Luxury Spanish Property Could Pull The Country To Its Feet
News Posted On: 25 March 2013
The Spanish property market is at risk of becoming proverbial: an emblem of everything that went wrong in Europe during the boom years leading up to the disastrous 2007/8 crash. But that’s only part of the story.
Spain’s housing bubble was inflated by wishful thinking on all sides: purchasers thought they could buy cheap and rent or sell dear, developers thought they could sell one development before it was finished and use the money to build another, and banks chose not to look too hard as long as the money came in.
But that’s never been the only model of doing things in Spain and there are emerging bright spots in the Spanish market. David Plana, the corporate director of PGA Catalunya Resort, a high-end development built around a luxury golf course, describes how his company has made a success of its business model even as Spanish real estate has suffered.
He says his development is ‘unlike the typical Iberian golf resort,’ listing the key differences: ‘’It is low density, set in 300 acres of forest, sensitive to the environment,’ and, perhaps most important of all, ‘properties are built to owners’ specifications in many instances’ with both traditional and modern styles available in the development.
Another key difference is that the development is not in the traditional prime areas for Spanish building. Typically these give access to beaches and are frequently in the South of the country, but this type of development was among the most overbuilt during the boom years and Spanish beaches are now haunted by ‘ghost developments,’ unfinished, uninhabited, unprofitable and unwanted monuments to the delusions of 2006.
By contrast, Catalunya is in the North-East, 10 minutes from Girona, a picturesque town nestled in peaks beside the Les Gavarres national park and served by a local small airport and good transport links. The journey from Catalunya to Barcelona can be as little as 45 minutes, so there’s access to varied facilities including the coast 15 miles away.
Richard Way, a British expert on the Iberian property market, has a villa in the region and explains its appeal: ‘You are near the Pyrenees for skiing, you can hit the beach, and you have Barcelona. Transport links are fantastic, with Eurostar connections taking you into the heart of the province. Also, because it can be cold in the winter you don’t find as many retirees.’
But unlike the costas, where properties could be very cheap to buy even before the crash, or Spain’s principal cities where properties can be bought now for €40k outright, Catalunya is not for the light-walletted. Prices start from €250k for one-bed apartments, and three-bed places go for €575k. Semi-detached villas are for sale at around €695k and even land is high: plots for building start from €380k.
It might be that two influences have colluded to make Catalunya a success: on the one hand, people who actually have money to spend and don’t hope to turn a holiday home into a cash cow. On the other, a business model that relies on selling spots in completed developments, giving owners a hand in design and creating sustainable developments with access to living communities. And neither of those is dependent on a quarter-million price tag. Catalunya may be showing the rest of the Iberian market the way back into the black.
Written by Les Calvert writer of luxury Spanish properties
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