Cloudnine Spain Blog

[Ep2] WHY THE NEW NAME? La Piedra Spanish Property Podcast with Mark Stücklin & Sean Woolley

[Ep2] WHY THE NEW NAME? La Piedra Spanish Property Podcast with Mark Stücklin & Sean Woolley

The second instalment of Inside Track, now renamed “La Piedra”, a new monthly series of podcasts featuring Cloud Nine Spain Managing Director Sean Woolley and Mark Stücklin (Spanish Property Insight) discussing the Spanish property market from different perspectives. Mark is very well known as one of the leading voices in the Spanish property arena and is one of the authorities in the industry, often quoted by the media.

Listen to the podcast version here

Link to the youtube video here

Sean: Hello everybody. Welcome to episode two of our podcast. My name’s Sean Woolley, from Cloud Nine Consulting, and with me as always, I have,

Mark: Mark Stucklin.

Sean: From Spanish Property Insight. And yeah, we had a sort of introductory episode about a month ago now, I think, Mark, where we just sort of set the tone for what we were trying to do and what we were trying to accomplish with this podcast, which is to use your grasp of the data, with all your years of experience and the fact that you have become a renowned market commentator on the Spanish market, and myself as the, I don’t know, at, at the, at the front of the, the battleground, if you like, where I’m seeing things on a-

Mark: The coalface.

Sean: The coalface. That’s it.

Mark: You’re at the coalface.

Sean: That’s it. Where I’m seeing things on the ground. And maybe there’s some synergy there between what you’re seeing and you’re hearing, and also what I’m seeing and hearing on the, on the ground. So that is the basis for our podcast. Hopefully between the two of us, we can offer an informed and educated commentary on what is happening in the market. Obviously, we can’t foresee the future, but we can certainly spot trends and patterns, and maybe advise people on what may be coming down the track. But obviously we aren’t fortune tellers, unless you are, and you secretly haven’t told me, Mark.

Mark: Sadly not. No.

Sean: So I think the first thing we should do to start episode two is to just cover some feedback that we had from episode one, which was, well, you explain, ’cause it was one of your people who follow you, wasn’t it, that commented on the name that we had chosen?

Mark: Yes. So this was an email I got from a reader, and I might read it out in fact because it’s quite instructive in what it said. It says, “Dear Mark, we are and have been for a long time, readers of your website, having owned property in Spain since 1982. We don’t like the name of the new podcast, Inside Track, because we, like thousands of others who lost substantial sums of money to a company also called Inside Track that was pushing off-plan investments in the boom years, working hand in glove with a company called Instant Access Properties. We spent 12 years in court thanks to Inside Track, and we are sure the name will open up old wounds for many people who invested with them and ended up bankrupt. Some even took their own lives as a result of their experience with Inside Track. It was a horrendous time for a lot of people, including us, and I thought it best to let you know what bad memories the name might trigger for many of your listeners.” Well, obviously with that in mind, I mean, I don’t… Inside Track and Instant Access Properties, they ring a bell, at least one of them does, from that period of 2000 to 2007.

Sean: Yeah.

Mark: But really at its peak in sort of 2003, four, five. I definitely remem, there’s something there that rings a bell. And obviously with, we don’t, we got nothing… Inside Track, I mean, you came up with the name, and it makes sense if you’re talking about sort of an inside angle. The Inside Track in English as an expression for something to convey a sense of getting a certain advantage from having a sort of a privilege of being on the inside and a wealth where two people from the industry, talking about what’s, discussing what’s going on in the market with the benefit of an industry perspective.

Sean: Yep. Yep. Exactly. I didn’t even think about the connotations of the name until you received that email. And you said to me… And that, like you, I thought, “Ah, yeah, that does, that does ring a, sort of distant bell.” I don’t know too much about it, obviously we both looked it up and, and did our research, and obviously it was a, a, an unhappy time for, for a lot of people who invested in that scheme. So, I think it’s, it, it did us two things really. Firstly is that yes, we are going to change the name because the last thing we want to do is to trigger those negative emotions.

Mark: Memories.

Sean: Yeah, and those memories. And also, it gives us an opportunity to highlight the fact that not all is perfect in the world. I myself, I’ve been stung by a property scheme in the recent past in Germany, and I’ve lost money because of that. And, you feel, you feel such a fool when it happens to you. You think, “Oh my God, how did I ever fall for this?” And then you, you end up on the email list of people who have also fallen for it. And it kind of makes you feel a little bit better because there’s, there’s a lot of professional people in there, doctors barristers, and you think, “Okay, so it wasn’t just me.” But it still leaves you with a nasty taste in the mouth. And my only kind of words of advice on things like this is, it seems to me that the biggest problems in these schemes sometimes is when they’re not physically attached to a property. So it goes into some sort of a fund which has responsibility for spending your money, and they spend it on stuff that you have kind of no real say in, in terms of its due diligence and stuff like that. I think, I think when it’s you as a person, or as a group of people, and you do your due diligence and you investigate properties, whether they’re off plan or whether they’re built, as long as you do the work that’s required in terms of making sure that those properties are as safe as they can be in terms of investments, then, then normally things can’t go too wrong. Obviously, like any investment, the value can go up and down, but I think, normally the good thing about property is that it never goes down to zero does it? So if you invest a hundred thousand pounds or euros, you might see a fluctuation between, I don’t know, 50,000 and 150,000, but you’ll never see it come down to zero, which is what can happen in a lot of equity markets.

Mark: Well, worse in bit, the bitcoin, the whole crypto.

Sean: Well…

Mark: Which we’ve been seeing unfolding where 15 billion disappears. It absolutely vaporized. Turned out there was nothing, no value behind it whatsoever.

Sean: Exactly, exactly. And I think, I think what’s happened in the Spanish market, since those heady days of the early two thousands, I think there’s been a degree of common sense reappear in the market. And we’ve lost a lot of those speculative investors that we had. I know we touched on this in our first episode. But we don’t see people entering the market now to make a quick buck. We, those people just, just aren’t there. Of course, people are always looking to make money, but I think people now are looking at it as a medium to long term investment. They’re not looking to flip properties. The conditions aren’t there in the market for them to do that anyway, because banks aren’t lending to a hundred percent anymore. It’s so those days have gone. So that, I think there’s a lot more sense caution in the market than there were in those, in those crazy days. So I’m, hopefully, we, we won’t see a repeat of what happened with those schemes.

Mark: No, I think the market is completely different. That period, which was insane, was very supercharged with speculative credit, and people were buying for all the wrong reasons, and people were talk… This was one of the things that would, was, was, I think what happened with Inside Track and Instant Access properties. And there was a, they were just one of, I bet you we could have chosen a bunch of names that we would’ve had a similar response.

