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SPANISH PROPERTY: IS THE TIME RIGHT TO BUY

Chronic oversupply and a weak economy mean that Spanish vendors are offering some great incentives to buyers. Is now the time to strike?

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and for parts of the Spanish property market, despair is almost too weak a word. The past five years have heaped on misery after misery. The credit crunch unmasked catastrophic levels of overbuilding, and then the ongoing euro crisis has kept the Spanish economy under the thumb. Banks and estate agents are slashing prices, to help them offload the glut of unsold properties.

During the height of Spain’s real estate boom Britons flocked to the country’s coast. They bought holiday and retirement homes, and fulfilled long-held dreams of a place in the sun.

This constant demand inspired builders and developers to keep putting up more houses. A decade-long frenzy saw Spain’s construction industry fuel the nation’s economic boom, before its spectacular collapse when the bubble burst in 2007-08.

But now, with an estimated one million unsold new homes alone amid a weak domestic market, Spain’s authorities are keener than ever to promote it as the place to buy. A glance at any property website offering homes in Spain reveals the great bargains to be had.

At the Desert Springs resort in the Almeria region of southern Spain, a brand new luxury colonial-style town house with two bedrooms set within landscaped gardens, near a championship golf course, is offered for €165,000 Euro less than 50 per cent of the original asking price.

Along the coast in the sought-after San Roque development, a stone’s throw from Gibraltar and Sotogrande on the Costa del Sol, a luxury apartment is offered for only €170,000 (Euro a massive discount of 85 per cent from the €933,913 asking price at its peak in 2008. Banking groups have been forced to write down losses. This has led to a slash in prices, as they attempt to claw back funds. Foreign buyers are finding it hard to resist bargain Spanish property.

Most foreign buyers of overseas property borrow against their home country home if they need to raise money, and then spend the cash abroad. But it is still possible to get a local mortgage in Spain and some banks are offering attractive deals with the sales. In most cases borrowers can borrow up to 70 per cent of the value of the property from 3.2 per cent. But experts say that it is the nature of the market itself that has made Spain a much safer place to buy than ever before. But above all, with the bargains to be had, it’s a buyers’ market. A buyer today is in a much better position than those who bought in the boom. Prices have dropped 50 per cent in some areas.

Olive groves, sunshine, hot tapas, cold wine: Spain’s charms will outlast this economic crisis, and many to come. These prices, on the other hand, may not.
“The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.” John D. Rockefeller.

MARBELLA AND THE COSTA DEL SOL
Marbella is a city and municipality in southern Spain, belonging to the province of Málaga in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It is part of the region of the Costa del Sol and is the headquarters of the Association of Municipalities of the region; it is also the head of the judicial district that bears its name.
Marbella is situated on the Mediterranean Sea, between Málaga and the Gibraltar Strait, in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca. The municipality covers an area of 117 square kilometers (45 sq mi) crossed by highways on the coast, which are its main entrances.

In 2012 the population of the city was 140,473 inhabitants making it the second most populous municipality in the province of Málaga and the eighth in Andalusia. It is one of the most important tourist cities of the Costa del Sol and throughout most of the year is an international tourist attraction, due mainly to its climate and tourist infrastructure.

Old Town (Casco Antiguo)
The old town of Marbella includes the ancient city walls and the two historical suburbs of the city, the Barrio Alto, which extends north, and the Barrio Nuevo, located to the east. The ancient walled city retains nearly the same layout as in the 16th century. Here is the Plaza de los Naranjos, an example of Castilian Renaissance design, its plan laid out in the heart of Old Town after the Christian reconquest. Around the square are arranged three remarkable buildings: the town hall, built in 1568 by the Catholic Monarchs in Renaissance style, the Mayor's house, which combines Gothic and Renaissance elements in its façade, with a roof of Mudejar style and fresco murals inside, and the Chapel of Santiago, the oldest religious building in the city, built earlier than the square and not aligned with it, believed to date from the 15th century. Other buildings of interest in the centre are the Church of Santa María de la Encarnación, built in the Baroque style starting in 1618, the Casa del Roque, and the remains of the Arabic castle and defensive walls; also in the Renaissance style are the Capilla de San Juan de Dios (Chapel of St. John of God), the Hospital Real de la Misericordia (Royal Hospital of Mercy) and the Hospital Bazán which now houses the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engravings.

Constitution Park
Between the old town and the sea in the historic area known as Eixample, there is a small botanical garden on Paseo de la Alameda, and a garden with fountains and a collection of ten sculptures by Salvador Dalí on the Avenida del Mar, which connects the old town with the beach. To the west of this road, passing the Faro de Marbella, is Constitution Park, which houses the auditorium of the same name and the Skol Apartments, designed in the Modernist style by the Spanish architect Manuel Jaén Albaitero.

The Golden Mile of Nueva Andalucía
The Golden Mile is actually a stretch of four miles (6.4 km) between Marbella and Puerto Banús, on which are located some of the most luxurious residences in Marbella, such as the Palace of King Fahd, as well as some landmark hotels among them the Melia Don Pepe, the Hotel Marbella Club and the Puente Romano Hotel.

San Pedro de Alcántara
At the heart of San Pedro de Alcántara are two industrial buildings of the 19th century: the Trapiche de Guadaiza and the sugar mill, which now houses the Ingenio Cultural Center. The 19th-century heritage of San Pedro is also represented by two buildings of colonial style, the parish Church and the Villa of San Luis, residence of the Marqués del Duero. Next to San Pedro, near the mouth of the river Guadalmina, are some of the most important archaeological sites in Marbella: the early Christian Basílica de Vega del Mar, the vaulted Roman baths of Las Bóvedas (the Domes) and the eponymous watch tower of Torre de Las Bóvedas. The important archaeological site of Cerro Colorado is located near Benahavis; it features a chronologically complex stratigraphy that begins in the 4th century BC within a Mastieno (ancient Iberian ethnicity of the Tartessian confederation) area, then a town identified as Punic, and finally a Roman settlement. A series of domestic structures built behind the city walls, and corresponding to these different stages of occupation recorded in the archaeological sequence of the site, characterise the settlement as being fortified. A hoard of three pots filled with silver coins of mostly Hispano-Carthaginian origin, and numerous pieces of precious metalwork, along with clippings and silver ingots, all dating from the 3rd century BC were found here.

The Beach Front Marbella
The 27 kilometres (17 miles) of coastline within the limits of Marbella is divided into twenty-four beaches with different features; however, due to expansion of the municipality, they are all now semi-urban. They generally have moderate surf, golden or dark sand ranging through fine, medium or coarse in texture, and some gravel. The occupancy rate is usually high to midrange, especially during the summer months, when tourist arrivals are highest. Amongst the various notable beaches are Artola beach, situated in the protected area of the Dunas de Artola, and Cabopino, one of the few nudist beaches in Marbella, near the port of Cabopino.

Puerto Banús
Puerto José Banús, more commonly known as Puerto Banús is a marina located in the area of Nueva Andalucía, to the southwest of Marbella, Spain on the Costa del Sol. It was built in May 1970 by José Banús, a local property developer, as a luxury marina and shopping complex. It has since become one of the largest entertainment centres in the Costa del Sol, with 5 million annual visitors, and is popular with international celebrities. Developed around a coastal village in the Mediterranean architectural style, Puerto Banús contains expensive shopping malls, restaurants and bars around the marina. It is also scene to many exotic car's that are owned by international celebrities and wealthy owners that also own large yachts. Cars like Ferrari's, Lamborghinis and Mercedes are a common sight in the summer months around Marbella.



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