VISION & PERSEVERANCE
An interview with Heidi Stadler - November 2007
Heidi Stadler, together with Robert Maunder manage First Mallorca - one of the largest real estate companies on Mallorca
Question: Frau Stadler, you started in 1995 as a twoman operation, today First Mallorca belongs amongst the largest real estate companies on Mallorca. How did this remarkable climb come about?
We started at the right time, in one of the strongest growth phases of Mallorca’s property sector ever and whose momentum continues still. My partner Robert Maunder and I complement ach other wonderfully. In former times we got to know half the world, Robert was busy in the Far East, Asia, Africa and the Atlantic Islands, including the Canaries & Madeira as a developer of new travel products, I was active on Sri Lanka, Bali, in South India and in Mexico with tourism. Whilst Robert is a visionary, my trait is perseverance, I am geared towards continuity. He pays attention to expansion and innovation, the finances are my field. Being Austrian I have naturally always had a greater understanding for the German speaking market. Robert, as he is British, has mostly focused our enterprise towards the English speaking market. That was to our great benefit when, a couple of years ago, the number of German clients decreased and more Britons came.
You speak of visions. What comes next?
We moved into our head office in Costa d’en Blanes eight years ago and established an office in Puerto Andratx three years ago. In the meantime we also operate the ApartmentBörse there, where the client can quietly consider several hundred apartments, clearly divided into price categories rather like a supermarket. An Internet bar gives access to the respective reference of the apartment, with a complete photo gallery. In Palma we are opening an office in the swish shopping mile Jaime III. From there we will expand our activities in the city area as well as for our properties outside, namely Son Vida and in the south-west. The city of Palma still has great potential. Demand is high precisely with the top offers – across the island. We had an extremely strong sales year, there was enormous growth, particularly in the high-price area, and we reckon with further increments in 2008.
Does the increased mortgage interest rates have influence on your turnover?
Above all the British clients traditionally buy on the basis of a mortgage, this relates in the main to the market between 300,000 and 900,000 Euro. Mortgages have now become more expensive, and banks have on the whole become more cautious with offering credit, which has weakened this market segment. The past year brought us wealthy clients who buy without bank mortgages. From our portfolio of around 1,000 we sold many properties last year with values between two and ten million Euros. This helped or contributed to our increased turnover of course.
Will Mallorca become the new Saint Tropéz?
I don’t believe so. Here there will always be a broad spectrum of buyers. Several first buyers like to enter the market with a less expensive property and then upgrade after a couple of years. The island should remain a typical Mallorcan island, this creates its charm. Even a very affluent client likes to sit in a casual bar and enjoy reading their newspaper over a coffee.
For a while it may become a little more difficult for the typical building society assisted investor to purchase during the likely re-adjustment period and increased charges.
The prices have risen and the demand continues. An apartment that you buy today, for say 500,000 Euros, will certainly provide you with a worthwhile profit inside a couple of years. People are coming from all over Europe, Germans, Britons and Scandinavians increasingly, also the East Europeans. The excellent infrastructure, the security, multinational atmosphere and the island’s beautiful coastal scenery elevate Mallorca clearly above the Spanish mainland. We have reacted to this new demand and taken on staff whom, between them, speak eleven languages, including Danish, Swedish, Czech, Italian and Russian.
That is a lot of service.
Service is our trademark. The clients must feel understood, and for this we must wholly adapt ourselves to them and be aware of their needs, especially those of their wives, because they have a special importance in the buying decision. For this we need excellent sales agents, salaried and not relying on commissions, people our clients like to spend the day with and can trust. We continually instruct our sales staff and shortly we will expand our own training centre and also add to the number of present sales personnel. We focus on long-term employment and undertake incentive-tours to locations famous for their good service mentality. Our top staff are awarded trips, over the New Year we travelled with almost the whole team for a luxury holiday in Thailand. For me there is no greater compliment than that a client thanks us for the service he or she has received. A substantial number of our first contacts last year came from recommendations.
How important is the rental business on the island?
We have built up this additional service over the past two years. We ourselves are surprised at how well this segment has developed. Some prospective buyers rent first to understand the island, others need accommodation during the construction of their houses or to enjoy a temporary tax advantage. Some of our clients acquire several properties, as an investment which they then rent out. We focus only on long-term rental arrangements for a minimum period of six months.
What long-term plans do you have?
In the next two years a fifth branch could be added in the south-west of Mallorca, in the longterm an additional three offices in other parts of the island could materialize. We however proceed very cautiously with our expansion plans, checking the location very soundly before deciding one hundred percent for a market and of course making sure we can support our full services there. The services we are famous for.
The letters stand like Greek columns and, with the crown in the logo, First Mallorca presents the image of a long-established enterprise. This is not without justification, then with twelve years of experience in Mallorca’s fast growing property market the agency is already reckoned to be the most professional player in the field. The crown on the green base stands for luxury and signifies the connection to kingdoms such as Great Britain or the Scandinavian countries. The founders of the enterprise, the Austrian Heidi Stadler and the Briton Robert Maunder, focus their business internationally.
Their 40 permanent employees speak a total of eleven languages, on its website the company advertises in Danish, Swedish, Czech, and Russian amongst the obvious others. In addition, much more belongs to the company philosophy than just offering luxury properties. The portfolio of around 1,000 properties includes above all real estate fitting the maxim of a balanced price-performance ratio. Protecting the care of their clients Stadler and Maunder concentrate on the best service available, designating quality of life and investment security as crucial for the buying decision. "Location, location and once again location", is named by Maunder as the main criterion for a good property. Thus First Mallorca focuses in their client care via a team of professionals and well informed sales advisors, who are supported by a ratio of two and half support personnel per sales team personnel, including experts in finance, legal matters, administration, marketing, after sales, an IT department, website texters & photographers. Activities of the offices in Puerto Andratx and Palma are coordinated from the Company’s headquarters building in Costa d’en Blanes.
The First Mallorca brochure, with a print-run of 50,000 copies is bi-annual and encompasses villas, fincas and apartments with values from 220,000 Euros to 20 million Euros. The brochure also includes several interesting features on Mallorca. First Mallorca´s advertising budget surpasses other Mallorca agents in the print media locally and in Great Britain and Germany. First Mallorca has extensive advertising in exclusive in-flight magazines of several worldwide airlines.