Today’s interview on real estate is with Sebastian Jimenez Matter, Managing Director and Founder of Aqua Estates. Inside this article we talk to Sebastian about how he and the team have found property market since we were hit with the latest Coronavirus pandemic and what the state of affairs with the property market is on the Costa Del Sol.
Sebastian commenced his career in real estate in Marbella in 2003 and has amassed 17 years’ experience working for larger multinationals like Countrywide and McInerney, then subsequently starting up his own firm Aqua Estates. During this time he has seen the markets fluctuate with highs and lows, in particular the 2008 global financial crisis which incidentally we were right in the middle of when Sebastian founded Aqua Estates in 2010. March 2020 marks the 10 year anniversary for Aqua Estates and like many things, celebrations have been put on hold until next year when we can hopefully all breathe a sigh of relief as we come out the other side of a global pandemic. What the financial crisis from 2008 taught Sebastian however was how to batten down the hatches and work efficiently with resilience.
Aqua’s buyers come from all over the world including Scandinavia, Holland, France, Spain, Belgium, the UK, the US, Canada and a few from Russia and the Middle East. On his team of agents he has French, Italian, English, Swiss, German and Spanish speakers but many of his clients use English as the first language of business. Sebastian himself is of Swiss / Spanish descent and grew up in Malaga having studied abroad in London for three years before building up his clientele on the coast.
Sebastian says that the Covid-19 lockdown period put an obvious halt on things, but demand was still there and enquiries have been coming in even through lockdown. They have been managing these new enquiries along with tying up house purchases already underway pre-lockdown by using technology such as video conferencing and virtual tours, which have worked well.
In terms of the market conditions today Sebastian confirms there is definitely a lot of interest as people start making travel arrangements and viewing appointments but there is still an air of nervousness and uncertainty. UK interest has dropped in the last year because of the devaluing pound but the interest is still well and truly there from this group. The reasons for buying have changed also where holiday homes dominated the market, now over 60% of sales are come from people buying a second home and spending the Winters here instead of in their respective cold countries e.g. Norway. This is great for the local market, boosting spending in the Winter months.
When I asked Sebastian about his predictions on how things will pan out, he felt that more will be known by the end of Summer. He is optimistic that things will start to recover at the end of July with more people coming to Spanish shores. The more cautious types may not mobilise until September. His team covers the whole of the Costa Del Sol but in particular Marbella, Golden Mile, Benhavís, Estepona and Fuengirola. Aqua is a member of a central database of 1500 agents and thousands of properties, so they have their finger on the pulse and speak to vendors regularly. In some cases also, buyers have become aggressive on price because they have the impression that vendors are desperate but he said in all honesty, although there have been some distressed sales, some prices have been reduced but not to the level of the 2008 crisis by any stretch, as the two crises are not the same. Property owners on the Costa Del Sol tend to be secure financially so they have the ability to wait out a storm.
So for now, Sebastian and his team are doing things differently, but cautiously optimistic that things will get better. Who really has a crystal ball that big? Time will tell but we wish Aqua Estates a happy 10 year Anniversary with many more to come.