Category Archives: Mallorca Property Blog

A general blog about Mallorca and its property

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A country life – 10 reasons why Sóller is probably the best place to live in Mallorca

by Alastair Kinloch MRICS

As Mallorca based Chartered Surveyors for over 20 years, Property Works has a unique insight into what purchasers should be looking for when buying a home in Mallorca. We also get to understand their needs, even if they do not recognise each and every one themselves. Our approach is holistic (not just an economic one) considering lifestyle, leisure, work, family and health.

So why do we consider this unique town as the best place to set up home/invest in a country location in Mallorca?

Here’s a guide to why…

 

10. Variety really is the spice of life

Sóller’s (pronounced soy-yer) maze of medieval streets and alleys hides an impressive array of properties from modern port apartments and villas to old town houses, factory conversions and traditional country estates.

The majority of construction is traditional and natural, especially outside the urban centres with the use of stone facades, curved terracotta tiled roofs and timber doors and shutters. This gives the place a certain aesthetic harmony which has been complimented with relatively strict planning controls.

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Typical Solleric constructions… 

Unusually for the island, many of the town houses have three storeys, unlike any other town centres on the island where two are more common.

Our experience of working in the construction industry monitoring quality, materials, methods, timings and prices gives Sóller’s constructors a big “thumbs up”.  The work carried out is often not cheap so be sure to get various quotes and be clear on the time schedule for delivery.

Fortunately it is still possible to find projects in Sóller, especially in the old town where many large family homes can be purchased for renovation at a relatively reasonable price per meter square. Many retain original features such as beautiful curved open staircases with intricate ironwork and marble panelled walls, carved woodwork and stone, crystal skylights and ancient fired floor tiles.

Art Nouveau and Modernist influences in the architecture are everywhere.  The port offers both traditional and contemporary properties. Mountain retreats are also an option.

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 from grand Art Nouveau town houses to rustic mountain retreats…

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modern apartments in the port to fantasy modernist homes

Sóller really does have it all.

 

9. Eat, drink & be merry!

Extra-virgin olive oil, ripe tomatoes and sweet peppers, salad greens, heart-healthy avocados, garlic and onions, immaculately fresh seafood, mountain lamb, plenty of legumes (especially chickpeas), and rice, bread, and big, flavourful red wines. What more could you want?

Sóller can give you the Mediterranean diet with excellent locally sourced, market produce and restaurants.  Its specialist products  include:

 Prawns, fish and other shellfish.  Gambas de Soller are famous for their colour, texture and flavour.

Citrus fruits – More than 600 years ago Arab sailors brought citrus trees to Mallorca and converted Soller into an orange valley, often known as the “golden valley”. Thanks to the abundance and quality of the mountain water as well as the abundant sunshine, Soller now produces over 120,000 oranges a year.

Olives – The Mallorquin olive (now recognized as a protected product) is known for is intense green colour, saltiness and aromas.   Oli de Mallorca has multiple culinary uses, its exquisite taste and its health benefits let enjoy a high quality and tasty food. As a basic part of the Mediterranean diet, the Majorcan Olive Oil has vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids. It is a pure olive juice, produced without chemical processes, becoming a high quality aliment.

Almonds – The Mediterranean climate and the dry farming crop system gives the Mallorcan almond its unique characteristics. Its sweet taste, a greater content of proteins, fatty acids and carbohydrates, make this a universally desired product, used in a great variety of foods.

 Wine –  The Mallorcan wine industry currently boasts 70 different wineries, some of which are highly recognised nationally and internationally.

 

8. The Environment

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” ― Gary Snyder

Sóller is situated right in the middle of the Tramuntana mountain range, a region awarded World heritage status by UNESCO as an area of great physical and cultural significance.

It is a range running the entire length of the island with the highest peak, Puig Major,  at 1445m. To put that in perspective, Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain is “only” 1219m from sea level.

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Views of mountain terracing and the reservoirs at Escorca

What makes this mountains so special are their size and shape, being 90km in length and 15km at its widest point taking up about a 1/4 of the whole Mallorcan territory. Its narrowness and height means the mountains fall dramatically into the sea and on the plains.

The area is an absolute dream location for walkers, cyclists, beach and nature lovers.

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 Cala Deia and Tuent – about 15 minutes by boat from Sóller. 