Sean: Yeah. Yeah.

Mark: A similar response. They were just one of the aggressive and hard sell players that were acting at that time, who were feeding off… There, it was, it’s in the context of what was going on at that time as well. It was a, there was a bubble blowing up, but not just in Spain. It was going on, look at we, we all saw it come crashing down with the subprime crisis in the US. It wasn’t just in Spain. But it just helped that global context and that sense of what, I think it was Greenspan talked about, irrational exuberance, that was really what was going on here, but that allowed some hard sell operations to sell on that. And to talk it up, and to aggressively really exaggerate the upsides, completely minimize the risks and downsides, and play on people’s wish to… Easy money is everyone, well, not everyone, but it’s, it’s something that beckons. It calls out to, everyone would like to win the lottery. And that, though, so what was going on then is not possible in today’s environment. There’s just, the conditions aren’t there. But there was another thing that I wanted to mention, which is that this is something about, and maybe this happened to you in Germany. There’s something about property investing across jurisdictions that means that it’s easier for you to fall through the cracks. 

Sean: Yeah.

Mark: For, what was going on back then would be hard sell operations based maybe on the Costa del Sol run by, not necessarily Spanish people selling, hard selling property investments to English people or British people in Bulgaria.

Sean: Yeah.

Mark: Not just becoming, they, they, they, they were in Cabo Verde, Bulgaria, and God knows where else.

Sean: Yeah.

Mark: And Florida as well. And so…

Sean: Yes.

Mark: …who, to which jurisdiction do you take your case when you feel that you’ve been ripped off? And the, in Spain, they, the police, it was just a difficult case to make. And much easier for cross-border property sales organizations to go fly close, sell closer to the window they might, might have done, let’s say, selling off-plan properties in Manchester to locals.

Sean: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s really interesting, isn’t it? Because I, I don’t know if it’s an age thing with me, but I, the more, well the older I, the older I get, the more skeptical I become of these get-rich-quick schemes. Obviously, we’re all attracted to that because we all want to be successful. We all want to make money. But whenever I see something that says, “Guaranteed rental returns of 15%,” in the past I would’ve gone, “Wow, amazing. Here’s some money.” And now I just think, well, that can’t possibly be true for a start. So they’re either, I’m either subsidizing that return by paying an inflated price in the first place.

Mark: It’s a Ponzi scheme. Yeah.

Sean: Yeah. Or, or, or, this thing is just going to fall on its face. So…

Mark: Yeah.

Sean: But I can imagine still a lot of people getting, getting excited about things like that. And we have clients, we obviously talk to clients about other things that they may be considering, not just property here in Spain. And I hear them going down that track, and I sometimes say to them, “Have you checked that out?” Because you don’t want to see them, see awful things happening to good people, really, which is-

Mark: Sure. Absolutely. I guess what it boils down to, is when it comes to buying, investing in property abroad, well, not in your local postcode, caveat emptor is more important than ever. It is, there’s a lot of money in play, and you have to do your own due diligence and take, make sure that you’re set. But of course, people thought they were doing due diligence back in those days, but they were using lawyers that were recommended by the estate agents, or in-house lawyers who weren’t actually doing due diligence. They were just facilitating the sale.

Sean: Yeah.

Mark: And so, therefore, their good advice is to find a lawyer. If you’re going to buy a property in Spain, find a lawyer who is not… I’ve seen lots of lawyers who are recommended by estate agents and developers doing a fantastic job.

Sean: Yes, exactly.

Mark: But there is a potential for a conflict of interest there. So best to avoid that if you are just turning up without any prior knowledge or contacts, or reasons to trust, go with a lawyer that you’re recommended by your state agent is best, just to make a little bit left, and find one that’s got no, no, that comes unconnected with no potential conflict of interest.

Sean: I totally agree with that. The only problem I find sometimes, is when people go and find their own lawyer, they don’t do their research, and they find a lawyer who either has no knowledge of the locality, so doesn’t understand the specifics around, say, the more Mobeya planning, confusions and all those sorts of things. Or they find a lawyer who’s just plain awful, as in, they just don’t respond to emails or phone calls, and, and then you think, “Oh my God.” At least sometimes when you, when they do take advantage of an estate agent’s recommendation, as an estate agent, you can give the lawyer a bit of a kicking if you need to, and say, “Come on.” So it’s not like, “Oh, please get this case through and make sure the client thinks everything is lovely.” No, no, no. But it’s more a case of, “Come on. The clients are expecting an answer. Get on with it.” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But yeah, it’s, it’s interesting, isn’t it, because, and probably another, another topic altogether, isn’t it? But there, there’s definitely, I think in some cases there’s potential for conflict, but it’s just getting that, getting the balance right, I think, which is difficult.

Mark: Absolutely. It all boils down to the character of the people you’re dealing with in a way. Because you can go and get, like you said, like we’ve just said, go and make the effort to find a lawyer who’s completely unconnected. Find him a lawyer in Madrid who’s got no conflict, but then does an appalling job and mucks it up. And I have seen that happen actually. Or, use the local lawyer recommended by the Euro estate agent who does a brilliant job, really knows the case, and is ethically would not. And also knows that the sale is clean. So, like all things. But, that said, it’s to avoid conflicts of, conflicts of interest are a potential source of problems. So.

Sean: Absolutely.

Mark: One way to avoid that is by finding a lawyer who is not beholden to your, the people who are trying to sell to you for, for ongoing business. That said, we bought a property recently, well, actually now it’s a year ago. My God, 2022 has just flashed by. But I didn’t use a lawyer or anything. I, because I knew, I just used the notary. I didn’t need to do due diligence. But that’s because I knew everything there was to know about the property.

Sean: Yeah. And that’s the difference, isn’t it? Because in England, you wouldn’t have that protection from a notary. In Spain, you do. The notary is there to make sure that everything is done fairly. He or she will, will sit down with you at completion and say, “Do you understand this? I’m going to go through the deeds. Anything you’re not sure of, let me know.” And it’s quite a caring kind of process, really. So a lot of Spanish vendors and buyers, they don’t use lawyers. Like, like, like you, once you know the system, and you’re confident in the market, and you know what you’re doing, then yeah. You, you can, not get away with it, that’s the wrong term, but you can dispense with the services of a lawyer. I think when you’re buying from another country, I think it’s important. And that, that’s another thing. Sometimes we get, for instance, UK-based buyers who insist on using a UK lawyer. And we’re like, okay, yeah. But all that UK lawyer is going to do is, is sub it out to a lawyer in Spain, just charge you, charge you a bit more for the privilege. And, and…

Mark: Absolutely.

