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Interview: Jack Ballantine, Co-Founder, Nueva Vida

Nueva Vida Group matches clients with the finest luxury homes in European destinations. Working exclusively for HNW and UHNW clients who want to buy a luxury home above €3m in destinations including Marbella and beyond.

Photo Credit: Luxury Marketing Connect Monaco

Rooted in family values, Nueva Vida Group is a UK-based, family-owned company, that distinguishes itself with an unwavering commitment to personalised service.

We interviewed founder Jack Ballantine to learn more about his background and the exclusive services Nueva Vida offers to their clients interested in property investments in Marbella.

Could you tell us a bit about your background and where the idea for starting luxury buying agency Nueva Vida came from?

With 19 years of experience in the property industry, I started in London and later served as the head of Asia for CBRE UK residential, overseeing sales for some of London's most iconic residential developments.

In 2015 I set up my own business which was a private client business space in London advising international high-net-worth individuals on the acquisition and development of luxury homes. This is where I met a Norwegian client, who was interested in investing in a property in London and invited me out to Marbella, to help him with the sales of his villas he was building there. That opened my eyes to the really poor level of service that HNW clients were receiving when purchasing homes. They faced a lack of experience, expertise and customer service.

I identified a gap in the market for a premium service for HNW looking to invest in property in Marbella and start a new life there. The idea stemmed from this concept, Nueva Vida translates to “new life” in Spanish.

Why do HNWI/UHNWI come to you for advice in acquiring property in Marbella? 

There are two key things: one is our experience and reputation and the second is time. Nueva Vida’s clients are time-poor and our service ensures their time is used efficiently. 

We take care of all the groundwork as we know the market really well. We listen to our client's needs and curate a selection of properties that align with their preferences, thereby streamlining the search process and saving valuable time. We will preview those properties on their behalf to ensure a precise match with the client's preferences. When the client arrives, there will be a carefully curated collection of homes, ready for them to view. 

Nueva Vida offers comprehensive end-to-end service, ensuring a seamless experience from the moment clients instruct us on their needs, to getting the keys to their new home and moving in. In addition to assisting with property viewings, we also provide guidance on essential amenities that families may be looking for when relocating, such as good schools or nurseries. 

Our services extend to sourcing vehicles, locating gyms, facilitating memberships to Marbella’s most sought-after private members clubs and golf resorts and even arranging for helicopter transfers. With Nueva Vida, there's no limit to what we can arrange.

Clients choose us because we streamline the entire process for lifestyle relocations and offer exclusive access to the market. Listing agents often approach us to help showcase their properties to our clients, resulting in a large amount of off-market opportunities. This allows our clients to discover unique properties before anyone else knows about them.

  1. What benefits are there for HNWI/UHNWI looking to buy in Marbella? 

  1. Climate

  2. International community 

  3. Locality to European hotspots 

  4. Investment Opportunity 

Firstly, the region boasts an exceptional climate with approximately 325 days of sunshine annually, offering a highly desirable lifestyle element. 

Secondly, Marbella attracts a diverse international community of like-minded individuals seeking similar lifestyle advantages, fostering a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.

Thirdly, its strategic locality provides easy access to European hotspots, with Malaga airport serving as a convenient gateway to wider global destinations. 

Lastly, Marbella presents an outstanding investment opportunity, offering a variety of property options ranging from luxurious villas to bespoke residences tailored to individual preferences and financial objectives. Investors can capitalise on the robust rental demand and anticipate significant capital appreciation in Marbella's thriving real estate market, ensuring attractive returns on investment over time.

How do the new tax laws in Andalucia make relocating to Marbella a significant benefit?

The Andalusian government actively supports tax policies that encourage individuals with wealth to relocate to Andalucía, especially in Marbella. They offer incentives for the transfer of assets and wealth, providing tax benefits to those who decide to make the move. 

Additionally, they have reduced property taxes in response to COVID-19. Initially implemented as a reactionary measure, the government recognised the insensitivity of the tax burden and opted to maintain the same stamp duty rates.

Many people get buying agents and estate agents confused, please could you explain the difference?

Buying agents represent solely the buyer’s interests whereas estate agents represent the seller. A buying agent will act on the buyer’s behalf when it comes to managing relationships with all parties needed to purchase their dream home including solicitors, mortgage brokers, tax advisers, surveyors etc. which saves the buyer a huge amount of time. 

In a competitive agent market such as Southern Spain, working with a buying agent provides buyers with unrivalled access to the market. Nueva Vida offers access to properties that may not be available through traditional real estate channels, providing buyers with unique opportunities that others may not have access to.

What makes Nueva Vida stand out from other buying agents? What added value does a buying agent bring?

Our key strength lies in our unparalleled access, offering a personalised approach for end-to-end service with a single point of contact for the client. Additionally, as a family-owned business, Nueva Vida stands out by providing a unique level of care, benefitting from a deep understanding of our clients' needs and desires.

What are your top three recommended areas in Marbella to invest in and are there any up-and-coming areas or hidden gems that buyers should keep an eye on?

