The Iberian Peninsula has 2,059 miles (3,313 kilometres) of the coast, more than half of which has a fabulous climate for at least eight or nine months of the year. However, most holiday visits to the coast are made at the peak of the summer in July, August and September, when Spanish and Portuguese tourists vie with visitors from overseas for accommodation.
According to the available statistics, the climate is the main reason why most people visit Spain and Portugal, but proximity to the beach and cultural activities are also important factors. In the south of Spain in Andalusia, of the approximate 11.7 million annual tourists in 2018, some 4 million people stayed in hotels, 850,000 in their own holiday home and 800,000 in rental accommodation. The statistics for the Algarve in Portugal are also very impressive. Faro airport, recorded 7.6 million passengers in 2016, up by 12% from 2015. Of the tourists to the entire region, the biggest group is from the UK (30%), followed by the Dutch, French and Germans.
Most tourists arrive in the summer when there is a virtual guarantee of good weather and at the same time when tourist related services are fully available. There are also more frequent flights to the region in summer. However, there are some disadvantages to coming in the peak season as well. For some, especially those from northern climes, the weather can be just too hot, accommodation prices are high and the choice more limited. What's more, you can struggle to drive even a few miles through the traffic and you have to fight with the crowds for a space on the beach.
So, what are the pros and cons of coming in the low season? The advantages are that it is far less crowded, accommodation is cheaper, and you can leave booking your accommodation to the last minute and usually still find a reasonable deal. Of course, it’s not all good news in the low season. You have to take into accountant that the weather might be poor for a few days and also some services might be closed. However, the risks are limited and if you stay for a month or more the percentage of days with poor weather will be small.
Room for manoeuvre in letting out your property
People have been letting homes on the beach for decades. Tourists, like the comfort of staying in a house or villa, particularly families. A kitchen is essential of course since many of them will want to avoid eating out every lunchtime and evening. Also sitting around the pool with a barbecue will be a luxury they won’t have at home.
This difference between high and low season presents an opportunity for owners of villas in the south of the peninsula, to let out their villas and houses during the peak summer months and just before and after this peak time. Owners, especially if they are retired, can stay in their native, cooler, northern climes during the summer but still be able to occupy their properties in Spain and Portugal out of the high season when the weather is a bit cooler and the crowds have largely disappeared. This means that they can rent their properties out for two or more months every year.
There is significant room for manoeuvre in this arrangement. The months of May and June plus October and November are dry for most of the time and the temperature is more agreeable than in July, August and September. This means that you can choose to occupy your property yourself, but if you do decide to let it there should still be reasonable demand to get some rental income, although not as much as in the high season.
The average stay in the south of the Iberian Peninsula is for only eight nights for those who book hotel accommodation, whereas those who do not stay in hotels remain for a longer 16 nights. Many of this latter group will rent a villa or a house via a web site or through a traditional travel agent in their home country. It’s not difficult to find these web sites and agents, so finding tenants for two weeks stay is very possible.
Significant income can be achieved
For the above reasons owning a home on the beach can be a source of significant income and can certainly pay for any expenses that owning a second home in the south implies.
A quick search on the internet will reveal that the average letting of a three or four bedroom villa with pool on the coast of Andalusia or the Algarve can generate income in the region of €2,500 to €3,000 per week in the high season. This assumes that you let for weekly periods but some visitors will take blocks of two or more weeks at the same weekly rate.
The exact amount of income that is achievable for any individual property will depend on the location and characteristics of the house or villa, but there is no doubt the sums can be considerable. Many people certainly find that the inconvenience of letting out their home to tourists is very much outweighed by the income they can receive.
Some final advice
If you do decide to let out your property it is recommended that you take out insurance. If you are not yet an owner and are buying a villa in Spain or Portugal you will know that you should be represented by a lawyer who speaks your language, in order to avoid any legal pitfalls. When letting, it is also advisable that a lawyer is employed to draw up a rental contract. Finally, when buying, before you sign any reservation agreement or pay a deposit, you should have a building survey undertaken by a Chartered Surveyor. Stan Dickens, FRICS is an experienced Chartered Surveyor who specializes in undertaking building surveys and valuations of high-end villa properties in both Spain and Portugal. He can be contacted at www.standickens.com. For a condition or building survey in Spain, you can also contact Villa Surveyors. By contracting a building survey, you should be able to avoid any nasty surprises due to structural defects and also be fully informed about any maintenance items required to the property. This will ensure that unforeseen defects don’t wreck your financial planning right at the start of your ownership when you can least afford it.