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House Hunting in … Majorca | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Balearic Properties – New York Times

Majorca- This contemporary 5,400-square-foot house is near the town of Pollensa in northern Majorca, one of the Balearic Islands of Spain. The four-acre property has panoramic views of the Tramuntana mountain range and is about four miles from the beach.

Designed by DDR Arquitectes and built in 2011, the house’s outside walls were constructed from local stone. The house is divided into two wings — a single-level wing for the living areas, and a two-story wing with five bedrooms, each with an en-suite bath.

The main entrance, within a deep front porch, opens into a hall with a wood and metal staircase spiraling upward around a two-story curved stone wall. The living and dining areas are combined and have a vaulted ceiling. Three sets of glass doors look out on the porch and grounds. The floors are a natural stone from mainland Spain, according to the owner, Elizabeth MacFarlane.

The eat-in kitchen can be closed off from the living area with a sliding door. The kitchen has sleek white cabinets, gray stone countertops, and a refrigerator with a wood-panel front and a wine cooler.

The bedrooms in the adjoining wing have stone accent walls, and doors opening onto the grounds, and, on the upper level, a balcony. The baths are Italian marble with a tumbled finish.

Outside, a stone walkway leads to the heated swimming pool and the surrounding patio. The pool area has a covered outdoor kitchen large enough for a dining table, and equipped with a charcoal grill, a sink and a refrigerator.

The house also has an attached two-car garage, a clay tile roof, a solar energy system and under-floor heating throughout.

The northern end of Majorca maintains an old-village feel — and more “stealth wealth” — while the southwestern shoreline tends to be more flashy, said Jack Newberry, a sales consultant with Balearic Properties. “There’s more old money and palatial villas in the countryside,” he said.

Pollensa (also Pollença) has numerous restaurants and outdoor cafes, particularly around the main square, Plaça Major, the site of a weekly open-air market. While tourists regularly trek the narrow cobbled streets, they also come for abundant hiking and cycling. The nearest international airport is Palma Airport, about a 45-minute drive.

Market Overview

Well situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, Majorca has been visited by a record-breaking number of tourists in the last three years, partly because terrorism and political unrest have made destinations in Turkey and northern Africa less desirable, said Mark Harvey, a partner in the international residential team at Knight Frank. At the same time, the market for vacation homes has soared, outpacing the market on mainland Spain.

For many second-home buyers, Majorca is regarded as a safe-haven investment because of its geographical security and limited development potential, Mr. Harvey said. The government strictly controls development, and new construction must conform to rigorous conservation measures.

“All of these things have helped Majorca’s desirability and underpin its ultimate value,” he said.

The combination of high demand and limited inventory means that sellers have the upper hand at the moment. “There’s not a lot of stock when it comes to exceptional stuff in very good locations,” Mr. Newberry said. “There are only handfuls available.”

One of the most sought-after locations is Port Andratx, on the southwest coastline. The average sale price there last year was around 4 million euros (about $4.7 million), nearly double the average from two years ago, according to Mr. Harvey. Prices average around 15,000 euros, or $17,670, per square meter, reflecting “a new generation of properties being delivered there, replacing ’70s and ’80s relics” with high-tech, ultraluxury homes, he said.

Other hot spots are Camp de Mar, just below Port Andratx, and Son Vida, just outside the main city of Palma. Palma is a major port for cruise ships, which bring in thousands of tourists from all over the world.

Who Buys in Majorca

While the British have long dominated foreign buyers in Majorca, the weakening of the pound against the euro has reduced their presence. Now, Germans represent about 70 percent of all foreign buyers, with the British at around 20 percent, Mr. Harvey said. The smattering of other foreign buyers includes Scandinavians, the French and Americans.

Buying Basics

Majorca does not have a multiple listing service, and properties are generally not listed with any one agency, Mr. Newberry said. Agents compete to sell available properties. Some properties are not marketed online at all, and can be found only through contacts, he said.

Foreign buyers are advised to work with an established agency and to hire a lawyer to perform due diligence. An agent typically works with both buyer and seller, acting as an intermediary, Mr. Newberry said. The agent’s commission, usually 5 or 6 percent, is paid by the seller.

Mortgages are available to foreigners, but qualifying requirements are strict and the maximum loan is usually 50 percent of the purchase price, Mr. Harvey said.

Languages and Currency

Catalan and Spanish; euro (1 euro = $1.18)

Taxes and Fees

Buyers should plan on transaction costs of about 12 to 13 percent of the purchase price, including notary fees, lawyer fees and transfer taxes.

The annual property tax is around $1,651 (1,400 euros), according to the owner.

The New York Times