Sean: Of course, you don’t like saying that to a client because, you come out as a bit of a smart ass, but it’s, yeah, you always think, “Oh God…”

Mark: But maybe there’s some clients that prefer it. They want to deal with their lawyer and leave it to their lawyer that they’ve been dealing with forever and handles all their business, to find a lawyer and spend, and just manage the process for them.

Sean: Yeah. Do you know what? There’s a lot to be said for that.

Mark: If cost, if money doesn’t matter, then, then…

Sean: Yeah. It’s a layer of protection, I guess. So, Mark, you’ve chosen a name for our podcast. So what is it?

Mark: I suggest that we call it “La Piedra,” which actually my wife suggested. My wife, who’s Spanish. And I was asking her for terms in Spanish that would be like Inside Track that would give this sense or convey a sense of a similar advantage or a privilege of being on the inside. And apparently there, well, according to her, and she’s pretty good, plays a lot of word games. And so, she said she couldn’t think of anything at least that would, could, that would have the same connotations and meaning as Inside Track. So she suggested La Piedra, which is from stone, the stone. And in Spanish, you can also, like ladrillo, it’s like bricks, stone, there’s a kind of a real estate connotation there. Yep. Yep. Brilliant. Well, I’m happy with that.

Sean: So it’s “La Piedra Spanish Property Podcast.”

Mark: That’s great. And hopefully…

Sean: Until, so, until we get this deluge of emails.

Mark: I know. I know.

Sean: We’ll, we’ll then we, we’ll put it out to, we can brainstorm it.

Mark: Yeah, exactly.

Sean: But for now, should we say provisionally?

Mark: Yeah. Let’s go for it.

Sean: For the next month let’s call it La Piedra.

Mark: Yeah. Otherwise it’s going to go untitled for a month isn’t it? But let’s, so that’s, I’m, I’m happy with that. So, thank you to your wife. What’s your wife’s name?

Sean: Maria.

Mark: Maria, thank you, Maria for that. Lovely. That saves me a job, because I was coming up with all sorts of really useless ideas. You know when your brain just, I don’t know. I’ve had this, this issue as well the last few weeks.

Sean: Yes.

Mark: So I, I broke my arm, and, it’s, yeah. Oh God. So I’ve, yeah, anyway. Let’s move on. Right. So Mark, let’s get into the, into the meat of this in terms of, yeah, we thought we’d use this one because it’s going to be the, the end of the year, although it’s only episode two. We thought it would give us an opportunity to reflect on 2022, and see what’s been happening, where the demand has been coming from, are there any patterns, are there any types of buyers, are there any demographics that we can tap into, and maybe say why certain people have been buying in certain places, and is that likely to continue? So over to you, sir, initially, for some data, if you have any, on, on what’s been happening in the market.

Sean: Okay, well, focusing on, on foreign demand, I’ll just briefly say, because I don’t think we, we, there’s too much. It’s too big a market to talk about the whole market. So, I’ll just note that in the very latest data from the notaries, which was released day before yesterday, we can see that the overall demand has gone into, has fallen compared to last year in October.

Mark: Okay.

Sean: And this is the first time there’s been a decline, an annualised decline in overall demand since January 19th, 2021. So this big post COVID boom has just, has, has sort of, it looks like it’s running out of steam, which was inevitable. It’s not at all a bad sign. It, it just means that it couldn’t keep up that level of, it couldn’t keep growing indefinitely. So, but now looking at that, and, and so now let’s turn more to the foreign demand sources of demand from abroad. And there we have, the best numbers we have are the, from the notaries for the first half of the year. So, we’re now in December. It’ll be interesting to see when their numbers are published in, in the first quarter of next year for the second half of what’s been going on in the second half. But, the best numbers we have from the notaries are for the first half of the year. And there we can see that in the first half of 20, of this year, foreign demand was, there was 73,000 buyers. Now that’s just the bare, even compared to the boom year of 2007, there were only 33,000. It’s more than double in size. It’s been absolutely booming foreign demand for property in Spain. It was up 53% in the, in the first half, whereas local demand was only up 9%. So you can see that the foreign appetite for, to buy properties in Spain of, of course, foreign demand is, well, I mean that, with that, it’s a, it’s 20% of the market now.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Foreign buyers are 20% of the market.

Sean: Okay. But that, that sector of the market has, as you say, that’s increased in the first half of, of, of this year. Do you think we are in, obviously bearing in mind what you’ve just said about the October figures from the notaries, how, how much off were, were, were those figures in October year on year? Do, do, do, do you have a figure for that?

Mark: Yeah. Four, I think about 4% down.

Sean: Okay. So we’re not talking massive, massive-

Mark: No, no, no.

Sean: But we are, we are noticing a, a dip. So I’m, I’m wondering whether we are, when we do get all the figures for the whole year, we look back at it, whether we are going to see a year of two halves where we have the, the first half, maybe just tipping into July and August, because obviously the summer months does attract a lot of people. And then we’re going to see a, a noticeable drop off of demand from foreign buyers, maybe in the last four or five months of the year. That’s, that would certainly fit in with what I’m seeing on the ground. First half was incredibly busy. We had a very busy 2021. And it just continued and continued. And I said, I said 12 months ago that I feel that we’re satisfying that post COVID demand. People who couldn’t get out, people who couldn’t fly, people who couldn’t get to get on with their lives.

Mark: That, that would be the, the, the pent up demand-

Sean: Yes.

Mark: That was pent up from the lockdown and the travel restrictions. And they, man, they planned to buy, but they couldn’t. So now that there was like the, the boom as that pent up demand was un, was unwound.

Sean: Yes. Because the interesting thing for us as a real estate agent, almost forgetting about clients at the moment, is that obviously, when things start happening like we’ve seen in the last 18 months, where there’s a lot of activity, a lot of sales being generated, a lot of money being made in sales commissions, obviously it attracts a lot of new entrants into the market. And now even in Marbella, I think we have something like 2000 estate agents, which is just crazy. I mean, if you imagine, if you imagine, I mean, I know, I mean, I know the northwest of England, if you imagine Liverpool for instance, can you imagine 2000 estate agents in Liverpool? It just wouldn’t happen. It just wouldn’t, wouldn’t happen. So we’ve got 2000 estate agents in, Mo, in Marbella. All kind of tribe, well not all, but a lot of whom are recent entrants into the market, who are trying to jump onto the bandwagon of the success, and the, the activity. My, my concern now of course, is if we get a, even a slight drop off in the market, what that means as far as market share is concerned, is that all of our market share is diluted, and some of us have to go. Because there simply isn’t going to be, the numbers might be 4% off, but actually because there’s 50% more agents, those numbers are well off for, for, for all the agents. So it has that, that massive kind of knock-on effect to us as agents. There’s too many of us to service even a slight decrease in demand. It’s really interesting, isn’t it?

