prices in Sitges have come down as much as 40% in some areas.
Recently we have been getting more enquiries from overseas buyers with higher budgets looking for a range of properties – from detached villas in the hills to luxury seafront apartments. Homes with sea views or close to the town centre remain at the top of the wish list. Buyers tend to request either contemporary or rustic properties but demand is currently outstripping supply.
Maxim Rettich, Director of Lucas Fox Ibiza
As far as prices are concerned, we are seeing a slight rise once again. Ibiza remains very much the place to be and is a secure investment destination, particularly with regards to the high return on rentals during the summer months. Throughout 2014, we have seen an increase of client numbers by 10%, and expect this upward trend to continue.
The high season seems to be extending as increasing numbers decide to enjoy the island’s lovely winter months. Therefore, we are seeing an increase in demand for long-term rentals this year. The vast majority of our clients come from the UK, Spain, France and Germany followed by the Dutch and Italians.
In terms of property hotspots, the south of the island remains the most popular region. Another prominent trend has been more clients looking to purchase land this year in comparison to last year.
Stephen Lahiri, Director of Lucas Fox Marbella
The buzzword for 2015 is definitely Location Location Location – it’s all about being in the prime areas in Marbella where the market has definitely picked up. The market for properties in these prime areas stabilized around 1 year ago, with buyer interest picking up, and a significant increase in the number of transactions in 2014. This has been particularly noticeable in the luxury sector, resulting in an increasing shortage of good quality, luxury properties available to buy. Therefore, we are seeing some significant price increases, which is likely to continue until there is a greater supply of good quality properties in prime locations. There has been very little investment in new developments being planned and built over the last 5-6 years and so the few new properties projects that were in construction have been snapped up.
Taylor Wimpy sold 149 “Off Plan” apartments in beachside San Pedro in less than a year. This revived interest in Marbella property has now resulted in a few new projects being planned and pending planning permission, although most will not be available to purchase until the middle to the end of 2015. As a result I expect to see the prices of luxury property continue to increase over the next year.
The market remains less aggressive in secondary areas but the shortage of good properties in prime locations is encouraging buyers to look increasingly at locations set further back from the seafront. There is a much greater supply of newer properties in these areas and so prices remain very competitive and offers are still being considered.
One of the primary changes that we have observed in 2014 is the profile of our buyers, which has evolved from the predominantly British and Scandinavian retirees to a much more dynamic, younger buyer who is more quality and fashion orientated. Therefore, the average age of buyers has dropped to late 40s to 50s, whose focus is on quality, style, accessibility, services, security and privacy.
Key investment areas to watch are are in San Pedro de Alcántara, anywhere on the Golden Mile, Nueva Andalucia, La Zagaleta and the Sierra Blanca. The most popular property types are now modern designer style properties, particularly small villas in gated communities. Luxury apartments in communities with full services and indoor heated pools are also in high demand. Luxury cars are a significant trend in Marbella and villa clients increasingly ask for garages with glass walls which can be integrated into the living and party areas so that they can showcase their cars as a piece of art.
Juan Luis Hererro, Director of Lucas Fox Valencia
It is expected that during 2015 prices across the market in Valencia will remain stable as they have done over the last 6 months. In the most discerning areas of the city a slight rise in prices ranging between 1% and 3% is expected.
There has been a sharp increase in buyers seeking renovation projects in the Eixample district. Foreign buyers are increasingly looking to buy in Valencia city as the market opens up to a more international clientele and this trend is expected to continue into 2015.
The most sought-after property in the city centre remain attics and Modernista houses to renovate. On the outskirts of Valencia, contemporary minimalist villas with sizeable plots and with many luxurious extras are sought-after.
Rod Jamieson, Director of Lucas Fox Madrid
2014 was a year of stability and growth for the property market in Madrid. Following several years of crisis and an important price correction, positive economic indicators brought renewed interest from international investors. Madrid remains one of the most reasonably priced European capitals with a high growth potential. In 2015 we will see more new build and renovation projects come available on the market in key central areas of the city, such as Salamanca, Chamberí, and Justicia. This will satisfy increasing demand from international buyers who typically want high quality properties with services in central locations. I believe we will also see development in other less expensive areas near Atocha and La Latina.
Madrid is attracting international buyers from various parts of the world whether it be for lifestyle or purely investment. Northern Europeans are increasingly interested in obtaining a pied-à-terre in the majestic capital, filled with stunning architecture, culture, gastronomy and world class shopping and entertainment 24/7. Asian and Middle Eastern investors are also considering Madrid as it offers a stable investment and the possibility of obtaining a permanent residency visa.
We predict that property prices in Madrid will remain stable during 2015. The last quarter showed the first price increase since 2007, while resale property prices remained fairly flat, new build saw an increase of 2.6%. Although I suspect the increase was due to a surge in international demand with very low availability of quality product, I believe the market has bottomed out.