Cold days and long winter nights in lockdown have left people dreaming of sunnier climes according to property experts.
The Association of Portuguese Resorts said almost a quarter of international enquiries at the end of 2020 were from the UK and Ireland, while Taylor Wimpey Espana says its website traffic has rocketed in the first month of January.
Javier Piñanes, Spanish tourism board officer in London, said: "There is a strong desire to travel on the part of the British and they emphasise Spain is the destination they want to travel to, it is their top destination for holiday.”
TWE said Spanish property buyers were increasingly thinking about the environment in searches, with the Malaga area proving popular, particularly ahead of the designation of Sierra de las Nieves as the province's first national park later this year.
A TWE spokesman said: "Both tourists and second home owners are increasingly conscious of the need for greater sustainability. Concern for the environment is being reflected in the questions buyers are asking as part of the purchase process."
Marc Pritchard, TWE sales and marketing director, said: "Features such as energy efficiency, solar energy and thermal insulation are no longer ‘nice to haves’ – they are a core part of what many buyers are seeking.”
The park is home to the largest collection of pinsapo trees in existence, as well as golden eagles, griffon vultures, peregrine falcons, ibex, wild cats, and roe deer, while cycling, hiking, horse-riding, kayaking, climbing, abseiling, potholing and canyoning is all available there.
Mr Pritchard said: "Many visitors and locals alike have long enjoyed the rich eco-diversity of Sierra de las Nieves.
"Now, the profile-raising nature of the national park designation, along with the funding that comes with it, means many more families will benefit from this incredible natural resource.
"The development of sustainable tourism activities will ensure the area is well protected, which is incredibly important for the future of Sierra de las Nieves.”
TWE said its La Cala Golf resort was ideally located, just an hour away for the park. Green features include low-density construction, electric water heaters and double-glazing, while the complex includes tennis facilities, with an array of water sports available at the beaches just seven kilometres away. Homes are available from €251,000 plus VAT.
APR said interest in the Algarve had surged as British buyers seek a new life in Portugal
Pedro Fontainhas, APR managing director, said: "We always suspected that Brexit would act as a trigger for many people in the UK to reassess where they want to live and what they want from their lifestyle.
"With the impact of Covid overlaying that, life in Portugal has even more appeal to many families. This has led to a surge in interest from those looking for something more than they currently have.”
It found 43 per cent of enquiries were people looking to permanently relocate, while 31 per cent were looking for a second home.
With travel restrictions in place that, currently, have no end in sight, how can buyers turn their dream of holiday home ownership into reality?
According to CostaLuz Lawyers, with the right safeguards in place, it is perfectly possible to buy a Spanish property safely online during the lockdown. While buyers can’t visit the property and the local area in person, they can research to their hearts’ content online.
Keith Rule, of www.costaluzlawyers.com, said: "The right lawyer can be invaluable in terms of helping you choose a Spanish property.
"They can help you to work with reputable, honest and reasonably priced agents, arrange a surveyor, check all required paperwork is in place and do the conveyancing and post-sale work.
“Buying during the pandemic means finding new ways to view properties and engage with the purchase process. It can also deliver some excellent bargains. And what better way to finally celebrate the lifting of travel restrictions, whenever that may be, than to visit your new holiday home?”