The property bounce is back


“The report of my death was an exaggeration,” wrote the American novelist, Mark Twain. He might just as easily have been writing about the enigmatic property market of Mediterranean Europe. Recently its buoyancy has been more akin to that of a diving submarine, yet frustratingly, those buying today, could argue they are getting a better deal than those who bought a decade ago. The value for money is still there; the lifestyle just isn’t going to go anywhere else.

Why aren’t the buyers still forming impatient queues at Earls Court, York Racecourse, the G-Mex and NEC?

The paradox is easily explained. Understanding it, then marketing it, will return some bounce to the market, restore confidence; and soothe the nerves of those who anxiously gaze into the crystal ball.

Very few property buyers are privy to, let alone part of the casino-psychosis of the international investor. To most of us a place in the sun is a dream we spend our lives reaching for, and still do. The ordinary punters are not only there; they are growing in number. Circumstances are driving northern Europeans to the California of Europe.


The property buying frenzy between 1995 and 2005 was fuelled by number-crunching speculators as they rode over-heating economies. It completely distorted the property market. The real world has returned and it is none the worse for it.

Although only a small time player, on the edge of the action, it was commonplace for me to be privy to deals, many made over the telephone, in which entire blocks; even sections of off-plan developments were taken off the market. I recall clients expressing an interest in developments, which had yet to see a pallet of breeze blocks delivered. “Gone, all sold,” they were brusquely told. Some of the worst offenders were the developers themselves.

The pot boiled, it simmered, and the heat was turned down as speculators were wooed by investments offering better returns than did property. Buying off-plan, selling the paperwork on completion; it was a thing of the past.


Speculators aren’t idiots. The mystery is to try and understand why we lesser mortals take our cue from people whose aspirations are completely different to our own? Many ordinary buyers were no different from those who rushed to the Klondike over a century ago, to buy plots, tents and equipment, from speculators who grew rich and moved on.

We are not mini-speculators. We buy a single property to live in. Often we simply exchange our UK home for a Spanish home; placing the balance in the bank to supplement our income. For these buyers there’s never been a better place or time to buy than now.

We don’t buy to sell on completion. It may give some satisfaction to discover that our home has increased in value, but only if we sell it, which we have no intention of. If we did so then the property we buy with the proceeds will have gone up in similar value. We are chasing rainbows. So a couple of extra zeroes on the theoretical value of our home are as pointless as having two extra digits added to our sort code.

If our intention is to simply re-locate, enjoy a better climate and lifestyle, it is all relative. The value of our homes is no more than a talking point. It is fool’s gold.


Will the market return? It never left. The speculators are not the market and they are as unwelcome here as they are in the ‘square mile.’ They are about as much use as the MRSA super-bug prevalent in UK hospitals.

My advice to all with an interest in a buoyant property market, without ‘spikes’ in the graph, is to create a selling climate that sets its stall out to Tommy Atkins and his wife, Mary. Remember too Sarah and Simon; the youngsters who have so much energy and expertise our Mediterranean economies need.

If I were marketing Spain or Cyprus my approach would be sacrilegious to speculators. Let them get their calculators out and sell numbers; I shall sell life; a life that has real value. I would sell pragmatism because that and that alone is Mediterranean Europe’s diamond-encrusted crown. Anything else is floss.

My advice would be; if you want to gamble, invest; then off you go to the local casino, bookies or stockbrokers. If on the other hand you want solid returns over time but only as a bonus to a carefree lifestyle then come and see me.  (750) Michael Walsh. ©

Michael (Walsh) McLaughlin


BBC Radio Merseyside (irregular comment on matters of local interest / poetry / consumer affairs. BBC Radio Wales (topics of current interest). Radio City FM (Liverpool). Occasional panel member of several late night current affairs shows for Central Television and Kilroy-Silk audience participation shows. Magic Radio (Liverpool), Granada TV.  Articles and features on a variety of topics have appeared over the years in various national and local media. As Regional Manager of the Guild of Master Craftsmen media liaison; press releases, comment, letters; consumer-related advice. Excellent insider knowledge of properties abroad industry, exhibitions, advertising and marketing.  Regular articles in Liverpool. The Magazine.

Re-locating to Mediterranean Spain, Summer 2008

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