The area that everyone wants to be in is Marbella’s Golden Triangle linking Nueva Andalucia (Golf Valley), the Golden Mile and Sierra Blanca. They want to be as close as possible to Puente Romano and Marbella Club. A hugely important part of buying in Marbella is the ability to be welcomed all the time at both resorts. The resorts have mastered the ability to make residents of Marbella feel as welcome as guests. It’s totally unique to Marbella and a hugely undervalued benefit of living there. From my own experience, to have such amazing restaurants, wellness amenities and places to spend time, it’s hugely attractive.

La Zagaleta is also becoming extremely popular with clients looking to be close to amenities but want complete privacy and security. The estate itself is going through an exciting period of growth in terms of services on offer to residents and the value of luxury villas within Zagaleta. We truly believe that it is the most exclusive estate in Spain.

Investing in Marbella's Golden Triangle, encompassing Nueva Andalucía, Sierra Blanca, and La Zagaleta, is essential for buyers seeking lucrative opportunities. These areas, referred to as the core market by us at Nueva Vida, offer a safe bet for investors. Renovating a villa in these prime locations can yield profitable returns, provided the renovation is executed effectively. La Zagaleta, positioned at the pinnacle of the market, holds immense value for investors due to its exclusivity and sought-after reputation.

For traditional investors seeking profitable opportunities in emerging areas, La Quinta remains highly desirable due to its proximity to Nueva Andalucía. Another promising location is El Paraíso, nestled further into Benahavis and named for its paradise-like qualities. Similar to Nueva Andalucía, El Paraíso boasts two golf courses and traditional Andalucían style villas, making it ideal for renovation projects. With its lower budget requirements and flexibility, El Paraíso presents an excellent choice for investors.

What trends are you noticing in buyer requirements this year? Any particular features or facilities that are in high demand?

The top trends among our sports and entertainment clients highlight a growing demand for padel courts, reflecting the increasing popularity of padel tennis. While this trend is on the rise, few homes currently offer this feature, presenting a notable opportunity for developers to meet this demand.

Another significant trend is the emphasis on indoor-outdoor living spaces, which are becoming increasingly valued by homeowners. Developers should prioritise this aspect, particularly when renovating villas, by enhancing outdoor areas with features such as outdoor cinemas to create inviting spaces for families to enjoy together.

Additionally, wellness remains a key focus for homeowners, with sauna, jacuzzi and indoor pools being standard amenities in many homes. However, indoor pools are less important due to the favourable weather conditions in Marbella. Instead, there is a growing interest in steam rooms, bespoke hot tubs and state-of-the-art gyms complete with the latest fitness equipment, catering to the health-conscious residents of Marbella. Popular fitness equipment like Peloton bikes are also highly sought after among residents.

What has been your most unique or elaborate request from a buyer?

One of our clients from Kuwait requested luxury cars worth a million euros, and we successfully sourced five vehicles for them, including Rolls Royce and Ferrari models.

Another unique request came from a client who wanted their Great Dane transported from the UK to Marbella. Rather than having the dog driven, they opted to fly it over on a private jet for added comfort and convenience.

Could you tell us about your favourite property on the market at the moment and why?

I currently have two favourite properties that I'm excited about. The first one is located in Zagaleta and although it's off-market, I find it incredibly appealing. The home reminds me of the hills of LA, with stunning green views all around. It boasts a cutting-edge design, featuring a glass and steel entrance that adds to its cool and modern aesthetic, despite my usual preference for classic Andalusian homes.

The second property, Villa Adriana, overlooks the Los Naranjos golf course and exudes traditional Andalusian charm. Its spacious layout and impressive terrace make it perfect for hosting unforgettable gatherings. While it may not be the most expensive villa we have, it holds a special charm, with its sophisticated interior design adding to its luxurious appeal.

Why would HNWI/UHNWI in London benefit from having a secondary home in Marbella?

The attraction of a quick three-hour flight on regular, year-round routes is undeniably appealing. Ultimately, it comes down to the luxury of time. Having a second home in Marbella allows individuals to devote more time to their families and friends without feeling too far away.

Marbella itself is incredibly convenient to live in. For instance, if your spouse enjoys shopping, Puerto Banus offers every luxury brand imaginable. For children interested in football or horse riding, Marbella boasts some of the best facilities in Spain. And for golf enthusiasts, Europe's finest golf courses are just a stone's throw away. Everything is conveniently located, allowing for an unforgettable family villa experience.

Many Londoners have homes in Marbella, drawn by similarities in lifestyle and the appeal of the warmer weather. The proximity to familiar faces in London further adds to its appeal. Traditionally, Londoners tend to reside in areas like Sierra Blanca or Nueva Andalucía, which are conveniently close to Marbella Club and Puente Romano.

On the other hand, those from outside London may be more open to exploring different areas, seeking larger properties or better value for their money. Similar to the UK, where affluent individuals may live in Kent and commute to London, Marbella offers a similar dynamic.

In terms of property sales, the average secondary or holiday home sold to a Londoner ranges from £3.5 million to £4 million, while primary residences typically exceed £5.5 million.

