Q1 & Q2 2019 Barcelona

Interview

A Q&A with Lucas Fox co-founder Alexander Vaughan.

Lucas Fox Founding Partner Alexander Vaughan gives his take on Barcelona’s prime property market.

Alexander Vaughan is a founding partner of Lucas Fox alongside Stijn Teeuwen from Holland. He is a qualified British lawyer having worked for London city firms including Fresh Fields and Farrer & Co. He oversees the ongoing management of Lucas Fox and Lucas Fox Prime as well as the company’s marketing vision and development nationally and internationally. At Lucas Fox Prime, Alexander works with an elite international database of High Net Worth private clients and has a ‘black book’ of sought-after contacts in this high-end sector.

Lucas Fox Prime Partners Alexander Vaughan (seen here on the left) and Tom Maidment

How has the Barcelona market evolved over the past few years?

The Barcelona market has changed significantly in the last five years. Barcelona has been leading the property recovery since 2014 with prices rising at a compound annual growth rate of 8%.

One of the principle changes has been that Barcelona has become a lot more popular with international buyers. A large proportion of these buyers still come from Northern Europe but what is very interesting is the growing amount of buyers from outside Europe. Partly this is driven by the increased recognition of Barcelona globally but also by improved international flight connections and competitive property prices compared to other leading European hubs. This increase of foreign interest has had a direct impact on the types of property being constructed with developers looking to replicate the type of luxury developments that buyers from London, Paris and New York are familiar with.

2019 is turning out to be an exceptional year for new homes sales for Lucas Fox Barcelona. In the first six months of the year the volume of completed new homes sales was just over seven times greater than the number in the same period in 2018, mainly due to the fact a lot of new constructions were finally finished. New homes sales represented 65% of all our Barcelona sales – last year the proportion was 31%. The average price of a new home sold in Barcelona was just over €1m compared to just over €850,000 in the first six months of 2018. These new homes sales were pretty much dominated by Middle Eastern buyers who have been purchasing property to obtain the Golden Visa in recent years. They tend to buy homes in the sought-after beachfront districts of Poble Nou and Diagonal Mar and also Eixample in the centre.

How much of a magnet is Barcelona for buyers of prime properties and what specifically appeals?

Barcelona has established itself as one of the top lifestyle destinations for high-end property buyers in Europe. The city offers a range of luxury amenities and services, award-winning gastronomy and a quality of life that is arguably unrivalled elsewhere in Europe. The fact that the city is a burgeoning business hub with a focus on technology also means that more people are choosing it as a place to base their business or to work from.

Would you describe Barcelona as a ‘luxury destination’?

Spain, not just Barcelona, is growing in cachet as a luxury destination, but there is still some way to go. According to a recent report, the Spanish luxury market brought in more than €9 billion in 2018, still only a third of the size of the equivalent market in Italy and France. At 8%, however, Spain is currently growing at more than twice the global rate. Flight links with non-European destinations, in particular Asia, have also improved, helping to encourage higher end tourism.

Barcelona will soon be home to Mandarin Oriental Residences, located on Passeig de Gràcia with design conceived by celebrated Spanish architect Carlos Ferrater. This unique collection of 30 apartments and 4 penthouses is due to be completed in 2020 and will have outstanding facilities and excellent service.

The city’s marina, OneOcean Port Vell, regularly welcomes some of the world’s top superyachts. Its appeal lies in its central location, just a short walk to Michelin-starred restaurants, beaches, Soho House and 5-star hotels.

A boom in Spain’s gastronomic scene has turned Barcelona into a prime culinary destination (there are currently more than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants). Global luxury brands such as Loewe, Tous, Burberry, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, can all be found on Barcelona’s iconic Passeig de Gràcia.

Barcelona is increasingly offering new and exciting opportunities for brands in the hospitality, services and retail sector. The future is exciting!

Beautiful 6-bedroom duplex penthouse for sale near Passeig de Gràcia

Currently, what areas of Barcelona most appeal to buyers of prime properties? Do you see that changing?

The upmarket district of Eixample continues to be the area most in demand among international buyers, particularly Eixample ‘Dret’ (Right). The Eixample boasts an excellent restaurant scene, some of the city’s best markets, great shopping and some mesmerising Modernista architecture. The early 1900s buildings contain many of the city’s most impressive apartments and penthouses, many with original Modernista features. In recent years developers have renovated a number of period buildings to create luxury apartments with amenities such as concierge, swimming pools and gymnasiums.

Pedralbes is just on the edge of the city, next to the Collserola Natural Park, and where some of the city’s most impressive houses are located. Many of the properties are set in impressive grounds with views across the city to the Mediterranean. The easy access to the city centre and airport and the proximity to international schools make it a popular choice for international families.

I think the beachfront areas will become more in demand among prime buyers and we’re also seeing more prime buyers purchase in the coastal areas of Maresme to the north and Sitges to the south.

What are the main motivations of Lucas Fox Prime buyers when purchasing homes in Barcelona and where do they tend to come from?

Motivations currently are fairly evenly split between buying property as a primary residence, as a holiday home and as an investment. The split between national and international is 33% national versus 67% international, with 15% of all Barcelona prime buyers coming from the Middle East. The remaining international buyers mainly come from the United Kingdom, the United States and other European countries.

Would you say that Barcelona prime properties are a sound investment?

The Financial Times recently put Catalonia at the top of the list as the best place for foreign investment in 2019.

Also, according to Deloitte, Barcelona has the highest rental yield in Europe with Madrid and Valencia in fourth and fifth place. Whilst London and Paris property have an average price of €16,500 per square metre and €10,700 per square metre respectively, Barcelona is at €4,344 per square metre.

Barcelona is not unlike any other major world city – prime properties in the top locations come onto the market fairly infrequently and tend to hold their price well.

How does Lucas Fox Prime differentiate itself to other Spanish real estate agencies targeting buyers and sellers of prime properties?

Lucas Fox Prime has the only team in Spain fully focused on advising both sellers and buyers of utlra prime properties. Our team offers multidiscipline and multilingual expertise coupled with a boutique style service meaning that every client’s requirements are handled with total professionalism and discretion.

Our trusted relationship with private sellers, Family Offices and property developers ensures that we are able to offer our buying clients the best prime properties for sale, many of which have never been on the open market.

Lucas Fox’s association with leading global real estate advisory service Savills ensures that sellers are guaranteed access to thousands of potential buyers across the US, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and the Middle East. We also work side by side with Savills Private Office, their Sports and Entertainment teams and Savills Aguirre Newman to service our clients’ commercial property requirements.

Lucas Fox Prime’s marketing team creates bespoke promotional campaigns that provide sellers with unique access to a global audience of Ultra High Net Worth investors. Both Lucas Fox’s national and international PR coverage remains unrivalled in this high-end sector.

The Lucas Fox group’s biannual reports on the Spanish luxury residential market have become a reference for the international property media and Lucas Fox is regularly quoted in some of the world’s leading publications, such as the Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

See examples of Lucas Fox in the national and international press

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