Lucas Fox Marbella-Costa del Sol Partner Stephen Lahiri talks to Lucas Fox Prime about this high-end sector of the market in this popular stretch of the Mediterranean coastline.
Stephen Lahiri has been partner of Lucas Fox Marbella-Costa del Sol since 2010. Prior to that he ran his own real estate business in the Costa del Sol alongside Lucas Fox co-founder Stijn Teeuwen. Stephen was privately educated in Bristol, UK, and worked in management consultancy in London for several years.
How has the prime market in Marbella and the Costa del Sol evolved over the last ten years?
After the slow return to normality following the 2008 world economic crisis, from 2015 demand for new quality designer properties grew exponentially, although they were in short supply. This new demand, coupled with low prices and a good supply of older properties meant that many private and corporate investors as well as developers bought up these older properties and plots to renovate or completely rebuild designer new quality homes. The focus was on big brands and minimalistic designs.
During these years, the lack of supply and increasing demand inevitably resulted in increasing prices of new build and designer properties, which in turn increased investor interest and an even greater demand for older resale properties to refurbish, leading to higher prices of these properties.
This cycle has continued to develop over the course of the last five years, leading to the areas becoming highly attractive to more affluent buyers looking for a quality residence in beautiful surroundings.
In Marbella, in the process of finalising its new General Planning Law land prices have risen due to a shortage of buildable plots, so the renovation of existing buildings has become the order of the day. Benahavís and Estepona have managed their planning, and have been able to develop many more new building projects keeping prices competitive, leading to high quality developments in good locations.
In general, there is now a great choice of high quality new build and refurbished properties for buyers. This range of quality new build luxury properties means that buyers can negotiate and get high quality products at great prices – new, luxury, “key-in-hand” homes in Marbella and the Costa del Sol.
Given the demand for new styles, it is again a potential goldmine for buyers who are interested in acquiring an older property in a prime location to refurbish for themselves.
The city of Málaga and its modernisation has also helped consolidate the strong market in the Costa del Sol. Great communication with the rest of Spain and Europe, a rich cultural offering, an enviable climate and stunning new prime projects such as Picasso Towers, combined with real growth in terms of property prices, has given it the moniker of the ‘new Barcelona’.
How have the demographics changed?
A broad spectrum of nationalities now buy in the Costa del Sol (formerly dominated by British buyers). There is currently a large proportion of Scandinavians and Benelux buyers. More Germans are looking to the area, as well as French. Wealthy South Americans have also turned to the area, as it offers stability and safety. The internet generation has meant that there are younger families looking for the perfect work / life balance.
What are the key attractions of Marbella for prime buyers?
Marbella is undoubtedly one of the best places for quality of life in Europe. A perfect climate which is only found in a few other places on the globe – Marbella is regularly cited as having the best winter climate of mainland Europe and it is the winters that often attract buyers rather than the summers. The air quality in the area is also one of the best in Europe. It is both international and sophisticated, with a plethora of high-end restaurants, bars and beach clubs. Marbella also boasts excellent infrastructure and communications. Its roads, motorways, airport (with a large number of international connections), trains including the high-speed AVE, are all best-in-class. The town’s proximity to cultural Andalusian cities such as Granada, Sevilla, Málaga and Córdoba is also of huge appeal.
All-year-round facilities and services are modern and of a very high standard. There are a number of quality international schools, excellent sports facilities, award-winning restaurants and designer shops as well as good medical services including private clinics and hospitals. Its international clientele means the town is very service-orientated too.
There are increasing numbers of people who are choosing to relocate to Marbella either year-round or as part of the year. They choose to run their businesses either from home or from the growing number of coworking offices and at the same time enjoy a spectacular quality of life. The excellent fiber-optic internet infrastructure and easy communications with the rest of Europe have played a large part in this change.
Would you describe property as good value for money for prime buyers?
The high quality builds, often to certified standards such as Breeam, means that Marbella offers great value for money and higher quality builds than many other areas in Spain. The quality of life that Marbella and the Costa del Sol offers is second to none and for many people this is ‘priceless’.
What kind of properties do Prime buyers tend to look for?
The key elements prime buyers look for are:
- High quality, modern build design
- Open spaces
- Lots of light
- State-of-the-art domotics
- Good views
- Accessibility to facilities yet a feeling of space
In the prime market, what are the main motivations for buying? Has this changed recently?
Many buyers look for quality secondary residences, but many now choose to relocate. Business people seem to be spending a greater proportion of their time in secondary residences and want to be able to live and work easily from anywhere in the world. Rental yields are also still strong in prime locations and it is still very much about quality of life, which they get in spades!
What do you think, if any, are common misconceptions of the area?
There was once the belief that the Costa del Sol was full of old retirees and golfers, and that many people come to only party giving a tacky ‘Marbs’ image. There was also a view that it was full of either the super-rich or old money.
In fact, Marbella is increasingly middle class with a growing demographic of business people and families looking for year-round quality services. Spain, with its family orientated culture, means that the area is an ideal place to bring up children. In reality it is more about the outdoor lifestyle, great climate, trendy dining spots and great sports facilities, and less about the night clubs and discos.
If you could describe a perfect day in the region, what would it be?
Marbella and its surroundings have lots of hidden treasures in the countryside. There are lots of fantastic walks with stunning views to enjoy. A short drive and you find yourself in nature or exploring a picturesque village in the mountains.
With a beach path that connects much of the coast from Nerja to Estepona, there is nothing nicer than a stroll along the beachfront on a sunny winters day, stopping for tapas in one of the many chiringuitos (beach bars) en route or enjoying the tranquility of the Mediterranean from a beachside restaurant.
Stephen’s top picks in and around Marbella
Spas and Beauty
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We’re pleased to bring you the following selection of featured properties from this region.
Breathtaking newly-built 9-bedroom villa on the hyper-exclusive La Zagaleta country estate
- Built size 2,406m2
- Plot size 8,612m2
- Bedrooms 9
A unique development of beautiful villas on the exclusive Estepona golf resort in the heart of the Costa del Sol
- Built size from 578m2
- Terrace size from 176m2
- Bedrooms 4–6
Beautiful modern villa in Benahavís with fantastic views of the Costa del Sol
- Built size 369m2
- Plot size 1,573m2
- Bedrooms 6
Magnificent refurbished villa with mountain and golf course views in Aloha, Nueva Andalucía
- Built size 1,443m2
- Plot size 4,211m2
- Bedrooms 9