SOTOGRANDE – Today we look at Sotogrande because if you do it means investing in the best quality of life
Here at Spain Life Exclusive, we have this week met with Ben Bateman from Holmes Sotogrande, an expert in the real estate sector in this region. This specialist offered us a complete overview of the past and present real estate position and why you won’t regret your decision to invest in Sotogrande. In this article, you will find out why.
Ben Bateman owner
THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF REAL ESTATE ON THE COSTA DEL SOL
We want to start by going back to April 2008 as of course then, the public were only just realizing the scale of the issues in the banking sectors the financial crisis of 2007 bedded in. Until the middle of April 2008 we were enjoying another strong year of sales with 21 sales already agreed in the 1st quarter of the year. The on Monday the 14th April 2008, a date I will never forget and will always remember as the day the property market in Sotogrande collapsed.
My first meeting of the day, a client coming in to see me. Little did I know he would be instructing me to sell the option to buy on a plot he had signed paid for just ten days previously. The meeting ended and my client had forfeited the €98,000 Plus VAT option premium. The client preferred to lose €98,000 plus VAT than to buy the plot and lose 30% of its value. Its started with one and then another and another. Before April was out we had lost sixteen confirmed sales with just under €1,500,000 of downpayments forfeited. We finished the year on a total of 12 sales, down from the annual average of 68 over the previous 7 years, highlights Ben.
The financial crisis severely affected the real estate market and it took until 2014 to see the light at the end of the tunnel. BetweenApril 2008 and January 2009, we had not yet crystallized the devaluation in the market: By the end of January we had, and it was huge and estimated at 35% to 40%, directly proportional to the devaluation of the pound sterling against the Euro. British owners, or those based on the pound sterling were able to offset their losses in property values in against the depreciation of the of the pound and benefit accordingly. As the British market accepted low offers, for example if they had a house for sale at €1,400,000 they could sell it for a million euros without realizing a loss in pounds. For those based in euros, accepting these prices was a disaster and as the losses were crystalized at around 35%.
As this drop in property values was crystallized it led to a complex issue for many owners.
In the early 2000s, everyone bought properties and significant loans, up to 80% of the value. “The issue was that if the market lost 35% and the owner had a mortgage of 70% or 80% plus purchase costs, this meant a great loss,” he says. These factors exacerbated the financial crisis. Banks were tied by the conditions of the European Central Bank’s Bail out packages. Banks had declared their bad debt and the good debt. If mortgage on a property was declared as “good” debts they couldn’t accept right offs as this would require revaluing the entire porfolio and risk losing the bail out funds from the ECB; As result they couldn’t sell them for less than the mortgages. Despite many owners wanting to sell, the bank, would not, could not accept up to 40% rightdowns. So they waited for the market to recover. “In my opinion, the European Central Bank did not have the flexibility to allow banks to sell assets at losses , and those properties remained on the market from 2008 until the end of 2014/2015,” he explains. And he continues: “When the Central Bank did finally begin to ease the conditions of the bailout funds and ordered banks to liquidate debts, they could now accept discounts. And that’s when the possibility of selling the excess properties that were announced for sale began.” So for six years during which people waited to sell their properties; many of them no longer lived in those houses or had returned to their home countries. All those properties began to be rented out. “The little money coming in from rent was enough to justify keeping that debt in good debt funds. People who came to Sotogrande began to question why not keep renting instead of buying. Luckily, this changed when banks could accept discounts,” he reflects.
THE ROOT OF THE SCARCE OFFER
“In 2015, the light at the end of the tunnel was seen as the long list perpetually advertised properties for sale, those that Ben refers to as “Legacy Properties” started to be sold as the negative equity was absorbed with right downs by the bank so highlights this expert. In the specific case of Holmes, they had an average of 667 properties advertised for sale during those six years, but only 100 of them were, “for sale” in that they could be sold at market value offers. The rest were simply advertised.
Up until February 2016, the market was improving rapidly, and then, “BREXIT” the EU referendum was announced, leading to six months of paralysis and stagnation in the market. 2017 and 2018 we saw the potential in the market albeit under the cloud of a vitriolic negotiations. This vitriol escalated in the final stages of the saga during 2019, with all the negotiations with the United Kingdom and the European Union, buyers decided to wait due to the uncertainty generated over the shape of BREXIT. “Boris got the job done” and 2020 kicked with a bang, then when everything seemed to be getting better, 14th March and “COVID-19 LOCKDOWN” began. Was this another 14th April 2008?
“Every day, sitting in my office, calling owners, answering inquiries,” Ben recalls. owners decided to spend vacations in their homes instead of selling them. It was a time when family values and the need for families to be together in their residential homes became relevant. At the same time, the idea of remote work began to take shape, the possibility of living by the Mediterranean, having good schools for children, enjoying good weather, international connections, good connectivity, and excellent sports facilities. “Sotogrande had all that people wanted. Sotogrande began to grow” emphasizes this expert in this as he has lived there almost all his life and his knowledge is immeasurable.
SOTOGRANDE BEGINS TO GROW
2021 was very good, as people began to want to settle in Sotogrande. “By the end of 2021, we had sold almost 100% of all the legacy properties that we had pending during the financial crisis. So instead of 665 properties announced, we had 380,” he adds. It was a real offer of properties that were not only announced but could actually be sold. The advertised prices were realistic. COVID had reset the market. Instead of moving with uncertainty, people began to buy and sell, and the market reactivated. The market has never been healthier, there is very little debt as most buyers have been cash buyers in the last 15 years and with a significant increase in permanent residents we enjoy and active internal market not reliant on the buyers from outside and thus resistant to external shocks such, the CREDIT CRUNCH, BFREXIT and COVID-19. And with the low percentage of debt on property in Sotogrande Ben estimates at less than 15%, also resistant to Inflation and higher interest rates.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRUST
However “2023 raised doubts for me because owners started listening to agencies that only wanted to sell. And it is very important to connect with professionals who know the market very well, and can advise clients correctly . In the real estate market in Spain, there is no entry control. It is very easy to get to the Costa del Sol and from one day to the next set up an agency and have a database with more than 27,000 properties to advertise. At the same time, this means that buyers again think they can see an apparent excess of supply in the market. Thousands of real estate agencies with the same online database are showing Properties that are repeated in many different agencies and websites and on property portals with an increasing number of these websites and property portals so it is no wonder this false image is seen.This has a negative impact on the market.” Particularly when the lack of experience and desperation of direct instruction rather than the shared Database listings, these inexperienced agents resort to overvaluations and lies to persuade owners to list with them directly.
Antonio Aguilera, sales team
The current market is configured in a scenario full of new houses that did not exist in those critical years. Today, there is a luxury market present that previously only existed in Miami, Dubai, and Los Angeles. “Today, people come to Sotogrande because they want to live here, spend much more time, especially after COVID, which modified people’s needs,” Ben rejoices.
In the 2000s, most transactions were sales to investors, who bought to invest, so the population of families in Sotogrande did not grow. Now the internal market for buying and selling is very active. “There is no need for external buyers to enter. People move internally. They sell an apartment, buy a larger house, for example,” says Ben in a very lively conversation.
BENEFITS OF BUYING IN SOTOGRANDE
“Having lived my whole life in Sotogrande, I have a lot of experience in the market, its movements, its dynamics, and that allows me to advise owners and clients to make the best transaction,” he clarifies. It is worth noting that the entire Holmes Sotogrande team is trained to carry out the most challenging transactions.
In short, it is about finding the best time to invest and in this sense, Ben and his team know how to advise clients to achieve their goals. “There are families that spend five years looking at houses, doubting about the price. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, they have lost five years of family vacations to save €5,000. So the benefit of buying is being able to have a solid reason to do so,” he states.
Families that settle in Sotogrande can work without having rush hour traffic, they can work from their homes, invite clients to play golf, have their children go to first-class sports facilities. Then you buy tranquility, you buy quality of life on the beach with sun all year round, with a community of 48 different nationalities living in the same place. “That is priceless. You buy tranquility, security, cultural diversity: that is the added value,” he comments.
HIRING REGISTERED AGENTS
Important decisions, whether to reside or have a vacation residence, are an important step since it is about betting on a place where the person will be for years. So thinking about the use that will be made of the site, the benefits it will bring, and making sure of that, requires contacting someone who really knows about the site offered, what its comfort is like, what life is like there.
Gabriela Plazas, sales team
“In Sotogrande, people greet each other, know each other and share their time together. It is a community of people who are friends. To understand that this will work for families, you have to trust an agent whom you can ask these things,” he points out. The agent will know who will buy or not buy your house. The agent must know the true intentions and objectives of the owners and help them on that path, being realistic, guiding them since sometimes the objectives are not achievable. For that, market knowledge is essential. The responsibility of the real estate agency is to ensure that the owners’ objectives are achieved and to help buyers make the best decisions to meet their objectives.
And for that reason we here at Spain Life Exclusive recommend you call Ben and his team as they are the professional estate agents who do care and have the expertise you need.
Holmes stands out for its knowledge of Sotogrande. From that knowledge, it has everything necessary to accompany its clients in transactions. Do not hesitate to get in touch!
Address: Galerías Paniagua, local 21
Avenida Paniagua s/n
11310 Sotogrande, San Roque, Cádiz, España
Phone: + 34 956795340