Mark: And that’s bad for, for the Mo, for, for people, for customers, because it makes everyone more, fighting harder.

Sean: Yes.

Mark: So that can be good, but it can also be negative as in more pushy, and going, pushing harder to, to close sales out of desperation.

Sean: Absolutely. And I’m, I was just amazed, recently, we, we, we were a part of all of these online systems where we collaborate with other agents. So we all share a portfolio. And every day I’m seeing just new agents coming in, new agents coming in, and sometimes you know it’s just a one-man band working from their, their bedroom. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s how I started. But, you think, “Wow.” And those people are relying on maybe one or two deals a year. Maybe big deals just to get by, a bit of pocket money, enough to live on. But of course, the problem is, if they’re not doing one or two deals a year, where are they, where are they heading? What’s going to happen? So I think, from an estate agent’s point of view, I think we are going to lose some. And that is based not on a, not on a massive drop in the market, even a 4% drop if we’ve, if we’ve increased our competitor base by 30, 40%, as a 4% drop in the market, that, that, that has like a quite a bit serious impact on us. So yeah. Watch out for a little bit of pain I think, in the, in the real estate market, particularly in the, in the overpopulated areas in terms of agents. But the interesting thing, like, like you said is that I, I think the first half was definitely booming, and the second half just feels like it’s just tapered off. Not, we’re still getting lots of inquiries, we’re still getting lots of tours, we’re still getting lots of sales, but it just feels that the, the madness in the market has finally subsided, which is what we predicted anyway.

Mark: Yeah. It was inevitable.

Sean: Yeah.

Mark: But, and, and by the way, after this call, I am going to go through the latest notary’s numbers. And it wasn’t at 4% if that’s… It was a national average, but I think it was the worst, it was the biggest decline was in Catalonia down about 13%. I think the ballet, ballets was down 11%. Valencian region up eight or nine percent in October. So it’s not a, it’s, it’s, it’s, there’s been regional variations and Lucia was down, but, but not as bad as, as Catalonia in the . But like, so 4% it might have been, but then of course that’s as an, that’s the overall market. It doesn’t, that’s not a focus on the foreign buyers who a lot of these agents you’re talking about really of, they’re, they’re, they’re reliant on that foreign market. So, let’s wait and see. But I, I would expect that the, that, that, that increase in foreign demand couldn’t carry on forever. It couldn’t carry on increasing. And there will come a time, but also the second half of the year is the quieter half as you know. The first half of the year is when all the people are interested, and they inquire and they visit. And the second half is all about kind of closing the sales and putting it to bed and, and after-sales.

Sean: Yeah.

Mark: So, but, but, but it’s interesting to, I’d like to know what you think was, so now we can see that there was this record level of sales in the first half for foreign buyers reaching more than, who were more than 20%, up 53%, and up now responsible for more than 20% of the market led by, the British were still the biggest group. It’s almost 8,000 buyers. Germany not far behind on 7,500. And the Dutch were the biggest, increased the most in the period up 121%, not followed by Norway, also big in their, big increases came from Ireland, Denmark, Germany, USA, even the British were, even the, the UK was up 68% in the first half. I know we’re comparing against 2021, where there was still disruption from COVID, and, and travel restrictions. But I’d be interested in saying, Well, what do you think? We don’t know where it’s going, but what was responsible? What were the factors driving this record level of foreign demand for property in Spain in the first half?

Sean: I think, I think it was the post-COVID thing, that, that whole…

Mark: Still pent up. ‘Cause that would be-

Sean: Yeah, I think so.

Mark: Because in the first half of 2020, that’s now more than two years ago. That’s when the lockdowns and the serious restrictions were. By 2020, first half of 2021, there was very few travel restrictions. And really in Spain and Europe, the, the, the, the pandemic was on its way out. People were already moved on. Now in 2022, it’s completely moved on. So you think there was still quite enough to be, to be, because I mean, the growth is so dramatic that it can’t just be the pent-up demand.

Sean: Yeah. Yeah. No. It’s true. I, I think that perhaps it was people who, during the lockdown, during the pandemic thought, “I need to change my life. I need to do something. I need to, to get a better quality of life for myself and my family.” So I think-

Mark: Yeah.

Sean: Some people acted on it straight away. Some people let it, let it linger, and some people moved, moved later into, into the market. And I think that’s what we, that’s what we were seeing. But I think the whole range of, of, of different things. There was that. There was the, the fact that the pandemic taught us all that it’s possible to work from home.

Mark: Yeah. It validated that model, didn’t it?

Sean: Yeah. Absolutely.

Mark: More than anything.

Sean: And that became a huge thing. And, interestingly, I was going to mention that certainly the first half of this year, we saw a lot of people with a lot of wealth still enter the market. We had the same last year, and we also had the same in 2020 when things were still restricted. We had a lot of multimillionaires buying property in Spain, because they could. They were pretty much the only ones who could, because they could do it from a distance, they could do it virtually, or they could jump on a private jet. So we had quite a few of those. I know that sounds a bit weird, but we did. And because we were having to change our business model in terms of video, virtual viewings, all those sorts of things. So we were investing in photographers and videographers and God knows what to, to help us through that. But I also think that, that people have realized that they can move their family, they can move their office to the sunshine. And the weather, I’m sure you’ll agree, the weather in Spain will always be the biggest, the biggest draw. The weather and the lifestyle. The fact that it’s so accessible to places. So we’ve had a huge number, the majority of our clients, I would say, who are swapping life in the UK, Ireland, Germany, very strong market for us in the last year. Who’ve just had enough. They’ve had enough of Northern Europe, and they want to give themselves and their families a better lifestyle. They want to put the kids in a school where they have an international exposure. They want to be able to work from home, jump in the pool for a swim, have some tapas, and if they need to head to a board meeting once a month, it’s easy to do, because you’ve got Malaga airport just down the road. And I think that lifestyle appeals to a lot of people. So it, it appeals to people who are entrepreneurs. It appeals to people who are self-employed. And it also appeals to people who are quite high up the corporate ladder, who don’t necessarily need to be in an office every day. And so I think that’s what’s driven the demand from Northern Europe, and the influx of money that we’ve seen, particularly at the high end. I think, I think it’s because of that, that lifestyle change.

Mark: Well, you’re definitely in the right place in Mobeya, that’s where you’re going to see it at its best. Well, it at its most prominent. There are wealthy people who could work from home, and they’ll be buying in places like Mobeya. And there’s also, you see it in Abithir, and, and Myorca, and Barcelona, You probably don’t see it so much in Albox in Almeria.

