** This article is taken from Country Life International, out this week with Country Life on May 16
When it comes to luxury houses in the Mediterranean, property buyers are spoilt for choice, but there’s a reason why Mallorca remains so popular: it ticks so many more boxes than other destinations.
The climate-notwithstanding a freak snowstorm last winter-is temperate, for one. ‘Playing golf in the South of France in winter can be like playing golf in Scotland,’ notes Kai Dost of Dost & Co (00 34 971 60 99 89). Also, the island’s amenities are first class: the golf, walking and cycling are all at an international standard; those who sail all over the world choose to overwinter their boats in the marinas; the shopping is excellent; and whether you’re in buzzy Palma or the hills around Deiá, the Arts scene thrives.
Many agree that May is the best time to see the island and, as early summer gets under way for 2012, so the property market seems to be blooming, partly due to some hard work on the part of the agents last year to recalibrate asking prices. On an island where prices rose by at least 10% per year between 2000 and 2007 without drawing breath, vendors are still coming to terms with the reality of a 10%-15% average drop-a statistic that mainland Spain views with envy.
Lack of supply has traditionally ensured a house to suit every buyer house prices remain strong and Mallorca today remains relatively undeveloped; last year’s UNE SCO World Heritage Site status award to the Tramuntana Mountains means they’re protected for future generations. The Tramuntana make a terrific backdrop for lots of properties on Mallorca, but those wanting to be closer to the action will focus their search near Palma, says Robert Maunder from First Mallorca (00 34 971 67 94 44).
‘The culture, shopping, sailing and golf are all concentrated here,’ he explains. ‘It’s also home to Agora, near Puerto Portals (www.agorainternationalschool.com), the best new international school on the island. It means that buyers who want a permanent home can relocate their families, even if the father still has business connections elsewhere.’
Most buyers-80%, estimates Mr Maunder -however, are looking for a holiday home. Savills associate Michael Cunnington from MJC Associates (00 34 971 57 99 57) says he’s seeing a trend for younger families, between 35 and 55, looking to buy more modern properties. ‘They’re looking for something with all the bells and whistles, ready to go.’ Popular choices include newer plots in the hills of Son Vida, 20 minutes outside Palma, which cost between €7 million and €10 million. Christian de Meillac of Knight Frank (020-7861 1097) agrees: ‘And you get more privacy than on the waterfront developments- properties are built into hillsides, so you don’t tend to see your neighbour.’
Seafront houses are still selling well. Dominique Carroll of Engel & Völkers (00 34 971 60 91 41) cites their recent sale of one of the much-loved ‘seagull’ properties of the kind designed by Alberto Rubio, overlooking Port Andratx, for €8 million, but adds that houses inland are also proving popular and they’re selling at least a couple of substantial properties per month. Many buyers in this area look in and around the pretty towns of Santa Maria or Alaró, where you can buy wonderful old fincas. ‘These towns used to be much more difficult to reach, but over the past decade, the roads have improved so much that you’re only ever about half an hour from Palma,’ adds Mr de Meillac. The east of the island is increasingly on the radar for those looking for a good price: Es Trenc is one of the island’s best-loved beaches, although local shops close in the winter. ‘Houses here are cheaper and the landscape is beautiful,’ says Miss Carroll. ‘The Cabrera National Park is great for snorkelling.’
Back in the mountains, Julian Cunningham from Harris & Butterworth (00 34 971 63 64 27) is based in Deiá, the village famed for its natural beauty, and which has also come to be known as a bohemian hideaway for those who value their privacy. It is to Deiá that the A-listers retreat from the crowds, and fincas there start at about €1.75 million, although the firm has sold properties ranging from €300,000 to €9 million this year already, outstripping its total sales for 2011 before May even began. ‘The Tramuntana are the choice for those who may have a boat or an interest in golf or shopping, but prefer the peace and quiet of the hills when they head home,’ Mr Cunningham explains.