Welcome to this week’s episode of the Kyero.com podcast! This week Eric joins the show to share how he purchased a six bedroom townhouse with a roof terrace in Oliva. We hear how his family felt at home as soon as they discovered Oliva, and why the area is great value for money. Soon to retire, Eric looks forward to spending time at their new home longer-term with his family.
- [4:05] Finding a place to go for both short-term and long-term visits
- [5:17] What was Eric’s first steps in the buying process
- [6:40] How their property wish-list changed over time
- [8:06] The choice between villas with pools and townhouses without pools
- [8:56] What was Eric’s budget, and costs to bear in mind
- [15:12] Eric’s experiences with the impact of Brexit
- [14:02] His favourite part of the Spanish lifestyle
- [15:30] Obstacles to look out for when buying in Spain
Welcome to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast where we interview people who recently purchased their dream home in Spain.
They tell us what worked, what didn’t and what they’d do differently next time.
I’m Beth Davison and after a fantastic few months travelling I’m delighted to return as Kyero’s property podcast presenter. I’m looking forward to speaking with many more buyers who will be sharing their experiences of finding a dream home in the Spanish sunshine.
Today I’m speaking with Eric originally from Scotland
He purchased his new Spanish dream home in Oliva, in Valencia.
Eric told me how every morning last winter he would have to scrape ice off the windscreen of his car - it turns out nothing inspires a Spanish property purchase like the Scottish weather!
He worked with estate agent Oliva Casas to find his dream home in Spain.
Check out the show notes at kyero.com/podcast to find links and resources mentioned in this episode
Eric: My name is Eric, I’m in my mid 50s, based in Scotland. I’m a company director, currently employed, looking to retire in about a year’s time. My wife and I have spent a significant time in Spain, two spells, one for three years up in Layon, another for three years in Madrid. Our elder son was actually born in Madrid. So, we’ve got affinity with the Spanish and we speak Spanish.
We were looking for something - a property - in a typically Spanish area with access to lovely beaches, a good climate, and easy transport links from Scotland. We weren’t quite sure what we were looking for when we went out. We had an Airbnb rental staying at a beachfront flat with a lovely terrace and a beautiful view. We were thinking one day we would quite like a flat with that type of setup.
But the original driver was that we’d been watching called Place in the Sun, and one of the people on that had bought a nice townhouse in Oliva and we were quite open to that idea as well. So, we were really looking at the two different types of property. Also, [we were looking] in the surrounding area because we spent a lot of time in round about Marbella, Estepona, but that was really too British for us. We’d never been to the Valencia and Alicante area before and we quite quickly found that it suited what we were looking for.
Beth: That’s amazing. So, things evolved a lot for you. How long ago was the initial conversation with your wife about hey, should we buy somewhere in Spain?
Eric: It’s probably been going on for ten years or so, because the date was always, are we going to spend that amount of money in buying a property, or are we going to use it for holidays. But the thought is, with more time on our hands, my wife retired from teaching about four years ago, and with more time on our hands, spending a longer period in an area, having a house that’s very nicely fitted out and stocked up, it takes a lot of the hassle away from what will we do will we have access to a fridge. What if the neighbourhood doesn’t suit us? We wouldn’t know any of the people in the area if you’re just dipping in and dipping out. But we wanted to go somewhere where we spoke the language because we’d been a few times to Southern Portugal and all over the place based in Carvoeiro, and that was terrific as well, but not speaking Portuguese and with no desire to learn it, that wasn’t as appealing.
Beth: I can totally understand that, I think. So, how easy was it to find a property that could cater for both short term visits, and presumably, are you thinking in the future more longer term visits? Do you think you’ll go out there for months?
Eric: Yes, indeed we’ve both got one parent remaining so my wife spends quite a lot of time looking after her father. So we’re limited in what we can do right now, but, in the future, we might be going out for five, six trips of three weeks at a time, something like that, but always good to keep our base in Glasgow. When you see you’re out scraping ice off cars in the dark and you have the option of being in Oliva, walking along the beach in twenty-two degrees. It’s a completely different lifestyle.
Beth: Yeah, and I’m sure it crosses your mind every time you’re scraping ice off the car.
Eric: I’ve got the App on my phone and I show the office ladies and they say, “Why are you here?” And I sometimes wonder.
Beth: Yeah, I bet. How was the process for you once you decided that, yes it’s going to be Spain; yes, it’s going to be this area of Spain. What was the next step for you? What did you do?
Eric: Online search initially. We watched a lot of programs and that area features quite heavily on the TV in these property shows. It gives you quite a good feeling for it. So, we were doing online property searches looking at the whole range. It’s really townhouses are one option. A villa with a pool is the other option, and flats, either at the beach or in the town. Then, without the internet things would be really difficult. But, the internet gives you a great idea and also you get a feel for value and what the market is doing.
