The pain in the Costa del Sol region of Spain may be easing as discounted property prices encourage bargain hunters back in their droves and newly launched businesses flourish.
Many investors and ex-pats in the past have been eager to purchase off-plan and resale property with a view to selling on for a significant profit by taking advantage of high year on year growth rates, that is, until now.
Due to an un-timely recession and a weak pound, poor rental returns, not to mention stories of corruption leading to demolition orders on illegally built properties throughout the region, many are now experiencing the harsh reality of owning their ‘home and away’ investments.
Andy Golding, Marketing Manager at yourVIVA is keen to celebrate the positives of the Costa del Sol, and believes that, although it is tough at the moment, it is not all doom and gloom.
He told Digital Journal: “Only those who have an economic necessity to sell their homes are doing so with any urgency; prices of properties within the lower sections of the market (where over-supply makes competition fierce) have fallen greatly.”
For cash-rich sun-home-seekers who can act quickly, even better deals are available on distressed and repossessed properties where prices have been reduced in some cases by up to 60%.
Andy continues: "We believe that the market has levelled out and expect gradual increases to return as and when the global economy stabilises. The attractions and opportunities of Spain will always remain, drawing holiday makers and settlers’ alike, so future prices will certainly rise, ensuring a buoyant property market.”
Buyers should not be nervous of buying property through fear of it being deemed ‘illegal’ in the future. Buyers in the past have been at the mercy of the bulldozer and their dreams of a life in the sun have been well and truly flattened but as Andy explains:“Undoubtedly, buyers are now hugely cautious and indeed they should be, but provided they exercise due diligence, research their intentions and proceed sensibly (factors not necessarily observed in the past), there is no reason whatsoever why they should not purchase a property in Spain. The market in Spain has changed massively as a result of previous corruption and irregularities, with buyer, vendor, agent, legal and authority – all acting with a greater sense of responsibility.
"We are actually experiencing a very positive reaction – again, it’s tough, but everything is moving in a very positive direction. Sales here have been on a definite upward curve over the last 7 weeks. We’re hardly talking about a return to the levels of activity back in the good old days, but there are definitely micro signs of things improving; it would appear that it’s the bargain hunters that are now looking to buy in the area.”
The recent rumble of certainty is not just restricted to property. Many high-profile celebrities have decided to set up shop, notably in and around the Marbella region.
The glitzy capital of the Costa del Sol has recently seen a celebrity chef plus a long-term lover of Diana, Princess of Wales, not to mention a Football ace all launch avant-garde leisure concepts in this exclusive enclave of Spain.
Major James Hewitt, 51, is a former British household cavalry officer, and rumoured to be the biological father of Prince Harry. He recently partnered up with a well-known Marbella restaurateur and investor and opened the polo themed bar; ‘The Polo House.’ Hewitt, himself a polo enthusiast, has successfully drummed up business via his London jet-set connections which have resulted in a packed club night after night. The 1 million euro plus project which has been 3 years in the making launched in April 2009 and plans are in place to extend the ‘Polo House’ brand into Dubai, Malaysia and Argentina. A smart dress code garnished with white teeth and spray tans adorn the majority of the party patrons.
England and Tottenham Hotspur football player David Bentley recently invested in the Buddha Beach Bar; Marbella’s upmarket boutique beach bar, restaurant and spa.
The 24-year-old midfielder, recently acclaimed as the new David Beckham, was a frequent visitor to the bar where a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal 2002 champagne will set you back a mere €495.00.
Jean-Christophe Novelli, is a Michelin star celebrity TV chef and became a hit with hoards of female fans when he appeared on ITV's Hell's Kitchen back in 2005. He recently served up a high-end sophisticated portion of the ‘ultimate’ in fine dining by opening his new restaurant and cookery school, ‘Novelli’s at the uber-luxurious Hotel Lorcrimar in Puerto Banus .
Jean-Christophe told Digital Journal the reasons behind choosing Marbella as a location for his new venture:
"Ever since the appointment of the new Mayoress, Angeles Munoz in May 2009, there is such a buzz in the city again as she puts in new measures of security and promises to give Marbella back its dignity and pride it deserves. This is something that I want to be a part of."
"I welcome all customers to my restaurant; my mission is to please people and share. It is my goal that this new restaurant will stimulate the appetites and taste-buds of all those who seek the very best fine dining experience."
Jean-Christophe believes no area is immune to the effects of the global recession and an affordable approach to pricing is important without compromising on quality: "I think that everywhere has been affected by the credit crisis, especially in tourism areas. I still feel that people are coming on holiday or have their holiday homes here in Marbella but they are just not spending as much as possibly they would normally. This is why I have made my menu prices much more accessible for all to enjoy still at the highest of quality."
Joanne Ingram, who owns Nueva Andalucia Life on-line magazine and regularly eats out in the area, told Digital Journal: "I think the prices are fantastic for a Novelli Restaurant in Marbella. There are other restaurants locally that charge much more and do not come near in terms of quality and innovation. Many restaurants here are going to have to think hard about their pricing structure."
Jean-Christophe continues: "Marbella has always been renowned as a playground for the rich and famous and of course there are still plenty of wealthy people who live in the area. I think that the credit crisis has taught people a lot about money management and Marbella along with many other cities will come out of this much better off. But it is definitely a sign of big change."