Sean: Sure. Sure.

Mark: In out-of-the-way locations.

Sean: Yeah.

Mark: We had a flight of, yeah, we had a flight of money come to us. Not to us, but to… I wish. I wish.

Sean: Next time give me a call.

Mark: We had a flight of money coming to the Costa del Sol over the last 18 months. It’s been really obvious. A lot of people here with a lot of money who’ve bought big properties, lovely properties, to the point that we’re kind of running out of stock at the high end. And agents and owners are almost being able to name their price. Having said that, we’ve noticed in the last month or so, that that is just slightly changing. We’ve seen a little price decrease on certain properties that we’re a little bit hopeful, and we’ve gone yeah, yeah, yeah. And now they’re just coming off their, their peak prices to a more realistic level. The ones that we, I think we mentioned last time, 20 million just about.

Sean: The crazy prices.

Mark: Yeah. So maybe an inflection point is kind of end of year 2020 inflection point is what we’ve seen. But you can’t pass. You never really, we, it might turn out that way, we just pass one. So apart from the kind of COVID trends, which are not just pent-up demand, but changes the way that the pandemic changed people’s way of working and living, and what they could, and how they could see themselves doing that. What about, for example, Ukraine? Have you seen that? When I look at the numbers, I see Poland, Bulgaria, obviously Ukraine’s up. Those that can get money up. There’s been a dramatic increase in demand for buyers from countries around, near Russia, let’s say.

Sean: Yeah, absolutely. So we’ve seen, I mean, we haven’t seen it so much, but I know, because I think the reason being that we only advertise our properties in English. And so I think people who have invested the time and money to advertise in Polish and other Eastern European native languages have seen a massive spike in inquiries and sales. And the feedback I’ve had from people dealing with those clients is that they just want a safe bolt hole, again for themselves and their family, and their money just in case that, that war becomes something a little, a little worse than it already is.

Mark: Yeah.

Sean: And I, it’s difficult because a lot of people said, “Oh, my God.” And, and we do get those doom mongers don’t we? You probably find them as well. Any little glitch in the world, it’s like, “Oh my God, the property market’s going to collapse.” And so we, we’ve had it for the last year. We’ve had, “Oh, war in Ukraine. No one’s going to buy property. Who’d want to buy a property while there’s a war going on in Europe?” Actually a lot of people, because they want to get away from the war.

Mark: Yes. Absolutely. And if you look at, I mean, as a bit of a parenthesis that, Spain’s position geopolitically, it’s, it’s very much kind of behind the Pyrenees protected by the Pyrenees. So it’s a bit like an island to the peninsula. It’s like a massive island that’s surrounded by sea, and then it’s got the Pyrenees almost cutting it off from, from mainland Europe. So those are very, very good defences. And we have North African gas. We have a pipeline direct to North Africa. And Spain has the most, the more liquid LMG terminals than any other country in Europe. Germany’s now been building them faster, I gather. But Spain already had seven, I think, and the facilities to process that. And I, and of course the weather, and grows a lot of food. And so I think a lot of people just see Spain as, as a kind of a safe place far from the conflict, and about as far from the conflict as you can get in, in, in Europe.

Sean: It’s absolutely true. And I, I, I think also, and I’ve just been back to England last week for a few days, and it was a bit grim. I love England, but I just get the feeling everyone’s just had enough. And I was talking to family members about it, and they’re trying to put a brave face on it, but a lot of people said, “Oh, I bet you don’t have to pay as much for your energy bills over in Spain, do you? And everyone’s obsessed about turning the heating on in England, because it’s going to cost them 10 quid. And you’re like, ‘Oh my God. We don’t even think about that in Spain.'” Because obviously, we’ve got the climate that helps.

Mark: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, you’re down in Marbella, here, up here in Barcelona, we just don’t turn on the heating. If it gets a bit cold for a few days, just put on an extra jumper.

Sean: I know. I’ve just had an electricity bill, which is expensive. It’s like 500 euros for the month, but I heat a pool 24-7. It’s a bit self-indulgent, I know.

Mark: Yeah.

Sean: Yeah. One of the reasons I bought my house.

Mark: That’s a luxury.

Sean: Yeah. It’s a luxury that at the moment, I can afford. Touch wood.

Mark: Yeah.

Sean: But I just get the feeling that, I don’t know if it’s synonymous around the whole of Europe, of northern Europe, but in England, everyone’s just a bit fed up. They’re a bit fed up of the politics. They’re a bit fed up of the cost of living. They’re a bit fed up of the strikes. They’re a bit fed up of the weather. It’s like, why are you there?

Mark: Yeah. Yeah.

Sean: You know what, do you know what I mean? And of course, people are there because they have to be there. But I think a lot of people obviously not sub 500,000 euro budget-wise, but people above that level are seriously considering, is this the place I want my kids and my grandkids to grow up in? Or is there a better life? Is there another way out there? And you look at somewhere like Spain, and Spain isn’t perfect, I’m sure you’ll agree with me. But you look at somewhere like Spain, and you think, “Okay, yeah.” It’s got a lot more going for it in terms of the weather. The politics is a little sort of a little more stable, should we say. The cost of living isn’t quite as much. And so I think we’re going to see more and more people making that move. I really do.

Mark: Talking about the UK, what about Brexit? I’ve been, I’m extraordinarily heartened by how deep the British love affair with Spanish property is, that Brexit kind of brushed it off, just shrugged it off, and carried on. I’d expected that it to be cataclysmic and faithful for British demand. But no, I mean, they’re still grabbing, like I said, they grew by 68% in the first half, and they’re still the biggest group of buyers by nationality. They don’t seem their appetite is undiminished.

Sean: It’s interesting, isn’t it? And I won, I would love to see the stats on the price breakdown. So if there’s been a knock below 500,000, or whether, because that’s the key thing, isn’t it? Because above 500,000, pretty much you’ve got freedom of movement. If you get the golden visa or some other visa, then you’ve got freedom of movement. So Brexit doesn’t really apply to you. But under 500,000, you haven’t got that freedom of movement. And I just wonder whether that portion of the market has been negatively or positively affected. I suspect that it probably hasn’t been shaken too much. I suspect it’s probably just dropped off a little.

Mark: Yeah.

Sean: But, if I was to guess, I would say, if people still want the holidays in Spain, and if it means they just can’t go exactly when they want, then well, they’ll make due.

