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Ready for a post-Covid bounceback!

As Europe gets to grips with Covid-19, HomeEspaña has reasons to be excited about the future. Founder Kieran Byrne tells us about streamlining the company, market conditions and what this all means for our valued clients.

It’s been a tough year. Do you feel the company has coped well?

Absolutely. We’ve weathered the Covid storm and are coming out the other side financially strong and streamlined. Actually, we’ve never stopped getting enquiries, and traffic to the website only dipped marginally during the height of the pandemic. Demand for Spanish property remains as strong as ever – we’re just waiting for people to be able to travel out here again to view properties.

Perhaps more incredible is that sales never stopped completely either. Currently we are selling upward of 20 properties per month, with more than half coming from virtual viewings and the remainder being to people based here. None of this would be possible without the trust that buyers and vendors continue to have in us.

HomeEspaña - Kieran Byrne

How has HomeEspaña been ‘streamlined’ and how is this beneficial?

You can thank lockdown! In a strange twist of fate, it provided a window for me to step back and take a good look at everything, from how we are structured to the sort of business I would like to run going forward. Underpinning all of this was future-proofing our core value, something that has never changed since I founded the company in 2002, namely quality customer service.

Before the pandemic we had grown into a significant organisation, in fact the largest estate agency by volume in the Costa Blanca South, and not far behind in the North. Increasingly though I was concerned about what the next step up might be for the business and how this could affect the service we offer. Part of our customer service package has always been to offer locally-based teams with that personal touch. Equally important, we like our offices to be multi-lingual and geared towards an international market, so we can cater for pretty much anyone.

I realised that becoming a large organisation, which requires various layers of management, can make a company less personal and doesn’t really fit with our core ethos. So we’ve restructured as four distinct businesses each focusing on their own areas and operating independently. These are Valencia (the city and provincial areas), Costa Blanca North, Costa Blanca South and our mortgage brokerage Hipoteken. At the same time, we’ve consolidated into five offices, namely in Valencia, Los Dolses, La Zenia, Dénia and Benidoleig. In addition, I am taking a more hands-on role! So yes, I’m excited and confident about the future.

Just how strong is demand - is there a backlog of buyers?

Without a doubt. We know this from our ongoing conversations with clients, something that has been especially important to us during the pandemic. We’re anticipating two waves of demand.

First are those people who were ready to buy and had started the process when the pandemic hit. So they’d opened a dialogue with us, maybe done a viewing trip but never got to the point of making an offer. Well, these people are dying to finish what they started – although some will have done that with the help of virtual viewings. Then you have everyone who has decided to buy during lockdown. What we’ve all experienced in the past 15 months has made most people realise that life is too short to delay big plans like buying or moving abroad.

Not forgetting there are prospective vendors, so people who have been waiting to put their Spanish property on the market. This could be due to a change in personal circumstances during lockdown or people who have been ready to sell since the start of the pandemic. Put all this together and it means that buyers heading out in the next few months should expect a very busy market, especially in the most sought-after resorts and communities.

Have the dynamics of the market shifted at all?

Yes, in a few ways. Most noticeable is how diverse our market has become in terms of nationalities. Before the pandemic, sales were split 50/50 between the UK and other countries. Now 75 per cent are to non-UK people, in particular Dutch, Germans and Belgians. While the UK remains an important and valued market for us, it is no longer our sole focus and post-Covid I think we’ll see continued growth in the wider European market. All of this is especially good news for vendors, as it means a larger pool of potential buyers.

Unsurprisingly, we’re seeing increasing numbers of people moving here to work remotely, thanks to the general shift towards working from home that has come about from lockdown. And linked to this, the average age of our clients is getting younger, so more people in their 40s and 50s, including young families who are relocating.

You’ve mentioned virtual viewings a few times. Is this tool becoming the norm?

Certainly, but perhaps not in the same capacity as during lockdown, when remote viewings were the only option for overseas buyers. What lockdown has done is highlight how effective this type of technology is and how it can be used to streamline the more traditional viewing process.

Typically, buyers expect to do a multitude of viewings before finding their perfect property. Often this has required more than one trip out to Spain. But thanks to virtual viewings, now you can start filtering suitable properties and learning about local areas much earlier on in the process, thereby saving time and hassle. Certainly we encourage people to use virtual viewings and to consider them a key part of preparation for buying here. The better equipped you are when you come out to do viewings, the more our team will be able to help you.

Through lockdown, most people have discovered positive ways of incorporating video or virtual platforms into their daily lives. On a company level, here at HomeEspaña we’re embracing it internally as much as we are with clients, thereby saving us time and enabling us to focus more on the things that really matter, including customer service.

Kieran Byrne - HomeEspaña

Any final takeaways for buyers and vendors?

Keep your plans alive and don’t wait! Lockdowns are already easing and travel restrictions to Spain will be lifted at some point in the near future. So the best thing you can do is start talking to us at HomeEspaña today, so we can ensure you are in the best possible position when you do fly out. You never know, we might even find you a home – or sell your home – through a virtual viewing before you get on a plane!

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As you are aware, the laws are changing on a daily basis so we feel it is best that you check the links below for Spain and your own country before booking you trip to come and see us. We also advise you to check again on the days before your travel to make sure there are no last minute changes.

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