Quite apart from location, there is an eternal question in real estate, especially Costa del Sol real estate, namely the debate between newly built and resales properties. Which is better and/or offers more value? To answer this, one must understand the context of the Marbella property market.

Words Michel Cruz, Photography Courtesy of DM Properties and Engel & Völkers Marbella

Quite apart from location, there is an eternal question in real estate, especially Costa del Sol real estate, namely the debate between newly built and resales properties. Which is better and/or offers more value? To answer this, one must understand the context of the Marbella property market.

Words Michel Cruz, Photography Courtesy of DM Properties and Engel & Völkers Marbella

In every property market there is of course the distinction between newly built homes and pre-owned ones. However, there are few regions where this segmentation of the market is as clear as it is on the Costa del Sol, and where the real estate offering is indeed so distinguishable between these two categories. The reason for this is the fact that whereas elsewhere the percentage of new build homes relative to the accumulated number of existing homes is fairly small, the coastal region has been so strongly focused upon new construction that between freshly built homes and those still under construction or being sold off-plan, they comprise a significant proportion of the available stock.

This means that buying a brand new home is a real option in and around Marbella, and it is indeed properties of this kind that primarily drive the market, with demand especially concentrated in new villas and apartments that feature modern design and the latest amenities. However, is a new-build always the best option in terms of location, size, architectural design, price and value for money? We ask some of Marbella’s leading property agents for feedback based upon many years of experience on the ground.

Where is the bulk of demand concentrated right now?

“The market for new-build properties has been growing steadily in recent years, with many developers launching new projects in the area,” says Smadar Kahana, owner of Engel & Völkers Marbella. “The buyer today is looking for more modern properties and is willing to wait for completion, especially now that developers are very advanced with 3D imagery and the client can carefully choose the lay-out that best fits their family. However, the resale market is still a significant part of Marbella’s real estate market, and many buyers continue to look for existing properties that are ready to move into, especially in certain areas like Sierra Blanca, Cascada de Camoján and Nueva Andalucía.”

She continues: “Traditionally, resales still constitute around 80% of all sales, primarily because they encompass most of the properties available for sale, yet it is believed that as much as 40% of all properties sold so far this year have been new builds.” Pia Arrieta of DM Properties/Knight Frank adds that: “The fact that, since Covid, a larger percentage of buyers come here to live permanently or most of the time has also had its impact, creating demands that favour new builds – such as modern amenities and qualities – combined with more space and larger gardens, which again favours resales. However, both have allowed for a move away from more typical holiday home locations.”

Why do buyers prefer resale properties?

“A lot of people still like to see what they are buying, but that said, the percentage of off-plan properties bought continues to grow as tools such as visual renders, Zoom meetings and virtual viewings continue to become more sophisticated and more commonly used,” says Alberto Webster, CEO of Blackshaw Estates.

“During the Covid confinement, people began searching and viewing more online, and this together with the already established preference for modern architectural styles, layouts, amenities and build qualities gave extra impetus to off-plan and new properties,” says Elaine Newland of Strand Properties. “Quite apart of course from the fact that most of us like the idea of moving into a brand new home. Many new developments now offer the chance to personalise your home, and people like the idea of a ready-to-move-into property that doesn’t require any renovation or updating. In addition, the latest developments often include features such as spas, co-working areas and clubhouses that few of the older ones have.”

Are there advantages to resale properties?

“Definitely,” says Pia. “Older properties are often set in the best locations, such as frontline golf or beach, simply because they were still available at the time. They also tend to be larger, more varied in design and layout, and have larger gardens. The interest in more space and private green zones was revived after Covid, as the confinement experience caused many to desire a larger home to both live and work in.”

“Another reason for the increase in popularity of resale homes following Covid is that most buyers wanted to purchase and move in straight away. They didn’t want to wait two years for a property to be built. This also leads investors to identify a new market for buying resale properties to renovate and rent out,” adds Elaine.

Does this apply to both villas and apartments?

“The move to larger properties initially favoured resale villas, but recently there has also been a wave of demand for new-build holiday apartments and modern designer villas where design and lifestyle are key features,” says Smadar. “People are buying such properties as holiday homes and as a base for remote working and running their businesses from, and of course they like the convenience of moving in without having to spend months or longer refurbishing.”

How do new and resale compare in terms of price and value?

“New-build properties tend to be priced higher than resale properties, reflecting the premium that buyers are willing to pay for a modern, turnkey home with the latest amenities and technology, and also their relatively limited supply and the pressure of rising construction costs,” adds Smadar.

“New-build properties tend to be more expensive than they seem when compared with a resale, as they are generally more compact, so the price per m2 is considerably higher, but then again, they are ready to move into, whereas resales usually require at least upgrading, and you have to factor the time and cost involved in this into the purchasing price,” says Alberto.

How do different residential areas compare?

“In the most established residential areas, such as the Golden Mile, Sierra Blanca, Los Monteros, Guadalmina Baja and La Zagaleta, resales tend to dominate as there is limited space for new construction,” says Elaine.

“The limited supply and high cost/m2 of some of the top areas has made new residential zones more popular,” says Smadar, particularly in parts of the Benahavís and Estepona municipalities, where the New Golden Mile, La Alquería and Atalaya are good examples, but also in the east of Marbella.”

How do you see this process evolving?

“New build will continue to dominate in the hillside areas with more land, and resales in the more established golf and beachside suburbs,” says Alberto.

“Besides the Golden Triangle, people are also following newly built modern homes to areas east of Marbella, such as Elviria, Mijas Costa/Golf, and Fuengirola,” adds Elaine.

“In prime locations there’s no land available, therefore clients searching for those locations will invest in re-sale homes. As the land in Marbella and the surrounding area is very restricted, the amount of new construction will also stay limited in the coming years, and we will see secondary locations like La Alquería and El Paraiso Alto developing rapidly as there is still available land,” says Smadar. “In recent years, we have seen a new tendency from developers investing in older properties situated in prime locations, especially with sea views, which they are completely renovating to the highest standard with the trend of completing a concept home with fitted interior and garden design, so all that the client has to do is arrive with their luggage, unpack and live there comfortably right away. Such modernised homes with the latest design and high quality, built in a prime location, are in the highest demand and will find a buyer quickly,” continues Smadar.

“In the end, it is a self-selecting market,” says Pia. “If prime location and space are most important to you, then a resale or renovated home is the most logical choice. If it is convenience and turnkey buying with the latest amenities already in place, then many buyers seek out the newly evolving areas where construction is taking place.” Smadar concludes: “Every buyer’s preferences and priorities are different, so the reasons for choosing one property type over the other can vary widely. Ultimately, it’s important for buyers to carefully consider their needs and goals when deciding whether to invest in a new-build or resale property.”