It’s not a building company, not a real estate agency or project management consultancy. But My Home Ibiza – the brainchild of born and bred Ibiza local Toni Guasch – is equally as essential to homeowners on the island, for their own homes, holiday houses and investment properties alike. We caught up with Toni to discuss the ins and outs of running this unique company and got some tips on caring for your Ibiza property in the winter.
For those who don’t know, can you explain exactly what My Home Ibiza does, and why did you set it up?
There is a huge concentration of valuable second homes here in Ibiza but no infrastructure in place to support the houses. We originally set up My Home Ibiza to support homeowners – many of whom were new to the island and without adequate Spanish speaking skills – once they’d completed the purchase of their big, expensive new ‘item’. After the keys were handed over, their builders and estate agents were swiftly moving onto new clients (rightly so) but there was a gap in the market for a property management company.
How do homeowners need support?
Well, the homes our clients buy are usually expensive second homes. This means they are valuable and vacant part of the year, which can be a very stressful position to be in. Maintenance of properties like these is ongoing and if you close up a house for six months at a time, what are the chances of it working brilliantly when you open the doors and windows again when summer rolls around? You need someone you can trust and rely on to care for it. We have year round relationships with our clients, and they know they can call us for any emergency and we do our best to help.
What sort of things might they call on you for?
Obvious things are plumbing or electrical failure. But it can also be because the ITV for the car is due, or bills need to be paid for the water delivery. Anything that relates to the house, we can find a solution. When I worked for a building company, clients would phone up with maintenance issues long after the builders had left the site. They don’t know who to call if the washing machine breaks down! Sometimes it’s that simple. Our aim is to take the headache out of owning a property abroad.
So what is a typical winter period like for the My Home Ibiza team?
We spend the winter months maintaining the houses and making any necessary repairs or renovations. We routinely visit houses to ensure everything is safe and as it should be and we also organise and manage the teams working on each house. This means that come May, the house is one hundred percent ready and equipped for a big summer. Our clients’ houses generally get well utilised throughout the summer months so everything needs to be tested beforehand and the houses need to be immaculate. We can do anything from building a new garage to filling the fridge with groceries…
Does that mean summer is your quiet period?
[Laughs] In a word… no. When clients are here we are on call 24/7, like doctors! If something goes wrong we’ll be there straight away to fix it. I really enjoy this part of the job – I get satisfaction knowing the problem is solved and the client is happy.
What´s the most stressful thing you’ve had to fix?
Last summer one of my clients threw a 40th birthday party for 200 guests who had all flown in for the occasion. It was fully staffed and brilliantly organised but the electricity failed. I was on standby and had to fix it whilst everyone waited in silence. That was pretty nerve wracking. All I could think was that the success or failure of this event was on me, and my ability to solve a problem!
What advice could you give second homeowners who have left their houses vacant this winter?
It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how few people do this: make sure your house is aired properly. We generally open up all the windows and doors of our houses once a week because Ibiza is very damp. The buildup of damp can create flakey walls and leave a lingering smell and it can also ruin bedding and soft furnishings.
Secondly, have someone visit the house every week – but at irregular times, not the same time every week – for security. The key to security is to make it as difficult as possible for the intruder to get in, for example, put as many obstacles in their way as you can. Even dummy cameras are better than no cameras. The thing about burglars is that they are pretty lazy in general, so if your property is annoyingly difficult to get into, then they will move on.
So what do homeowners who don’t use you or a company like yours do with their villas in winter?
Often they’ll ask friends to housesit for the winter months or get their cleaners keep an eye on the property. This option can work, but not everyone wants to have their homes used or lived in (not by themselves!) for six months a year. These are the people who come to us.
Of course there are many other service-orientated businesses on the island, targeting the second homeowner, but they are mostly VIP and concierge. I guess we are the quiet, hardworking cousin. I like that position!