The Simapro trade fair in Madrid over the last two weeks hosted a panel discussion of the residential tourism business in Spain, as the sector is buffeted by the Coronavirus crisis.
The discussion was moderated by Pedro Soria, a director of the appraisals company Tinsa, and the panelists were Walid Moussa, President of the FIABCI International Real Estate Federation, Javier Prieto, MD of developer Quabit, and Ángeles Serna, President of developer TM Group, all involved in the business of selling homes in Spain to foreign buyers.
“Primary home sales are down around 40%, and second homes by much more,” said Javier Preito, confirming that the negative impact of Covid-19 on holiday home sales has been significant. “If clients can’t get here, it’s difficult to sell homes, even with the intensive use we are making of digital tools.”
Ángeles Serna of the TM Group, with many developments past and present on the Spanish coast, was more upbeat, reporting a smaller fall in sales. “It’s true that after an excellent first quarter in which we beat our objectives, sales fell noticeably in the second before recovering strongly in July and August. Now in the second wave the numbers have declined again.”
Walid Moussa was also inclined to look for the positive. “Personally, I’m optimistic about the future because of the stability the sector has shown during this crisis,” he said. “Spain continues to be a very attractive country for international investors, especially for Arabs. Spain will always interest Arab buyers of luxury, not only for investment reasons but also for lifestyle. What’s more, the instability of residential markets in Latin America and Miami reinforces the attractiveness of the Spanish product.”
They all agree that the brand Spain is still a big attraction. “We lead residential tourism, we invented it,” said Ángeles Serna. “Customers don’t buy from us just for investment reasons, but also to enjoy their holidays….in any case, it’s clear that our economy’s macro figures are less important to their decision than the Spanish lifestyle.”
Bargain hunters looking for opportunities in the crisis will be disappointed, argued Prieto. “Prices will not fall as much as people think. We are not in 2008, developers have cash, they are financially sound, and can get through this patch.” That said, the ongoing health crisis is still interfering with travel and investment activity. “As far as investors go, it’s clear they are waiting for the right time to jump in,” he said. “Waiting both to invest and to visit their future purchase. We have to wait for the arrival of the new normal.”