 

7. Airports don’t have to be terrible

Mallorca’s airport, Sant Joan, is the third largest in Spain and carried over 23 million people in 2014. Over 100 airline companies use the airport and flights to most cities in Europe are covered. The island enjoys good winter flights schedule, unlike many other smaller Spanish airports which often require connecting flights. In fact, Mallorca is increasingly becoming a “commuter destination” and gives many people the opportunity to work in Mallorca allowing for extended stays. Ibiza, Menorca & Barcelona are all about a 45 minutes flight away from Palma. One can reach the airport in about 35 minutes from Sóller.

 

6. Palma or Ciudad/Ciutat

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A panel of judges for the Sunday Times supplement recently  chose Palma de Mallorca as their overall favourite out of fifty top worldwide places to live. It was described as a destination that “has it all”.

Palma is reached in just 25 minutes, most of the journey though attractive rural countryside. There is also a train and a regular bus service.

Nuff said.

 

5. Sóller – not one town, but two (or even three)

Evidence of early settlers has been found in Soller dating back to talayotic times. (2,700-5,200 BC) in the “La Muleta” area.  Soller’s development is likely to have evolved over the years due to its great natural resources and the enterprise of its people, trading (oranges/olives/fabric) with Barcelona, Valencia, and France. It is still possible to see wonderful turn-of-the-century  factories (in various states of repair!) through the town.

Soller has two distinctive, but complementary centres. The port and the town are some 5km apart connected by tram or road. They offer completely different ambiences.

The port is an almost perfect circled bay with a relatively small opening to the open seas. It enjoys a pedestrian walkway, sandy beaches and a small marina. Although some development has occurred (there are a few medium sized hotels), the area is relatively low density and unspoilt and retains its fishing village feel.  A lot of investment, both private and public, has occurred in the area with the new port-town tunnel and the complete renovation of the port front. Private investment includes the creation of the Jumeirah resort, a five star hotel perched on hill often described as the best hotel in Europe. The port has many excellent shops, bars and restaurants, great walks and usually a place to keep your boat.

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The Port of Sóller and swimming off the coast  

Buying or renting a small boat and exploring the coastline by sea is a must. True Mediterranean seas still, crystal clear seas and miles of unspoilt coastline are there for the taking.

Beyond the port, Soller is an expanse of land known as the “valley” due to its position between the surrounding mountains. It is an exceptionally green and fertile place with mainly almond, orange and olive groves filling the valley.

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The town centre has a mainly medieval feel but marked by its extraordinary modernist architecture. Examples of this are the Gran Hotel, Can Prunera, the church and the banco Santander buildings. It has a thriving artisan market and a wonderful square.

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The Gran Hotel                                                    The Church 

The third area is Biniaraix, possibly the most picturesque and unspoilt hamlet on the island.  It sits on the outskirts of Soller at the foothills of the Barranc, an ancient mountain footpath leading to the mountain reservoirs in Escorca. For administrative purposes, it is actually run by both Soller and Fornalutx.  The houses in the village are entirely stone build and most streets are cobbled and pedestrian.

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Biniaraix

 

4. Work & lifestyle balance

Suffice it to say it pretty likely to be a lot better that back in the UK.

 

3. Education and health

The world health organization ranked the Spanish health system as being the 7th best in the world, with France coming first and the UK in 18th position. Two new public hospitals have been built in Palma in the last 10 years, Son Llatzer and Son Espases, offering some of the most modern facilities in Europe to the Mallorquin residents and guests.

Complementing the new public centres, Mallorca´s private healthcare has also been reinforced with improvements at hospitals such as at Clínicas Palmaplanas, Policlinica  and Juaneda, all located in Palma and usually accepting international cover by groups such as Bupa and Axa.

On our last count Soller has at least 8 schools, educating kids from 3-18 (not counting nurseries). For international schools there are at least 8 more in Palma and beyond offering baccalaureate, primary, and O/A level study.

 

2. The People

The Sollerics are a warm and friendly bunch, just learn some Catalan and Some Spanish and you will always be welcomed.

Sóller and its surroundings have been attracting artists, musicians, sports & nature lovers, young families, actors, entrepreneurs and retirees in its droves for years. When hunting for a home, it pays in every way to follow the cool crowd, either to the city, the suburbs or the countryside.

