Moraira - an area of the Costa Blanca popular with British home buyers

The autumn weakness of our beloved pound has given us a little bit of a breather. This is, of course, a double edged sword as many local property vendors are Brits returning to the UK, usually for health or family reasons. This brings about a "swings and roundabouts" scenario - a weak pound, whilst irritating for UK-based purchasers, represents a windfall for sellers returning to the UK.

This presents several opportunities. Through our recommended Anglo-Spanish firm of local solicitors, we can arrange for the purchase value to be paid in sterling, directly from the buyer's UK bank into the vendor's UK bank at the moment of completion of purchase. This is arranged at a pre-agreed exchange rate and saves both parties currency exchange and transfer costs, and allows for a sympathetic splitting of the windfall gain between both parties. Alternatively we can usually negotiate a better and more effective offer against an asking price, on behalf of our purchasing clients, if the vendor is prepared to share his windfall gain at this time of sterling weakness. So, even in what at first sight seems a negative period, a little thought and guidance can still create an excellent opportunity.

Despite the above, whilst the flow of sales enquiries has paused for breath, we have found that the unit value of recent sales has continued to climb, with most of our autumn sales and new enquiries within the € 300,000 - €700,000 range. In our local area, there is still much excellent value to be found, and some great bargains to be had - without the need to resort to "distressed sales" of abandoned homes in second-rate locations or bank repossessions, with all the related complications and uncertainties that such purchases can bring with them.

There is definitely a new air of optimism this side of the Channel. Interest remains very strong from the bolder buyers of the northern European mainland, who are keen to have first and best choice of current opportunities. Vendors are not so keen to accept the rude offers that the more desperate sellers of a year ago were forced to take; unless their properties are overpriced to start with of course. It is a key part of our job to guide our buyer clients concerning which properties are over-priced and which they should be prepared to pay closer to the asking price for, and to base their offers accordingly.

There is growing optimism amongst the local market practitioners too. Several of the more successful agents are either opening new offices or extending and refurbishing existing ones in preparation of the expected growth in activity in the New Year. We are pleased to announce that we are amongst this more progressive group. Our business twin - SELECT Villas of Moraira, from where we shall base both our Costa Blanca Select and Select Villas operations.

There are several good reasons for this move at this time: firstly, we desperately need to recruit experienced help with our growing workload. Currently, there are some excellent staff of the highest calibre who will be quickly snapped up during the next 12 months, and we are keen to act now and have the pick of the bunch. Also we are hoping that our high street presence will bring to us much greater number of direct, top quality, good value properties to offer to our buyer clients.

Of course, the more astute members of our readership will note an element of us practising what we preach here! We too felt we needed to act now, before the commercial market recovery gets underway. This will inevitably follow closely behind the recovery of the residential market. For those planning on selling up and relocating to Spain, the dreaded scenario will be that the Spanish property market continues to recover, whilst the UK market remains stagnant which will effectively reduce the purchasing power of those buyers. Our advice to those in this situation is to market your current UK home competitively and accept any half-reasonable offer that may come your way - then look forward to the rest of your life here in the sun!

Author:  Chris Garwood – Partner, Costa Blanca Select