We are joined by Peter on this week’s Kyero podcast to learn how he and his wife Sharon invested in a two bedroom family holiday home in Villamartin, Alicante, from inheritance and savings. He now has a place for the whole family to come out and relax in the Spanish sunshine. With this base they can explore the surrounding area and soak up the local culture.
- Peter’s research process [1:27]
- Their property wish-list [1:56]
- The importance of exploring the area that you want to buy in [3:48]
- How Peter set a budget range [4:31]
- How he discovered the dream home and area [6:09]
- What made the smooth buying-abroad process [8:51]
- How HomeEspaña made legal and servicing issues simple [11:17]
- The security and trust of the property and HomeEspaña when away [12:48]
- The lifetime support service with HomeEspaña [15:10]
- Pete’s advice when buying abroad for the first time [16:31]
- A typical day in Villamartin [16:55]
Welcome to Series two of the Kyero.com Spanish Property podcast where we interview people who recently purchased a home in Spain.
They tell us what worked, what didn’t and what they’d do differently next time.
I’m Beth Davison and today I’m speaking with Peter, originally from Milton Keynes, who purchased a two bedroom holiday home with his partner Sharon in Villamartin, Alicante
They purchased their dream home after inheriting some money from a close family member, and just wait until you hear about how much their research and planning benefited their property search
Peter and Sharon worked with estate agent HomeEspaña to find their dream home in Spain.
Check out the show notes at kyero.com/podcast to find links and resources mentioned in this episode
Body of the Transcript
Peter: I’m Pete. I’m a services director in an IP software and services organisation. We looked at how we could get just a small place for ourselves and our family to come out to in some warm, sunny climate.
We’ve both (my wife Sharon and I) have been out to Spain with our sons before. We loved the weather, and liked the fact that there was a mixture of Spanish and English in many different parts of Spain.
So, we set about the process of doing some research. In late 2016, about October time, we started doing some research (probably September and October). We did a lot of watching of some TV programmes and also did some research on the internet. I also spoke to a company called HomeEspaña on the telephone, and bit by bit we started to focus on the area that we wanted to come out and have a look at.
Beth: When you were honing in on your specific area, what kinds of things did you have in mind as being your ideal?
Peter: I suppose we started with what we didn’t need as essentials. So, we didn’t need our own pool. We wanted access to a pool. We didn’t need to be by the beach. We were happy because we’re not necessarily beach goers, but we love walking by the sea. So that wasn’t essential.
We had a budget that we blew, and had to extend it slightly, as most people do. So it was very much a case about making sure that it was two bed and two bath with enough outside space. That was very important, the outside space, more than necessarily near the coast or not. So, that’s how we started. It moved slightly as we went through looking at different places.
Then we came out to Spain in March of 2017 – in late March, to start our process. What we did is that we, by then, had done so much research and discussion with HomeEspaña that we had six or seven different agencies lined up, with about five or six different properties, with each to view during a week, with some of them on the same day.
So, we got our own itinerary. We were driving ourselves and we had a fairly clear view of what we thought we wanted until, as always, you get out there and you start looking at property on the inside. It’s great: TV works to a degree, and the internet works, to a degree, but you’ve got to be there and starting to feel what the location is like as well as what the property is like.
So, I think once we were out in Spain, we realised that… One of our must have was the ability to walk to local amenities. Whilst we were out there we got more and more into the feel of, actually, the location of the property needed to be somewhere that we felt comfortable, and that it had a little bit of greenery in and around it (not just the two bed, two bath, solarium terrace).
So that’s how it started to morph as we got out. Then quite quickly we realised that, for the price range that we had, the properties would... There were a good number of properties, but there were quite a lot of them that were going to be fairly similar.
Beth: Right, OK, Do you mind me asking what your budget was?
Peter: No, we set out, initially, with £100,000 for the budget. That was all in including fees. Then we ended up, before we went actually, we ended up deciding that we’d have a range of £100,000 to £120,000.
Beth: OK, so not a huge increase but you just decided that you needed that little bit extra in your budget to get what you wanted.
Peter: Yeah, we noticed that prices increased in January, 2017. So, as we’d set the budget in the latter part of 2016, we saw that some of the ones that we were liking on the internet and on the TV had started to jump a bit, so we nudged the budget accordingly.
