As the island hopes to see a summer season, we have been speaking to some business owners who are ready and waiting. Jan Dexter runs Parasol Properties. She lives in Binissalem with Fabian her Argentian partner of 7 years and Sam their 11-year-old rescued German Shepherd. www.parasolpropertymallorca.com
Q: What do you do for a living?
A: My business has been running for over 10 years now. It started off as holiday rentals and grew from there. Like so many businesses you begin with one plan but you have to be guided by the market and “go with the flow” especially on such a small Island as Majorca. I now offer Property Management to a manageable number of properties which I charge a small fixed monthly fee. This part of the business has kept going throughout lockdown and of course, has provided peace of mind to the owners who have been unable to visit their properties for many, many months. Some properties are for purely personal use but others are offered as holiday rentals, a lot of my clients had flights booked to upgrade/repaint etc in March to prepare for what had been a promising summer rental season.
Q: How did the COVID-19 crisis affect you?
A: A large part of my business, especially during the summer season is the renting and preparing holiday accommodation: villas and apartments. Sadly the enquiries stopped immediately in March. This was followed by cancellations of all of the April, May and June bookings. Sadly this last week has been extra depressing as I have handled many cancellations for clients due to arrive during July and August. The newspapers are full of misleading news, both here and in the UK. Clients are unsure if they are able to travel or if they feel safe to travel. It was hoped that many empty weeks would be filled with local or Spanish clients. But the huge problem here is the price: I am stunned at how little people want to pay for a week by the coast. Obviously the average person in the street does not understand the enhanced cleaning and laundry requirements and the cost of such, remember property owners are paying professionals to provide these services with invoices not cash in hand to their neighbour at 10€ per hour! So it has turned out that possibility of renting out great properties to the locals is quite limited: time-consuming and certainly not cost-effective.
Q: How has your business had to adapt?
A: All bookings now have to accept late cancellations so clients may change their mind at the last minute. This is terribly frustrating as I have been turning down mid-length stays as their booking was sat in the planning. Personally I have only accepted two cancellations and clients are claiming from their insurance. All other clients have transferred to 2021 and are most grateful, thank goodness! I have been busy this week adding new for-sale properties to the portfolio and I have a couple of long term rentals. I believe more long term rentals will become available over the next few months however I do not believe the price will necessarily drop. I think many people from Europe have seen how easy it is to work from home and how well our little Island has coped with the COVID and feel that they would live to bring their family to live here. Maybe travelling back to their offices once a week or fortnight if necessary. I have also spent time negotiating new rates for current tenants. Unlike many agencies I do not disappear once I have collected my fee. I am available to the tenants and owners throughout the lease.
Q: Did you receive any support from the government?
A: As an SLU I actually pay 364€ per month autonomo which is a massive amount of money. Additionally, I pay 240€ per month to my gestoria as the paperwork is more complex with an SLU. I have paid less to other gestors and they have been hopeless. The gestor I have in Palma seems very efficient. My gestor did look at the payment for the autonomo but it did not seem beneficial. They told me I would probably receive about 800€ but would still have to pay my autonomo fee. It now seems that the autonomo payment will eventually be returned. My gestor is looking into the one-off payment from the Balearic government for those autonomos who have continued to work, and continued to pay into the system but who are not making any money which includes me so fingers crossed that I will get a little boost.
Q: What else did you do in lockdown?
A: I have spent a lot of the earlier time keeping busy with updating my webpage which I am delighted about, tidying up my computer, and writing newsletters to my client base My presence in social media has been stronger than ever and now includes the Spanish market. I hope that when the `new normal´picks up people will remember me as the one who kept working and providing a service.