It now has a very multicultural society, attracting amongst others, British, French, German and Scandinavian Europeans. There are also large South American and African communities.  One must also add the “forasters”, the non-Sóller born residents from other parts of Mallorca or the mainland.  This foreign contingent offers a richness to the society which has, overall, integrated well within the Sólleric community and contributed to make this such as special place.

 

1. The Economy, stupid

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership in Spain.

Things are looking bright again for Spain…..

  • The exchange rate between the UK pound and the Euro is now at its best level since 2008 offering an extremely attractive €1.38 to the pound. So at todays rate, a €1m property would cost about £725,000.
  • With around 2.8 million legal foreign residents in Spain, not to speak of ever-increasing tourism figures, Spain has become a top destination for foreign property investment. The Spanish Ministry of Tourism predicts that more than one million foreigners will set up home in Spain in the next six years, and this figure is expected to treble by 2025.
  • Interest rates also remains extremely low at under 0.2% meaning borrowing has never been cheaper.  Quantitive easing by the European central bank means over 100 billion Euros is coming to Spain. A big chunk of this this will be made available for banks to lend.
  • Soller has relatively low unemployment in the national context.
  • A large flourishing rental market is offered in Spain and investment in a property with good rental potential can achieve excellent returns. Spain is a top choice for tourists who enjoy a variety of self-catering accommodation, apartments and private villas. Get it right, and you could rent your property out for six months of the year to cover costs and have it for your own use, free of charge, for the rest of the year.
  • From an economic point of view, It is always good to follow infrastructure investment in and that is what has happened in Sóller A prime example of the town´s transformation is the centre, with its main square and main shopping street or Carrer de la Lluna, which has changed spectacularly over the past ten years. This area is now almost fully pedestrianized and has filled up with welcoming terraces, boutique shops, and a lovely food market. It is now a must-visit for the thousands of tourists who are lengthening the island’s season from the beginning of March to November.
  • According to Kyero, the average price for property in Soller is at 468,000€, almost double the national average. Prices have remained resilient during the crisis, mainly due to limited stock and an increase in demand.  It is not cheap by Spanish standards, but it appears that historically, capital growth has occurred and will continue to do so.
  • Nationally, market conditions are improving with prices up 1.8% and 2.4% increase in sales. Construction spending is also up 34% in Mallorca alone in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

Palma – the best city in the world to live…

According to the Sunday Times, Palma is the best city to live in the world 2015. Below is an extract from the article.

images-Optimized“Our winner is Palma. We believe it has everything” said the newspaper. Although not explaining the exact criteria when making its choice, it does highlight some of the elements that make Ciutat de Mallorca attractive to the British, including the climate, the beauty of the old town , gastronomy and beaches.

“It ‘s a pocket-sized city that has it all on a beautiful island ”

Another argument is that the city is easily accessed for a Brit who wants to live abroad. The short distances across the island are a plus to living in Mallorca emphasising that Palma is a ten minute drive from the airport and throughout the year there are cheap flights.

Apart from Palma , Sunday includes three other Spanish cities in their top 50: Barcelona ; Ojén north of Marbella, and Zahara on the coast of Cadiz.

In the list of the 50 best cities to live in, the Mallorquin capital has also been located ahead of destinations such as Berlin , Honolulu, Miami , Rome, Florence , Paris, Vienna , Stockholm , Copenhagen , Rio de Janeiro and Sydney.

Price rise 0.7% for the Balearics in 2014….

After 6 consecutive years of decline, the property prices in the Balearics closed 2014 with a 0.7% rise, according to the National Institute of Statistics.

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The rise is less that the national average (1.8%), but one has to consider that the average price of property has not fallen as much as the rest of Spain throughout the economic crisis.

In real terms, when looking at achieved sales prices for used properties, a 100,000€ property purchased in 2008 would cost 61,558€ today.  A new property bought in 2007 would be sold today for a price in the region of 79,643€ (according to the National Institute of Statistics).

