Autumn is not a time of year normally associated with being a busy season for the property market, but since our last edition we have experienced an enormous increase in rentals and sales to clients who see Gibraltar as the place to live and invest in.
Whilst an increase in rental demand was expected after the Brexit result, the surge within the re-sale market came somewhat as a surprise, especially as it encompassed the whole spectrum of properties – from studios to penthouses and villas.
We have seen that many buyers are attracted to our shores by Gibraltar’s international reputation, but there has been growing interest in Gibraltar not only as a means of reducing tax exposure, but, more importantly, as a permanent residence.
Gibraltar has undergone a massive facelift during the past decades and thanks in large part to that, the Rock has evolved in to a jurisdiction with a highly educated and trained population together with a modern infrastructure, and that, combined with a Mediterranean climate with international air-links on our doorstep is proving a major draw to buyers.
As with any good recipe, the ingredients are always the secret of success and Gibraltar’s buoyant property market owes its strength to the combination of the matters I have mentioned, although that is not the whole story.
The construction boom of the past decades ensured Gibraltar was able to accommodate the many professionals and businesses relocating here, but as we enter the autumn of 2016 there is again a distinct shortage of readily available rental and resale properties, and that is playing a pivotal role in property prices having risen so sharply this year.
With nearly all properties having been sold off-plan in the new developments that are currently under construction, there will continue to be a shortage of re-sale properties until Imperial Ocean Plaza, Ocean Spa Plaza, MidTown, Quay 29 and WestOne are completed, but these developments in themselves will not solve the long-term housing issues facing Gibraltar.
It has recently been suggested in some quarters that the only way for Gibraltar to move forward is to embark on a phase of construction to accommodate “key workers”, but I do not believe that constructing studios en-masse will solve the real housing issues we face, and worryingly, if we did follow that route, it could have the potential to artificially increase property prices for families who naturally require 2,3 and 4 bedroom properties.
Having seen the local property market grow during the past 25 years, my own thoughts are that we need to look at the bigger picture.
Part and parcel of that is the need to recognise that local and relocating families from abroad are being outpriced from the local property market and that a new policy is needed to tackle the issue.
There can be no denying that Gibraltar’s is in need of sustainable and affordable housing for families. By that, I do not mean Government housing schemes alone, but a complete change in the way we look at the long-term housing needs of our community and to find ways of incentivising developers to embark on the construction of properties designed for family living.
That alone will not solve all the housing issues but it would go a long way to making properties more affordable and assist in resolving the historical and current situation encountered by families trying to buy their first home or moving up the property ladder.
Those are some of my thoughts, and I would be interested to hear yours!