After that we contacted three different estate agents that we were planning on going for a week in June, flying into Valencia from Glasgow. Then leaving it up to the agents with a brief of our budget and a short wish list and they showed us a range of properties.
Beth: How did they work with your wish list? Did they show you everything plus a few others? Did they just stick to what you wanted to see? Sometimes you get the idea that agents are trying to push you towards properties that maybe aren’t quite what you’re looking for.
Eric: No, they followed the brief, but our problem was the brief changed quite significantly because we went up to Gandia and Gandia Playa and had to look round there. The infrastructure is great. It’s a highrise and it fills up in July and August with people from Madrid, but we were there in early June and there was nobody there. It’s a nice place but it absolutely wasn’t what we were looking for because we were thinking a flat with a balcony and a sea view. That would be great. But when we got there it really wasn’t what we were looking for.
Then we drove back to Oliva and felt much more at home. Then the decision was, let’s have a look around at some flats. Obviously, on a lower budget, and then let’s have a look at a couple of townhouses and also pushed the budget up a bit and see what we can get. So that’s what we did with the different estate agents. So, as I say, we gave them a brief, but then our brief changed as we went through the process.
Beth: That kind of flexibility is, actually, only possible once you’ve had some viewings. I guess you would say that the importance of actually going to the place, spending some time there so you really got a feel for it so you didn’t end up in a place that didn’t feel quite like a perfect fit for you.
Eric; Yep, yep, absolutely. There is a specific choice between a villa with a pool and a townhouse. Obviously, if you’re in a townhouse you’re not going to have a pool because you don’t have space for it.
You know the townhouse is a hundred years old. But, we compromised. We saw a couple of lovely villas with beautiful pool areas, etc, and realised that, obviously by definition it’s five or ten minutes out of town in a car, so you’ve got to use a car for everything you’re doing and you’d be a bit isolated. So, we came to the conclusion that wasn’t what we wanted.
Beth: Yeah, interesting. It’s interesting the journey you went on because some people that I talk to know exactly what they want from the start. You mentioned budget, how did that factor in? Do you mind if I ask what your budget was and what you spent in the end?
Eric: The budget was about one hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand pounds. It was fairly flexible. What we weren’t clear on when we entered the process was the tax implications of buying in Spain and that you get, basically, a straight ten percent tax on your purchase price. So, you’ve got to bear that in mind.
But we had a conversation with an estate agent, initially, and they introduced us to the lawyer we ended up using and we got it sorted signing up for powers very quickly, on a Friday evening, at half past seven. And that allowed us to go through the process of buying although we weren’t there. So, that’s the sort of money that we were... If we’d found a nice flat at one hundred and twenty, we’d have been quite happy buying that. But, we saw a townhouse that was higher up than that.
Actually, we ended up with six bedrooms. We didn’t buy it for the bedrooms, we bought it for the interior patio, the style of the property and it has a lovely roof terrace and it’s got a decent location just around the corner from where the council are based in Oliva.
Beth: Incredible. And the value for money, that must have struck you as so different - Even Glasgow, a six bedroom townhouse.
Eric: Yeah, we bought a four bedroom detached house twenty-five years ago and it was a similar price and that was twenty five years. So, you get a lot. We knew that before we went, that you got a good bang for the buck and that was in spite of the fact that the exchange rate was at 1.11 as opposed to... I think with the townhouse, when she bought, the exchange rate was 1.42. If you calculate it for the currency movement it cost an extra thousand pounds. So, it was very unfortunate with the timing of Brexit etc, that exchange rate was like that. But you still get a lot of house for your money.
Beth: Yeah, totally, so when did you complete on this?
Eric: The fifth of October we went on inspection, it was in June, and we saw Jane from Oliva Casas showed us around to three properties on our last day of viewing, which was the Friday. And we put in an offer in on Sunday. We negotiated around about what was included.
We wanted some of the furniture and things, etc. So that dragged on over a month to six weeks. Then, everything was basically tied down and agreed with various toing and froing, clarifications, etc. We were quite happy that it carried through to September/October. The person that owned the house was using it for an Airbnb and I think she had bookings through July and August, so we were quite ok about that. We’d been looking to go in July and August anyway.
Beth: You mentioned Brexit. There was talk, last year, that this wasn’t the time to buy. Everyone should sit tight and wait and see what happens. Did that occur to you, or do you believe that, actually, something like this isn’t going to lose value and it’s very important for you to have the right place to visit anyway?
Eric: If anything it worked the other way because we thought that if we weren’t complete before Brexit in case there were any changes in the legislation affecting owners after March 29th, so we wanted to complete. I also have an Irish grandparent, so I’m looking at getting Irish nationality again, just as a protection issue.
We weren’t buying it as an investment. We were buying it as a place to use over the next ten to fifteen years. We’ve got three kids and it’s not a holiday home. It’s not right on the beach. It doesn’t have a pool, but you’ve got access to bars that have got pools. Two of the children speak Spanish... Children, twenty-seven, twenty-five, and nineteen... two of them speak Spanish. So, you know, our sons actually booked. He’s going in early March with six friends. So, we’ll see how it works.
