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British Colonial Style Houses in Gibraltar | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A villa with a pool in Gibraltar

Gibraltar-A one-story frame dwelling built in the British Colonial style more than 200 years ago has been significantly expanded and improved in the last two decades into a 2,153-square-foot, two-story home in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.

The four-bedroom three-bath home, which has sea views, is brick and mortar painted white with a timber roof. It sits on a terraced lot of almost a third of an acre landscaped with tiered mature gardens full of exotic plants and surrounded by wildlife such as red foxes, partridges and Barbary macaques, according to Sammy Armstrong, the listing agent, who is the director of Savills Gibraltar.

“The house has been rebuilt with modern materials, but offers much of the character of a period property, since it was built to be in keeping with the original property,” Armstrong said.

The front door opens to an entrance hall with a traditional checkered black-and-white marble floor. To the left is a small office. The entrance hall leads to a stairway, beyond which are three good-size bedrooms, two bathrooms and a family room. Floors are generally oak engineered timber flooring, and the home has traditional wooden windows and French doors. The family room opens onto a large west-facing terrace. Furniture is not included in the home’s asking price, but is negotiable.

The oak staircase leads to the second floor, which has a kitchen with marble countertops and a spacious open-plan living and dining room, with a large wood-burning fireplace. The living room opens to an expansive covered west-facing veranda with views of the Strait of Gibraltar. The master bedroom with its en-suite bathroom, also on the second floor, has a walk-in closet and panoramic sea views.

Quirky stable doors in the kitchen open to an outdoor seating and dining area, sheltered by a wooden pergola, with a kitchenette and shower room nearby. Near the outdoor dining area is a pool of about 540 square feet, built within the last five years, with a waterfall and LED light displays. The pool is surrounded by sandstone walls and fronted with towering sandstone columns. The home has a carport for two cars and two allocated street parking spots.

This house is part of a five-home subdivision in Upper Rock adjacent to the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, roughly 672 acres of protected land, or 40 percent of Gibraltar’s total land area of about 2.6 square miles. The nature reserve is perched about 1,400 feet above sea level, with views of Europe and the African coastline, while the Mediterranean and the Atlantic are on either side. The reserve has natural attractions that include wildlife and plant species that are unknown or rare elsewhere in the world, Ms. Armstrong said.

This home is about a five-minute drive from shopping and restaurants, and about 15 minutes from swimming beaches. Gibraltar’s international airport, on the border with Spain, is about 10 minutes away.

The residential property market in Gibraltar has remained strong over the last 14 years, except for the year of the 2008 global financial crisis, when home prices stayed flat, said Mike Nicholls, a managing director at Chestertons, based in Gibraltar.

“There are no official price statistics in Gibraltar; however, our records anecdotally indicate an increase of between 2 percent and 6 percent in each of the last 14 years except 2008,” Nicholls said.

The recent British vote to leave the European Union has so far been a fleeting blip on the overseas territory’s radar, said Kristina Szekely, the owner of Kristina Szekely Sotheby’s International Realty, which is based in nearby Marbella, Spain, but has a Gibraltar office.

“For two or three days, there was a bit of a shock; people became numb and didn’t know what would happen,” Ms. Szekely said. “But then they took things in their stride, and there have been no real changes, so people just got back to normal.”

As a British naval base, Gibraltar once had restricted housing for naval personnel, but in the 1980s, the British government began allowing housing to be sold. Since then, a limited amount of the housing for sale has been set aside for either natives or those foreigners who have lived in Gibraltar for at least three years, agents said. Most residential property sits on land owned by the government and is typically leased for 149 years.

There are about 125 years remaining on the lease of this home in Upper Rock, and almost all land leases are renewed, Armstrong said.

This property, open to any prospective buyer, is priced at 17,500 pounds per square meter, or about $2,148 a square foot, because of its relatively large lot for Gibraltar and its position next to the nature reserve, Ms. Armstrong said.

Most foreigners buying in Gibraltar would most likely spend 4,000 pounds to 6,500 pounds per square meter, or about $491 to $798 a square foot, on a property, though several dozen luxury properties command a premium, Nicholls said.

A typical new villa would cost about 15,000 pounds per square meter, or about $1,841 a square foot, Szekely said.

Gibraltar, with a population of roughly 32,000, tends to draw wealthy foreign home buyers attracted by its many tax incentives. There is generally no tax on passive income, such as interest and dividends; no capital gains tax; no wealth or inheritance tax; and no sales tax. Tax on pension is very low to nothing, Nicholls said.

Individuals with net assets of at least 2 million pounds, or about $2.64 million, can generally cap their income tax at about 25,880 pounds, or $34,162, a year, Szekely said.

Following the Brexit referendum, Gibraltar quickly passed a new tax incentive aimed at companies, Nicholls said. Companies setting up in Gibraltar between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017 that create a minimum of five jobs get a break on corporate tax for three years on the first 500,000 pounds, or about $660,000, of annual profits.

The bulk of foreign home buyers in Gibraltar are from Britain, but the country attracts high-net-worth individuals from many countries, including most recently France, Germany, Australia, India, Morocco, the Scandinavian countries, Holland and Romania, agents said.