In June, Lucas Fox International Properties launched Lucas Fox Prime, to service the increasing number of high-net-worth buyers looking to buy luxury properties in Spain.
The new venture is spearheaded by company partners Alexander Vaughan and Tom Maidment and includes properties— from coastal villas to country estates to city penthouses—in Barcelona, the Costa Brava, Sitges, Valencia, Marbella, Mallorca and Ibiza. The company will expand to Madrid in September.
We caught up with the British-born Mr. Vaughan, who’s lived in Barcelona since 2005, to talk about a changing Spanish market, the importance of Chinese currency in the international luxury market, and why he’s betting on Mallorca and Valencia.
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Alexander Vaughan: I either like really urban properties or really rustic properties. For urban properties what I love more than anything is a loft, and for rural properties, a rustic farmhouse. I can’t decide between the two.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
AV: Lots and lots of properties. The market here in Barcelona has gone up like a rocket in the last couple of years. There are many properties I saw two to five years ago, and think I should have bought them.
MG:What does luxury mean to you?
AV: “Luxury” is a bit of an outdated term now. A lot of people can afford “luxury” whether they’re billionaires or millionaires. People look for quality of construction, amenities and location.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
AV: Barcelona. It’s driven by the market and the negative stuff going on in other parts of the world. Barcelona is becoming an interesting safe haven.
There are daily direct flights all over the world to Barcelona, so it’s become easier to get here from all over the world—even from places like Korea and Cuba. Barcelona is a luxury city hub, but we also have second-home resort properties in Spain. For that, I’d bet on Mallorca. It’s beautiful and remote.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
AV: Spain. I think if you asked anyone five years ago if they could predict what’s happening in the residential market, they’d say you’re crazy. We’re becoming No. 1 for investment properties, and becoming No. 1 in luxury properties.
MG: Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
AV: Still the U.K., U.S. and Switzerland. They really understand how to construct, and they have a big history of constructing luxury properties.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
AV: At the moment, with it being 100 degrees, it’s my bedroom and my ceiling fan.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
AV: I live there with my girlfriend, who’s a photographer, so it’s a cross between bohemian gypsy traveler and tech real estate guy.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
AV: Space and privacy, and being apart from other properties. That’s becoming harder and harder to find, especially in Europe.
MG: Best piece of real estate advice?
AV: Location, location, location.
MG: What’s going on in the news that will have the biggest impact on the luxury real estate market?
AV: The predictions for the major economies in Asia. At the moment Asian money is a driver for key luxury property locations. It’s a bit like Russian money was six or seven years ago. If there’s a big economic downturn there, that’ll have a big impact.
MG: What is the best area now for investing in luxury properties?
AV: I’m biased, but I’d say Spain. There are incredible properties but it’s still undervalued compared to places like New York and Paris.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
AV: I’ve lived in both, actually, but mine now are resale properties. There have been few new developments in Spain because of the property market downturn. But if there was a good enough new development scheme I would live there. But given the market at the moment, odds are probably resale.
MG: What area currently has the best resale value?
AV: Valencia. It’s a fantastic city, like a mini Barcelona. Its infrastructure and amenities are developing quickly. And you can buy apartments in the city center near the beach for 2,000 euros per square meter.
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