Lucas Fox’s newly appointed Head of Rustic Properties in Girona, Marisa Heatherwick recently spoke to Teresa Álvarez of Pisos.com about why there is growing demand for homes in the area of the Alt and Baix Empordà in Girona Province.
How would you define the “rural real estate sector”?
Lucas Fox Costa Brava includes all our businesses in the province of Girona and covers the rural areas in the region, including the Baix and Alt Empordà, Gironés, Pla de L’Estany and the southern part of the Garrotxa.
The province of Girona has the great advantage of enjoying a varied and picturesque landscape from the mountains to the sea, with lakes and rivers, fertile farmland and dense forests.
These rural areas are full of beautiful farmhouses that are hundreds of years old. These are noble and unique buildings from times past, built in harmony with the environment.
Since the 1950s the authentic rural society for which they were built has gradually been abandoned, and today most of these estates have become holiday retreats, rural hotels and even first homes. Many are still ruins waiting for an expert hand to return them to their former glory.
These estates and beautiful stone houses located in the attractive medieval towns distributed throughout the province are the properties our clients are looking for – houses with charm and history, privacy and tranquillity, with close proximity to nature but also the comforts of the 21st century.
From your point of view, what percentage of the Spanish real estate market is represented by the rural sector?
At Lucas Fox Costa Brava the rural sector represented 37% of the total value of sales in 2018 – compared to 16% in 2017.
How has demand been recently?
Demand is on the rise. In the last year we have seen an increase in customers from Europe, Asia, America and Africa who are looking for a change of life and choosing the province of Girona as a destination.
Is this increased interest causing a rise in prices?
Not really. There is simply more movement and properties are selling in less time. At the end of 2018, the province of Girona registered an annual increase of 3.8% in real estate prices, according to property portal idealista, but this statistic includes properties from all sectors.
From your perspective what factors lead investors to opt for this sector of the market?
The climate, the landscape, the gastronomy and the rich culture and history of Girona is becoming known around the world. The low density of population in rural areas is also important, along with the fact that rural land cannot be built on but only existing properties or ruins can be restored. These factors all help to give an exclusive air to the area and attract international clients who also love nature and ecology, outdoor sports, holistic activities and a life free from the stress of the city.
How would you describe the potential of this sector?
I think the potential is high. Relatively recently Girona has started to become a brand in itself, similar to Tuscany or Provence.
What is the profile of the buyer interested in the rural sector?
The rural sector is attracting a wide variety of buyers, both national and international such as British, French, Dutch, Swiss, South African, American, Mexican and Indian. In fact, international clients represent 80% of the rural sales. Our clients have significant purchasing power, and our primary sales volume is for properties between €1.2 million and €2.5 million. In many cases buyers are undertaking a rural hotel project with strong links to the world of cycling, equestrianism, yoga, meditation etc or simply looking for a second residence.
Which areas would you consider most interesting for real estate buyers?
The area of Baix Empordà continues to register the greatest interest, but we have also sold several properties in the Gironés and the area of Plà de l’Estany is becoming popular among professional athletes worldwide.
How are these transactions financed?
Most of our clients pay cash and do not need a mortgage, but more and more are choosing mortgage finance simply because interest rates are very low. This is also a good strategy to reduce the wealth tax.
View properties for sale in Girona on the Lucas Fox website