Unique Living
March 30th, 2020 | by Serge Cowan

Coronavirus: Preparing your future lifestyle

Since 2002, Unique Living has built up an amazing network of hardworking independent local Estate Agents & Consultants. I felt it important that I write about how Coronavirus will effect luxury overseas property for sale & give my local offices the opportunity to provide a voice & view on the current lockdown.

As you will know by now Unique Living offers the finest selection of luxury mandated property for sale in Spain, France, Portugal, Southern Cyprus, The Caribbean, Italy & the Balearics & many other countries around the world, we also help & advise buyers through the process of buying a luxury international property via our separate Property Finder & Buyers Agent Service – IPBA.

The press & media are understandably talking more prominently about the travel & holiday sector, but it is unavoidable that luxury property sales, second homes & relocation residential property markets will be dramatically effected by the current climate.

The reality is that without travel, nobody can view overseas properties. Even with new technologies, like virtual tours, I find it hard to believe that anybody can use a ‘virtual tour’ to make a decision on an acquisition in the luxury sector, but then again, I am old school, I rarely buy clothes without trying them on, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Should you be able to get past the Virtual Tours, you would not buy a property without a survey, well we certainly wouldn’t advise it, even though some overseas estate agents will claim it is not necessary.

Even if you were happy to bypass the survey, you would not be able to travel or get access to the property, nor would you be able to hire a removal team or order a deep clean prior to getting access.

Our core market is the 40 to 70 year olds in the luxury sector & I can’t see many relying on these virtual tours to part with millions of Euros of their life savings. This is just my view, but I think it is clear that our market is well & truly on pause, we just need to accept that as the situation.

This is the harsh reality at the moment for many industries, a lot of overseas property companies & service providers will suffer, some will not survive, we all have to adapt.

The international property sector will inevitably return, in the 20 years we have been trading, we have had it all, most recently Brexit, there has been terrorist attacks, volcano ash across Europe, & the global recession, while this trumps them all, I know we & our partners will survive & prosper in whatever guise we find ourselves .

I have been in regular contact with my local teams & offices in our network & we are all ‘cutting the coat according to the cloth’. I am not going to lie, it isn’t going to be easy, but I do have faith that we will all come through this wiser & stronger.

The UK is likely to be some way behind the international property markets in coming out of lockdown. I have spent a lot of time myself reflecting & considering my lifestyle, who wouldn’t in this time we have? Key to this moment is family & children, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, we are all effected, this virus has no favourites, it can attack all of us, even if not directly, we will inevitably know a loved one or elderly relative who is effected by the virus.

As of this moment we cannot see the light at the end of this tunnel, I only just got out of the Brexit tunnel myself. It reminds me of driving across the Costa del Sol & those long tunnels you encounter on the way from Malaga to Estepona, as you exit one you enter another a few kilometres down the road.

When we do come out of the last tunnel, we are likely to consider what to do next, appreciate the small things, a walk in a beautiful park with the sun beating down, having a coffee at a local café, finally meeting those who have been serving you takeout in this time of crisis. You will also consider those amazing people, the solders’ never have I appreciated a check-out assistant in a supermarket more than I do at this time, & then there are the healthcare worker, there are no words to describe their brilliance, putting themselves on the frontline to save others.

We will need to get control over our lives & decide where we want to live, some will decide that the UK is there home, others will say different & will want to relocate or retire overseas, some might even be forced to sell or give up those lifestyle ambitions they had before. One thing is for sure, property criteria & lifestyle requirements will change dramatically, we are re-writing the rule book, this is day one.

I have been in regular contact throughout this crisis with my good friends & long-term partner office in the Costa del Sol, run by Adam Neale & Theodora Delville, they are the epitome of what is good about the local residential property market in Estepona, Marbella, Sotogrande, Nueva Andalucia & Benahavis. They offer transparency, common sense & ethics, three qualities that are hard to come by in the overseas property industry. We are proud to have them as one of Unique Living’s network of partner Agents.

It is the same for all my partner offices, friends, whom I have grown to know & love & respect. We continue to look out for our partner agents & the welfare of their families & friends.

Despite the lockdown in my apartment far away from our international local offices, who are also sitting in their makeshift home offices, our collective aim is to help & work together & get through this both stronger & together.

I am excited for the future. I would ask you to read a recent article written by Adam who gives his view on the Coronavirus & the lockdown & the effect it might have on overseas homeowners on the Costa del Sol & Barcelona.

Serge Cowan

Serge Cowan

Managing Director and Founder

Serge has an extensive marketing background, after a broadcasting career, Serge moved into marketing where he worked for BSkyB & a number of leading Public Relations agencies.
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