Jimmy Widén, founder and CEO of 3SA Estate left a successful career in media to establish himself as a high-end real estate agent in Marbella. Today, four years later, his name is impossible to miss for someone looking to invest in a premium apartment or villa in this Mediterranean hotspot. Let´s dive in!
Thank you for doing this interview with us Jimmy. You have had a successful career in the Media industry in Sweden but you decided to change direction in life and moved to Marbella to start a real estate firm, 3SA Estate. What inspired you to take this step?
I bought my first flat in Marbella 5 years ago and when I did, I saw a big gap in the real estate industry where no one seemed to focus on clients such as entrepreneurs and individuals in leadership positions such as high profile CEOs etc. I couldn´t see any brokers that had the experience that I have from working with this type of clients. Also, I knew that the digitalization was coming and that many individuals in this target group of clients would move to Costa del sol part-time or full time in the coming years, thanks to the growing possibility of working from distance.
What are the main differences between living in Marbella compared to Stockholm?
First, you don´t have the same logistical problems such as traffic and crowded communal bus and subway lines. Second, people are less stressed and in general happier, people are smiling and enjoying life every day. Here you wake up taking a walk at the beach and later in the evening after work, you play padel, tennis or go to an outdoor gym, all year around. In Sweden, you have darkness 9 months per year. That's a huge difference.
There are a lot of real estate firms in Marbella, but you have succeeded to establish your firm and brand successfully during a short period. What is the secret to your success in this business?
Thank you very much! I have 14 years’ experience of customer service and I understand what it takes to deliver a solid buying experience. I focus on my clients doing the best possible deal rather than what I can earn in the transaction myself. In the long run, this strategy will win even for me. Happy clients give new clients. Of course, I have some other secrets as well but they will remain secrets ;)
Tell us more about your company 3SA Estate and how you have positioned yourself in the market?
We focus on some specific targets of clients, and them only. We do fewer deals, but we have higher closing rates because of this. We don´t run around on viewings just to get a viewing. We focus on buyers only and we rarely take listings ourselves. However, if we do take a listing, we usually sell it very quickly.
A year ago, you launched a new business area within luxury rentals, tell us more about it and what services you offer?
We rent out high-end villas. Only. And we focus on private holiday clients and company conferences. During low season it is perfect for companies and management boards to come here for 2-4 days and work with the plan for next quarter etc. They don´t pay more than they do for a conference in their home city, but they have the sun shining and our staff that takes care of them 24/7 if they want.
Costa del Sol real estate is divided into many different markets, what is your take on the relatively young market of the city centre in Malaga?
I am certain that Malaga, within 5-6 years is going to be one of Europe’s coolest cities to live in. Lots of companies will keep moving from expensive cities in the north down to Malaga so save costs and more and more people, in general, are moving to Costa del sol. A "real" city like Malaga will fore sure be super popular for those who want to live in the sun, but still have the year around ”city pulse”.
In the last years, we have seen that more families and professionals from Sweden and other northern European countries move to live on the Costa del Sol and work remotely or establish a business here. What is their main driving force according to your experience and how do you see this affecting the local real estate market in general?
The driving forces are the sun, high quality of life, a bit lower taxes, no stress environment, family focus and a healthy lifestyle. I think that Marbella will go from 180.000 permanent living to 450 000-550.000 permanent living within 7 years. This will affect the real estate market a lot in many different ways but I would not be surprised if some parts of Marbella will be the second most expensive place in Europe after Monaco within 10 years from now, regarding mostly villas.
On social media, you inspire others to take the same steps as you did and move to Spain, what´s your main advice to someone looking to build a life here.
Be prepared before you move. Do a real business plan and also a plan for your private life. Don´t take it as it comes. Have a plan for everything. Get a GOOD lawyer and work as you were working every day in your former hometown. Don´t adapt too much to other people’s way of living down here. Make your own path and then stick to it!
What special advice do you have for second residents who are looking to Invest in Marbella? And how can 3SA Estate Marbella help them to accomplish their goals?
Contact 2-3 real estate agencies and take a business meeting with them for a ”touch and feel coffee”. Choose the one that you get the best connection with. The buying broker needs to be on your side during the whole process so choose one that you know will work for your best interest. Feel trust with him/her and build a relationship. Buying a property down here is usually a dream come true and you must have a broker that listens to your needs. Not one that wants to sell only what they want to sell to get the highest possible commission.
Where do you see the best opportunities right now and what areas are going to boom in the future?
Estepona is growing a lot, also Mijas, Benalmadena and Malaga. For sure ”La Campana” in Nueva Andalucía will grow together with the real Nueva Andalucía, but La Campana is still low priced compared to the rest of Nueva Andalucía as it´s about 10 years behind. Sotogrande will be the new Zagaleta as well. They have an amazing plan out there. I like it a lot.
How has the COVID-19 affected the market and what opportunities do you see evolving from it?
The first couple of weeks, it felt like the world was going under and I had 2000 phone calls during the first 2 months. It was crazy and we lost a lot of rental bookings mostly, but we turned that around and got fully booked in the end, but with Spanish and English people instead of a huge mix of nationalities that we normally have. Also, the adaption of digital meetings has got 5 years advance during the crisis. Now I see higher demand than ever for buying real estate on Costa del Sol. With that said, most demand is for villas. Apartment buyers will come back to the same level next year. They are a little bit more careful than villa budget clients. Take this the right way, I was very quick when COVID -19 came to change our marketing strategy so we have taken a huge step in the brand building during this time. So for my business, "it was good that it happened”. In all other ways, of course, it´s terrible for the world because it will be more segregated than ever after this. With this said, I sell real estate in Europe’s coolest place so it will benefit our specific market. I would not want to have my job and company at any other place in the world right now. Costa del sol will explode in demand during the next 10 years.
Finally, You truly embrace the Marbella lifestyle to the fullest. How do you spend your free time and name some sweet spots to our readers that needs to be experienced!
I go on a lot of nature walks in this amazing environment. I play tennis and padel and I ski in the Sierra Nevada during the winter. I love going there just over the day, back and forward. I also choose to eat a lot at all great restaurants. The food quality, in general, is probably the best in the world here. SYLT, La Plaige Casanis, El Ancla and NOSSO is my favourite lunch and dinner places by the beach. Istán lake for a walk is really cool, and also going up the mountain La Concha is a must if you like nature and exercise.