Beyond billionaires and bling, the real Marbella attracts a variety of buyers
A new mega-villa is on the market near Marbella. Villa Enso is a 3,500m² modern juggernaut slated for completion in mid-2022, with 16 bedrooms – six of which are “for staff,” according to Artur Loginov of Drumelia Real Estate, which markets the property for $ 34 million. euros – and a 15 car garage. The sale price also includes “a few Ferraris,” Loginov adds.
It follows the € 32million sale of Villa Cullinan in April this year – a 3,110 m² mansion, also in La Zagaleta, a half-hour drive from Marbella – which drew attention from its buyer based in Switzerland in a YouTube video. Loginov – whose buyers, he says, are “younger than ever: now around 40, probably in the tech industry” – brings a divisive Americanized approach to property marketing in Marbella. He rents scale models, flash cars and helicopters to promote the most expensive villas online.
Although La Zagaleta, a gated 900 hectare country estate, is in the municipality of Benahavís, it is theoretically counted by estate agents as part of the greater Marbella area which attracts wealthy buyers – as well as the vast estate. closed neighbor of El Madroñal and, for the decidedly ostentatious set of Lamborghini-and-super yacht, on the coast of Puerto Banús, 10 km west of the center of Marbella.
Marbella itself, however, is a multifaceted (small) city. Far from being a story of billionaires and beach clubs, it is a place to soak up sunny winters and mountain biking in the hills. And where you can “still get coffee for € 1.20 in the ‘real’ part of town between the Monday market and the edge of the old town – the corner where you will find all the little bakeries, greengrocers and hardware stores” says Andrew Hills, 59, a former department store manager from the UK who now lives in Ojén, in the hills behind Marbella.
Georgina Shaw, 42, a marketing manager who moved from London to Marbella 14 years ago, finds joy in raising her 10-year-old son with her feet in both camps and laments the common ‘one-dimensional’ perception of Marbella . “This is the most wonderful place to raise a family and experience all the best aspects of the Spanish lifestyle, as well as an open-minded and welcoming international community,” she says.
“Eating in fancy restaurants and partying in Puerto Banús couldn’t be further from my experience here. I think there is quite a bit of segregation in terms of nationalities and price ranges.
However, not all providers in the higher price brackets want YouTube treatment. “The last thing some big-budget clients want is to be exposed to properties marketed with half-naked models in swimming pools,” says Barbara Wood, director of buying agency The Property Finders. The owners of some low-cost properties also prefer a low-key approach.
“I just made a deal for 1.5 million euros – which was a lot, now it’s ordinary – on a beachfront property before it even hit the market. The Sold sign will come up before the For Sale sign.
Sales in Marbella fell 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to figures from the Spanish Ministerio de Fomento (Ministry of Development). But in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, demand levels increased by 32% compared to the same period of 2019, and in the first half of 2021 there were 1,917 transactions compared to 1,836 in 2019.
“The numbers clearly show a strong recovery in Marbella roughly where it was just before the pandemic hit,” Wood said, citing data from Ministerio de Fomento showing that of the 5,156 homes bought by foreigners in the Province of Malaga in the first half of 2021, 37 percent were in Marbella.
When it comes to pricing, however, a certain irrationality has entered the market, explains Pia Arrieta, partner at Diana Morales Properties. “I have to blame it on the rising emotion and the rushing buyers because the numbers often don’t add up. Things are selling for well above what we think are their market value, ”she adds, mentioning a villa in the upscale Sierra Blanca neighborhood that sold for just under $ 20million. euros earlier this year.
“The owners are not flexible because they know there is a demand and people are willing to pay the asking price, which is unheard of here. There are usually always negotiations.
After the strict 2020 closures, it looks like a new golden age for the coastal town that rose to prominence in the 1950s, when Alfonso de Hohenlohe built the Marbella Club Hotel and drew bigwigs from the city. ‘Hollywood and Europe at this location between the Sierra Blanca mountains and the Mediterranean. They were drawn to its combination of natural beauty and 320 days of sunshine per year.
