Alma joins the show to share how she and her partner found their dream property in Hacienda del Alamo. It was truly love at first sight, so we unpick how the buying process was so simple. Tune in to hear experience of furnishing property abroad, what drew them to the area and their plans to one day relocate permanently to their new apartment.
- [2:06] Her surprise with how easy the buying process was
- [2:20] Relocating from Malta to the UK to Spain
- [4:46] Description of the property
- [5:10] Their first reaction to the property being bank-possessed
- [6:30] The support from the solicitors
- [9:14] Sticking to their budget
- [11:58] What they love so much about the Spanish lifestyle
- [13:44] Her advice on research
- 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 today I'm speaking with Alma, originally from London.
- She purchased her dream home in Spain in Hacienda del Alamo, in Murcia.
Having previously owned property in Malta, Alma has experienced buying abroad and gives a great insight into the similarities and differences of the Spanish process. Looking for somewhere warm to spend the winter and in need of a property with good accessibility, Alma worked with estate agents Spanish Property Experts to find her dream home in Spain.
Check out the show notes at kyero.com/podcast to find links and resources mentioned in this episode
Body of Transcription
Alma: My name is Alma Fraze and what I actually do is I'm a housewife at the moment because I have a husband that has been diagnosed with an illness. We have now bought a property, a two-bedroom apartment, in Spain.
Beth: At what point did you complete on that property? How recent are we talking?
Alma: We're talking about three months.
Beth: Wow, so yes, really, really recent. Was the diagnosis, did that happen during that time or afterwards? I'm so sorry to hear that.
Alma: The diagnosis, it's been about two years now.
Beth: Right, OK, so you went through this process together. How was the process for you?
Alma: It was quite easy, actually. It was pretty good. You select who you are actually going to go with, and you actually make arrangements to meet them, and they meet you, and then they help you through the process of actually trying to select what it is that you're actually looking for once you go to achieve whatever it is that you're looking for in Spain.
Beth: I love that you sound slightly surprised that it was easy. (laughter)
Alma: I know, but the thing is that you hear some horror stories. (laughter)
Beth: Yeah, totally, absolutely.
Alma: Yeah, and we were just quite lucky who we chose was that he was very nice, he was really nice.
Beth: How much did you know about the process anyway? Had you bought property before? Had you bought property in Spain before?
Alma: No, this was our first time. In actual fact, we actually were living in Malta. So, we had to relocate back from Malta to the UK. Once we got settled, and that would be when my husband was settled in (with what he was diagnosed with and he was reasonably OK), we decided we missed the sunshine so much that we said, "This is it, now. Since we can't really leave the UK, why don't we have a holiday place that we can go off to and do it in Spain instead." That way, it wasn't that far away.
Beth: I don't blame you. I think the weather is a really big factor for so many people. Did that mean you specifically knew the area of Spain that you wanted to be in, or how wide was your search?
Alma: Actually, we did our research, and we actually liked the area in Murcia. We like that area because it seemed a little bit more open, more spacious. You could go to the coast, you could have the mountain scenes, you could do golfing if you were into golfing. So, that is the reason why we ended up there.
Beth: And I sense, is one of you into golfing?
Alma: No, not really.
Beth: Oh, OK, interesting, so it goes either way, some people are very keen or not. Talk to me about the property itself. How many bedrooms were you thinking?
Alma: What was the closing factor on this property that we chose, we didn't really want it on the golf course, but the thing was, it actually has the two things that I wanted which was the space in the apartment, and it actually had the two toilets, funny enough, because we've got a big family, and if we have them over we want more than just one toilet.
Beth: Yeah, totally.
Alma: It had two toilets, this property, so that was the clincher.
Beth: No, that's fine. I think everyone has their criteria and when you get that met, it's such a good feeling. Did you know, as soon as you walked in, that this was the place?
Alma: Yes, because how you approach this property, you actually go through some doors and it brings you out to sort of like a courtyard, which is very pretty. Then you go through your door and then you've got your little apartment. It actually is quite sweet. So, that is what drew me to it. It just has a nice approach to it, and it had all the requirements that we wanted. So, that was it really.
Beth: Then, when you walk through the door of this place, what's it like? How does it feel? Paint me a picture.
Alma: Unfortunately, it's unfurnished.
Beth: Ah ha, OK.
Alma: Unfortunately, it was bank possessed. And that was something else we weren't planning to go for, but it just had what we wanted. So, we ended up going through that process and being successful, so yeah.
Beth: And when you hear a phrase like 'bank possessed' that immediately fills me with fear.
