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Modern living in the heart of Mallorca’s UNESCO territory

Fornalutx, part of the UNESCO World Heritage site in West Mallorca

New homes offer the benefits of modern construction and design, but old homes often have the best locations in areas where building land is scarce, or planning rules don’t allow new construction. As a result new homes in prime or protected locations are a rarity that don’t come on the market very often. You need a bit of luck to be searching at the right time.

Happily for buyers looking at Mallorca today, there are two such new developments on the west of the island in an area of outstanding natural beauty that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011.

With its rugged coastline, picturesque historic villages like Fornalutx, Valldemossa, Deià, and Sóller, and unique rural heritage that dates back to the times of the Moors and even the Romans, the Sierra Tramuntana region on the west coast of the island was declared a World Heritage site because, according to UNESCO, “it constitutes a significant example of the Mediterranean agricultural landscape, which, after centuries of transformations of the steep terrain morphology to exploit the scarce available resources, and thanks to the specific orogenetic, climatic and vegetation conditions, has been made productive and well-adapted to human settlement.” 

It’s the combination of natural beauty and human settlement by different cultures over hundreds of years that has enhanced the charm of the region. As UNESCO explains, “by this cultural interaction, a terraced agricultural landscape was created, featured by an articulated waterworks network, orchards, vegetable gardens and olive groves, which were earlier organised around small farm holdings, and later in large estates (posesiones) and which nowadays make up the physical and functional features of the Sierra Tramuntana,” whilst “several villages, churches, sanctuaries, towers, lighthouses and small dry-stone structures that punctuate the terraced landscape and contribute to its actual character.”

One of the conditions for retaining its status as a World Heritage site is careful protection when it comes to building, which helps explain why it is rare to find new homes for sale in the area. The regional government takes its role as guardian of this UNESCO World Heritage site seriously.

That doesn’t mean that all new home building is forbidden, but it is strictly controlled to protect what UNESCO call the “integrity” of the region, and maintain its unique character. As a result, any building project to get planning permission in this area will have to pass more aesthetic and quality control standards than in other areas without special protection. Buyers also benefit from these higher standards, but they don’t come cheap.

We currently have a small selection of exclusive new homes for sale in Fornalutx, which was declared the most beautiful village in Spain in 2017, and in Deià, which remains one of the most sought-after locations on the island, and has attracted many writers and artists over the years including the late poet and author Robert Graves and latterly Lord Lloyd Webber. 

The interior of one of our homes for sale in Fornalutx

“There is always demand for property in our most emblematic villages in the west such as Fornalutx and Deià and specifically for villas with a swimming pool, sea and mountain views, which are priced at a premium,” explains Eddy Barrera, Director of Engel & Völkers Mallorca West.  “The challenges of restoring historic properties can be complicated in this area but these unique developments avoid that problem, and provide traditional style with modern day facilities, quality, and comfort in an idyllic Mallorquin setting”. 

As you might expect in a world-famous area of outstanding natural beauty and cultural heritage that attracts high-end buyers from all around the world, property here has a price-tag to match. As we explain in our latest market report the average asking prices for houses in prime locations such as Deià, George Sand, and Port de Sóller is 3.5 million euros. In Valldemossa, Banyalbufar, and Estellencs, villas and fincas with large amounts of land and views are priced at between 2.5 and 3 million euros. Year-on-year prices in the area are stable or trending upwards.

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