Beth: Yeah, so when you were first presenting all of this to your agent, were they helpful in finding you things that fitted? All of those six or seven that you initially saw, they all fitted what you wanted, that it wasn’t a kind of goose chase?
Peter: No, I think, to be fare, all of the agencies… Because we selected the properties to view right up to the last minute before we flew. The initial agencies, we didn’t see them all in the end. The initial agencies that we started to see threw in some extras and discounted a couple: either they discounted because they’d sold, or they discounted because when we got there and we’d looked at certain areas we decided that that wasn’t the area that we wanted to be in. So, we were able to discount some of the ones we thought would be interesting just based on some practical real experience as soon as we got there.
Beth: Yeah, absolutely. So, you walk through the door of the one that ends up being yours. Was it a love at first sight situation?
Peter: It was for both of us, funnily enough. The classic situation: the day before we saw this one we’d seen two other properties, one similar and one quite different. We were pretty much sure it was going to have to be one of those two. We liked both of them.
Interestingly, we hadn’t been with HomeEspaña at that point and we were contemplating knocking all of the other agents out, but I said to my wife, “Because HomeEspaña had helped us so much on the telephone before we went, we needed to give them a crack at this.” So, we got on quite well with them. They shared a lot of information with us.
So I phoned up HomeEspaña and said, “Right, we’re due to see you Tuesday afternoon. We’ve pretty much got two in the running. We’ve discounted all the others from Wednesday onwards, so do give us your best shot. These are the areas we’ve decided that we don’t like, these are the areas we’ve seen that we do like. These are the types of houses.”
So the guy was brilliant. Jamie at HomeEspaña said, ‘Right, I’ll knock all the ones that you sent us on your list, all of them, and I’ll show you two properties.”
The first one he showed us was identical to one of the two that we liked, but it was a slightly higher price. The second one was better than the other second type of property, “Lola” I think it was called, in Pau 8, which is the one we bought. We both just looked at it, as soon as we went in and it was exactly what we wanted.
The area was fantastic. It was a gated community. There was lots of greenery. There were the classic whitewashed buildings with dark green railings (almost black railings). It’s got a solarium and a lovely big front terrace, two beds, two baths, with this white in the interior.
The other two were the orange pine and we’d already researched that you can get that repainted, not for too much money, but it still was something that we knew we would have to do. The other two both had kitchens and bathrooms that we’d need to do – replace, where as this one had, fairly recently, the kitchen was new and the bathroom as new. Everything was there and ready to move straight in.
Beth: Fantastic, which was sort of what you wanted. You wanted the speedy process; you just needed to find the right place. You weren’t looking for a fixer upper particularly?
Beth: So, the process of buying in a foreign country would you say that you had an easy time of it, a difficult time of it, how would you assess it now that you’re on the other side of it all?
Peter: I’d say HomeEspaña made it very easy. The research that we’d done helped, because we do tend to put a lot of effort into understanding exactly what is what: where all the fees are going to come from, what the process is.
This was pretty much into our savings at the time and we’d inherited, I suppose the sad but nice bit of that story is that we’d inherited a small amount of money from my sister passing away in 2015 and we knew she had this aim to get away to a foreign country to a “hot island” as she called it.
Beth: I was going to say, would she approve of what you’re doing?
Peter: Absolutely and we decided that she always wanted to get away to a sunny place which was a little bit quiet to spend some time and that’s effectively what we’ve got. We’ve got a place in Pau 8 on a gated community of forty-eight properties with a lovely shared pool and our own private space. The solarium is completely private and secluded, which is lovely, so it’s not overlooked by anything or anyone. So, we just felt that, actually, ticked everything that my sister would have been happy with, and exactly what we were looking for.
Beth: Great, and are you hoping that people will visit? Is this going to be a long-term plan for you where you get friends and family over regularly?
Peter: It is very much is a long-term plan for us. So, my wife’s just recently retired. My aim is to retire next year at the end of March. We want to be able to spend, I suppose, at it’s peak, half the year there, multiple months in a year there, and very much have family come to visit while we’re out there or immediate close family to go out there when we’re not there.
Beth: Yeah, that sounds lovely.