Beth: I think it’s the perfect kind of holiday house. Not everyone wants the pool and the beach. You actually just want a little home away from home and you want to have some time. I think going with all your mates would be great. I know I want my parents to do the same thing.
Eric: Yeah, one of the first things we bought was decent sized glasses for gin and tonics, because having that on the roof terrace, you can’t beat it, it’s just fabulous.
Beth: Absolutely, sundowners, that’s what you want.
Beth: I was going to ask you, this was perfect timing what was our favourite part of the Spanish lifestyle or of getting to visit Spain so often, what’s your favourite bit?
Eric: Just attitude to lifestyle. It’s a case of working to live as opposed to living to work. Climate obviously and that dictates a lot of how the Spanish live, what they do. You don’t have people around for a dinner party, you go out. You don’t sit in one pub all night. You move around from different wee bar to a wee different bar. The dealings we’ve had with people like a picture framer, for example, a tile repair person, supermarket delivery guys, people in the DIY shops, everybody is very, very friendly, very chatty. I don’t know, for a fact, that we speak Spanish. I think it definitely helps, but even if you’re starting out a low level, if you’re making the effort then everybody is very nice and very helpful.
How can you not smile if it’s twenty-two degrees in January?
Beth: Very true, very true. It sounds like you had a great process through the whole thing. Were there any bits that you found particularly challenging that you’d do differently next time?
Eric: Probably things just the difference in the process of buying a house, and survey. The Spanish don’t do surveys, so you might find the hundred year old property, you’ve got a couple of issues you just thought, well, It’ll be OK, but you might actually have a problem. We got caught with some beams in the roof that might need to be replaced. At the end of the day it will get fixed and everybody will be happy. As long as the place doesn’t fall down, we’ll be fine.
You’re investing a significant amount of money and you don’t have much to back it up. That, again, that’s just the Spanish way of doing things. The Germans will have a timetable when planning and everything happens by a certain date. The Spanish will get to the last day and just make sure that, OK, yeah, that’s fine, let’s get it sorted. It’s very relaxed but things work.
Beth: Yes, which is a blessing and a curse, I suppose. If you did want to get a survey, are there companies that specialise in that, do you know?
Eric: I have no idea because the issue wasn’t even raised. One main issue we had was whether our roof could could take the weight of the hot tub, but it’s not a hot tub we’re looking for it’s a dipping pool sort of thing and the hot tub may be the best way of achieving that. But you can commission an engineer for seven hundred Euros or something and he’ll do a survey to see if the roof is weight bearing or not. But we didn’t have a chat about having a full structural survey before committing to the purchase.
Beth: Interesting, which is much more unusual, in this country, to not do that but I do agree that it does tend to work out. I suppose the benefit if you have a sold, someone would do exactly the same thing, wouldn’t get the survey and therefore you’re not really risking.
Beth: If you were going to give some advice to people wanting to do the same thing. What would your piece of advice be?
Eric: Do your own research first. Check out what’s available, what sort of price. Try and tie down features that you really want and that are important to you. Check out the area, are there lots of vacant properties, is there a crime problem? Is it up and coming or is it down and out? How important is access to the beach? How important is parking? We can’t park next to our place, so we’ve got a five minute walk down into town where you can park, but that gives you an issue with deliveries. Especially if you’re buying stuff. We bought a lot of stuff, so most of that’s done. But it’s a real pain in that you can’t just drive up, park outside and just unload.
Also, make sure that you get decent professional help and guidance and pricing. We got that through Jane at Oliva Casas with her approach, how well prepared she was, professional but friendly, she knew the sellers and she gave us a good steer on what we should be looking at and, obviously, everybody always says about the lawyer. Our lawyer did speak English, so that would be essential for somebody who didn’t speak Spanish. Just make sure you get a good recommendation. There are various properties in Spain that are not registered or that are agricultural land, things like that which could be a disaster. So, don’t cut corners in something like that.
Beth: Absolutely, that makes perfect sense. Thank you so much for chatting to me today. There’s great advice in there. I hope you continue to enjoy it for many, many years.
Eric: Great stuff, thank you very much.
Beth: And the G&T glasses most importantly.
Beth: Indeed, cheers Eric, have a great day.
Thank you for listening and thanks to Eric for sharing his experiences.
And to Oliva Casas for making this episode possible. I love that mantra of working to live and not living to work and can completely understand how that fits perfectly with the Spanish way of life.
If you like what you’ve heard, you can search this agent’s properties and more on Kyero.com
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Tune in next time when I speak with Dominic and Tracy who worked with Just Murcia Property to find their dream home in Spain.
They wanted beautiful sea views to match what they woke up to each morning in Ireland, tune in to see if they got them!
I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next time!