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Overseas buyers back in the Spanish property market

Despite a downturn in the number of British buyers specialist Murcia estate agent, Mercers, has just experienced its best summer sales period for five years with buyers coming from Norway, Sweden, Spain, France, and Ireland.

Murcia is attracting a diverse international audience who are lured by four key factors, the Paramount branded Theme Park that is being built, golf, improved accessibility and, above all, price.

‘We know that Spain is far from being out of the woods in terms of its property crisis but you can’t generalise the nation as a whole. The region of Murcia is certainly poised in pole position for recovery. Price is the driving force that puts Murcia as the top searched for Spanish destination as confirmed by leading property portals,’ said Chris Mercer, director of Mazarron based Mercers.

‘One portal quoted average asking prices for Murcia at €163,000, way below the national average of €263,000 and we’re selling golf side property from as little as €50,000. If you’re in the market for buying a holiday home or expanding an investment portfolio, Murcia is hard to resist,’ he explained.

Indeed most visited Spanish property portal, Idealista, quoted average asking prices for homes advertised on their database at €2,167 per square metre, down from €2,339 per square metre for August 2010.
It’s not just price that’s pulling in the interest.  Murcia has also found itself basking in the media spotlight thanks to plans for a Paramount branded Theme Park, tipped to open in 2014.  Predicted to attract in excess of three million tourists each year and located literally ten minute's drive from Mercers' head office in Mazarron, the Park is creating a lot of excitement and could have a ‘Disney effect’ on future prices.

In tandem with the Paramount hype is the news that works on the brand new Murcia International Airport are drawing to a close with the first passengers going through the facility in spring 2012 following final Government approval. Located within 20 minutes of the proposed Theme Park, this airport was vital in Paramount’s negotiations and also has a welcome knock on effect for improved accessibility to the properties within Mercers’ portfolio.

Golf has also been key to Murcia’s success as property within easy reach of golf is less likely to depreciate significantly. Murcia’s climate allows for year round play and it’s a welcome boost for home owners looking for holiday rental income.
Indeed holiday rental prospects are looking good for Spain as, according to reports from FRONTUR, August saw a 9.4% year on year rise in the number of foreign tourists visiting Spain with a record breaking high of 7.64 million arrivals for that month.
Since the beginning of 2011, 40 million tourists have visited Spain, representing a 7.8% increase over the same period in 2010.
Further data indicates that while Brits are one of the most regular and indeed loyal visitors to Spanish shores standing at 9.5 million, there has been an increases in numbers of other foreign visitors to Spain between January and August this year, with a 16.7% rise in American tourists in the month of August as well as a 12.3% increase in German and 10.5% rise in Italian visitors.

By destination, Catalonia was the largest recipient of foreign tourists receiving 1.9 million visitors in August whilst the Balearic Islands followed closely behind with 1.8 million tourists in the same month. Meanwhile, 1 million visitors flocked to Andalucía, 821,000 tourists visited the Canary Islands while 737,000 foreigners picked Valencia and 550,000 made Madrid their destination of choice.
‘Despite difficult economic conditions across mainland Europe, Spain is one of the most resilient holiday destinations, remaining popular with foreigners whatever the market conditions. Recently, the IMF stated that Spain will be the only country that will experience higher levels of growth next year compared to its European counterparts of France, Italy and Greece,’ said Ignacio Osle, sales and marketing manager of Taylor Wimpey España.

‘Spain has a global appeal as a tourist destination. We have even seen 53,000 tourists arrive from India in the first half of this year, representing a 35% increase. Spain is recovering well especially with the help of the country's overall tourism drive and low cost airlines like easyJet increasing the number of flights it operates from the Netherlands to destinations such as Mallorca next year. Indeed, Mallorca is one such destination that has performed better on the property front than its mainland counterparts offering strong rental market potential,’ he added.