Leading up to, and during, the road trip there were complaints and protests, flaming on expat forums and discussion boards, petitions, emails, a letter writing campaign, interviews, and action groups all mobilized by angry Britons who had lost property investing in Spain real estate.
While many have successfully and happily invested in properties in Spain, there were some areas that suffered from inflated housing market prices, and other areas where corrupt planners and opportunistic lawyers set up business to make money from buyers who had not done their homework.
During the May roadshow, the message of Ministers Corredor and Blanco included a tacit acknowledgement that there were some issues with Spanish property investment and the national economy (with Corredor noting that some UK expats had lost their property, and Blanco sharing that a key motivation of the roadshow was to help sell off bank-held property to speed up the national economic motors).
The pair described the level of safeguards in place for new investors wary of repeating the previous property investment mistakes. These include:
- tighter planning regulation,
- a public sales register listing the legal status of properties in the sales market, and
- a new police unit to quickly respond to any sign of corruption in planning and sales processes.
Development Minister Jose Blanco was also quick to remind the English of all of the great things they love about Spain:
- the weather,
- the accessibility,
- the proximity, and
- the safety.
At the time, the majority of UK media seemed to accentuate the focus on the disgruntled investors and their angry complaints during the promotional trip. This would give the causal observer the impression that, overall, the mission was unsuccessful and would perhaps need for the Corredor and Blanco team to regroup before repeating the exercise in France, Germany, Sweden and Russia.
However, now that the dust has settled a week or two more, perhaps the media angle has given Corredor and Blanco the opportunity they needed to clear up any doubts about the past and start afresh. By countering the negative focus, the Ministers have had the chance to mention the strengthened regulatory environment, and to remind Britons what they love about Spain.
This may have been what was needed to clear the air and rebuild any lost confidence. Since the roadshow there has been a surge of interest in Spain property by UK residents again: A survey announced last week that 8 out of 10 Britons confirm they are planning to buy in Spain as part of their retirement strategy. The healthy tourist figures for Spain for the first quarter 2011 are set to continue throughout the forthcoming summer, bringing more visitors with the potential to assess Spain real estate for future property purchases while visiting.
With resurgent interest amongst UK buyers eyeing Spain real estate, the Ministerial roadshow team may have played just the right cards to star afresh on a new Spain property investment push: their return to London later this year will offer a chance to assess.