This month’s agency focus is on Panorama, Marbella’s longest established real estate agency, established in Marbella since 1970. Their extensive experience, exceptional client rapport, and attention to detail, represents a real estate company which has definitively become part of the fabric of Marbella. Awarded “Best Real Estate Agency in Spain” by the prestigious International Property Awards for the last two years in a row, we talk to Managing Director Christopher Clover about how they have sustained such a successful business over the last 51 years.
Panorama is an institution in Marbella, what three things do you consider key to its continued success?
As in most successful businesses, you have to be in the right place at the right time and have your professional goals firmly in mind and work tirelessly day after day, week after week, and month after month to achieve your objectives. A little bit of luck always helps! Complete knowledge of the products you are selling and of the norms involved in selling real estate are of course essential to be successful in this industry, as in any other business.
We have tried to always surround ourselves with interesting, quality owners and buyers as well as team mates, and make every effort not to compromise our goals for quality and the highest level of professional service and integrity in our industry. Most importantly is also to strictly avoid any conflicts of interest. I am grateful that due to these decade-long efforts, we have achieved the highest recognitions in various categories in our industry. But we must never rest and constantly strive to improve the quality and level of our services.
There is always more business done through close collaboration than there is through fierce competition. A good part of our success has always been through an excellent collaboration with our colleagues, which opens the door to deals being done which would have otherwise been impossible. Many of our collaborators have become close friends over the years.
You work with your family; do you feel that the family aspect is part of your success?
My grandfather B.B. Clover opened his first real estate agency in Chicago in 1904. When he retired to Charlottesville, Virginia in 1952 he opened an agency with my father Bill Clover, specialising in large estates and farms in Central Virginia. In 1968, my father acquired an international real estate agency called Panorama International, based in Washington D.C., and in 1970 opened an office in Marbella and Mallorca, selling property to Americans. We were the first international real estate agency in Marbella and the first agency to bring inspection flights to the area. Shortly afterwards we became an independent company, and around the turn of the century both of my children Alex and Katinka joined our company.
There is nothing more important than family and professional values as well as the tremendous experience as passed on by grandfather to my father, my father to me and me to my children, refined generation after generation.
What are your predictions for the real estate market in and around Marbella for 2021?
The pandemic itself has now clearly shown that it has caused an important increase in demand in low-density warm weather resort areas such as Marbella. Enquiries are on the up, buying has continued in the lowest months of November, December and January, with very motivated buyers out there. The big problem is, of course, the lack of mobility, but even then, sales are happening especially in the upper luxury end of the market. One has now learned definitively that it is possible to work from anywhere in the world, and if you could choose where to live, why not in the Garden City of Marbella with the very best climate in all of Europe? The strength of the market this year will depend squarely on the ability of clients to come to Marbella to view properties. Despite the lack of mobility now there is a continuing demand and 2021 seems that it might even be a good year in the luxury end of the market.
How did the pandemic affect sales for your company during 2020?
We were grateful that – with the exception of the three-month lockdown – sales continued and on the high-end the volume of sales even increased. Notwithstanding, every sale is more difficult than before and, in many cases, it takes great agents with lots of patience and experience to reach the completion stage of the sale. To celebrate our 50 years in Marbella, and a surprisingly reasonable volume of sales in 2020, we have totally renovated our sales office in the Puente Romano hotel, next to the Nobu reception, resulting in one of the most impressive, high-tech offices in the area.
You have lived and worked in Marbella since the early seventies. What notable changes have you seen in the real estate world since that time?
Everything has evolved everywhere, but in Marbella, the evolution was exactly along the path we envisioned in the 1970’s. In the early ‘70’s Marbella had more potential of becoming an amazing resort city than any other area on the whole Mediterranean Coast: low rise construction, enforced by its “founders”, and the crème de la crème that was drawn to the city, including royalty, aristocrats, CEOs of major corporations, movie industry celebs, politicians, they were all here. Marbella was, and still is, the “Southern California of Europe”. The key to its development was the continuation of the low volume construction and the keeping of sufficient green zones, together with the development of the many golf courses and sporting facilities.
The most important evolution of Marbella in these past 50 years has been its conversion into a 12-month season resort city. This happened in the mid ‘90’s, when between the census population and the uncounted “floating” population, Marbella reached 150,000 residents in the winter months, which allowed sufficient activity for a year-round season, with its highs and lows, unlike all the other Mediterranean resort cities that still roll up the sidewalks at the end of October and gradually come back to life at the end of March, or early April.