New property market scenario in the Balearics

Home sales recorded during last March in the islands show an increase of 71% over the same period of 2013, a percentage no other Spanish region comes even remotely close to, since Catalonia, in second place, increased by 42.8%, and the national average is 22.8 %, according to data provided by the National Statistics Institute (INE).
The presidents of the associations of promoters and real estate agents, Mr José Luis Guillén and Mr José Mir respectively, interviewed today in the Diario de Mallorca, agree that this reactivation is based on two main factors: the good performance of the economy and labour market in the archipelago (thanks to an excellent tourist season), and the fact that it is becoming easier for buyers to access a mortgage.
This is reflected in the mortgage plans currently offered by some banks, with interest rates of Euribor plus 1.99 points. However, the conditions under which a mortgage is now offered are not as flexible as ten years ago. At present, banks’ valuations are much more adjusted to real market value and banks will finance up to 80% of this value, so that the buyer will have to come up with the remaining 20 % and about 10% on top to cover the operation costs.
On the other hand, Mr José Luis Guillen expressed his regret that finance is much harder to access for developers, although the stock of new homes is nearly exhausted in the islands, especially in some municipalities, such as Palma.
This revival of purchases and the shortage of new housing is having an effect on property prices, which are again recording increases of around 3%.
One year ago, Solvia, created by Banco Sabadell to sell its huge property stock, was selling with an average discount of 52% on the original prices. Now, at Sabadell-Solvia they have reduced their discounts. “We had a 52% discount and now only do 40%. The funny thing is that we are now selling more than last year. We think it’s the end of falling prices, except for the worst properties.”
Their analysis agrees with studies such as the last from the Instituto de Prácticas Empresariales (IPE), which showed that Balearics is among the three Spanish regions with a lower number of unsold homes, with a total of 7,965. It is also the first region in which prices have started to rise consistently. A new market scenario appears to be clearly opening.

Spanish property – Out of the woods?

Is it finally safe to talk about a new property market cycle in Spain?

The Spanish property market has suffered a deep adjustment since its peak in 2007, but signs of recovery are appearing with increasing frequency all around. Until now, only the most optimistic experts -or those with vested interests- have been talking of a turnaround. But it finally feels fairly safe to say that the worst is over and that a new expansive cycle is beginning.
The most recent data of property transactions and other data such as building activity cannot be seen as anything but good, after such as long period of bad news. The monthly statistic elaborated by notaries compiling property transactions (arguably the most trustworthy reflection of the market) has shown significant rises in recent months, with respect to the same month last year: in January, sales were up by 62.3%, in February, by 39.8%. At the same time, house prices were up by 9.4% and 0.6%, and mortgages by 58% and 35.9%. Simultaneously, the building sector has seen an increase of 23.9% – well above the European average of 5.5% , only surpassed by Slovenia (33.1 %) and Hungary (28.3 %) and light years ahead of Italy, bringing up the rear with -7.9 %.
According to El Pais newspaper, the notaries have interpreted these increases as a clear sign of a market recovery. It appears that investors now believe that the adjustment in prices has run its course, and banks are slowly starting to lend again. Other positive economic data are the decrease in unemployment figures, the growth in the number of tourists, and the general improvement of the Spanish economy.
However, it may well be the case that instead of the fast-paced price increases of past decades we now enter a period of slow growth or even stabilization of the market.

Planning approvals have collapsed by 95pc in Spain since their peak

According to official figures from Fomento (the Ministry of Public Works) there were just 33,869 residential planning approvals in Spain last year. This is an incredibly low figure. It is not only 23pc less than the 44,162 housing starts of 2012; in fact, it is the lowest figure since the current data series began. Compared to the 2006 peak of Spain’s building boom, when planning approvals for new homes hit 865,561 in one year alone, more than the UK, France, and Germany combined, planning approvals have collapsed by 95pc.

Due to the glut of new homes on the market, plus the lack of financing available to developers, it is difficult to imagine any significant recovery in home building in the near future. What is not difficult to imagine, however, is a shortage, in the next few years, of the kind of new homes that people do want, in the places they want them. So if you already own one of these, this is good news for your investment. On the other hand, if you are currently looking to buy a property in a sought-after location, I am afraid you will soon have to face tough competition as the market picks up speed again!

Uk divorce valuations and Spanish Property

We can help minimise difficulties following the breakup of a marriage or relationship by providing a market valuation of your Spanish property.
Although always a difficult situation, we can help identify the value of your asset, hopefully, before it goes to court. If this is not possible, we can act as an expert witness if required by providing a valid UK court valuation of your Spanish property.

We offer a competitive Nationwide service throughout Mallorca, Ibiza and mainland Spain.