Interview: Martina Heynemann, Managing Partner, Viva

VIVA office_Cropped (1024 x 364)On the Costa del Sol, there have been big shifts in the last year in who is buying and why they are buying, says Martina Heynemann, managing director of Viva, the property company.

Ms. Heynemann is an expert on the region. Viva has been connecting buyers and sellers in the Costa del Sol for 17 years, and has grown into one of the biggest independent real estate companies in the area, with 13 offices.

In an interview with SPI, Ms. Heynemann discusses the latest trends in the Costa del Sol property market — and why it’s time to start building new developments in the area.

How is the mix of listings on Viva different now than a year ago? Different types of properties for sale?

Our mix of listings is very similar to what it was a year ago, with a similar number of apartments, townhouses and villas being listed. Compared with last year, however, the main difference in the types of property for sale is that in prime locations – especially in Marbella – new build developments are now coming to the market and off-plan sales are once more taking place on the Costa del Sol. The difference between this year and last year is though, that Viva has exclusive development products for sale now.

What are you seeing in asking prices?

In general terms, in the case of resale properties, in order to close a sale there is usually a difference between the initial asking price and the final sales price. I’d say that this difference is typically around 8 per cent. So far, as off-plan sales at new build developments are concerned, this difference doesn’t exist and the prices established by the developers are adhered to.

Where are queries coming from these days?

Martina Heynemann

Martina Heynemann

Unlike in the past, nowadays we receive enquiries from a much wider range of countries. Currently, in addition to the U.K. and Ireland – which used to be the countries from which most of our clients came – we are also receiving a significant volume of enquiries from other countries, mainly Scandinavian countries, Belgium and France, Holland, Germany and Russia. A large proportion of these potential clients are captured via our website, our agents network and the international property exhibitions that Viva attend, all of which are our most dynamic channels at the present time.

Are buyers looking for second homes or investment properties these days?

I can definitely say that these days there are many more end-users looking for properties on the Costa del Sol than investors. It used to be the other way round, with the majority of our clients being investors with an eye on making a profit in the short- or medium-term, rather than end-users. This is a very significant change which will help the property market to maintain stability in the future. Equally important is the fact that it will contribute enormously to the Costa del Sol’s consolidation as a leading destination for both holidaymakers and owners of second homes alike. Many of these new buyers are purchasing a property that they will use as a holiday home in the medium-term, while also planning to retire to it in the future.

What price points are attracting the most interest?

At Viva, we have clients looking for modest properties priced from €100,000 to € 300.000… but of course we have 20 per cent of our clients looking to buy villas and apartments from €500.000 to €1.5 million. These are the budgets of the majority of our clients. Then there are a much lower percentage of clients with a budget of several million euros.

How would you characterize demand in the market now?

Our buyers are typically much more knowledgeable and qualified than years ago. They know precisely what they are looking for both in terms of property type as well as location, and they have researched the market before even coming to see us. They are financially solvent and have very specific ideas as to what they want.

What is happening in the market that is not being reported?

Well, at VIVA we have noticed the huge interest that potential buyers now have in new build developments. Many of our clients perceive that a large part of the Costa del Sol’s existing product is becoming outdated or perhaps is not as well-maintained as it could be. And for those reasons they prefer to buy a property on a new development which, although still under construction, has been built to advanced, state-of-the-art specifications.

Consequently, we have also detected a substantial growing interest, both on the part of investors and developers, to acquire land for the development of holiday and second homes.

What impact has the Golden Visa had on queries?

Actually, we haven’t really noticed much of an impact at all. We have received various enquiries because of the Golden Visa, but for the time being at least, we don’t consider that the Chinese or Russian markets have been greatly influenced by the opportunity of buying Costa del Sol properties in order to obtain the Golden Visa.

What is your forecast for when the market will start to recover?

We firmly believe that the recovery of the Costa del Sol property market has already begun… especially in the consolidated areas of the coast where new projects are already underway. Thanks to the foreign market, the Costa del Sol began to show signs of bouncing back, a recovery that was clearly evident in 2013 and which, to date, has also been demonstrated in 2014.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle to recovery?

Without a doubt, the single largest obstacle to recovery is the difficulty faced by developers needing access to credit facilities in order to build high-specification new developments with all the latest advances in place. We have detected a serious lack of product in sought-after, consolidated areas of the Costa del Sol which – if it existed – would clearly serve to reinforce the recovery of the property market.

Also the buying cost for purchasing a property in Spain is very high.

What are your future plans for your company?

To continue our expansion, develop our brand still further, and to offer our clients the very best service possible.



6 thoughts on “Interview: Martina Heynemann, Managing Partner, Viva”

  1. Phil

    A 2008 SPI forum discussed developers/builders that went bankrupt or in the process of doing so, someone named Abolex listed many including Viva Estates. In 2013 the topic was still being discussed on SPI.

    It’s generally assumed that the old Viva Estates went into liquidation only to morph into YourViva. There is much in the way of the old company and others in archive history online.

    A few questions please:

    How does the newer version differ from the old Viva?

    What is the average sale commission charged by YourViva?

    Is VourViva aware of or have knowledge of ‘B’ money payments still taking place?

    As a result of a complaint from a colleague, YourViva which appear to list other agents’ properties under different reference numbers, but in some cases at different prices often higher than other agents. As a result, buyers thinking YourViva are more trustworthy, could end up paying many 1000’s of euros more for a property they could buy cheaper elsewhere.

    Why is this allowed to happen?
    Why no uniformity of prices?
    Is this because YourViva charge more commission?

    Lastly, when YourViva describe certain properties as ‘excellent build quality’ when there’s proof that this is not the case, is it YourViva’s wording or the vendor’s wording?

    Does this constitute mis-selling yet again in Spain?

    The above examples indicate that not much has changed in Spain when dealing with Spanish property, it is still very much ‘Buyer Beware’!

    1. Profile photo of Mark StücklinMark Stücklin

      Let me start by making it clear that Viva do not advertise or pay for PR at this website. They have no financial influence over any article at this site. You cannot buy an interview here.

      Though we make no recommendations, and cannot be held in any way responsible for the people we interview, after more than a decade reporting on this business we have a good idea who is who. In a sector with its fair share of crooks and cowboys (now flooding back) we only interview companies and people we consider to be the best in the business. That doesn’t mean they are perfect, but they are better than most.

      If you have any questions about their business model please write to them directly.

      In future we will not allow anonymous smearing of the companies we interview, and all future attempts to do so will be deleted without discussion.

  2. David Read

    Mark, unfortunately “Phil” has asked the questions of Viva in the public domain, in my opinion they now nead to be adressed by them to avoid suspicion.

    1. Profile photo of Mark StücklinMark Stücklin

      David, by that logic, all anonymous claims made on the internet have to be taken seriously and responded to.

      We can’t allow anonymous comments in this section to turn internviews into bad press. If we did, we might quickly find that nobody wants to be interviewed here.

      1. Profile photo of katykaty

        Mark, even Russian media outlets allow unbiased comments. Viva has a right to reply, don’t see the problem. People want honest insight not PR copy.

  3. Profile photo of Mark StücklinMark Stücklin

    I don’t know about the Russian media but it’s common practise in the British media to disable comments on certain articles, especially interviews. There’s a reason for that, as these comments illustrate. I will now turn the comments off.

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