Interview with Atipika co-founder Isabel Osorio
How did the idea for Atipika come about?
Having lived and studied in the USA and UK I realised that the level of public service here was pretty poor. There were no multilingual professional Real Estate agencies and the treatment of international buyers was not very advanced.
How did you decide on the name?
With ‘Atipika’ we wanted to express how different we were, not just with regards to our level of service but also our company philosophy and values. Buying, renting or managing a home is a highly skilled business and is one of the most important decisions in someone’s life.
Your strapline is ‘Being different is what makes us unique’. How do you think Atipika is different from other Real Estate agencies in Barcelona?
We anticipate situations and create customer loyalty thanks to the effort we make with each and every client. We personalise our relationships thanks to having real conversations as opposed to communicating via a content management system. All our employees are highly valued and an integral part of the company. We have spent a lot of time and effort investing in internal technology which helps us take quick decisions and accelerate sales. We create close relationships with our clients and we are a tightly-knit team with a flat structure and have been operating as such for nearly 20 years.
What do you believe the core strengths of Atipika are?
The sale of high quality residential homes and commercial assets, a great portfolio of rental homes in and around Barcelona city and also excellent experience on an international level. All our employees have experience of living outside Spain but are from Barcelona. They understand both the needs of the sellers and buyers. We are driven by excellence and the ability to adapt to each and every owner and buyer.
You established Atipika in 1999. Can you describe how the property market and the Real Estate industry in Barcelona was like at that time?
At that time Barcelona was still fairly provincial. Today it is a vibrant, multicultural hub. Rental prices were higher than they are now and there were sometimes even auctions for prime properties in the most sought-after areas. There were few international buyers and the ones that wanted to buy were viewed with an element of scepticism by owners. The market was very uncompetitive and you needed to put down a cash advance on rental properties for up to 6 months regardless of the conditions and guarantees offered. Prices were beginning to move upwards but there was no multilingual service for international clients. One time, for example, when a foreign client came to Barcelona to look for temporary accommodation, the Town Hall had to come to us for help as they had no idea how to provide accommodation for him! So we can proudly say that Atipika were pioneers in providing short-term rentals in Barcelona that were not for tourists.
What was the secret of surviving the years of La Crisis? What was it like working during that challenging era? Did you have to change the focus of the business much?
We survived ‘La Crisis’ by ensuring that we kept true to our values and loyal to our clients, we were frugal with our budgets and we put our staff first. This consistent approach helped us grow during the ‘Crisis’ years. I believe that truth and transparency are always more important than anything else. Yes, we had to make sacrifices but it also made us stronger in the long run.
Today in 2017 the property landscape in Barcelona is a complete phenomenon. Why do you think Barcelona is so appealing to buyers, particular international buyers?
There are a myriad of reasons why Barcelona should be considered as an investment hotspot, particularly for international buyers: the perfect climate, strategic European location, the Mediterranean, cultural diversity, a cosmopolitan lifestyle, well connected, a city with a progressive approach and an excellent business hub. As far as property prices are concerned, despite the recent increases that Barcelona has seen, the Catalan capital is still good value compared to other major European cities with the added bonus of offering incredible lifestyle benefits. Barcelona still offers very accessible property prices to the international investor.
Where do you think the ‘property hotspots’ are right now in Barcelona?
I learnt something very important from my experience in the US. ‘Location, Location, Location’ is key! Central Barcelona, properties located close to the sea and in well located surrounding areas within 40km of the city will always be great investments.
What types of homes are popular with foreign buyers?
Barcelona offers a range of different homes for buyers: new homes and properties to renovate or to gut completely and reform. International clients tend to love the typical Barcelona home with period features, whether renovated or not, as well as new homes with ‘atypical’ characteristics such as large terraces, great views, high ceilings, abundant light, good distribution and high quality finishes.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of buying a home in Barcelona?
To look for an agency with international vision but local knowledge, who knows the city intimately and is able to clarify from the start what the buyer’s objectives and expectations are – are they buying to get Residency, for lifestyle reasons or to have a city centre bolt-hole, for example? Are they looking for a short, medium or long-term investment? Be realistic about budget and timeline. Plan all the administrative tasks such as getting a mortgage and an NIE well in advance.
What plans does Atipika have for both the short-term and long-term future?
We hope to expand both nationally and internationally always in keeping with our company values and philosophy.
Describe Barcelona in 3 words:
Vibrant, dynamic and multicultural.