Mark: Yeah. Well, of course, the above the, the area of the market that’s under 500,000 is sort of 95% of it. It’s, the, the, the above the golden visa price cutoff is a very, is really the pointy end of the market. So, and it’s, you will see a disproportionate amount of it because you’re in a Mobeya, as likewise people who are in say, Javea, and the Costa Blanca, and maybe in Valencia City, Barcelona, parts of the Costa del Sol, and Madrid. And that’s about it. Costa Blanca, the south of Costa Blanca, that kind of area. It’s sort of 50 grand, 50,000 to 150,000.

Sean: Yeah, Yeah. It is.

Mark: And that’s a big slice of the British market. I think the British market has a, just quickly, they have a, they’re way below like Germans. Danes and Swedes are on their average budgets.

Sean: Yes, you’ll be, you’ll be correct. I think it’s also interesting that I think, I think some people, I was going to say, are almost in denial about Brexit. That they just think, “Well, it’ll get sorted out. We’ll be able to come and go whenever we want. It’ll just happen.” And you think, “Ooh, I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not.” You don’t want to, you don’t want to pop that bubble. But actually, there’s this talk, there’s always rumors about the Spanish wanting to do a deal.

Mark: A deal. Yeah.

Sean: Yeah, to do a deal. But of course, if the Spanish do a deal, everybody else has to do a deal. So it’s like, okay, yeah. And even at the airport, I go backwards and forwards quite a lot because I can. I’m a resident of Spain, but they’re stamping my passport, and I’m like, oh, you don’t need to stamp my passport. And, they’re obviously, I would imagine that if you’re not allowed to come and go whenever you want, that one day, they’re going to look at you and go, well, hang on a minute, you’ve overstayed your welcome here mate. And there’s already reports of a few people that that’s happened to.

Mark: Yeah.

Sean: And I hope they get it sorted out. It just seems so pointless. And I’m, I’m sure people will guess where I stand on Brexit, but it just seems such a pointless exercise. But anyway.

Mark: Yeah. Well, it is what it is.

Sean: It is what it is.

Mark: It’s just, regardless of what, it just, it is a fact. And so we just have to, like in all things in life, whether you like it or not, and whether it’s good news or bad news, you have to make the most of it. You have, you have to make the best of it.

Sean: Yeah. You do. You do. One thing you mentioned earlier that I thought was also interesting, what I’m noticing, and I don’t know if this is a more Mobeya, Costa Del Sol, than the whole of Spain. As a brand, as a destination, we are becoming more global with more of a global reach. So yes, Northern Europe, I would imagine is still the primary source of buyers and investors. But certainly in the last 12 to 18 months, we’ve seen a huge increase in our North American buyers. So US and Canada. And we’ve also seen people from the Middle East, people from the Far East. So we’re becoming this global destination. And I think certainly what’s helped with the American market, is the fact that Mobeya brands itself as the California of Europe. And of course, most Americans, they love California, but they–

Mark: Well, not so many, I mean, a shrinking number actually. But anyway, yes, I get your point.

Sean: And certainly the American clients that we’ve had have all been–

Mark: They love Florida. Spain, which is it, Florida or California?

Sean: Yeah. Exactly.

Mark: They, they, they both were used interchangeably.

Sean: They both work. And I think the people who’ve come over here to see us have all said the same thing, that this place reminds them of California with regards to the landscape and the topography of the place, but it’s safe. And the one thing we get from the Americans is they want to send their kids to a school and not have armed security on the gates. They want to be able to take their kids down the promenade, let them run wild, let them have a great time, and not worry about someone coming along.

Mark: Yeah. I think this is a massive advantage of Spain, because I can’t imagine living like that. My children go to a local school here, and that’s, you never worry about your children’s safety. I’ve never, it’s never crossed my mind, but I gather that in the United States, not only from the kind of these mass shootings they seem to have with depressing frequency in schools, just on a whole range of sort of fronts, it seems like, it’s cause for concern in American schools. So you can see why they come out to move to Marbella, and send them to one of the, not only do they learn a, a new lang, extra language, which is great, and Spanish is a very useful language in the world today, but it’s done it in a completely safe environment. And that’s a big, big selling point.

Sean: Exactly. And I think a lot of Americans like the idea of a European base, because everything is so much closer than it is in the states. They can pop to Italy in two hours. They can pop to London in two hours. Wow. That’s, that’s quite a draw for a lot of Americans, open-minded Americans. And also, of course the, the exchange rate has been massively in their favour in the last year. So, I think a lot of people have taken advantage of that, and secured a euro asset with dollars, because it’s been a, it’s been a great time to do that. So we’ve, I think the biggest change for us, apart from the, the noticeable increase of high net worth buyers, is our American buyer market. We used to do maybe one or two a year, and we went through a phase over the late summer. Everyone was American. Boom, boom. It was just like, I think we did six or seven in a row, all Americans. And it was like, wow, wow. This is a, this is a thing that’s happening.

Mark: I think, the best numbers I have, suggest that some 40% of American demand ends up in your neck of the woods. So you getting almost the lion’s share of it, of almost major, of a, like the more than half the market.

Sean: That’s interesting.

Mark: And, for American buyers. Because Marbella has got international brand recognition, like you say, they’re similarities with California, the good, the good transport. There’s not many buying in Castilla Mancha, or even Galithia. And so, and it’s between Marbella and Lucia were predominantly Malaga province, and almost certainly focused around Marbella, maybe a bit in Soto Grande as well, and Barcelona, the, those are the two big hubs for, for, for American demand.

Sean: I totally agree. Yeah. The, the Americans like to be near an historic city, don’t they? They always like to have that bit of culture and, and history nearby. That’s what I find anyway. It’s like, “Where do I go for culture?” And it’s like, “Okay, well absolutely not, not Marbella, but you go to Malaga.” And I’m, I would imagine it’s the same in Barcelona for them.

Mark: Also the, that, well a big culture spot means good airport access.

Sean: Yeah, of course.

Mark: And they can now do this work from home, work from Spain, and continue with clients in the US uninterrupted. I think interest rates were bound to have, and, and the changing that kind of quite dramatic change in interest rate environment in Spain, in, in, in Europe, well, in the world, but this year. Since January, interest rates have been, in Euro, which is the rate used for most Spanish mortgages, has just been going up and up. And so I think that everyone could see it coming. It’s not like it took it, it certainly didn’t take me by surprise. And I’m no, no monetary genius. I also, I took out a, the biggest possible mortgage I could at fixed rates, at a fixed rate last December. And I’m happy to say I did that, because then I saw interest rates just go up, up and up and up. And I think a lot of people also saw the same thing. And so people trying to get in front, ahead of the curve.

Sean: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Mark: Before interest rates went up any further. They’re still actually quite low by historical standards.

