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The Spanish island of Majorca is a magnet for those seeking sunshine, sangria, sailing and the gentle Mediterranean life-style.

And it was the retirement plan of Bobby Heaney, a well-known Scottish surveyor and local politician, to flit to a ruined finca he bought in the south-east of the island and spend his retirement rebuilding the traditional farm-house making it habitable for modern living.

But life can be cruel and Bobby died before he was able to even begin his dream.

His son Richard, then 25, had been working with his father on the revitalisation of Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square. Bobby’s death turned deep seated grief into a personal Place in the Sun property project and then a business opportunity that has spawned a lucrative business selling luxury properties on the island to UK, German and Swedish citizens.

Richard's company, Élan Palma, founded in 2013 to fill a gap in the Balearic Islands’ property market, completed its first major acquisition in 2015, a new urban town house with a pool which went for €5 million, and then resold 18 months later for €6 million when the owner wanted to expand, delivering healthy commissions.

Richard said: "I moved from Scotland to Majorca because I not only love the island, I also believe it offers an exceptional opportunity for long-term property investment. Property values have been climbing steadily year on year for decades, but there was a huge gap in the market for someone experienced and qualified to approach property search and advisory in a truly professional way.”

Richard, born and schooled in Edinburgh, attended college in Cirencester before returning to work with his father’s company, Dixon Heaney. It was at a time when properties in Charlotte Square in Edinburgh were in dire need of upgrading as the financial, legal and investment companies were moving out to premises that were better suited for modern business with new technologies.

The Ukrainian developer Yury Lopatinsky had arrived in the city from Russia with a large pot of investment money. He set up an office in Melville Crescent and asked Dixon Heaney for their help and local knowledge. Glasgow-born Bobby was one of the best-known valuation professionals in the east of Scotland. He was a founding partner with John Dixon of Dixon Heaney Chartered Surveyors in 1992. He was also a Conservative councillor on Edinburgh Council involved with the development of the Gyle shopping centre and Edinburgh Park.

Lopatinsky proceeded to buy up large tracts of Edinburgh’s most prestigious square including the former offices of the National Trust for Scotland, on the south side of the square, Bute House, the First Minister’s residence, and the offices of Sir David Murray, now occupied by the Institute of Directors’ Scotland. He created the Charlotte Collection, investing tens of millions in massive upgrades and improvements to complement the Grade One listed buildings, including No9, now the headquarters of Hampden & Co bank.

Richard Heaney from Edinburgh sources multi-million properties in Majorca for wealthy clients

“It was an exhilarating time and I learned a lot. We worked for First Mercantile and Yury in Scotland. He was very enthusiastic and passionate about his development in Edinburgh. He saw a lot of opportunity when no one else did. It was exciting for sure,’’ said Richard.

After his father’s death in November 2009, Dixon Heaney merged with Kean Kennedy & Partners to become DHKK.

Bobby’s retirement project had been to rebuild the derelict finca he bought near Santanyi. In June 2010, Richard decided to take it on and he engaged a local architect and builders. He pressed on with the completion. It was a cathartic experience and a tribute to his father.

“I learned a lot about the island and the whole property market. The renovated finca is still my base in Majorca although I spend a lot of time in London and elsewhere meeting clients. In the high-end market place, face to face is still the best way to understand what a client really wants,’’ he told Scottish Business Insider.

For example, Richard currently has two clients seeking a holiday home in Majorca and he is searching the island for the right spot.

“One is looking for a holiday home with five bedroom in a great location and the ability to swim in the sea in the morning. They have a budget of around €6 million, while I have another German client who wants a 10-bedroom villa with a 25 metre pool, also in a great location with a sea view. This is in the €25 to €50 million bracket.’’

He describes the regular ‘bread and butter’ as between €3 and €8 million, although there is very tight supply on the island where demand remains high among those wanting a quieter, more gentle place to enjoy their leisure time.

Heaney said Scots are prominent in the north of the island at Puerto Pollensa and Alcuida.

“This has been a popular area for Scottish people for many, many years. They come on holiday and love the place and then decide to buy a holiday or retirement home using the good connections from Glasgow and Edinburgh directly to Palma,’’ he said.

Richard, now 35, speaks Spanish but admits it is not super-fluent.

“The Majorcans are much more tolerant of people not speaking perfect mainland Spanish. Their Mallorquin dialect is a mix of Spanish and Catalan and they have been a trading and seafaring island with many influences. The history of the island means they have been invaded many times and are more tolerant of incomers.’’

Tennis star Rafael Nadal, the current French Open champion, lives in Manacor and owns a tennis centre near Santa Ponsa.

Richard said: “Apart from the climate and the geography, tennis and sailing are big draws. It’s not so much an island for golfers and it has a mixture of busier resorts and quieter villages.

"Palma is a medieval city with its ancient cathedral but it isn’t a sprawling city. The authorities in Majorca have worked hard to keep the place clean and environmentally in good order with much of the island protected by the status of a national park.’’

While Heaney is building his business in Spain, his sister, Joanna, lives in Elie in Fife, where the family would enjoy summer holidays before Bobby's death.

Their father would surely approve of their choices.

You can see more of Elan Palma's properties at www.elanpalma.com

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