Maresme property – the lowdown from leading real estate agents Lucas Fox
Lucas Fox is one of Spain’s leading luxury real estate agency specializing in the sale of homes to international buyers. Established in 2005 by two lawyers Alexander Vaughan and Stijn Teeuwen, the company has gained a reputation for professionalism and integrity as well as innovation and creativity. The Maresme office was established in 2008 due to growing demand from foreign buyers looking for family homes within commuting distance of Barcelona. Here, MumAbroad Life chats to Lucas Fox Maresme partner Tom Maidment about the growing appeal of this special corner of Spain.
Why and when was Lucas Fox Maresme set up?
Lucas Fox has been operating in the Maresme area for around 10 years now but it wasn’t until 2014 that we opened the Property Lounge in Alella. Initially the business was managed via our agents in Barcelona but such was the increasing demand from international clients that we took the decision to have a physical presence in the region and set up a dedicated sales team. We decided on Alella for our first Property Lounge given its proximity to Barcelona and the high demand from international clients because of the Hamelin International School. Three Lucas Fox Partners happened to be living in Alella at the time so that also may have swayed the decision making!
For those unfamiliar with Maresme, what area does it encompass and what does it offer to residents?
The Maresme is the coastal area between Barcelona and the Costa Brava. It stretches from Montgat (just north of Badalona) all the way up to Malgrat to Mar, which neighbours Blanes, the southern-most town of the Costa Brava. At Lucas Fox we cover the “Baix” (or “lower”) part of the Maresme, specifically, the towns between Montgat and Sant Vicenc de Montalt / Caldes d’Estrac. This is where we have greatest demand from both local and international clients given its easy access to Barcelona city. As a resident in Maresme myself, I can vouch for the amazing quality of life. Like many Maresme residents we started in Barcelona city when we first arrived in the area, but as our family began to grow our requirement for a bit more space and fresh air prompted us to start looking elsewhere. Although we didn’t know it, its proximity to the coast and to Barcelona city made Maresme the obvious choice for us and for the same price of a rented 2-bedroom flat in Barcelona we were able to find a 4 bedroom house with private garden right in the centre of Alella. We have lived in the region ever since and finally purchased a family house in Cabrils back in 2015.
What would you say Maresme offers which nowhere else in Spain does?
The obvious answer to that is the easy access to Barcelona – that’s something unique to the Maresme. From the village of Alella you are just 15km from the centre of the city. On a good day, that’s just 15-20 minutes by car. Can you imagine, for example, living 15 minutes from the centre of London, yet within a traditional wine-growing village in tranquil countryside surroundings? Drive 15 minutes from the centre of London and you might just have reached the next set of traffic lights. Combine the luxury of living on the doorstep of one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, with 38km of sandy beaches, 5 marinas, several golf courses, 15.000ha of natural park, numerous equestrian centres, tennis clubs, sailing clubs, and some excellent local wines and superb gastronomy, and you have the perfect cocktail for a very high quality of life. There can be few places in Europe where you can be skiing during the day then sitting at a beach bar with your feet in the sand for an evening sundowner, all on the same day.
Why would Maresme appeal to international families?
The Maresme is ideal for families, both national and international. For those priced out of the Barcelona market or just looking for a more outdoor lifestyle beyond the city centre, then Maresme is a fantastic option. There is an ever growing community of international families living in the area and there are various online resources and social media platforms on offer to help them to connect and interact. In terms of education, for families looking for their kids to follow the IB curriculum the Hamelin International School in Montgat is one of Catalunya’s leading schools and its impressive new installations overlooking the sea have taken it to another level. In general, the lifestyle in Maresme is very much geared towards family life and young children and very well catered for. You only have to look at the breadth of summer camps on offer to appreciate the opportunities available – these include tennis, sailing, horse-riding, film-making, drama, singing, water-sports and cooking, to name but a few. The opportunities are endless.
What is the range of property on offer?
Most of the property for sale in Maresme is re-sale, although we have seen a slight increase in the supply of new-build product in the past 2-3 years. The properties range from apartments and townhouses (some of which boast communal gardens and pools) to detached homes. At Lucas Fox we focus more on detached homes and townhouses with prices starting from around 450.000€. For those looking to buy in the Maresme, they are likely to find a more extensive offer of apartments and/or townhouses in the beachside towns on the coastal side of the highway and a great choice of detached sea view homes with pools and gardens in the hillside towns on the inland side of the highway. Many of the homes in Maresme were constructed during the housing boom of the 70s and 80s and will usually require a degree of modernisation. In the town centres you can find beautiful, modernist period properties but these tend to sell or rent pretty quickly.
Which areas in particular are popular with families?
I think it’s fair to say that all the town in the Baix Maresme are popular with families and suitable for year-round living. Some will prefer being in the coastal towns and within easy walking distance of the beach and train station (there is a regular service into Barcelona city) whilst others will prefer being in the hillside villages, enjoying a bit more space and sea views. Almost all Maresme towns will have their own sports clubs, gymnasiums, swimming pool and often a central town square where people congregate and attend local events (of which there are many and, more often than not, aimed at young families).
Is it a base from which parents could commute to Barcelona?
Very much so. There is a regular train service which takes you right into the centre of Barcelona in less than 30 minutes and most towns also boast a regular bus service in and out of the city. By car is also very straightforward but, as with most cities, best to try to work around the peak rush hours.
Price-wise how does it compare to Barcelona?
Average prices in Maresme are significantly below Barcelona prices. To put it into context, for the price of a typical 100m2, 2-bedroom apartment in the Eixample area of Barcelona (600k – 650k) you can find a 4 bedroom house with private garden and pool in the Maresme. Even with a very healthy budget of 1m euros you will not find a detached house with pool and garden for sale anywhere in Barcelona city and this is what drives many buyers towards the Maresme where there is a substantial offer of property at this price level.
Why should potential homebuyers or renters use Lucas Fox Maresme as opposed to any other local real estate agent?
Since the company was founded in Barcelona in 2005, Lucas Fox has always been recognised for providing a comprehensive, professional service to international clients. Professionalism is a word that few people associate with the real estate sector in Spain and we want to put that right. All our agents are experienced, knowledgeable and multilingual, they all live in the Maresme – many have young families themselves, and all are passionate about the area and about property. We also have a great track record in the Maresme and a lot of very happy clients – many of whom are now our friends and neighbours.
Lucas Fox Maresme
Plaça de l’Ajuntament 7, baixos
tel +34 935 952 490