Alma: It did me, it did us, but we looked around and sort of concluded, when we looked around, that the property... that actually it wasn't really that bad, and the lady assured us that it probably takes a little bit longer, and they go through quite a lot of formalities to try and get your details and make sure everything is kosher. So, we weren't really worried about that, really. So, it does take a little while, but in the end, it was worth it.
Beth: Who was it holding your hand through that? Who was it giving you that kind of guidance and advice?
Alma: We went through an estate agent named Daniel. He provided... well he didn't provide, but he showed us a good solicitor that we could go through, so that's who we went through. They were really good. They were really patient. So, it worked out, so that's all I can really say.
Beth: Yeah, but I think it's that level of trust that you need. I think it's that level of understanding and transparency knowing who you can come to for help because it's a big undertaking.
Alma: Exactly, and I have to admit the solicitors have been really, really good. They've really updated us on a lot of things and kept in touch, and so, therefore, that's why I think that worked really well.
Beth: So, when the keys are yours, and you know that it's unfurnished, what's the first thing that you do? Where did you head, how did you furnish it?
Alma: Well, to be truthful, we're still in the process of doing that. The thing is that we're still in touch with Daniel, so basically we're going to organize another date that we can go over. He is actually going to meet us and help go through the process. So, we are actually going to, and have briefly, looked online at the few packages, but I'm not too sure whether I will go down that road. When we go over, we'll see. We'll make decisions then.
Beth: When you say packages, that's kind of an all in one deal. You buy a kitchen, and they fix it, and that kind of thing?
Alma: Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I've still yet... I'm not really convinced, but I'll still need to look into it.
Beth: Totally, it's a big undertaking. How are your interior design skills? That's the thing I'm quite fussy, so. I'm quite good at putting a house together, and that's the frustrating thing. Do I allow it to go through somebody else that can do it, or do I just rely on my own skills and just go for what I know. But, basically, you need feet on the ground to go around and have a look at what it is and keep within budget.
Beth: Yeah, totally. I think you should do it yourself, but I'm not the one doing it. (laughter)
Beth: Do you have an idea of what you like? What's your taste?
Alma: I know what I'm looking for, so that's why I feel it's a little bit... when I've looked at the packages, and I'm thinking, "They've not really got what I'm looking for; therefore, I may go rogue and do it myself."
Alma: Which is going to be a lot of hard work.
Beth: What are you thinking?
Alma: Basically, I like contemporary, but it's got to fit within the colour schemes that we've got at the apartment, so, yeah, that's what I've got to work with.
Beth: And Spanish colour schemes can be quite bright, I suppose.
Alma: Yeah, they are, they are very bright, and then they are also very 'beigy', and this apartment has got dark colours, which is not something that I normally would go for, but I've got to find something that works within the surroundings that I've got.
Beth: Yeah, lovely. It will be really exciting, I think, when you get to build it from scratch.
Alma: Yes, I'm excited. But you've got a husband that's going, "Oh, we can't afford that." And I'm going, "Look, don't worry."
Beth: Which does bring me nicely on to budget. Did you have a figure in mind? Did you manage to stick to it? How did that work out for you guys?
Alma: We had to stick to a budget because beings that we had relocated from Malta, it made it fun because we had to come back and buy a house again here. Because once we had left the UK, we had sold up everything. So, this was a bit of a predicament that we had to come back. So, we had to buy a house here again. So, we had a little bit of a budget that we had to stick to - to have a summer place in Spain. So we stuck to it.
Beth: Yeah, did you find that, in comparison, what kind of size were you getting for your money? Did it feel like good value? Did it feel the same as the UK or very different?
Alma: I would say it's different. I would say you get your value, but it all depends on what it is that you're looking for. Basically, I found, as we moved towards inland, you got more space for your money. Whereas if you were going on the coast, you had less, I think, for your money.
Beth: Yeah, and therefore, it was just about priorities for you, was it?
Alma: Yes, it was because basically what we were doing is that we were buying for ourselves, but we also had to think about our family. We have an elderly mother-in-law, so could she manage stairs? So, basically, we've got a ground floor apartment. So, we had to think about things like that. Then we also got grandchildren, so, yeah, that was the reason why we ended up with that apartment.
Beth: And how are you planning on using it? So you said, obviously, that you'll use it as a holiday house. You'll let it to family. How much time do you envisage spending out there? How is it going to work?
Alma: We're hoping to go when it's the wintertime over here, and we go over in the winter months in Spain to just have... it will be like our summer for us. So, yeah, we're planning to use it like that. But we are thinking about renting it out for the very first year just to help out, at the moment, at the very first year, and then after that. It is a long term that we would like to live out to Spain.
Beth: And live there full time?
Alma: Yeah, yeah.
Beth: Yeah, lovely. And will it be Daniel (you mentioned was your agent), would he help you with the renting side of things as well, is that you plan?
