Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Russians Are Coming (2)

Featured in El Indalico: I've re-worked it a bit:

The cliché of all bona fide estate agents, ‘the green shoots of recovery’, is beginning to resound again along the costas as properties are being snapped up by foreigners. Paying usually in cash, the buyers have been doing their homework on the Internet and they are buying cheap discounted apartments by the hundreds. An estate agent I know says that sales have increased in the past year by a satisfying 200%, which probably means they sold one apartment in 2012, and so far in 2013, they’ve sold two.
This time, we are told that it’s the Russians who are buying. Another local agent has even learnt to say yavas lubloo to anyone wearing a shapka-ushanka – one of those fur-hats made from mammoth-hair. Although personally, I suspect the Russians will be pointing their wallets towards Marbella rather than Mojácar, and no doubt they will be paying in cash. The new offer of free visas and the entrance to the 26 countries who signed the Schengen Treaty, to any non-European who buys or invests a mere 500,000€ in Spain, has its undoubted  attractions. For both parties. To not put too fine a point on it, the Spanish Hacienda is hardly bothered by where the lolly comes from, as long as it’s coming. Mansions, heliports, large swimming pools and an unbreakable steel safe in the basement.
autobus rusoFor the more ordinary buyers from Omsk, one- or two-bedroomed apartments in the resort towns and estates of the Spanish coast are in demand, usually those going for under 100,000€, spaseebo.
Other nationalities too. The British are still shy, having seen too many ‘Paradise Lost’ TV shows and read too many articles about Len and Helen Prior, now cresting their sixth anniversary in Vera among the ruins of their home. But the Belgians, the Germans and the Scandinavians are all waking up to the perennial offer of good weather and cheap real estate that Spain is once again able to offer.
These homes being sold by the agents are doing the major banks little good however. The typical toxic promotions now held by the new ‘Spanish Bad Bank’, the Sareb, were built as apartment blocks in and around the country’s major cities. The Spanish, thanks to the extreme crisis, can not afford to buy them, while the foreigners simply don’t want them. Barrios on the edge of a bus line in Madrid or Seville will never be the haunts of Europeans or Russians, who would be as out of their depth in an all-Spanish environment as a group of Spanish jubilados who had all inexplicably moved to Glasgow.
Other foreigners are putting up their hands for apartments as well; but this time, they like the City. In Alicante, for example, Algerians are snapping up second homes. It’s just a twelve hour ferry to Oran. A notary in Alicante is on record as saying that some 25% of all house registrations under his pen have come from Algerians, while a local agency called Tecnocasa claims that well over half of its sales this year have gone to that particular market.
desde rusia con amorHowever, it’s the Russians who are buying the most. According to Masa International, Spain is seen in Moscow as the fashionable place to have a holiday home: in fact, there are now 250 agencies in that city who specialise in Spanish sales. While the Spanish have never quite understood why foreigners like ‘to stick together’, crafting Spanish towns and resorts as far as possible into mono-cultural conurbations, like the Germans with Mallorca or the British with their Fuengirola or Mojácar, it’s apparent that the Russians prefer either Marbella (the rich ones) or the Costa Dorada for the rest. The agency Europa Dom in Tarragona claims that 75% of all their sales are to Russian buyers.
All of this said, with green shoots in the newspapers and Russian language menus in the restaurants, one must not ignore the fact that the majority of homes bought in Spain this year are far removed from the Coast and have been quietly acquired by Spaniards...

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