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Case Study

Locked Down in Singapore

Our clients first contacted us in April 2021. Although it seemed  possible international travel restrictions would be relaxed to allow property buyers to start house-hunting in Spain again later in the year that was not the case in Singapore, where they had been living and working for 20 years. So we spent the lockdown months analysing what they would get within their budget and, if nothing suitable could be found, what would they have to budget for or the compromises they might have to make. In the meantime, they sent me dozens of links to properties they had seen online that seemed to match their criteria and budget. None did. Like so many property hunters find, looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of thumbnail images on agents’ websites, can be misleading. What looks like the perfect property is less so when it turns out to be right by the motorway of there is a massive electricity pylon spoiling the view. However, back in 2021, with Euribor still negative, Spanish banks were offering long-term fixed mortgages at very competitive rates and after taking advice from a broker I have often worked with, the budget was increased considerably.

the brief

  • Detached house, minimum 3 beds but 4 better
  • Buying for future retirement in 10 - 15 years time
  • In the meantime good rental potential 
  • Good sea view
  • Must be walking distance to lot of amenities
  • Child-friendly area, lots to do
  • Walking distance to beach
  • Not keen on doing building work
  • Prefer contemporary

The challenges

Apart from a few holidays in the past our clients had no clear idea of the locations that would work for them. As they plan to make the property they purchase now their post-retirement home I recommended the search should focus on the two micro-climate areas of the Andalucían coasts for the best winter temperature. However, to secure a detached house in the very best locations might not be possible within budget so it was agreed that a semi-detached  would be a compromise they would make if it meant getting into a really prime beachside location. Walking to the beach and a town or village was something they would  value as they had two young children. Another issue was the timing. I was confident I would be able to move around without restrictions during the summer of 2021. But just as Europe started to enjoy freedom, Singapore went backwards at the end of September with strict lockdown being reimposed for one month. At that time I was already viewing and assessing properties for the shortlist and as the surge of post-pandemic buyers gathered speed I was watching the best of them get sold.

The search focused on the two micro-climate areas

Finally, at the beginning of November 2021 Singapore opened up, sort of. Anyone wanting to go to Spain had to arrive in Barcelona and depart from Barcelona. I’m not sure why but I guess it made sense to someone. So my client was on one of the first flights out, made a connection to Málaga and then had a post-pandemic reunion with his mother who flew in from Edinburgh. His wife, a teacher, had to stay in Singapore so viewings for her were videoed for later to take account of the time change.

I normally reckon 6 - 8 weeks for an in-depth search, particularly if two locations are under investigation, as in this case. I had started work at the beginning of September and by the time of our client’s arrival there were seven properties shortlisted to view, five to the area to the west of Málaga city and one to the east. Two were detached villas and five semi-detached.  To get that seven on the shortlist I had inspected an additional fifteen of which most were unsuitable and three would have been shortlisted but they got sold.  

I always very keen to make time for second and even third viewings. It always amazes me that many buyers don’t make multiple visits at different times of the day. In this case, after the initial viewings we focused on just two to revisit of which one was a detached villa without a sea view, the other semi-detached but with an almost panoramic sea-view. Both were walking distance to the beach, Puerto Banús and San Pedro de Alcántara. The asking prices were similar, the detached villa about 9% more than the townhouse.

The view from the roof terrace.

And the winner was - the semi-detached townhouse. Although on a smaller plot it was nearly 100m2 larger than the detached villa and in a wonderful, second line to the beach location with no road to cross. On three floors, there were already four bedrooms and three bathrooms but now there are an additional two bedrooms and two bathrooms in the basement, making six bedrooms and five bathrooms in total. The basement has natural light and now has a games and cinema room. The roof terrace with sea views tops it all off. 

Bathrooms were brought up to date but no other remedial work was necessary, apart from the basement, as the kitchen had already been renovated. Changes to the ground floor terraces were made and a wonderful summer kitchen and barbecue dining area now exist. A professional interior designer was brought in to finish the look.  The swimming pool is small and may be extended but being so close to the beach our clients may decide it isn’t necessary.

Best of all, my clients bought this house before any local agents knew it was for sale. The seller had only recently purchased it for his mother but after updating the kitchen she decided an apartment would suit her better. It was being prepared for the market but my clients were in the door first, thanks to my network of contacts in the area.

Starting July 2023, this lovely house is available to rent throughout the year when the owners are not using it. If you would like to rent it please call or fill in the contact form and we will be happy to put you in direct contact with the owner’s managing agent. Alternatively, follow this link to the tripadvisor listing.

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