Investment

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June 2007

In the rising real estate market of the last decade, anyone could make money out of property in Spain. In future, however, property investors will need to be better informed to earn a reasonable return, and not just in Spain.

Investors looking for an edge would do well to give the Costa Azahar a closer look. There are several good reasons to expect property in the region to outperform the overall Spanish property market during the next 5 years.

Firstly, the new Castellon-Costa Azahar international airport at Vilanova d’Alcolea is expected to boost demand for holiday homes along the coast, as has happened everywhere else in Spain and France when a new airport opens up a previously undiscovered region to foreign property buyers. Property within 1 hour’s drive of the new airport should benefit, especially top of the range new developments on the coast like Portocala in Benicassim.

Construction of the new airport is under way, and the airport is now expected to open sometime in 2008-2009. For more information visit www.dipcas.es (in Spanish).

Secondly, compared to Spain’s other Mediterranean coasts, new construction on the Costa Azahar has been modest. Some pockets of misguided development notwithstanding, fewer housing starts should support prices and capital gains, if demand goes up as expected.

Thirdly, although there are only 3 golf courses in the province, 3 more are under construction, and 22 others are at various stages of planning. If the Costa Azahar realises its long-term ambition to become a leading European golf destination, affluent tourism should increase, pushing up the demand for holiday homes. Focussing on quality is sound strategy, and the best golf course in the region is the Club del Campo del Mediterraneo (www.ccmediterraneo.com), in the La Coma urbanisation. Building plots of 1,500m2 in the La Coma urbanisation can be bought for around 300,000 Euros.

Buy-to-let investors looking for a holiday home that pays its way on the Costa Azahar need to bear in mind local market conditions.

“For the time being this is still a very Spanish rental market,” explains Andrew Chappell, 33, a local property consultant from Derbyshire who runs Mianna (www.mianna.es). “Spaniards will rent for two weeks or a month in July or August, but that’s it. So renting out a holiday home here would only suit someone with plans to use the property out of season.”

With a shorter season than further south, rental returns are generally lower, though an expected increase in the number of foreign tourists might extend the rental season. In an upmarket place like Benicassim 1-bed apartments close to the beach rent for 2,700 Euros a month in high season, and half that in June and September.

You can also charge premium rents during Benicassim’s international music festival – known locally as the FIB – which lasts roughly a week in July. Andrew Chappell and his wife Fernanda, who paid 213,000 Euros 2 years ago for a 3-bed, 2-bath townhouse near the beach in Benicassim, are considering renting out their property during the festival.

“Everything is full during the festival,” says Chappell. “I would expect to get 1,000 Euros for the week, but you also have to consider the potential hassle of renting to a group of young lads at a music festival.”

© Mark Stucklin (Spanish Property Insight)