Otero’s roots lay in northern Spain, where the two generations preceding current CEO Ruben Otero constructed some 3,000 homes and built a reputation for technical skill, straightforward dealing and delivering quality.

It was a good company to inherit, but when a young Ruben Otero stepped into his father’s shoes and took over the firm he had a different vision, drawn by the uniquely exciting market of Marbella and indeed its lifestyle to resettle and re-establish himself here.

“It’s been a wonderful lifestyle choice but also a bold move in business terms,” says the third-generation head of the company he re-founded in new environs. “Marbella is a place of challenges and opportunities, and in many ways more competitive and demanding than many of the primary housing markets found in other countries and other parts of Spain, but it’s a market I love and understand well, and the one around which today’s Grupo Otero is built.”

An All-in Creator of Villas

Though the company has its roots in construction, which remains the core activity, the Grupo Otero is now an all-in-one concern that also brings architectural design, engineering, technical installation, legal and planning, and final delivery together under a single roof. “We have become known for our modern villas but are of course adaptable to the times and the preferences and needs of our buyers,” says Lionel Lunshof, senior sales advisor within the company, who liaises with clients to ensure the properties are delivered exactly as they envisaged.

In fact, the firm’s leading architect, Juanjo Viñuales, has been ahead of the trend in moving away from the ubiquitous white geometrical style and diversifying the range of core designs around which many Otero villas develop and evolve. “We have a very flexible approach when it comes to design and specifications,” says Lionel, “and Juanjo encourages buyers to show or tell him what styles they like and amenities they need within a certain budget, so that he can create a series of architectural proposals that form the starting point for further development.”

It is out of this process that the final made-to-measure home is created, complete with a wide range of possible additional features, such as sunken poolside firepits or modern terrace bioethanol gas burners, rooftop terraces with bars, barbecue, plunge pools and/or Jacuzzis, not to mention private gyms and spas with heated indoor swimming pools, sauna and steam baths. “These and many other features can be added to create unique homes designed around our clients’ individual needs and preferences,” says Lionel.

A Clear, Transparent Formula

In addition to being creative and personalised, the process used by Otero is also highly transparent and intuitive, designed to offer clarity rather than obscure details. “We are not developers in our own right but build homes for people who either already have their own land on which they want to build a private villa, or for those who are searching for the whole process from land acquisition to delivery.”

In addition to sourcing land for individual plots, the firm also offers land parcels it has acquired using its established network and scale of operations, and sells individual plots on to private clients at fixed low mark-ups that are well below the standard margin. “We aim to cover only our time and costs in land acquisition, and make our living out of the building of the homes, so by doing it this way and keeping it all under one roof we are able to avoid multiple mark-ups and offer quality homes in good locations at prices that are not only highly competitive, but consistently below the standard market level,” says Lionel, whose clients come from a wide range of nationalities including above all Scandinavian, Benelux and German buyers. “The advantage of buying a plot from us in this way is that all the preparatory work has already been done, the land surveyed, parcelled out and the initial licences obtained.”

Anyone familiar with the process knows that this can save anywhere between six months and two years, as well as reduce the accompanying costs, which is why a lot of people looking to build their own home choose to do it like this. “Currently, we offer a series of villa and location options that vary in size and budget, but starting from €495.000 for a three or four-bedroom villa – land, construction and finishing included.” What’s more, once the land, house design and specs are agreed with the clients, a clear and easy to follow costing is provided for each element, which is presented for final agreement.

The spreadsheet-style system is designed in such a way that it is easy to see how any changes and tweaks affect the final price, thus giving architect and client alike the tools with which to arrive at the final make-up of the villa, and therefore the final, definitive cost, which is then frozen. “From the moment the final price and its breakdown are clear and agreed upon, and the contract is signed, Otero freezes the price and commits itself to delivering the property for that sum,” says Lionel. “A clear, transparent and professional description of the costing factors is therefore in our interest as well as the client’s, as is an efficient construction process and timely delivery.”

Construction is typically achieved in under a year, with the additional time coming from the relevant town hall’s process of final approval, which can take as little as three months in Benahavís or six months in Estepona. “We work with a wide range of quality materials and luxury brands such as Siemens, Hansgrohe, Villeroy & Boch, Rocca and Schneider Electronics as standard, but can also adapt to the specific wishes of the client, always intent on ensuring that the villas we build have an A-certificate for energy efficiency and are above the norm in terms of build and technical standards,” says Ruben Otero, who has brought the more stringent northern Spanish build standards with him to Marbella, saying: “we bring together the elements in which to optimally enjoy the Marbella way of life.”