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Bottoms up… time for cautious optimism

[caption id="attachment_737" align="alignright" width="300"] (IMAGEN © TURISMO ANDALUZ, S.A.)[/caption] After so many months of muted economic forecasts the verdict from one key global expert was hugely encouraging. “Spain is back,” declared J.P. Morgan in its first Economic Research Note of 2014. “Strong PMI and economic sentiment surveys point to a robust build-up of momentum.” Robust? How long has it been since such a – well – robustly hearty term has been used to describe the Spanish economy! Of course, encouraging signs in a national monetary context do not necessarily have an impact on local trends, at least in the short term, and the consuming question on the lips of key players in the Costa del Sol real estate industry remains: has the market hit rock bottom? Could 2014 finally be the year when the slide in property prices ends and the market begins to rebound? The verdict on that thorny issue remains a matter of debate – there are so many variables – but the prevailing mood is one of cautious optimism. One of the most reassuring notes came with the release of latest figures from Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística showing that the price of housing increased by 0.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2013 – its first rise since the second quarter of 2010. Perhaps equally as significant, the Junta de Andalucía (regional government) officially laid to rest the hoary notion that the construction industry has been responsible for all our economic ills. “What we should demonise is speculation, not construction,” said regional president Susana Díaz, in what was interpreted as a welcome exercise in contrition. Speaking at Fitur in Madrid in January, Díaz added that expectations were of a 3.7 to seven per cent increase in the number of foreign tourists visiting Andalucía in 2014. This follows a year when, overall, Spain returned to third place as the world’s most popular tourist destination (overtaking China and remaining behind just France and the US) and Málaga province (which incorporates the Costa del Sol) experienced five per cent growth in tourist numbers. Even the most over-excited observers are not expecting a return to the golden years of the Coast’s property boom (aka the dreaded property bubble) but if even a small proportion of those tourists are sufficiently enchanted by the Coast’s charms to buy a second home, and become residential-tourists, the market is facing a much more healthy future. The Costa del Sol has always been something of an island within the Andalucian financial landscape and most experts believe that, while prices may continue to fall elsewhere during 2014, before stabilising in 2015, the Coast’s immediate future is more promising – especially in prime beachfront locations and at the medium to higher ends of the market. As Villa Marbella Now’s Christian Zeuthen notes, “Spain is back” in another key market trend as well: returning to the number one spot with British property investors buying abroad. Add to that the widely expected positive effect of the Spanish government’s “golden visa” initiative for non-EU citizens and the conclusion is clear: now is definitely the time to buy on the Costa del Sol. [caption id="attachment_741" align="alignleft" width="300"] Luxury living in Marbella[/caption] One excellent place to start is Marbella’s renowned “Golf Valley”, and specifically this recently renovated three-bedroom villa. Located in a gated complex with 24-hour security, tennis courts, well-kept gardens, swimming pools (one indoor heated), clubhouse and gymnasium, the frontline golf, south-facing property extends over 252 square metres of built area on a 405 square metre plot. The home comprises three bedrooms, four bathrooms, courtyard-dining room with retractable glass roof, temperature-controlled wine cellar, original American jacuzzi (heated) and large storage areas, as well as Aircon (Toshiba) hot and cold, fans, under-floor heating in bathrooms, and maintenance-free thermo glazing system. Click here to see more.