SPAIN remains our most popular country to buy a second holiday home in with the latest estimates putting the total number of apartments and villas in Irish ownership . . . mainly on the Costa del Sol . . . at 250,000.

For most, these are second homes rather than investments, owned as a sunny bolthole used by all the family, and perhaps rented out for a few weeks of the year.

Despite some reports that prices in some of the most popular areas near Malaga airport had peaked, agents say demand for apartments and rents is still strong in the area.

For those interested in buying in Spain, British property exhibitors Blendon is holding its first exhibition here dedicated solely to property in Spain.

Over 100 Spanish property developers and estate agents will show what property they have for sale at the RDS next weekend.

The organisers have added a touch of theatre with flamenco dancing and music from the Viva Flamenco company.

There will also be displays of El Caballo de Espana's equine theatre, for which a specially designed arena is being constructed at the RDS.

Among the exhibitors are the leading British property agents Hamptons International, which will have a large stand at the show.

Directors from the company's offices in the Costa del Sol, the Algarve, the south of France and its London head office will be there.

There will be seminars on the legal and financial implications of buying in Spain.

The exhibition is open from 10.00am to 5.00pm from Friday 29 October to Sunday 31 October.

Ticket prices are 5 if you pay in advance in advance and 10 on the door. Children enter free.

For more information and to book half-price advance tickets, visit the Viva Espana website, www. vivaespana2004. com.