Lucas Fox Maresme was established in 2013, 8 years after the company launched in Barcelona. It has since become one of the leading real estate agencies for sales and rentals of family homes in the region, offering everything from masias and coastal apartments to family villas with garden and pool. Lucas Fox is also sponsor of Maresme Connect. Lucas Fox Partner Tom Maidment, who lives in Cabrils, speaks about what, for him, makes the area so appealing.
You are Partner of Lucas Fox, lead sponsor of the new Maresme Connect website. Tell us a bit about the company and its origins?
Lucas Fox is one of Spain’s leading real estate agencies. The company was founded in Barcelona as recently as 2005 but has grown rapidly over the past 14 years. When I joined the company in 2007 we were only 5 people. We now employ over 200 staff and boast more than 15 offices throughout Spain with a specific focus on the most desirable cities and coastal areas. The company was originally set up to provide a professional service to international buyers in Barcelona city – at the time there was no single agency effectively servicing this sector of the market. This quickly became our niche and we have continued to be a reference point for international buyers and sellers in the areas we operate.
The brand has also gained significant traction in the local market and up to 50% of our business now comes from national buyers. In recognition of how far we have come in a relative short period of time, last year we signed a collaboration agreement with Savills, one of the world’s top 3 real estate providers, to be their International Associate across the whole of Spain.
When did you move to Maresme and why?
I moved from Barcelona city to Alella with my family back in 2008. My two business partners moved to Alella around the same time. We were all in a similar position: We had all lived in Barcelona for a number of years but had young, growing families and were looking to move outside of the city, yet within easy commutable distance. We all wanted the same thing – a larger property than we could afford in Barcelona with a bit of outside space and easy access to the countryside and beach. Maresme proved the perfect solution and Alella was the ideal place to start. My wife and I found a beautiful, rustic townhouse in the centre of the town and the rent was less than we were paying for our 2-bedroom apartment in the centre of El Born in Barcelona. We lived in Alella for 3 years before moving to a larger house near the beach in El Masnou. We then bought our first family home in Cabrils back in 2016 and have lived there happily ever since.
Why and when did you open an office in Maresme?
We opened our office in the town square in Alella back in 2013. Having lived in the village for a few years my business partners and I could see the tremendous potential of the area. When we first moved to Maresme the international community was relatively small. Expat buyers tended to gravitate towards the coast to the south of Barcelona and town like Sitges, Gavà Mar and Castelldefels. We could see very early on that Maresme could provide a really interesting and more affordable alternative to these areas. It also had distinct advantages – closer proximity to Barcelona city centre, easier access to the Costa Brava and to the ski slopes of the Pyrenees as well as a more “local” feel with year-round life and fewer tourists in high season. The Serralada Litoral Natural Park, the vineyards, the beaches, the sports clubs, and the fantastic local restaurants all added to the region’s growing appeal. In the past decade the international community in Maresme has increased substantially. This has been recognised by the local authorities too with many Town Halls now looking to engage and better cater for their international residents.
How would you describe the property market currently in Maresme?
Maresme is a primary home market with the majority of residents living and working in the area or commuting daily to Barcelona city. Unlike the Costa Brava, for example, where there is a high proportion of wealthy, second-home, international lifestyle buyers, the Maresme market is largely driven by local buyers. Whilst the number of national buyers far outnumbers international buyers, the volume of foreign residents has increased significantly in recent years, particularly in the sought-after towns of Alella, Teià, Premià de Dalt, Vilassar de Mar, Cabrils and El Masnou.
What is the typical buyer profile in Maresme?
Until around 15 to 20 years ago the Maresme was an area where wealthy Catalan families from Barcelona would have second homes for weekend and summer use. You still find residential areas with a sizeable percentage of second homes but this is a trend that has changed considerably over the past decade and, as lifestyle habits change, you now see a lot of these second homes on the market. Nowadays, the Maresme tends to be an area that attracts younger families and young professionals. For those priced out of the Barcelona market it offers a more affordable option and the chance to live close to the city yet within more tranquil coastal and countryside surroundings. The price of a 3 to 4-bedroom house with pool and sea views in the Maresme equates to roughly the same price as a 3-bedroom city centre apartment. Most of our international buyers tend to fit this profile – young families seeking properties with outside space – either communal or private – and easy proximity to Barcelona, the beach and the countryside.
Is there much of a rental market in Maresme?
The rental market is very strong. There is huge demand for rental property but very limited supply in prime areas so properties tend to move quickly.
Is the Hamelin LAIE International school a big draw for international buyers?
It certainly helps, yes. There are numerous international schools in Barcelona but most are located in the Zona Alta and access is a bit challenging from the Maresme, particularly at peak hours. The presence of Hamelin in Montgat is a big plus for parents who want their children to follow the IB curriculum. However, there are also some good local schools and government subsidised schools (“concertadas”) in Maresme, so whichever educational path that parents choose for their children there are plenty of options.
What are the main advantages of living in Maresme as opposed to Barcelona?
That’s not hard to answer. For me, the Maresme lifestyle is very hard to beat. Living 1km from the beach, walking distance from the centre of a charming, gastronomic village, on the edge of a stunning Natural Park, plus countless other amenities and facilities, including sailing clubs, tennis clubs and golf clubs… Need I go on? It’s a great environment to bring up kids. Maybe one day they will truly appreciate how lucky they are and what a great childhood they have had! Whilst there are things I sometimes miss about living in the centre of a city, the benefits of living in an area like Maresme far outweigh the disadvantages and Barcelona is literally on the doorstep so whenever I need a fix of city life, I can easily get it.
How would you describe Maresme in 3 words?
Relaxed, beautiful, gastronomic.
Caldes d’Estrac. Get there early if you want a beachside parking space.
That depends upon the season. I’m a big fan of chiringitos (beach bars) so in summer it would be Acamar in Cabera de Mar. In winter, I’d go for La Palma in Teià or Companyia in Alella.
Can Rin in Cabrils.
To Castell Burriac in Cabrera de Mar.
In summer you can’t beat a jog down to the beach and an early morning dip in the sea.
Parvus, Alta Alella.