Why buy a Property in Benissa?

1.   The unique appeal of Benissa is the fact that it is composed of three parts: originally, the old town, a centre of trade and commerce dating back to the Arab occupation before the 13th c, and located far enough inland to avoid the attention of the Berbers and the Barbary pirates. The character of the pueblo still reflects its Moorish history with narrow cobbled and orange tree lined passages designed to provide shade from the sun, yet encourage the cooling summer breezes. Together with the gracious old merchant's mansion houses, many of the townhouses date back to medieval times and feature Moorish trelliswork, heraldic shields, and ornate ironwork balconies and window grilles (rejas). By direct contrast; Benissa Costa has developed and radiated out from the picturesque, meandering cost road linking Moraira to Calpe. This part is effectively an extension of the lovely Moraira, and there are many fine residential and private holiday villas. Between these two areas is the Benissa campo (countryside); a verdant valley sculptured by vast areas of stone terraced vineyards, olive, almond and orange groves, again, dating back to Moorish times. Often constructed or faced with the local honey-coloured stone, the fincas (farmhouses) nestle in the valley, almost unnoticed.

2.    The major attraction with Benissa is that each of the above areas has their own distinct character to suit either your mood or the time of year. Inland and just beyond Benissa is the Jalon Valley; another fine rural area offering a tranquil retreat from the summertime visitors and the relief of the cool mountain breeze. There really is something for everyone and every occasion, both in, and around, Benissa.

3.    The only downside of Benissa town is that it is divided by the N332. Most people only ever see Benissa from their car. To really appreciate the town's true character, one needs to park the car and put in a little footwork; wander through the little plazas, up the steps of the ancient passageways, stop off at the odd tapas bar or cafe. Your effort and curiosity will be well rewarded. The old town area has undergone extensive improvement works and general smartening and rejuvenation; the upside of this is that the value of the nearby townhouses has been inhibited.

4.    In common with its Costa Blanca neighbours, one can expect to enjoy in order of 320 sunny days each year.

5/6    There is a huge range of properties here in Benissa with deceptively spacious townhouses for sale in Benissa ranging from less than €200,000; also within this price range are many fine new apartments. Rarely purchased by non-natives, these present great opportunities to buy into smart accommodation in a typically Spanish town, at local Spanish prices. The south facing hillside sloping towards the coastline provides an opportunity to buy into traditional Spanish rusticity. Whitewashed or stone fincas come in all sizes and range from the simple rustic, to the gracious and sophisticated. All might have their own vineyard, orange, lemon, almond or olive grove on one scale or another; the upper end of the price range might include a separate guest casita, horse stabling or other outbuildings. Prices here might range from below €500,000 to in excess of €3.0m. The Benissa Costa will provide a rich assortment of villas from linked units and holiday apartments at below €200,000 to some of the most fabulous villas on the Mediterranean, first line locations might mean a €4.0m price tag, but typically, many good medium sized villas can be found in the €400-600,000 price range which will often include a sea view. Older or smaller detached villas can still be found at a little below €300,000. As with Moraira, due to the maturity of development in this area and the strict control imposed on further building, there are few new-build villas available along this part of the coastline.

7.    Because of the severe limitations on further development, this has underpinned property values very well in this whole area. We have known this area for almost thirty years and in that time demand has been very consistent, add to that the strictly limited supply, and the result is a stable market and excellent medium and long term appreciation on one's investment.

8.    Of course, we now all live in a 'global economy' and no one or nowhere are immune from the market fallback which we have all witnessed during the past couple of years. The effect of this is that a number of desirable villas are now available within a price range that a couple of years ago would have been occupied by older villas or those in need of refurbishment and modernisation. The knock-on effect of this is that villas of this latter category have had to be reduced further, in order to find a new sector of buyers.

9.    Those currently buying are the shrewder of the Brits, or those who have available funds to take advantage of the current buying opportunity. Alas, I have to report though, that most of those who are financially able and willing to exploit this opportunity (or maybe they are just bolder and more optimistic than their British counterparts!) are from mainland Europe. We, and the local conventional estate agents are witnessing a growing number of enquiries from France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and  Russia. We also seem to be getting a growing number of enquiries from ex-pat Brits from other parts of the world: Australia, Canada, the Arab states, the Bahamas and Bermuda etc.

10.    My advice to potential buyers is unwavering: buy quality property in a sought-after, quality location - the desirable only ever becomes more desirable - and more exclusive! This is even more relevant now, with prices having fallen back, better quality properties are now within the grasp of those who can still afford them. As always, do some research, and listen to good advice from those familiar with both the location and the market within the area you have chosen. Finally, please note that the apparent, and much reported oversupply in the current market is disproportionately represented by the mediocre and low quality/poor value properties. Quality property in desirable locations, at reasonable prices remains as elusive as always! Oh yes, please avoid the 'bar-side barristers' who profess to know all the shortcuts and savings, and know a friend of the postman's second cousin who met some one in the local café with a bargain villa for sale - these are the source of the 'shock-horror' stories you read in the tabloids!

11.    The property market in Benissa remains buoyant, as it is an established favourite with limited further supply. The mature and developed social infrastructure ensures there is something to satisfy everyone's interests, whether sporting, cultural or intellectual. Also there are unsurpassed medical and general health facilities, a lower crime & delinquency rate and superior local services and amenities compared to the U.K.

Work opportunities in Spain are almost always restricted to tourism and catering, or real estate. Even then, there are now many second generation - Spanish born Brits here who can speak impeccable Spanish, who will always get first pick of any work opportunities.

Benissa remains an attractive target for all, not just for holiday visits to the rich resources of family entertainment, available close by at Benidorm and Terra Mitica etc. (20mins. by car). But recently we have witnessed a growing number of young couples moving here either with a young family or intending to start one, preferring to raise their children here, rather than in the current U.K. environment. Usually on the basis of our local health and education infrastructure and our more orderly and traditional, family based society.

12.    Many local bars and restaurants provide (free) high quality live music - well, even musicians and old rockers sell up and move to Spain! In addition, there are several organisations which arrange small concerts and classical or flamenco recitals at local hotels, restaurants and country house venues. Of course, the climate here does encourage us all to get out of an evening rather than rely on the T.V.

There is plenty of opportunity to relax here: great weather, year round; peace and tranquility, inexpensive, quality dining, lower cost of living and the siesta lifestyle. It's so hard not to relax!

Country, hill, and mountain walking, riding & cycling are very big activities here; with the choice of locally marked rural and coastal routes, plus the freedom of the campo and mountains to enjoy year round (except perhaps July & August), and no muddy wellies!
We are spoilt for choice here for 'Blue Flag' beaches from the vast sandy strands of neighbouring Calpe - with clusters of palms planted for shade, a smaller sand beach in Moraira and many quieter, small coves in and around Benissa, offering a choice of sand, pebble or rock.

Benissa has its motorway junction on the edge of town (J63 - A7/E15 Autovia) which provides easy and quick access to both Alicante and Valencia and their airports. A key attraction of Benissa, together with Moraira and its other near neighbours, is that due to the limited hotel accommodation and lack of package holidays; the seasonal flow of visitors is limited to villa owners or private villa renters. This helps to stabilize our local population: unlike many of the tourist resorts, the summers aren't over-run, our winters are not deserted.

Author:  Chris Garwood – Partner, Estate Agents Moraira, Select Villas of Moraira
December 2010

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