House on the Costa del Sol as a ‘refuge’ in the event of war

by Lorraine Williamson
properties on the costa del sol

MARBELLA – Wealthy Swedes, Finns, Slovaks, or Serbs are showing more interest in properties in and around Marbella and Estepona on the Costa del Sol. According to specialist brokers, they mainly look at existing villas where they can move in immediately if necessary. 

That writes the newspaper El Confidencial based on conversations with some real estate agents in the zone. Last Wednesday, Sweden and Finland formally announced their intention to join NATO. Russia immediately responded that the move may provoke “a reaction” on their part. 

This warning deepens the shadow of the war that already hangs over Russia’s neighbours. Many citizens in those border areas take the threat very seriously and are alert. The more affluent among them are therefore more interested in investing in ‘refugee houses’ on the Costa del Sol. This is so they can go there immediately in case Russia decides to attack their country. 

“Just in Case Something Happens” 

El Confidencial asked Carmen Arriaga of brokerage firm Christie’s about the potential impact of the war on her industry. She explained that “people living in countries bordering Russia want to buy property in Marbella in case something happens”. 

Increased interest from Slovaks, Croats, and Serbs 

As a specific example, she told of a Swede who called them with an interest in buying a second home in the so-called ‘golden triangle’ (Marbella, Estepona, and Benahavís). In addition, it also notes a strong increase in interest from Slovakia, a neighbouring country of Ukraine. Other sources also speak of an increasing number of Serbs and Croats with high purchasing power. They are also looking at orientating themselves in the housing market in this zone. 

Particularly interested in finished projects 

Arriaga went on to point out that these clients are generally looking for ‘finished projects’, meaning homes they can move into right away. “They are not interested in promotions that will only be delivered shortly”. They want to have the property at their disposal as soon as possible should an invasion of their country follow. 

Impulse real estate sector Costa del Sol 

Several factors will of course determine the impact that the geopolitical situation will have on the real estate sector on the Costa del Sol. Yet the phenomenon is one of the many ingredients that contribute to the enormous boost that the luxury real estate sector has been experiencing lately. An impulse that can be seen at Christie’s, for example, is the fact that this company has already reached the full turnover of the entire previous year. And the year isn’t even halfway through yet. 

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Madness on the housing market in the province of Málaga 

The data from the province of Málaga points to a huge increase in sales transactions that have led to a rise in prices in all types of real estate. The National Statistics Institute (INE) reported Friday that 11,165 sales operations were conducted in the first quarter of the year, which is 54% more than in the same period of 2021. 

Second-hand homes increased in price by 9% 

The Fotocasa portal recently published that prices for second-hand homes have increased by almost nine percent compared to the previous year. The costs per square meter are now on average at 2,479 euros. In Marbella, this is €3,132 per square metre – a growth of 4.1% on an annual basis. 

New homes up by 6% in price 

In the province, the price of a new house has increased by 6% according to the latest available data from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, while rents have increased by 9%. “The promotions we sell go up in price every two weeks,” Arriaga says, pointing to a trend that appears to be overcoming the effects of the war. 

Apart from the negative effects of the crisis in the supply of materials for the ongoing construction projects resulting in long delays in delivery times and increased energy prices, the general opinion is that the impact of the war on the economy of the Costa del Sol remains quite limited. 

Russian visitor stays away 

Of course, some important transactions with Russian buyers have broken down, says Drumelia’s Artur Loginov. “Russians played a big role at the beginning of the past decade, but nowadays it is mainly Norwegians, Swedes, Germans, and British who are taking the lead by far.” 

Catering and shops, in particular, suffer from the ‘exodus’ of Russians 

The consequences of the absence of the Russian visitor or resident are especially noticeable in the hotel sector or the shopping centres according to Enrique Guerrero, president of the association for small and medium-sized companies in Marbella (Apynem). He points out that the current geopolitical context has mainly led to an ‘exodus’ of Russians. Higher prices as a result of the invasion have a major impact on the local economy. 

Increased prices are the biggest impact of war 

Guerrero clarifies that the greatest impact of the war is reflected in the increased prices. “They’ve gone up between 10% and 30%,” he emphasises. The upward trend is choking the margins of SMEs, putting their balance sheets at risk and affecting production. 

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