International property digest: The allure of Marbella, Spain

Marbella has a glamorous history that stretches back to 1954 when the Marbella Club first threw open its doors. It immediately attracted illustrious guests and soon helped establish Marbella in general and the Golden Mile in particular as a true rival to the glitz of Monaco and St Tropez.

Above: Historic and Artistic Center — Marbella. If you want to know more about the lifestyle and property, read our buying guide on the city.

The region’s reputation has grown with each decade as new generations of visitors fall for its unmistakable charms. Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana, the Obama family: Hollywood A-listers, European royalty and global statesmen have all fallen for Marvellous Marbella.

What gives the area such longevity? First the Mediterranean weather plays a significant role. This is southern Europe with the finest weather of any Spanish Costa. While other parts of Spain sizzle in the summer heat, Marbella’s coastline, helpfully sheltered by iconic La Concha Mountain, has its own noticeably fresher microclimate, cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Then there is the ease of getting there. Malaga airport has flights to 148 destinations across 25 countries while Spain’s excellent high-speed AVE trains put Madrid within 2.5 hours away. Closer to home there is the history and beauty of Andalucía. Explore white Moorish villages, smell the orange blossom in Seville or sample the sherry in Jerez, visit the Alhambra Palace or thrill to the intensity of foot-stamping flamenco dancers.

Living in Marbella

Above: Marbella beach. For more information contact Mark Harvey, Head of International Sales at Knight Frank.

This coast offers a high-quality outdoor lifestyle with beautiful beaches facing a perpetually calm sea and over 70 golf courses including the superstar names of Valderama, La Reserva and Marbella Golf. And Marbella itself has a good infrastructure of international schools, hospitals, marinas and authentic tapas bars through to Michelin restaurants.

Lifestyle buyers and investors are active in the market. Property prices in Marbella have risen by 23 per cent since a market low in 2012 with UK buyers, still the single largest group of overseas buyers across Spain, being joined by purchasers from Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland, France and the Middle East. Meanwhile strong year-round tourism demand has helped gross rental yields strengthen to around 4 – 5 per cent.

The Marbella property market is large and complex and while prices are still rising, the number of sales dipped last year as British buyers await the October Brexit deadline.

In addition, rising land prices and construction costs since 2012 have tightened developers margins. The overall feeling at present according to Mark Harvey, Head of European Sales at Knight Frank, is one of a marginally cooling market as it heads to a period of stabilisation.

Meanwhile Marbella continues to mature. Elite hotel brands are arriving, Nobu, W and Four Seasons among them and Andalucía’s reduced income tax, introduced in April 2019 along with succession tax rates of just 1 per cent for spouses and children will widen the appeal of an already favourite destination.

Prime Properties

Above: Marbella Golf Valley

Buyers are showing a clear demand for contemporary, open-plan new-build homes – maximising light, space and indoor-outdoor living – and the focus of these new developments is currently in Benahavis and Estepona.

And while Marbella beachfront, the Golden Mile and La Zagaleta remain prime, the good value in La Alquería, Atalaya and along the New Golden Mile (the extension of the original Marbella to Puerto Banus Golden Mile that runs along the coast from San Pedro to Estepona) is attracting interest. Some of the strongest price rises in the past year have been in the traditionally lower-value areas of Estepona and East Marbella.

What is certain is that the reasons Marbella became a global hotspot over the past sixty years – the wonderful weather, the coastline lined with swaying palms, smooth golf courses under green mountains and of course the ever-elegant Spanish lifestyle – are still very much on show.

For more information on Knight Frank’s Marbella Portfolio contact Mark Harvey, Head of International Sales at Knight Frank.