Get a Checklist Sorted - You Won’t Regret it
Now you have a list of details of your Spanish property requirements, you will be able to put together a detailed brief or checklist you can pass on to an estate agent to help you find the ideal property within your budget.
Not only will a checklist be of great help to an agent, but it will also help you to remember what is important to you in a property, and not lose your focus and be distracted by homes which are not ideal for your needs.
It is important you do not go over budget and also that you buy in an area that is suitable and accessible.
Using the questions we provided earlier, make a brief. Make sure it contains notes on everything that is important to you, and lets the agent know your circumstances; i.e. if you are a cash buyer if you will require a mortgage and how much you will need to borrow.
Make sure the agent knows if and when you will be in Spain when you are available for viewings, and if you have a deadline date for moving to your new country.
Find an Estate Agent
Ideally, you will want to work with us, but if that’s not possible, you’ll need to contact several estate agents in your desired area and chosen one to work with before going to Spain with the intention of viewing.
Cooperation is a vital ingredient to your success, so you need to work with somebody who is experienced and reliable and willing to listen exactly to your needs when you describe the type of property you want.
A good estate agent in Spain operates legally. Therefore, you want to look for an agent who belongs to a professional estate agent Association such as CEPI. Alternatively, it's a good idea to ask people you may know in the area if they can recommend a good agent.
You can usually tell a good agent by how proactive they are, how willing they are to answer your questions, if they call you back promptly if they are out of office when you call, and also help you with other questions you may have such as queries about local schools and social activities.
You want someone who knows the area very well, has been in the business of selling homes in Spain for at least 5 years (10 is better) speaks your language and is of a certain age with plenty of experience.
Ask the agent questions and make a note of how responsive and enthusiastic they are to help. Most agents will operate within a local area, so choosing an agent that knows your favourite area and the different neighbourhoods within that area extremely well is a distinct advantage.
A good agent will help you till the end of your moving process, assisting with bank accounts, helping you find schools, a doctor, etc. Seeking past buyer feedback can be invaluable to help you make sure your prospective agent is willing to go the extra mile.
The Viewing Trip
There will come a time along the journey that you will need to pay a visit to the town you have chosen, and the best way to do this is to arrange a viewing trip. Make sure you allow yourself enough time when booking your flights, so you have plenty of opportunity to explore the area without feeling time is running out and an urgency to make an offer on a villa or apartment.
You need to give yourself time to look round the town and surrounding areas, speak to expats and locals, and make sure the region offers the attractions that are important to you.
It is a good idea to try to visit a resort during the off-season, so you experience the town when the weather may not be at its best, and there is not so much to do compared to the high season. Visiting off-season also allows you more possibility to speak to locals who will have way more time on their hands than during the busy summer months.
Before you book a flight, try not to land during one of the many Spanish fiestas, as you may be disappointed to find agencies are closed.
Rent a Property
It is important you get an idea of what living in your desired location will be like; staying in a hotel on holiday and living in residential property are distinct scenarios.
If possible, rent a villa or apartment in the area where you intend to buy, and if you are planning on driving when you live in Spain, you could also rent a car. This will give you a realistic view of what is like to live in the neighbourhood, shop locally for small items, drive to the nearest large supermarket for groceries, etc.
It will also allow you to gauge how noisy the area is; you may be surprised to find a peaceful location on a hillside is not as tranquil as you had expected due to the many barking dogs in the area. Also, consider the season; if you stay in town make note of any bars and clubs nearby that may be shut in the wintertime, as when they reopen in the summer the noise levels are sure to rise and this can only be expected.
Do not let yourself be rushed or compromised during your viewing trips. Remember everything is entirely up to you; there are no rules on how long it takes you to decide on selecting an area or the limit to how many questions you can ask an agent. A good agent knows you are making a major life decision and will understand that you want to take your time and will be patient when answering your queries.
During Your Viewing Trips you will need to:
- Find an independent English-speaking solicitor
You don't have to hire one there and then. But you can find out their fees, the services they offer and ask if they will be able to help you as soon as you are ready to make an offer.
- Get your foreigner identity number - NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero)
You will not be able to buy a Spanish property without an NIE. A solicitor can arrange it for you.
- Open a local bank account
You will not be able to open a bank account without a NIE number.
Shop around, find a bank with English speaking staff, and enquire about bank charges. Pay attention to the costs of making transfers between the UK and Spain. Many banks charge to deposit money into a Spanish account from overseas.
Make an offer
Unless you are incredibly lucky, don’t be surprised if you do not find the ideal property on your first viewing trip. Spend a few extra months and euros on visiting Spain several times and be sure the property you have chosen is the right one for you, and do not rush into a decision you may later regret.
Having said that, after you have made one or two viewing trips to Spain you will probably have narrowed your search down to one or two specific areas. You will know your budget; know exactly how you will finance your project and have a sound idea of the type of property you want to purchase.
So now it is time to only look at properties that meet your criteria and make a short list of those you are interested in buying. When you have made your list, you will need to give it to your agent so he can make offers on your behalf.
You need to always remember that if you make an offer on a property that is priced at €150,000, this price may fluctuate if you are changing sterling to euros. A currency exchange specialist can help you with this issue as they can secure the euros you will need for the purchase you will make in the future, so you only pay the price you agreed to at the time of your offer.
Don’t be surprised if an offer is rejected. In this event you will need to either up the offer or decide the asking price is above your budget and turn your attention to another property on your list. It is important not to become too attached to any one property and be prepared to forget any home that is over your budget as buying a more expensive home than planned could lead to financial problems down the road.
Read more of our 8 part Moving To Spain Guide: