European millionaires are crazily active in Mallorca market

What does the profile of a typical mallorcan luxury property buyer look like? Who owns the most expensive property in Mallorca? Is the market booming now?
A large part of the world's population spent the lockdown fantasising about living in a dream home. Millionaires too! That's why sales are booming and there are no limits for those who want and can spend. We talked to several experts to learn what kind of people are behind the current revolution in the real estate market.

"The luxury property market in Mallorca is at an all-time high. European millionaires who have been living in lockdown are buying like crazy because many have realised that thanks to the internet they can run their businesses from the island. I have just sold two large projects in Son Vida: one to a Czech and one to an Austrian. And they have ordered five more villas from me. It's crazy," says Mallorcan property developer Carlos Seguí, over the phone. He is not the only one who is satisfied with the pandemic sales statistics. All the experts consulted for this report agree: the property market is absolutely revolutionised.

The agents consulted also agree on the other reasons that have driven this revolution in Spain: good weather, security and gastronomy are very important; the profitability offered by banks for savings accounts, too. "There is a high liquidity because banks penalise you for having money saved," says María Isabel Esquivel, who has been in the luxury housing market for 18 years and whose areas of operation are Jerónimos, Almagro, Castellana, El Viso and, of course, the Barrio de Salamanca.

Mallorca yachts docked
"A few years ago, Ruiz Gallardón had the city built up. You would walk down Calle Serrano surrounded by ruins. Back then it was more difficult to sell anything," he recalls. "Although he gave a big boost to residential car parks, which turned out to be a great decision (he built several under the Puerta de Alcalá)". Today the former mayor's building fever has been forgotten and many foreigners are attracted by a city that is open, safe and "very friendly", Esquivel continues. In fact, last April the most expensive penthouse in the capital was sold for 14.6 million euros for a 750 square metre triplex with a 200 square metre terrace on Calle Montalbán. The buyer was a Central European businessman.

Most of the clients of Luisa López Cabildo, a wealth manager, are, however, "Venezuelans, Mexicans and Colombians who buy in the area of Puerta de Alcalá, because that's where their friends are". López Cabildo knows the luxury housing market well, where she has been working for 20 years and where she makes her real estate sales through contacts, because her properties cannot be found on any real estate portal. "They are properties of clients that I offer to other clients. Everything is very private," says the manager who sells everything from castles to countryside estates with horses on the outskirts of Madrid. In order to sell these possessions, home staging - that is, decorating the property for sale - has gained popularity: "Which means that sometimes they buy the house with the furniture", she concludes. To all the advantages already mentioned, López Cabildo adds one more: "If the investment is more than 500,000 euros, the government offers a temporary residence visa, which is attractive to many foreign investors".

Jordana Paiva assures, however, that 70% of her clients are Spanish. "A Catalan who wants to have a second home in Madrid or a newly married couple buying their first home," explains the sales director of Impar Grupo (formerly The Corner Group), a company dedicated to buying and refurbishing buildings in noble areas of the capital, such as the popular Tócame Roque house, which appears in several writings by Benito Pérez Galdós, or the new development they are refurbishing in Nuñez de Balboa, in the Salamanca neighbourhood: "Everything is done inhouse: the purchase, the concept, the architecture, the works and the promotion". Prices range between 10,000 and 14,000 euros per square metre. Is that too much? Not at all. These products are so good that they sell themselves: "We sell off plan, I don't even have a show house". Despite the boom, not all buyers' desires can be satisfied: "Since the coronavirus, everyone wants penthouses or flats with terraces and unfortunately there are not so many on the market". López Cabido agrees: "There are people who were comfortable in their homes but after the pandemic have decided to move to a property with a garden. Although the price is expensive, the client is ready to pay".