Could you tell us about one of your recent clients and the service you provided for them?

The most recent deal we closed was for  8.65 million, involving a stunning villa in La Quinta. It's a brand new, contemporary property with ultra-modern features, including triple ceiling height living rooms. The buyer, a self-made millionaire who recently sold his company, was after a holiday home. His decision to live in Marbella was primarily driven by his love for golf and the favourable weather.

Initially expecting to use it for three or four weeks a year, he now spends almost every week there, particularly during February. Interestingly, I first connected with this client during a golf trip to Scotland while we were travelling back from dinner on the coach. He expressed interest in finding a home in Marbella, and we got started on the process of locating suitable properties. We organised all the viewings and handled the logistics of transfers, in addition to assisting him in sourcing a car for his stay there.

Are there any new and upcoming projects you like in the area that caught your eye?

Two standout residences caught my attention recently. The first is the Lamborghini Residences, which boasts a unique concept inspired by the iconic Lamborghini design. Located in the Benahavis Hills, this building reflects the sleek lines and prestige of the Lamborghini brand. While it's an impressive concept, I couldn't help but think they're missing out on a unique selling point by not offering a complimentary Lamborghini with each home. Nevertheless, for Lamborghini enthusiasts, what better place to reside than in a home designed around their favourite car?

Lamborghini's choice of Marbella for this project speaks volumes about the region's prestige potential, as they've fully endorsed it. It is rare for branded residences to embrace projects like this with such enthusiasm. The location, in Benahavis near Zagaleta, where many wealthy Italian families reside, further reinforces Lamborghini's confidence in this venture.

The Dolce & Gabbana Residences, on the other hand, may sound like an unconventional concept at first glance. However, situated in Design Hills by Sierra Blanca Estates, known for its great reputation, it's clear that this project is built on a foundation of quality and expertise. Moreover, there's a collaboration between Dolce & Gabbana and La Cabanne beach club, refurbished and reopened last year by the Mosh Group.

What sets these two branded residences apart is their element of fun. Unlike many branded residences that tend to take themselves too seriously, Lamborghini and Dolce & Gabbana inject a sense of enjoyment and excitement into their projects.

Could you tell us about the exclusive project of  Discovery Land you recently viewed?

Discovery Land is one of those exclusive residences that you just can't resist wanting to be a part of. While it may sound like a cliché sales pitch, the level of service and amenities they offer truly live up to the hype. Through Nueva Vida, gaining access to these coveted properties is made effortless. Whether it's purchasing a home or arranging for bespoke services, if Discovery Land haven't thought of it already, they'll make it happen for you.

Take Comporta, Portugal, for example. Situated south of Lisbon, it may not be the most thrilling destination, with its modest offerings and less-than-ideal weather. However, when compared to prestigious Discovery Land projects like Yellowstone Club, Marbella emerges as the clear winner. American acquaintances who own properties in Discovery Land projects unanimously agree that Marbella is unmatched in terms of appeal.

Costa Terra is another gem, where one of the world's most famous surfers operates a surf school near Europe's biggest wave. The attention to detail is evident from the moment you arrive, with Range Rovers whisking you around and golf buggies available to explore the stunning surroundings. It's an incredible destination, however, challenging it is to convey without sounding overly promotional.

Do you have any predictions for how the industry will continue to evolve?

In today's high-net-worth real estate market, prospective buyers face an increasingly daunting task due to the surge in self-proclaimed trusted advisors and real estate gurus. Marbella, in particular, has become overcrowded with approximately 1800 brokers, making reputation crucial in the selection process. Now, more than ever, it's so important to work with a respected and reputable advisor.

While the industry has unparalleled opportunities to showcase properties, there's a concerning lack of regulation and awareness regarding potential pitfalls. Our mission is to challenge the prevailing stereotypes by advocating for transparency and guiding our clients to avoid any potential traps.

One of our primary concerns is ensuring that clients are not rushed or pressured into decisions. Many have worked diligently to amass their wealth and should never feel undervalued or overlooked. We prioritise providing ample time for clients to explore properties thoroughly, ensuring they feel valued and respected throughout the process. Ultimately, our goal is to redefine the client experience in Marbella, emphasising integrity, transparency, and personalised service above all else.

What’s next for Nueva Vida? Do you plan to expand into other markets?

While Marbella remains our primary focus, Nueva Vida's reach extends far beyond its borders. Recent successful deals in Chamonix and the South of France underscore our commitment to assisting clients in securing properties across Europe. This represents a significant growth opportunity for our business, although we are mindful not to expand too hastily.

Our primary objective is to maintain excellence in servicing our Marbella clients. While we have yet to fully establish ourselves in other global markets where we've facilitated deals, we are actively exploring opportunities for expansion. We aspire to cater to discerning clientele in prestigious ski resort destinations and luxury markets like Porto Cervo, leveraging our expertise and track record in securing successful transactions.

Ultimately, our long-term strategy revolves around cultivating and expanding our private client business, ensuring that we continue to deliver exceptional service and exceed expectations in every market we operate in.


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