Housing stock Costa del SolFebruary’s monthly lunch of the award-winning Marbella Business Institute (MBI) took the form of a discussion on the future of local property and its values.

The intention was to benefit from the experience and knowledge of members of MBI. As it has been in existence for more than 30 years, its investor and entrepreneur business members have seen the Costa del Sol survive through at least three recessions and their subsequent booms.

Campbell set the background with the strict parameter that assumed Spain would stay within the Euro and the Euro would continue to exist. He also acknowledged that this recession was the worst we had all experienced, as had been the benefits of the boom before it.

There were significant criticisms of the national statistics, but an understanding of the cultural problems that have led to their unreliability. Unfortunately, international investors can only look at the information they are provided with and thus make incorrect assumptions that property prices in Spain have not fallen as much as in other countries and therefore have significantly further to fall. However, many with a ‘close ear to the ground’ and reliable local contacts know that there are always significant opportunities arising and a gradually increasing number of knowledgeable buyers.

Concentration on ‘the best’ is the key, with quality of location, product, marketing and, emphasised repeatedly, service being essential. Any business on the periphery of any of these is likely to mean inferior product, dissatisfaction and ultimately negative returns and failure.

The repeated theme was of the need for confidence in ourselves and in the natural draw of the Costa Del Sol. All have chosen to live here, some for many years and some only recently arrived, but all confirmed that the concentration on marketing for the long-term should be that it is one of the best places in the world to live. It has the natural advantages, excellent current and increasing man-made infrastructure, and a historical, cultural and culinary experience that is a continuing fascination for all. Emphasis on marketing those lifestyle points to possible incomers of all ages, and successful growth of the area will naturally follow. Without individual buyers and occupiers the empty properties and lost opportunities will be with us for many years.

There was a request for the ‘authorities’ to use the experience and contacts of people who had come into the area over the years as ambassadors helping it to grow. Whilst Europe is not the same as the USA, having many different historical cultures and languages, the South of Spain can certainly be likened to the ‘Sunbelt’ of the USA stretching from California to Florida. Much of the development of that area has come from the cold northern states and Canada. Southern Europe cannot benefit from its potential to expand on its own and must look to all the assets and contacts that it has within its current population to spread the message to the North. Personal recommendation is by far the most effective form of marketing and repeat business is the easiest to obtain.

Concentration on detailed service to current ‘guests’, whilst taking some time, will undoubtedly lead to the long-term continued success of the area. There must be caution, imagination and intelligence in accommodating the growth, but the message was put very strongly that the members believed in the area and its potential and they were contributing their working lives to its and their own success.

The discussion was chaired by Campbell D. Ferguson, FRICS, managing director of the Survey Spain Network of Chartered Surveyors in Spain. The lunch was held at restaurant Rincon de Guadalpin, located in the beachside Guadalpin Hotel between San Pedro and Puerto Banús.