Luxury villa in Port Andratx, Mallorca
Luxury villa in Port Andratx, Mallorca (€20 000 000)
On the second-hand market the main clients are still mostly Latin American and tend to look for spacious homes with high ceilings, mouldings and antique doors: "European style". However, there is one shortcoming: "Many people complain about the poor state of the buildings' interior courtyards. Sometimes you show a flat and the wall is peeling or the building has not passed the Technical Building Inspection. The Americans are years ahead of us in this respect," says Esquivel. In addition to security and good weather, another attraction that has added cachet to the city is the Canalejas Centre, the new Golden Mile that opened a year ago next to the Puerta del Sol and includes a Four Seasons hotel, the Dani Brasserie restaurant, as well as luxury shops that aims to compete with the legendary Harrods in London or Lafayette in Paris.

But beyond the booming Madrid market, the most sought-after places when the heat is on, are close to the sea. "The pandemic has changed where people want to live and has accelerated a 60-year trend," says Christopher Clover, owner of the historic Marbella agency Panorama. "The buyers include a lot of people from northern Europe who have realised that they can work from anywhere," continues this expert who arrived in the coastal resort in 1973 for a year and is still here today. Living in Marbella's golden age has brought him all sorts of famous friendships, as well as wealthy clients, including members of the Saudi Arabian royal household - remember that the late King Fahd owned the Mar-Mar palace, an imposing building whose façade is a replica of the White House - "Now the rich are 45-year-olds who have created an app and sold it for 100 or 200 million euros. They are anonymous but very interesting people: Dutch, French, Belgians...", continues this expert who annually prepares a report on the evolution of the local market. "The number of sales in the first half of 2021 has increased by 70% compared to last year; the price has more than doubled and the number of enquiries from potential buyers has increased by 150%.

The Balearics are not far behind. From the independent seller to the giant Engel & Volkers, all have enjoyed their slice of the cake. This is the case of Marcel Remus, a 34-year-old German who arrived on the island at the age of 19 and has his own real estate agency. "I sell houses in Son Vida, the Beverly Hills of Mallorca. From 1.5 million euros upwards," explains the young man, who organises the annual Lifestyle Night party with around 500 guests, where one can meet stars such as Andie Macdowell, Eva Herzigova or Elle Macpherson. "My clients are mostly German, but also Swiss and Austrian,". He adds proudly: "This year is going to be very good. I estimate that I can achieve a turnover of 100 million euros.

Gabriela Muñoz, owner of the Engel & Völkers franchise for Son Vida, named some impressive figures. In this exclusive area of Mallorca, to the west of Palma, the businessman Antonio Catalán, Gabriel Escarrer and the tennis player Carlos Moyà have their properties. "Here, when we talk about luxury, we talk about an ultimate luxury," he says, throwing out figures: "The houses start at four million and go up to 30 million. The smallest is 450 square metres and the largest is 2,500 square metres. The profile of the buyer has changed: "Before, it was older people, retired. Now they are young customers in their 40-45s who have made money in technology. They are ultra-rich. In addition to housing, they buy cars, boats and visit the best restaurants. They spend 15,000 euros on a dinner and never miss Dom Perignon. At home they opt for discretion and drive a BMW. When they come here, they buy the yellow Ferrari they've always wanted. "These people come here to spend."

Most of them are businessmen from Northern Europe seeking retreat: "They can no longer travel to Miami, the Maldives or Thailand, so they find Mallorca, a place where they have good weather and very good facilities: international schools, direct flights to their countries of origin, decent health centers...". In the first six months of 2021, Muñoz has made the best figure in history: "This year three houses worth 20 million euros have been sold in Son Vida. That has never happened before". These figures are confirmed by Mariana Muñoz, owner of the Terraza Balear mansion interior design studio and Gabriela's sister: "My business figures have increased by 50% compared to the same time last year. The client is very demanding, that's for sure. But if they like your proposal, they trust you completely and hand over the keys. We have renovated a house in Ibiza, another in Verbier (Switzerland) and now he has commissioned us to build a penthouse in London for an Englishman who has made a lot of money via technology". For these professionals, there are no borders: neither physical nor banking ones.


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