When looking for a home in Spain, either for a holiday home or for a permanent residence, there can be many differences from how things work in your home country. There are a wide variety of marketplaces around the world with differing levels of sophistication and maturity within those markets. With over 25 years’ experience in the property market and having dealt with properties internationally for over 20 years, we asked our Local Property Expert, Mathew Wood from Lanjarón Property, to give you his best tips on making your search easier.
Mathew said that there are many myths and legends about the best way to find your ideal property in Spain, “I often hear people repeating advice given to them by friends or taken from Facebook groups that just are not true or may have been relevant in a market from 20 year ago but not today. The property market in Spain is maturing and, with recent global events, is seeing a resurgence in popularity from buyers around the globe. Things vary from area to area in terms of the maturity and complexity of the property market but here in The Alpujarra and Lecrin Valley areas, things are progressing rapidly.”
Mathew shared his top five tips for buyers to help them secure the best property for them and to make the process as comfortable as possible. Here is his advice:
- Portals are not everything
Despite our internet driven world, buying property is still a people business. Do not rely on the internet portals having all of the information that you need about every house on the market. There are numerous properties advertised still that were sold months ago and there are many properties available that are not advertised publicly on the internet, for various reasons. My best advice is to contact a trustworthy agent in the area that you are looking in and speak to them about your needs. For example, here at Lanjarón Property we have a good number of properties that are not publicly advertised. This may be because they are being used for holiday lets and the sellers do not want to jeopardise bookings until sold or they may not be publicly advertised for personal reasons, such as divorce. I believe it is essential to register your interest with an agent so that they can inform you personally of suitable properties. I have seen over and over again people contacting us too late and missing out on their dream home. ‘Get in touch’ is my top tip.
- Be realistic about prices
What can you genuinely afford? Be honest about the budget that you have to spend and if this includes buying costs or if you have allowed for them on top of the purchase price. Some people seem to think that being honest about your budget will somehow mean that they will end up paying a higher price for the property or conversely, I hear people telling me that “friends” have told them they can get property for 50% less than advertised. There certainly has been some truth to that in the past but those days are far behind us for almost all properties nowadays. The best way to think about it when offering on a property is to consider how you would react as the seller to a half price offer! I suspect not favourably, if you are honest with yourself. Also ensure that you have calculated any hidden purchase costs into your budget. For example, some agents can charge buyers a 3% buyers’ fee on top of the price. Fortunately, here at Lanjarón Property, there are no hidden costs or buyers’ fees to pay, which can be quite a saving for you.
- Be clear
This really comes down to buyers being honest about their requirements. It is essential to ensure that you do not waste your time looking at properties that will not be suitable for you. Things like the legal status of a property i.e. do you need a Vivienda, a Nave Appero or a Nave? All have different meanings and if you are not sure what they are, or how to find out about them, this leads back to tip 1. Be honest about the level of work you may be happy to do in a property and if you have a budget for this. What do you really need to have; what is essential in a property; and does it exist? I am often asked to find a 4-bedroom house with lots of land and in excellent condition with a garage, only a 5-minute walk from a town for under 100,000e and to be honest, in this area it just doesn’t exist. There are properties like that available in other areas of Spain and they are priced like that for a reason, but they don’t exist here realistically.
Be honest and realistic about the timescale that you are working to when buying a house. If you are only browsing and not yet ready to make a commitment to a property, then be honest about that. The age-old phrase of “I’m in no rush” is not going to help you find a better property, if anything it will probably lead to you missing out on more. If you have a 12-month rental contract and do not want to complete a purchase until that is up, be honest about it. Many sellers are happy to work to delayed completion dates and you will not then find out later that your dream home sold without you knowing about it until too late.
This one is really simple, return calls to your agent! This one is quite simple and really just being courteous. Keep in touch and return calls to your agent. A good agent is genuinely trying to help you and wants to have a good working relationship with you. After all, we are likely going to be neighbours and many of my clients have become good friends over the years. Many people would not believe how often we leave messages, return emails and calls and then get totally ghosted by a client. A few weeks later they call up and ask about a new property they have seen and find out it has sold. When buyers do not bother to return calls or emails, even after they themselves have requested information, this gets noted. Sellers do not usually want to deal with potential buyers who might go incognito at any minute; would you if you were a seller?