Sean: Very much so. And, and, and this is the thing about, it depends on what type of buyer you have. A cautious buyer is always going to find a reason not to buy. And particularly when it’s a second home, which they don’t need to buy anyway, they’ll always be looking for objections. They’ll always be looking for a way not to buy it. And of course this is the perfect scenario for them, because they just say, well interest rates have gone up, so I’m not going to buy. And you think, yeah, but hang on. And this is where you get the, the more considered buyer, a more maybe experienced buyer who will say, “Ah, but okay, they’ve gone up, but they’re still at a historically low level, and it’s something that I can deal with.” And this is the difference in, in the buyer types that we’ve come across. Those who are realistic, who accept that yeah, things have changed, but it’s still, still relatively low. And then those who will just use that as the reason not to buy. We’ve spotted this a few months ago, and this may be the reason why things are just starting to taper off a little bit towards the end of the year, is that we have got a few headwinds in our faces at the moment. We have got rising interest rates, and we’ve got a, a cost of living crisis. We have got an energy crisis, we have got a war in Europe, so we’ve got a lot of things that are against us. You could argue, why would anyone in their right mind want to go and buy a second home in Spain? But then you have the other things that we’ve already talked about, the quality of life, the safety, the, and I think at the moment, it’s like a, it’s like a, a tug of war between the two for a lot of people. Particularly a lot of people who, who are sitting on the fence who don’t necessarily need to buy, but would like to buy. It’s just like, “Oh, is it the right time? Am I doing the right thing? Do I really need this?” So yeah, we’re, I, I think we’re seeing a little bit of that at the moment, which is maybe just weakening the market a little bit.

Mark: Well, you know, at this time of the year, at the end of the year I always, in January I’ll do a review of the headwinds and tailwinds, ’cause I think it’s a very good metaphor for, for understanding the, the, the pressures on the, the forces that push the market forward or hold it back. And you’ve mentioned a bunch of them. We’ve talked about 2022. How do you see 2023? Are you optimistic about it, or cautious, or deeply glum?

Sean: I am between cautious and optimistic, I would say. I think what we’re going to see, is we’re going to see the people who really do want to make a move, or make an investment here, they will continue to do that. I think we are going to see a little drop off in prices that need to be corrected in certain areas. But I don’t think people should expect a fire sale because we don’t have any of those underlying conditions in place when there was the previous fire sale, which was the start of the, of the financial crisis. In, and some clients are already starting to, to try and make comparisons, and say, “Oh, I’m just going to wait. I’m going to wait for the market to come down 40%.” And you’re like, there’s nothing, there’s nothing of any evidence that’s showing us that’s going to happen.” Because there isn’t, there isn’t a problem with the supply of money. Banks are still lending, people, there’s high employment. Okay everyone-

Mark: Oh, by the way, just an insight. Banks are still lending, but I don’t know if you’ve noticed the government has put the banks under pressure now to give people… it’s all vulnerable families and vulnerable borrowers were basically, who’s vulnerable, people who can’t pay back the mortgage. And so they are, they’re, they’re, they’re, there’s a deal being done with the banks to give mortgage holidays, and other things to make it easier to cope with the increasing interest rates. But I mean, and that’s great for the families who were, were struggling to pay the mortgage and might not be repos, might not be evicted for, and the properties foreclosed, but of course it comes at a cost. Banks aren’t just going to suck up that cost. They’re going to pass it on to others. And one of the ways they’re going to do it, is by not lending to, it’s going to make it, it’s going to make banks, it’s like if you can see that you, if you lend someone who then struggles to pay the mortgage, ’cause interest rates go up, they’re going to be, you’re going to have to, rather than just do what you, what has been done since time, since mortgages first started, which is, “Can’t pay the mortgage, well I’m sorry. You’ll have to leave, and we’ll repossess and sell the property.” There was always some, some margin for negotiations.” But if this is going to mean that banks are going to be even more cautious about lending to people who might not be able to repay the mortgage.

Sean: And I, I think that’s, that’s healthy. I think that’s, that’s good. Because obviously what we don’t want to happen, is we don’t want to see foreclosures, we don’t want to see stress in the market. So if it means that the people who are buying, are the people who can afford to buy, then great.

Mark: Also, I think it would make banks more interested in second home buyers because there’s nobody who’s a second home buyer that’s going to get any breaks, or any special treatment from the Spanish government. It’s going to be, “No, no. You have to repay or you lose your property.”

Sean: Absolutely. But it, it does frustrate me, Mark, when people do compare it to 2008. Because the conditions are, they’re just not alike in any way. And I think actually what’s, what’s moving it even further, is the fact that, like I said earlier, people are now, or, or certainly the driving force behind most people’s decision making, is they want a better quality of life for themselves and their families. And that is post, that’s as a result of the COVID thing. And what it taught us, and so I think that people who come to me and say, “Oh, I’m going to wait for the market to collapse.” I’m just like,

Sean: Whatever.

Mark: Wait forever.

Sean: But what I will say is that yes, I, I think for previously overpriced properties, and we all know what I’m referring to when, when basically prices that were just invented by estate agents in collaboration with some hosts-

Mark: But that’s more, if I’m not, correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s more of a problem at the, at the high end, isn’t it?

Sean: Yeah. It is. It is. And, and, and also like any market, it’s the same in London, or Dublin, or Stockholm. It doesn’t matter where you are, there are going to be pockets in that market where demand is going to outstrip supply. And in those cases, you’re always going to pay top dollar. And, and that is just the way of the world. So for instance, you look at like Marbella at Golden Mile, we have a string of clients waiting to invest in one or two developments. You can’t get ahold of stock. And those clients know that when stock becomes available, it’s going to be on the pricier side because the sellers have control of that market. And there’s nothing we can do to change that. That is just basic economics. Whereas there are some areas, perhaps out in the sticks a little bit, where there’s probably going to be a little bit more supply, a little less demand, and prices there may, may take a little tweak. But people have to understand that there are markets within markets. So people talk about Spain, and then of course, there’s the domestic market in Spain. There’s the, the, international buyer market in Spain. Second home market, and then there’s all the different regions, and oh my god. And you can’t just sort of tar the whole thing with the same brush. It’s-

Mark: Their own segments.

Sean: Yeah. Absolutely.

Mark: And some segments are very small, but they are very, very, distinct segments, and they operate according to their own rules.

Sean: Yep. Yep. What, what about you? What are your feelings for the year ahead?

Mark: I’m always gloomy, Sean. And I-

Sean: We’ll just, we’ll just edit this bit out.

