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MAY 2013 | It is not just Miami

According to DepartmentOfNumbers. com (the new version of HousingTracker), nationwide, inventory peaked in October 2007 at 1.6 million unsold units. Today it stands at about 700,000. Asking prices are up 20-30% compared with December 2011 - pretty much the lowest point after the crash - and only 10% off 2006 levels. Of course, the picture differs dramatically from place to place. Certainly, across the US - from

Florida to California - markets are emerging from their 5 year slumber and

“At this stage just a few - not the hundreds seen in 2006, 2007 & 2008 - but enough”

the cranes are on the move. In Orlando, the classic vacation market is again growing and property sales are again feeding into it. Roger Hutchins of specialist Realtors(tm) Jerry Barker ( deals with Orlando and the surrounding areas: “Investors are looking at the Disney area and beyond. Many are coming in with cash, but mortgage fi nance is increasingly available for those who want it.”

Spain Spain has also seen the renaissance of its vacation home construction industry, long thought by many to be almost dead. In places as far apart as La Mata (on the Costa Blanca) and Marbella (on the Costa del Sol) there is activity. In some cases, new cranes have arrived on site; in others the cranes that have been standing idle for years have been serviced and put back to work. Des Rowson from DLR Properties (info@ has noticed the change: “Buyers are back, particularly at the lower end of the market. Prices are creeping up. We are fi nding it diffi cult to fi nd good inventory at the right price”. Des, who has worked in the Torrevieja area for over 25 years and knows it backwards, says: “one of the most interesting developments is that some of the really big players - like Masa International - who went into hibernation three or four years ago have come back into the market. They can see movement and they are now taking steps to satisfy it. Simon Morris and Paul Payne, MD and Sales Director, respectively, of Masa International, agree with Des. Simon Morris (simon@ says: “We can see this happening. For the last few years the market has been dead and nothing was going to revive it, so it wasn’t worth our while investing in it. Today is different. We have, over the years, sold 32,000 houses and want to sell a lot more.”

FEATURE “There is an acute shortage of quality

stock. The builders who have land banks have gone back into the market - mainly building holiday homes. Most buyers are in their 50s and 60s - lots from the UK, lots from Scandinavia and lots from the former Soviet countries.”

Other markets In Bodrum, Turkey, the new cranes are building upmarket villas, aimed mainly at the domestic, Middle Eastern and former Soviet Union markets. Izzet Donmez of Turkey Property Plus (, based in Bodrum, says: “Developers with land banks are seizing the opportunity of a ready supply of labour and cheaper materials to build luxury properties. Few are on sale at less than €400,000 and many are much more expensive. Alongside these projects there are four or fi ve 5* hotels under construction. Taken all together, they will lift Bodrum to the level of St Tropez.” Other countries are seeing the same phenomenon. In Calabria and Abruzzo, Italy. In

Santa Maria, Cape Verde. In Goa. In the Caribbean. In Thailand. Basically, in many (if not most) of the vacation destinations of the world. Of course, we should also bear in mind that in some (though very few) countries, the slow down never really happened and so the cranes have always been on the skyline. From the industry’s point of view this

is all very exciting: proof that we are (at last) emerging from a long, dark tunnel and that there are both potential for the industry and sales to be made. Yet there is one strange thing about these reports that suggests they may refl ect a series of local success stories rather than a global trend. The type of person who is buying and the markets the developers are aiming at differ greatly from place to place. This is not a case of the world

realising that there are bargains to be had and snapping them up. Nor is it a case of lowered prices bringing out people who could not previously climb onto the bottom rung of the international property ladder. In each market the buyers and the types of property being bought seem very different.

In Bodrum, it is a market of people wanting large and expensive properties. “People have always had money,” says Izzet, “It is just that they are no longer afraid of spending it”. In Spain’s southern Costa Blanca - where price has always been an important factor - Des sees the change as being the result of people no longer being prepared to wait: “The buyers know what they want. They have always had enough money to buy but they were afraid to invest a couple of years ago. It was too indulgent, too much of a luxury. After all, they could lose their job the following week. Now they realise this is going to go on for a long time and that they are not getting any younger.”


In Florida, too, the market is different. “These are investors,” says Brett, “They are paying with cash, not credit. They are looking to a 10 year timeline.”

The China factor China now manufactures about half of the world’s cranes and at about half the cost of a German or US crane. Equally important, their construction companies are keen to use them around the world! They are coming up with innovative deals, combining construction and fi nance.

So perhaps the message is an even better one for the industry. It is not that a particular category of buyer has come back. Nor is it the case that a particular type of property is back in demand. It is confi dence that has come back. If that is so, the industry can get back to what it does best: sourcing product and selling. Happy days!

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