How would you sum up the property market in the Costa Brava during 2016?
This year has seen increased movement in the Costa Brava and substantial movement at the higher end of the market compared to previous years. International buyers still dominate but interest from national buyers has increased once again with locals accounting for as much as 30% of Lucas Fox’s total sales. The inland market has also started to pick up including a few recent high-end sales to local buyers which is a very positive sign after a long period of very limited activity in the rustic sector and of few sales to the national market. The year started well with a number of transactions closing in the first quarter. Conversely, the second and third quarters were unusually quiet – possibly resulting from uncertainty around Brexit – before a peak in sales in the final quarter of the year. Prices remain stable with no signs of any notable increases yet.
How does it compare to 2015?
Both sales volume and turnover is up on 2015 figures. Despite Brexit, sales volume to British clients is up 50% on 2015 although the majority of these sales were completed early in the year, well before the Brexit vote.
What are the notable trends?
Sales to national buyers continues to increase (30% this year compared with 28% in 2015) although international buyers still account for 70% of total Lucas Fox sales. A notable change in 2016 compared to 2015 has been the increase in sales to US and Canadian clients – which this year accounts for 20% of Lucas Fox’s total sales in the Costa Brava and Girona (last year just 7%).
Has anything surprised you this year?
What have been the main challenges?
The British market has always been an important part of the Costa Brava business so the uncertainty post Brexit have definitely had an impact on business. Immediately after the result there was a lot of uncertainty about what the implications of the vote might mean for British home owners and British residents in Spain but these concerns quickly dissipated and the main stumbling block became the falling Pound which, in recent months, has made it very difficult for Sterling investors.
What types of properties are proving most in demand?
In coastal regions, sea view villas with private pools in prime areas within the €500,000 – €1,000,000 price range are the most sought-after properties. Often the biggest challenge is sourcing quality product at this price level so demand usually outstrips supply. Latterly, in the inland region we have seen an increase in demand for rustic stone properties with land around the €1 million mark and stone townhouses in sought-after medieval villages of the Empordà for around €500,000 – €750,000.
What do you expect will be the key trends for 2017 in your region?
As the national market continues to grow, I think we will see ever greater demand in the traditionally sought-after coastal villages such as Llafranc, Calella de Palafrugell and Begur. Likewise in the prime inland villages such as Torrent, Palau Sator, Peratallada and Ullastret. These are the areas where we are likely to see the first increases when prices begin to rise. Given recent events in the US it is possible that we will see increasing numbers of buyers from the US, some no doubt attracted by the residency visa. Meanwhile, second home buyers from the UK are likely to hold off until there are firm decisions around Article 50 and until Sterling shows signs of stabilising.