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Marbella Villas: Moving Back into the Sun

Oct 11, 2007
Combining the rush to modernise with political tensions in the post-Franco era (and just a little acquisitiveness), many coastal towns have experienced a concrete sprawl, typified by the 1993 Bigas Luna film Huevos de Oro (Golden Balls), a surreal comedy noir about a crazed developer who dreams of building the biggest sky-scraper in town. But in Marbella, at least, the supply of new villas is only just beginning to recover, after a scandal worthy of a Bigas Luna plot.

To most, Marbella has a reputation as the Costa del Sol's quality resort, with its stylish restaurants and bars, surviving historic quarter, and ample beaches. The wealthy build their villas in the hills on the outskirts of the town, or around the marina and casino complex at Puerto Banus: and while the town has an atmosphere of exclusivity demonstrated by the many Rolls Royce cars, and luxury Marbella villas ranging between 1 and 6 million euros, there is a demand for more affordable new and used properties, of 750,000 euros and under. But until recently, there has been a shortfall of these newer properties.

In the 90s, the town's populist mayor (who was also a property developer, and renowned for bad language and fisticuffs) rushed through a number of planning applications, for individual villas and for resorts, which contravened previous planning regulations. A new planning document was drawn up by the Town Hall, but failed to receive approval from the regional government. The Town Hall went ahead giving licenses mainly for apartments within the Marbella municipality. The boiling point was reached when the central government dismissed all the councillors of the Marbella Town Hall, following a court investigation that found that there had been corruption in the granting of 'illegal' licences. During a year or so, many Marbella apartments were difficult to sell, as the licences were considered suspect. As a result, banks would not grant mortgages on these properties.

In recent months, a newly elected Mayor and town council have drawn up a new urban plan, which would mean that 95 percent of these properties would be legalized They understand that the priority is to reactivate the Marbella Real Estate Market and give security to buyers and property owners. This will no doubt be good news for the Marbella property scene.

The PGOU Urban Plan will be open to public observation from August to October, in an attempt to gain support, and will hopefully be approved by the beginning of 2008, providing any issues related to environmental impact and technical specifications have been resolved. Other actions that the Town Hall has put in place are cleaning, security and public works to the promenade, beaches and monuments. Security is a concern for families lured by the area's international schools, but who don't want to experience the downside of living in a rich man's paradise.

If the only resort in Europe with a year-round season, rolling green hills and the rich history of Andalucia appeals to you (not to mention the golf courses and yaughting), now is the time to have a look at finding a villa in Marbella. And of course, make sure that the builder and property developer are fully insured.
About the Author
Shaun Parker has his finger on the pulse of the Marbella property market and has followed developments in the Spanish real-estate market for a number of years. Mabella Villas
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