Nick Snelling, our man in Spain gives us a view from the Costas

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nick Snelling, our man in Spain gives us a view from the Costas

As I write, we are now moving into the summer and a period of sustained sun and glorious temperatures that will last until the end of September.
This is a time I adore. I glory to waking up to a blaze of early morning sunshine and temperatures that allow me to pad into my garden, in shorts, for an al fresco breakfast. This is nothing if not life enhancing.
Mind you, spring can be pretty special as well. In my area (Valencia), we are surrounded by dramatic mountains that rise up from the coastline amidst wide valleys of citrus groves, which come into blossom in late April.
It is then that the surrounding countryside is stuff used by a heavy and deliriously lovely fragrance, which is enhanced, most days, by brilliant sunshine and blue skies.
It is hard not to feel delighted at being alive, with the day ahead a promise of both adventure and pleasure.
I mention all of this because, amidst all the bad economic news about Spain, it is easy to forget what the country does provide. For my family and me, this amounts to a fine overall quality of life and one that we could not emulate in the UK. The stunning climate of Spain is one thing, of course, but alongside that is the sheer value you get for your money. I was reminded of this when I was last in the UK.
This was for the March A Place in the Sun Live exhibition, which was crammed with people seeking a new life abroad and one person at least (me!) who was horrified by the sheer expense of the UK!

Indeed, I simply could not believe the cost of going out for a meal or a drink or the price of train fares or the cost of hotels.

I shudder at the thought of the cost of running a home in the UK and maintaining a family in any style at all. By comparison, Spain is a paradise, where a little money really does go a long way.
Certainly, when it comes to the cost of properties, Spain is now nothing if not competitive, with the price of housing similar to that of around the year 2000.

There are bargains galore and, depending upon the area, you can buy a stunning, three-bed, two-bath, fully legal and well built villa with a pool (close to the sea) for around €200,000 to €250,000. In UK terms, this is a lot of house for very little money!

But the opportunities to buy properties cheaply in Spain have not escaped the international market, which, in 2012, accounted for just over 8 per cent of all property sales in Spain (and an amazing 33 per cent along the Costa Blanca). It is quite likely that this will rise to 10 per cent this year.
Of course, there can be no arguing that there is a good deal of rubbish within the Spanish property market that no-one with any sense would buy. These are the toxic properties that have contributed (justifiably) to Spain's economic problems.
However, amidst the rubbish are properties (whether apartments, town houses or villas) that gleam as superb 'buys'. Some of these are such good value that it is impossible to imagine losing money on them. Many could not be built for their current sale price and if that is not a sign of a bargain then I do not know what is.
Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that the demographics of foreign buyers in Spain have changed. Whilst we British are still the largest foreign buyers in the market, our percentage market share has greatly reduced from the height of the boom.
Indeed, we are being 'caught up' by the French, who are next, followed by the Russians, Germans and Belgians.
Certainly, agents I know operating in Spain are talking about being more active than they have been for several years with bargain properties being 'hoovered up', particularly by Scandinavian buyers.
In fact, it will be interesting to see if, as I suspect, prime location, fully legal, quality properties start to stabilise or even harden their prices.
There are already signs of this happening in my local area, which may mean that if you are looking for a really good property (at an amazingly low price) you should not leave it too long before coming here do some house hunting.


A Place In The Sun