In summary, if there is one reason for Marbella to have become a model which is unique on the Mediterranean, it is that it has managed to maintain its image of incredibly high standard installations and very high-quality lifestyle.
Where do the majority of your clients come from? Have you noticed any major shifts in recent years?
One of the major strengths of the Marbella area property market is that it is a “multi-source” market. Although the foundations of the property market are and always have been Spanish based, lending an incredible strength and depth to the market, the upper-end and luxury market are based on the foreign, mostly European market, led more than double than any other single nationality by the British since Thatcher lifted the dollar premium in 1978 and 1979. The advantage of a multi-source market is that when one market goes down, other steps up to take its place. This is why the Marbella area market recovers more quickly than the property market in the rest of Spain. In these last years, especially 2020, we are seeing a continuing strengthening of the Scandinavian market which now fully understands that it is just as easy to work from Marbella than it is from the cold Northern countries!
What do you look for in a member of staff; what requirements do you set as standard?
There are a number of factors taken into consideration in every good organization everywhere which we apply in seeking qualified and successful team members.
- We look for those who share our company principles, and with whom we can share our human and professional values: ethics, transparency, honesty, integrity, punctuality, extraordinary and genuine politeness.
- “People Power”: those who have the ability to make anyone they meet in the course of their day feel special in one way or another, the ability to take keen interest in the person himself or herself parallel to the mission of helping the person buy or sell a home. Sales is not just about earning a commission; it is about making new friends and more than anything else using our skills and experience to help bring buyers and sellers together in harmony.
- The ability to get along well not only with management but also with their fellow team mates.
- Unquestioned loyalty.
- Excellent reputation and experience in sales.
- Extremely careful attention to detail.
- Excellent product knowledge: you cannot sell what you have not seen.
- The ability to speak and write fluently in different languages, English and Spanish are a must. On our team together we speak 11 different languages.
- Not pushy, not high pressure.
- The ability to get along with, to connect with, people of substantially different backgrounds.
What do you think sets you apart from other local agencies?
- Our 50 years in Marbella have given us more experience than any other agency in our area. And has also given us local and international recognition that endorse the high-quality professional service we offer to all of our clients.
- Being one of only two residential real estate agencies in Spain regulated by RICS, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, gives special guarantees to our buyer and seller clients that other agents are not able to offer.
- I am grateful to have been named Honorary President of the Leading Property agents of Spain (LPA), the first real estate association of the type on the Costa del Sol.
- And as you mentioned in your introductory paragraph, we were awarded “Best Real Estate Agency in Spain” by the prestigious International Property Awards, two years in a row.
- We have won “Best Property Agents” by Bellevue 6 years in a row.
- We also operate the Puente Romano Real Estate agency, which belongs to the Puente Romano and Nobu hotel group, with direct access to all of the hotel customers, giving Panorama’s seller clients’ properties amazing exposure.
- We have two prestigious offices on Marbella’s Golden mile, in Puente Romano and opposite the Marbella Club Hotel.
- We offer rentals, and have an outstanding Client Service department, and it’s this first-class service that distinguishes us from many of our competitors.
What are the most challenging and satisfying factors of your job?
Challenging Factor: It is sometimes frustrating when prospective buyers, even some quite sophisticated ones, consider agents as only “door openers” not recognizing the dozens of other ways they can benefit from a good agent: for example, acquainting the prospective buyer with the market and real, comparable sales recently made; or showing the client absolutely everything on the market in the category of property he is looking for through collaboration with other agencies, or, the absolutely critical help an agent can provide in the negotiation of a purchase; their help in procuring financing; introductions to other professionals and possibly other people in the Marbella community. The list goes on and on, and generally as our clients get to know us, they begin to appreciate and witness our qualities.
Satisfying Factor: When you have been doing something long enough, with consistency and perseverance, placing long term success over short term profit, eventually you can become good at what you do. There are many, let us say most of our clients, who at the end of the day, do recognize the value of our agency and the deep level of commitment we have in helping our buyer and seller clients achieve their objectives in the most professional manner possible, avoiding having to take any unnecessary risks. Doing our job well gives us enormous satisfaction.
Could you tell us why you’re opting to work alongside BRIGHT?
Panorama has always associated itself with the highest quality properties for sale in the Marbella area. BRIGHT represents quality on all possible levels: location, extraordinary design and attention to detail, highest quality in finishes and in customer service. And of course, with all the necessary legal guarantees. Quality is what this next decade is all about. Quality is what Marbella has always been about.