The treasure hunter that you won't see in real estate ads

“There is no such thing as the home of your life, there is the home of your moment of life.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 10:32
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The treasure hunter that you won't see in real estate ads

“There is no such thing as the home of your life, there is the home of your moment of life. I have lived for many years in the center of Barcelona and I have greatly enjoyed its corners, bars and restaurants, but when my family situation changed, the criteria changed too. Now we live abroad, with children, I really value peace, a more natural, calmer environment,” explains Christoph Toelle, managing partner of Sotheby’s International Realty, Barcelona.

If you ask him what has changed in recent years in the luxury housing sector, he answers practically nothing. “Our clients are looking for good investments, exclusivity, safe value and therefore unique locations, which can be in Barcelona or the coastline that goes from Sitges to the Costa Brava.” They have noticed that people are looking for benefits that make their lives easier, such as concierge service or cleaning of their properties. A good example of this is Mandarin Oriental Residences, the first building in Barcelona that offers quality hotel services. There is the most expensive apartment in the city, which was sold for 40 million euros.

However, Toelle appeals to confidentiality when asked what is the most expensive property he has in his portfolio: “As a Sotheby's brand, buyers look for us precisely because of confidentiality. There are more properties in Barcelona above 30 million euros. This figure is not public, it is not found on our website or on any portal, this is all off market.”

This real estate expert avoids stereotypes, but generalizing explains: “If we talk about Barcelona, ​​Sotheby's clients, very loyal to our auction house, look for the essence of the city, modernism, heritage, period details. This type of property is highly valued by Americans, French, Germans and English. Although we have also sold heritage to Koreans or Russians, they prefer Diagonal Mar, high towers with amenities, swimming pools, near the beach. “Everything modern, everything perfect and energy certified.”

Barcelona is a destination on the rise, but it does not play in the same league as New York, Paris or London. “We can be very happy with the position and the rating that Barcelona has, and, frankly, I don't know if I want to enter the top 5. I am very happy where we are, because I still see a relatively healthy relationship between demand and what we offer here. I preferred for everything to stay as it is now, to maintain the essence, because in some parts of London you notice things that I wouldn't like here,” explains Toelle.

It refers, among other things, to the fact that in Barcelona there is not as much of a phenomenon as in other large real estate investment capitals such as London, with hyper-luxury homes that are closed most of the year and where residents of the upper neighborhoods do not mix. with those of the rest of the city. “In our case, our customers normally buy to enjoy themselves. Obviously, the vast majority do not have their first residence in Spain, but they spend a lot of time enjoying Barcelona or the coast. A small part may also consider renting them if they don't use them or have enjoyed them for years and then don't come back as much. But it's a minority, in my opinion. Most people really buy to enjoy themselves. And they are here several times a year, many of them several weeks, several months.”

This real estate expert is a lover of Gothic architecture. “After 30 years, I still enjoy discovering corners of the city, because each neighborhood offers different architecture and different business establishments. It is a very walkable city, you don't need a car, because it is an ideal size, it is neither huge nor small,” says Toelle.

Christoph Toelle, who has been in the most exceptional properties in the last 20 years - “a privilege, he admits” - explains that he would not know which one to choose, but he is clear that when he enters a house for the first time, the buyer who plans to live in it, make the decision in just three minutes.