Marcus Surtén is the CEO of MiMove, the real estate portal with a mission to make the Spanish (and Portuguese) housing market more efficient and transparent. In this interview, we get an insight into buyer demand post-COVID-19 in the lower segment of the market and why it might be a good time to buy now.
- Hi Marcus, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. Tell us a little about yourself and the company MiMove, which you run.
- I have quite some experience in the real estate industry. I, together with a few others, started up Blocket Bostad, a well known Swedish property portal. I have also for example worked for News Corp. Since September 2019, I have been running MiMove on the Spanish south coast. MiMove operates a web portal (MiMove.com) where we list properties from mainly Spain but recently also from Portugal. At MiMove, we are working towards a transparent and more efficient housing market, which benefits real estate agencies as well as sellers and buyers. We saw that regulation and trustworthiness on housing web portals were flawed or missing completely, and filling that gap became MiMove’s primary mission. MiMove ensures a safer process in finding the right property. We have a number of criteria that both estate agencies and housing objects must fulfill before they are allowed to appear on our website.
- Got it, and from which countries do you have the most visitors?
- Primarily from Sweden but also from the UK and Germany.
"We found that 43% of the participants are even more interested now than before in buying a home in the sun and 20% said they plan on buying within 12 months."
- You did a market research survey recently with the aim of "taking the pulse" of the estate market in Spain. What trends did you find worth highlighting?
- Yes, precisely, we ran an international survey in April (2020) among our visitors with 521 participants. We found that 43% of the participants are even more interested now than before in buying a home in the sun and 20% said they plan on buying within 12 months. Several of the survey participants believe that the pandemic situation has made them realize that one should not wait too long to fulfill their dreams. The survey also showed that Swedes are mostly interested in buying apartments, while international buyers are more inclined to buy a detached house. The most attractive characteristics that people are looking for in a property are following (in preferred order): location, price, patio, pool access, proximity to restaurants, bars, and closeness to the beach. More than half responded that they have a budget of up to €200,000 and nearly 30% have a budget of between €200,000 and €500,000.
Now that the market has reopened, many realtors are talking about strong demand for holiday homes again, do you share that picture?
- Yes, I definitely see an increased interest that keeps growing. Our survey also showed a positive outlook on the housing market.
- In Marbella there have been quite a few purchases of exclusive villas even during the quarantine, is it that the market for the most exclusive objects has been least affected?
- Difficult question, but in general there is relatively little indebtedness in the “second home” market housing. Owners of the so-called high-end housing, rarely need to be put up for sale even if it can happen. Rather, it can lead to these homes coming out through long- and short-term rentals.
- What effects will COVID-19 have in the medium to long term on the Spanish market do you think?
- It's hard to say, but despite the uncertainties that the pandemic has brought, we still see that the housing market thankfully remains reasonably stable. Traffic on MiMove.com is steadily increasing and we have expanded significantly over the past year. We focus most on our core areas where the international buyers are located and what we can judge is a strong demand. Maybe even stronger now than before. The supply right now is good so they are both ready for a quick recovery. The key issue is predicting how quickly the amount of transactions will occur and how quickly sellers and buyers' expectations are met.
- What are your best tips for a person who wants to buy a home in Spain now?
- If the price is an important factor, the chances of being able to make a good deal are generally highest during the first 6 months after market turbulence has taken place. You can research yourself about areas, housing, and about which broker and adviser is the best fit for you. Feel free to invest some time on MiMove.com, where the search for housing is effective and you won't see any duplicates. The content is always updated so you will never see ads of homes that are for example already sold or have an old price. We also make sure that the pictures are of good quality. On several of our ads, we also have a 3D tour as a choice, which is optimal for buyers who live far away from the object. 3D views are also a good alternative to physical visits and that way avoiding all close contact as much as possible during these times.
- For someone who wants to invest in the Costa del Sol by buying, renovating, and selling a property and where the budget does not set limits. Given potential profits and the time it takes to sell, where do you see the best opportunities right now?
- Hard question, depends very much on the time horizon. In general, we look at the matter very positively. I would say at the moment that Malaga, East of Marbella, Mijas, Manilva, and Estepona offer very good opportunities.