Mark: I, I’m, not, I’m not expecting, I think there’ll be there. There won’t be the growth that we saw this year. So by, just by its nature, by its inevitability of, of the growth petering out, that’s going to be, you couldn’t interpret it at all. Spain’s heading downwards, but it’s not heading downwards. It’s just settling down. The question is, will it settle down or actually decline, as in people will stop buying, there’ll be a, like a recession in this, in the market. So buyers not, not get, not there. Or in reduced numbers rather than just the growth settling down. And there, I think, I think, because of the, in the same way that you talked about the pent up demand boosting, boosting demand, I think what we’re going to see is, I think the interest rates that’s been this sort of brought forward, sales brought forward, which is going to depress demand in the first half of this year, to, to, to a significant, to a noticeable degree, mainly for the local market. But some, but also maybe for foreign buyers, I think. But I don’t see anything, I don’t see any reason out there to be worried about a crash or a bubble. There’s certainly, we’re certainly nowhere near bubble land in the, the, in the, maybe at the very high end in some, but that doesn’t affect people really. That’s just a bit, very, very niche market. In the main, in the main market, in the middle market and the lower down market. At the lower, there’s no no sense of a bubble whatsoever. There’s no building bubble. In fact, Spain’s housing stocks are declining and are right near historic lows. Spain is not building anywhere near as much as it should given the size of the population, the age of the housing stock, and other factors. And the reason why it isn’t building, is ’cause to a certain extent, government policy, government policy is discouraging new building, which this actually creates a housing shortage. Rental policies also. There’s a lot of problem with gov, I have a big problem with a lot of the, the regional and national regional government policies, which I think are just like unhelpful. But they will, they will discourage housing investment. They will discourage investment in housing, house building, and, and increasing the quality and quantity of the rental market, which will favour incumbents. People who already have a property will see that, it puts, that’s what I would call, it puts a price, upward pressure on prices slightly artificially.

Sean: That’s interesting, because also I’ve got, I’ve spoke to a few developers recently, a few builders, who are just taking a little bit of a pause because the cost of building is so expensive now.

Mark: That’s another thing. The materials and labour.

Sean: Yeah. So, so they went into fixed price contracts 12 months ago with developers and now they’re backing out of them because they can’t deliver. They’re actually making no money out of it. So I think that’s caused a bit of pain in the, in the new build market as well. And obviously, that’s, that’s a result of inflationary pressures.

Mark: It’s becoming a bit difficult to build, to be a developer or a builder and make money. Because transaction costs are so high. Red tape costs are so high. Building material costs have it have gone up. Not just the costs but also the actual availability. All of these things tie the hands of developers. And so, why, why, right now, why bother? You might not, you might not make any, and now if the government imposes something like a 30% social housing quota on developers, and said, forget it.

Sean: Yep, absolutely. No point at all. The other thing I, I agree with you. I don’t think we’re going to see a, a recession or anything like that. But I think what, like I mentioned earlier in this episode, I think a lot of agents are going to feel a bit of pain. So just to pluck a figure out the air, so say we had a hundred thousand buyers in Marbella, serviced by 1000 agents. If that dips to say 90,000, there’s still a sizable number. So not a huge, a 10% drop-off in numbers. but we have 2000 agents trying to service them. Then you’ve got a, then you’ve got a, a bit of a crisis for the agents. Not the, not the market, but for the agents. And I think if we do see any pain, it’ll be as a result of, of, of agents maybe going by the wayside. And I hope people don’t, don’t take that as, as a signal that the market’s in trouble, ‘Cause it’s just, to me it’s a signal that there’s just too many agents that have jumped on the back of this, of this little mini boom we’ve had over the last two years. So, yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how, how that pans out.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. But, so, I don’t see reasons for a bursting bubble scenario or a crash scenario or anything. Just, I see plenty, but there’s definitely some headwinds, and it’s important headwinds, but there’s still some good tailwinds. So, overall, I guess I expect 2023 will kind of be a, be a post boom settling down. Neither, maybe a bit, maybe all in for the year, a decline in sales. I’m talking overall, I’m not talking about foreign demand because they’re, we’ll still have to wait. I really want to wait and see what, what, they always surprise me. There’s like, for example, we talked about the British still buying after Brexit, and all the other things that I’m always surprised.

Sean: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: So, so I, but overall I would say, I think that 2023 is going to be a kind of a quiet calm bit of a decline after the boom.

Sean: Yeah. And that’s, that would be fine. And I think that’s probably what we, what we need need. It’s just a little, a little levelling off. Take a little bit of the excitement out of the market that we’ve had in the last two years. And I’ll be-

Mark: Never forget, in 20, in 2007, 2008 when it was like a, well the insanity of the bubble that I expected, the bubble, it was clear for all to see, but nobody wanted to see it. And I remember the art, reading the, the Spanish press with articles, the soft landing, oh, the soft landing. And reading an article in “The Economist.” “Oh, yeah, there’ll be a soft landing in the Spanish..”. It wasn’t a soft landing at all. It was an absolute desa, it was a, it was like a collapse.

Sean: Yeah. That’s right.

Mark: And, but this time around, so are we just saying, telling ourselves what we want to hear? Soft landing. Soft landing cut. But, but I don’t see where, I don’t see the big threat like there was obviously then, where they were building more than Germany, France, and Italy combined. And there was sales, housing starts were 800,000, and now going to be 70,000. Oh, and by the way, and, and, and borrowing the leverage was much higher than it was. Average, I think 70% of sales involved mortgage financing. Now less, on average, less than 50% due.

Sean: And that, that makes a big difference. That makes a big difference. And I, I think in 2008, it felt to me like the taps were just turned off. There wasn’t, there wasn’t a gradual decline or a soft landing at all. Just, nobody had any money. The banks, the banks didn’t have any.

Mark: But the banks, 2008, they got scared, they saw what was coming, so they just pulled the plug on everyone. And lots of very viable projects that were not in anywhere, they just, they, they, the, they pulled, the plug was pulled on them. This actually made it worse. There was no sort of discrim, there was no discernment about where to pull the plug.

Sean: And then everybody panicked. Every, everybody, every business, every consumer panicked, and everyone just, it was a fire sale. And yeah, I, I can’t see those same, the same things applying. I hope people have found it useful to get our, our opinion on what’s been happening over the, over the last, well 11, 12 months. And our thoughts on what may be on the horizon next year. And Mark, it’s been a pleasure as always. And I look forward to recording the next, the next podcast episode with you in the new year. A new year, a new-

Mark: Absolutely.

Sean: Yeah. Absolutely. So, in the meantime, have a lovely Christmas. Enjoy as best you can, and I will see you on the other side, sir.

Mark: Yes. Merry Christmas, happy New Year. All the best for ’23 to you, and to all of our, to our growing army of listeners.

Sean: Oh, absolutely. Keep them at bay. Cheers, Mark.

Mark: Okay. Take care. Bye.


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Get in touch with Mark Stücklin