Every fortnight, we interview people who have already taken the plunge and bought a property in Spain for our Spanish Property Podcast. We asked them what advice they would give potential house hunters and here are some of their replies.
1. Get to grips with your finances.
Don’t underestimate the costs.
Peter, International Property Lawyer from Judicare says don’t underestimate the costs of legal fees, land registry fees, notary fees and taxes associated with Spanish property purchases.
Know your budget.
Properties are not like wine lists. The higher price does not always equal the better product. Denise who purchased in Entre Naranjos, Alicante found the perfect holiday home after she slashed her budget because she found that she was constantly disappointed by properties at the upper end of what she could afford. Linda and her husband who bought an apartment in Murcia recommend scouring the internet to compare prices and getting to know what your budget will buy before going on a shopping trip.
Know your market .
Thomas, a US citizen, who purchased in Almuñécar Granada was totally unfamiliar with the process of purchasing a home in Spain and advises anyone thinking of buying to research first then take advice from experts.
Use currency exchange to your advantage.
Hilary, a retired Church of England Vicar who bought a holiday home with his wife in Iznájar, Córdoba warns people to understand the exchange rates when buying a home in Spain. They got a UK mortgage in Sterling and transferred a large sum into Euros to pay for building work. Using the exchange rate in this way saved them a considerable amount.
2. The legal stuff
Peter, International Property Lawyer from Judicare warns against relying purely on the notary system and suggests you always seek independent legal advice from a properly trained Spanish conveyancing lawyer. In Spain, a public notary is engaged during the process of the house purchase to check that all the documentation is government standard, they are not there to provide legal advice to individuals. Unscrupulous buyers, agents or developers might try to convince you to save money on legal fees but this leaves you vulnerable to signing contracts to your disadvantage.
Duncan who bought a rural property in San Isidro, Alicante faced problems when illegal redevelopment to properties he was interested in buying meant that he couldn’t get a mortgage. So he suggests that even cash buyers should not rush, and get a solicitor to check through any contracts.
Find a lawyer you can trust.
Erik from Holland, found a lawyer he trusted to help him buy his house in Jávea, Alicante. He was grateful for this when a neighbour tried to claim some of his land as their own, because he had an airtight contract which quelled the dispute quickly.
3. The Spanish way
Don’t get distracted from your goals.
Jill and Ray, who bought in Alicante, warn against listening to the horror stories and naysayers and dare you to be brave! They said in their interview that if you’re moving to Spain for the lifestyle change, don’t look at the property as a financial asset, make your choices based on location, weather and leisure time and you won’t regret it.
Speak the lingo.
Speaking Spanish isn’t necessary for buyers in all parts of Spain, but Daniel who purchased in Playa Flamenca says it really helps to have bilingual service providers like lawyers, agents, and mortgage providers. They don’t just help you communicate, they know the systems too.
Get to know the process.
Getting to know the purchasing process is a theme that comes up time and time again on our podcast series. Ivan who purchased in Formentera del Segura in Alicante says it is essential.
Choose your location wisely.
Martin originally from Dorset permanently relocated to Montroy, Valencia. He says it’s imperative to pick the right area and think about whether you want to integrate into Spanish culture or whether you’d prefer an expat community. Catherine, who purchased a home in Olvera agrees, and suggests looking at plenty of different types of properties in different locations. David, who bought a property in Oliva suggests renting first, to really get the feel for a place and see if it ‘fits’.
4. Buying off plan.
Marc Pritchard from property development company Taylor Wimpey has some very clear advice for people buying new builds.
- Ask to see a reference property like a show home
- Get independent legal advice
- Get bank guarantees
- Look for a developer who has an established reputation.
Kal, a buyer and developer who bought a property in Málaga urges people to have confidence in off-plan property purchases but also recommends getting independent legal advice.
5. Get the right agent!
Get an agent you can trust.
So many podcast guests talked about how imperative it was to find a great estate agent. Graham and Sally suggest you can trust businesses with multiple branches and a good reputation who have been established for a long time. Mike says it simply comes down to getting a good vibe from someone.
A knowledgeable agent will give you perspective.
John, who bought in Barcelona, says you need to meet someone who you instinctively trust, who will ask you questions and get you to see beyond your own limited knowledge of the property market. Peter who purchased in Villamartin, agrees that getting an agent who asks questions and gets you to adapt your outlook will help you buy the property you really want.
As Simon who purchased in Seville says, usually the online reviews you read are from the moaners. You don’t hear enough about the success stories. The nice things about the Spanish Property Podcast series is that the guests are positive people with great stories to share!
Explore more areas of Spain with our Guides to living in Spain.