Please tell us a bit about yourself and your company
My name is Andrew Queen, and my company is the ‘Golf Property Store’ (www.polarisworld.org.uk or www.golfproperystore.com). I arrived here in Spain in 2003 after my family purchased a villa here (Villamartin). It really was for a 6 month trip away from it all. Soon after this I fell into the property industry working for a large property company that brought people in predominantly from the UK on 2/3 day Inspection trips. I enjoyed the job immensely and ditched all plans to return to the UK very quickly! After a few years the recession arrived and the days of subsidised trips were numbered. I met my partner soon after and my beautiful daughter Sofia arrived soon after that. Of course, the recession took its toll on the property business but I adjusted to the market and moved into the ‘Bank Repossession’ market, where prices were very attractive and mortgage conditions were preferable. This has seen us through the recession very well – people are always looking for a bargain regardless of the times we are in!The one thing I did decide on very quickly was to concentrate our efforts on one area/product instead of spreading ourselves too thin. As such we concentrated on the Polarisworld Resorts in the region of Murcia – close to the Mar Menor. I knew the resorts very well after buying on one of the resorts myself a few years ago, and my daughter attends Kings College – a private British School attached to the Polarisworld resort of La Torre. With prices around 1/3 of the original costs it was a very good decision and we are currently in the process of expanding.
What has the property market been like this year?
In my honest opinion the market has definitely changed. Sales are at their highest for years and there is a definite mood of change in the air. Prices are creeping up on some of the resorts although there are still some fantastic bargains about.
What do you expect to happen to the market in 2014? Are there any "hotspots" to look out for?
We expect a very busy 2014 and as such have plans to expand already in place. I believe people have more confidence now and feel that the ‘worst of the recession’ is now behind us and there is a general feeling of optimism for the first time in quite a few years. With property prices in some areas now visibly rising it is definitely a good time to buy right now! We still await news in the Murcia region of the new International Airport (rumoured by local press to be opening next Spring) and of course the ongoing saga of the Paramount Theme Park. However, I do tell my clients to think of the Theme Park as a bonus if it comes – and not to buy on the basis of this definitely opening. But what potential if it does!
What are the major challenges faced by expats looking to buy?
As always, it is the fear of the unknown. It can be a very scary process buying abroad – especially if it is for the first time. Many of my clients are of course very nervous on arrival – this is very much expected but when they realise how relaxed our tours are and that we are here to find them the property they are looking for – we are not here to try to push them into buying anything – people settle down very quickly. The job of a Property Company like ourselves is to find them the property of their dreams and give them the best advice possible so that they can make an informed decision. The rest is down to you!
What advice would you give to expats going through the buying process?
Make sure first of all that you are in the right area. There are many beautiful parts of Spain but all can offer something different. For example, people choose the Mar Menor/Murcia region because they still want to be in a part of Spain that has not been overdeveloped and has great authentic Tapas restaurants galore – it is extremely cheap to eat/drink out in this region. Also look at flights – are there an abundance of low cost carriers flying from your local airport into the airport here in Spain? How long is the journey time from the airport here in Spain to your property? Are th flights all year round or do they stop in winter? A great many of my clients had previously bought in places such as Turkey and didn’t think of these things. Only after did they realise it would not be accessible to them throughout the year… you find many of these such people now buying in Spain again as the price have dropped as low as places like Turkey but with much better access from the UK. An independent solicitor is also a must – and talk to people that have bought in the same place as you are looking at already.