Peter: We set out purposefully not wanting to rent. So we weren’t looking at this as, necessarily, an investment or an income opportunity. It was very much, I suppose, we wanted to be a little bit greedy and make it ours and keep it special just for us and the immediate family.
Beth: Yeah, that makes perfect sense, Did you find that there were many barriers when it came to language, or the legal areas of it and the financial areas of it? Doing all of that in a different language, it seems very intimidating, I think, for people at the start.
Peter: Not at all, no, because the people that we were dealing with spoke English. So they were either English or they spoke English, both in HomeEspaña and Sun Lawyers. HomeEspaña did a lot of the recommending, so they recommended some lawyers.
The good thing is that because we’d done all of this before we went, we’d also looked up a number of alternative lawyers, we’d looked up Sun Lawyers, so we’d kind of got comfortable with what HomeEspaña was saying to us and started to build that trust and relationship before we got out there. But once we’d put the offer in and had it accepted HomeEspaña were then just immediately on the case.
On the Wednesday we were lined up with going and setting up the bank account and registering for the NIE. We went to the Sun Lawyers and we went to the Notary so that we could enable Sun Lawyers and the Notary to conclude the transaction without us having to go back out for that. So, it was all very, very straight forward for us, “A” because we’d done the homework, and “B” HomeEspaña just put everything into action. It’s been an army manoeuvre, in a way, because it was not regimented in terms of you didn’t have a say in it, but it was just extremely well organised.
Beth: Fantastic, of course, when you’re not over there, when you’re back in the UK you need to have this sense of trust, both in the buying process, and now you’ve got a property over there, how do you deal with that?
Peter: So, the trust is fantastic because we spent a good chunk of time with HomeEspaña. We even went back in to see the property before we left to come home, in that viewing trip, at the end of March last year. In a funny way what was good was that the garden furniture had been removed. I know that sounds odd because we were quite upset about that because it was bought “as seen” to include the garden furniture which was really chunky wicker furniture, which we liked.
So, HomeEspaña was straight on to the vendor. Apparently, the vendor’s mother lived in Villamartin and she’d got confused, because when the daughter phoned her up and said we’ve sold the house, she thought that she could just quickly nip around and have the garden furniture.
Beth: Oh no, was that sorted?
Peter: That all got sorted, and again, it gave you more confidence, again, that if there was a problem HomeEspaña would just sort it for you. The other thing that happened is when we got home, very, very quickly we were thinking of more things to ask and so we were emailing HomeEspaña, and Amy, at HomeEspaña, was just amazing.
Every time that we emailed, literally within twenty-four hours, she would have come back with our answers. And some this was just that we are quite organised and we plan fairly well ourselves. So, we were thinking about, “OK when we’re coming out to get the keys, if there are things that need doing do we need an electrician’s number, do we need a plumber’s number?”
So we were just asking all these sorts of questions because HomeEspaña, the other reason that I like them, is that they offer, what’s effectively a lifetime access after sales support and service. So, you can ask them anything, and they’ll do their best to find it out for you. So, we’ve got a builder contact, electrician, a plumber, the gas contact, locksmith contact, all these sorts of things that you naturally do yourself when you’re at home in your own country. We’ve started to build up a nice inventory, both for ourselves and if the family go out and use it.
Beth: Yeah, fantastic, because I think the worry is that after completion, after they’ve got your money, that you’re going to be left high and dry, but it’s great that you’ve maintained all these contacts and that there’s a lifetime option there.
Peter: It was quite important to us, actually, to know that on the other side you’re not completely on your own. Again, it’s just part of when you do your research and you find an organisation like HomeEspaña that provides that and they demonstrate it very quickly that it’s true, and they do provide all these little extra bits of research for you and information for you. We even asked them where are the local markets? They came back with a list of about four or five local markets.
Peter: So, it’s fantastic to know that you’ve got access to that. Even when we then went out to collect the keys, and we got into the property, apart from them coming around and helping check everything out, and there was one thing that wasn’t quite right and they got that sorted for us before they left on that trip. But they’d even left us a “Welcome To Your New Home” card. So, it was just an extremely good service and it’s been good ever since. We went back out in late October last year and we go out Sunday next week.
Beth: Oh, how lovely, escape the weather, perfect.
