In the better parts of the Costa Brava (the Begur area, the Emporda) the downturn has been slower coming, and many vendors are still holding out for boom time prices. “There is a lot on the market, but asking prices in many cases are still unrealistic,” explains Rita Fryer of The Property Finders in Catalonia. “The market has changed, but vendors haven’t caught up. To give you an example, there is a small sea front apartment for sale in Sa Riera on the Costa Brava for 1.2 million Euros that I think is worth 50% of that.”
Properties on the Costa Brava with realistic asking prices can be found, but they are still an exception. “Recently a villa in Aiguablava with fabulous sea views and a plot of 1,100m2 sold for 695,000 Euros, which is great value if you do your comparisons. So good value is possible, but you really have to search for it,” says Fryer.
With so much on the market, and prices not reflecting market realities, Fryer advises a wait and see approach for now. “Special properties still sell quickly, but for the most part you can be picky, and take your time.”
Fryer also worries about the risks of the downturn getting more acute. “There are 16 estate agents in Begur, a town of just 3,000 inhabitants. So far we haven’t seen hard times in this area, but I worry that we ain’t seen nothing yet.”
In Barcelona the property market has gone cold. Asking prices have fallen slightly according to Idealista.com, and anecdotal evidence suggest that transaction prices have fallen even further. Some bank managers report cases in which prices for city centre flats have fallen by 100,000 Euros or more. “There is now plenty of choice, and asking prices are down 20% from just 6 months ago,” says Fryer.
The Costa Dorada (Daurada), in the province of Tarragona to the South of Barcelona, has been badly over-developed over the years with unattractive blocks of mediocre quality flats. There is a glut of flats on the market, but with fewer foreign buyers and owners on this coast, prices may not fall as far as further south. As a result it’s probably worth giving the beach area of the Costa Dorada a wide berth if you are looking for value for money in 2008.
Rural property inland from the Costa Dorada is a different story. British buyer interest, in particular, has surged, and according to Kyero.com, the town of Tortosa, 15 kilometres inland from the coast, was the most sought after town in Spain in 2007. “There is a shortage of good inland properties in Southern Tarragona, so I doubt prices will fall,” says Fryer. Prices for small holdings around the Ebro river valley are still reasonable, but buyers need to be aware that some very unscrupulous cowboy agents are prominent in this area.
© Mark Stucklin (Spanish Property Insight)