According to Knight Frank’s latest Spain residential report, Spain has seen the fastest and most sustained increase in investment in second homes across Europe in recent years, with the Costa del Sol resorts of Malaga, Marbella, Mijas, Fuengirola, Torremolinos and Benalmadena the most popular locations.

In Malaga, this resulted in a 30% increase in the number of homes purchased by foreign citizens last year. With continued high economic growth in Spain (average house prices rose by 12.2% in 2000), the recent drop in interest rates should make the purchase of a second home in Spainever easier and more cost-effective.

First-time buyers of a sunshine home on the Costa del Sol are faced with a bewildering choice of new, or nearly new, developments to choose from, as the building boom in Andalucia continues. Here, as elsewhere, the old adage of ‘location, location, location’ holds good, and with new buildings springing up every day, it is vital to establish what new development is planned, or permitted, within the area you decide to buy in. Today’s sea view can so easily become the rear view of yet another apartment block.

The decision by Mijas town hall and major Spanish financial institutions such as Unicaja, the Banco de Bilbao Vizcaya and the Banco Central-Hispano to invest upwards of 6 billion pts in a new racecourse and leisure complex at El Chaparral in Mijas Costa, 30 km from Malaga airport and 25km from Marbella, underlines the municipality’s confidence in the long-term future for residential tourism on the Costa del Sol.

Anyone looking togain a toe-hold in Spain for the first time could do a lot worse than buy into one of a number of outstanding small developments on the coast at Mijas Costa or overlooking the picturesque golf-courses at Mijas Golf. Especially as prices in Mijas are still about half those in Marbella.