Is there anything that you’d do differently, then, if you were going to do it all again, or if you were giving tips to people right at the start of their journey? Would you give advice, would you do anything differently?
Peter: I think to be prepared to change what your initial views are. So be open to adapt, because when you are out there, and you’re starting to look at properties, probably, no matter what you price range is, you’re going to find some areas that you like and some that you don’t. Therefore it does help to narrow down the search - narrowing down the search is positive in my view. Otherwise, if you get too many options sometimes you leave confused and not doing anything.
So, narrowing down your search and being prepared to adapt to the changes whilst you’re going around and looking [is important]. Make sure you’re inquisitive. We asked lots of questions. So, just making sure that you keep that going, keep the questions going because that’s how you learn and are able to then formulate your ideas.
I think the other thing is to really, really know what your budget is. When we started the process we were quite clear and we got pressured, in one viewing, to consider something that was about another sixteen plus thousand on top of the top end of our budget. When we looked at our finances that night (and it was a lovely property), but when we looked at our finances we knew that was going to be a challenge, a significant challenge. So, try to not be pushed into something that you feel is inappropriate and be confident enough. We were able to go back to the guy the next day and say, “You ended up focusing just on the one property because you knew we liked it, but when you told us at the end of the viewing that it was way outside of our range…”
Beth: So it was the end of the viewing that you found that out?
Peter: We felt quite disappointed then because we’d just seen something that was lovely. It’s one of those things. Be prepared for maybe the odd disappointment because things like that will happen, but also be prepared to stay strong to what you set out at the outset for.
Beth: Yeah, fantastic, that’s really good advice, I think. Lastly, I just wanted to ask about lifestyle in Spain. This is the point where you get to make everyone jealous, but what does the typical day look like for you when you head out to the property?
Peter: So June was our trip when we got the keys and we were sorting everything out, but in October that’s when we really experienced the lifestyle more. That was very much the classic get up in the morning and have a bit of breakfast out on the terrace in the sun. So, it was a very, very relaxing start to the day.
If there’s any puttering about that you’re going to do then we would decide, sometimes adhoc, to take and play it by ear. Sometimes we’d plan to go out because we wanted to get something and do something else in the property or the terrace.
So, then you go and do a bit of lunch and try and get down to the coast because it’s quite nice on the coast and we’re only a fifteen minute drive from the coast. We’d have a “mooch” around, just wandering around and stopping in a Café having a coffee. We might come back, get ready, bit more sun bathing and then get ready for going out in the evening for some dinner or preparing for something.
What we’ll do on our next trip is that we’ve got the barbeque lined up to be delivered on the day after we get there. We’ll get a bit of liquid cement and put that together and then we’ve got the extra options of just cooking outside as well, which is part of what we want to do. We want to do quite a lot or outdoor cooking and eating.
Beth: Yeah, amazing, well it all sounds absolutely delightful. I’m very jealous.
Peter: The other thing that we want to is that over time we want to explore all the areas, not just in and around where we are, but we plan to go up to Dénia and get a B&B or a hotel up there for a few nights and do a bit of exploring up there. We’ve got a friend who has got a property in Almeria. So, again, we’ll probably… He rents it out, so we’ll probably rent his for a period. So, if we went out for three weeks, we could have a week in Almeria, in the middle, and have a good old wander around there. It’s really that there are so many different places yet. It’s the start of another journey of exploring and finding lots of nice things to go and look at and todo.
Beth: Absolutely, well it sounds like you’ve got it made. Congratulations! I’m glad that it was such a great process for you. That’s pretty much everything covered from my end, so thank you so much for chatting to me today.
Peter: You’re welcome.
Beth: Have a lovely time when you go out there next week.
Peter: Thank you very much, we will.
Beth: Cheers, thanks.
Thank you for listening and thanks to Peter for sharing his experience, along with HomeEspaña for their help to make this episode possible.
I particularly liked the sound of that barbeque and the fact that Peter’s sister would wholeheartedly approve of how her brother has spent the inheritance
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Tune in next week when I speak with Martin, from Verwood in Dorset
He and his wife Sharon purchased a villa in Montroy, Valencia and were keen to relocate permanently to a property, not only beautiful on the inside but that also came with a lot of land for their green fingers
I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next week!