Today’s high-end international buyers are demolishing old Mediterranean-style villas in seaside enclaves populated by the first wave of British and German migrants of the 1970s, and building huge super-villas. Antonio Ruiz of ARK Architects, whose projects include Villa Ibiza in La Zagaleta, has noticed a change in profile among buyers of his firm’s turnkey villas – fully furnished properties that cost between 5 and 12 million euros .
“More of their fortune is self-taught and their age has dropped considerably,” he says, adding that they often work remotely.
The usual lull after summer has not happened this year, says Sean Woolley, director of real estate agency Cloud Nine Spain. “All the good restaurants and golf courses are fully booked, which is driving the demand for buying real estate in the golden triangle between Marbella, Benahavís and Estepona,” he says. “We see a huge volume of people who just want to be here, whether it’s buying a property or just enjoying the place. “
Sol Jonas, 38-year-old film producer from Marbella who lives in Altos de los Monteros, east of the city center, likes to get away from the touristy areas of the city “where the waitresses don’t even speak Spanish sometimes” , she says. Yet, it also embraces the relaxed and tranquil culture that accompanies visitors from all over the world. “Every day it gets more and more cosmopolitan and I love it. I don’t notice the pandemic so much when I’m here. “
The high level of sales activity runs across all price brackets, says Woolley. But UK buyers, who once dominated overseas purchases on the coast, must now take into account the restrictions imposed by Brexit. “The main question on their lips is when will the 90 in 180 day rule end,” he said. “They buy $ 500,000 or more, so they can get a Golden Visa and spend 90+ days here at a time.”
Scandinavian buyers, but also Belgian and Dutch, have taken their place, as well as buyers from Eastern Europe. They also buy at the high end, in developments such as Finca de Marbella 2, east of central Marbella, where large villas start at 1.85 million euros.
“These are people who, before Covid, would have bought long haul and stolen. Now they want something practical, ”says Hans Veenhuijsen of Costa del Sol 365 Properties, part of Christie’s International Real Estate. “Their priority is to have a sea view or a front line golf course. Closed areas are very important so they know it is safe when they are not there.
The lack of supply of quality resales is a problem, however, says Wood, “from apartments and townhouses to individual villas. Now, if you can find a beachfront villa in West Marbella for less than 1.5 million euros, it will need 500,000 euros for the renovation.
New construction is not an easy option either. Marbella still has not updated its Urban Master Plan since 1986, so all building permits are still based on what was drawn up 35 years ago.
“Obtaining a license can take almost a year, so buyers look to neighbors Benahavís or Estepona, where it’s faster,” says Arrieta. Loginov adds that in privileged neighborhoods such as Sierra Blanca, sellers of old houses “tend to price them so high that it becomes unrealistic for a buyer.”
To Marbella’s benefit, however, young tech high-rollers will pay a high price for flexible working and post-pandemic seaside dreams.
1 million euros will get you to buy 73m² on the Golden Mile – the stretch of coastline, actually about 5 km, from Puerto Banús to the western outskirts of Marbella town – compared to 250m² in the east from Marbella, according to data from Diana Morales Properties / Chevalier Frank.
The Nagüeles region has seen a 41% increase in asking prices since the start of the pandemic, according to research by the property platform Idealista.
For the first time since 2006, when official sales data was first released, UK buyers are not the largest group of foreign buyers in Spain. The Germans overtook them – although UK buyers were still up 8% year-on-year until the third quarter of 2021 (Registrars Association report).
What you can buy for. . .
€ 2.1m A four bedroom, four bathroom villa in the seaside community of Guadalmina Baja. The property has been recently renovated and has air conditioning, underfloor heating, video entry and a heated swimming pool. In the market with Diana Morales Properties / Knight Frank.
€ 3.995m Five bedroom, five bathroom villa of almost 700 m² of living space including a gym, wine cellar and apartment for guests or staff. Set in a landscaped garden of 2,060 m², the property also has a swimming pool, sheltered terraces and a garage for six cars. For sale with Spot Blue.
€ 21.9m A 3,152 m² architect-designed house on the Golden Mile. The property has eight en-suite bedrooms, a wine cellar, spa and separate guest accommodation, on a 6,466m² plot including a swimming pool and tennis court. There is also a glass-walled classic car garage. Available through Drumelia Real Estate.
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