Alma: Yes, yes, yes, that's what we're going to do.
Beth: It's great that they stay in touch with you after the point of completion. It doesn't happen all the time.
Alma: He was really nice, yeah exactly, he was the one that actually helped us because he lives there; he actually was the one that ended up becoming like a friend, to be honest. It was really good, yeah. Yeah, he's a very nice chap.
Beth: Fantastic, and how is... you mentioned it's the weather that takes you out there, but how does the normal day look for you guys in Spain? What are the other reasons that you love life over there?
Alma: Because we like it multi-cultural. That's what I miss. When I'm abroad, I like the social side of it. I like how different nationalities gather together. We're like that at home anyway. We are a multi-cultural family, so, I kind of like that. I like mixing with other nationalities and being friends with other nationalities. That's how it is with us. That's what I like, and that's what I like Spain for, it's the different cultures, the family atmosphere that you get with them. Spain, it's very family-oriented, and that's what we like.
Beth: And I guess your plan, then, will be befriending neighbors and befriending people in the local area?
Alma: Yes, and people our age, go for walks a lot because we like walking. So, actually being out in the outskirts, not far from the sea where we're going to be and not far from walking out to other areas, that's the sort of thing. My husband's a cyclist, and he likes being out of doors. So, that's the sort of thing that we're looking for.
Beth: Amazing, well it's so great that you found it and it sounds like it wasn't too much of an ordeal for you?
Alma: No, it wasn't; actually, it was pretty smooth, really, on the grand scale of things. When you think that we relocated to Malta and back, this was quite easy for us.
Beth: Yeah, it sounds like you've done it all. If you were giving advice to someone, what would you say? Is there anything you definitely would do again or anything that you definitely wouldn't do if you were going to do it again?
Alma: Actually, I'm quite happy with the way that we did things. The only thing that I would say to people if they're going is they need to do their research.
Beth: In what way do you mean that? Do you mean starting online, or do you mean do your research once you're there and look around?
Alma: I would say start online, but you definitely need to go and see the properties. It's no good just looking online because it doesn't give you the true reality of how some of the properties actually fit in within the land of itself. So, to me, you need to go over.
And you need to actually do your research on your agents, as well, to find out what rating they have. Are they really good? Before you actually end up in Spain and having no idea. You need to have some idea of what it is you're looking for and who you really feel that you can put your trust in.
Beth: Did you do that... was that online, the rating of agents, is that how you found out?
Alma: I did that, yes, yes, I did that, yeah.
Beth: I think that's really sensible. I think that's everything that you would do if you were going to do it in the UK.
Alma: Yes, it is exactly. You can't... I mean, we're all sort of overwhelmed when you go on to these places because they are so lovely. But the thing is you've got to have your head on your shoulders when you're about to let go of that quite a lot of money to another location, another country, and you need to have your head screwed on.
Beth: No, I think that's really good advice.
Alma: Yeah, and I think because we'd already done it in Malta, we did our research and we relocated over there. We worked over there. So, we knew what we were doing. So, when I did my research, again, to Spain, we basically had everything covered.
Beth: Did you feel like the houses, seeing them in person, did it very much change what the pictures were like online? Did it change your attitude towards it?
Alma: Oh, yes.
Beth: Really, that's so interesting.
Alma: Oh, yes.
Beth: In what way?
Alma: Oh yes, there was one particular house. I forget whereabouts it was, and when we actually saw it, it was a lovely house, but the area that it was in I would have never have guessed.
Beth: Oh, interesting.
Alma: Yes, so, that's what I said, you have to do your homework. Then, once you get down on the ground, see where it is that these houses are actually sitting in, the location, whether you are going to like it or not. Oh, yes, I was very surprised.
Beth: Interesting, OK, cool, well, that's great. I think that's really, really good advice. So, you're in the UK right now?
Beth: And when are you next heading over there?
Alma: So we're planning... we're going to be hopefully over in July to do the running around and furnishing the actual apartment out. So looking forward to that.
Beth: Lovely, well it sounds... yeah, it's going to be a great adventure. I hope it keeps going really well. I'm so pleased that it's gone well for you so far.
Alma: Oh, thank you very much!
Beth: And thank you for being on the podcast. It was lovely to chat to you.
Alma: You're more than welcome.
Beth: Cheers, Alma, have a great day, bye.
Alma: OK, then. You too, bye.
- Thank you for listening and thanks to Alma for sharing her experiences, and to Spanish Property Expert for making this episode possible.
- I hope that Alma takes the plunge and does some of the interior design herself. It sounds like a really lovely way of making a new house feel like home.
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- Tune in next time when I speak with Peter from Belfast, who worked with estate agent Live Med Coast.
- With two daughters who speak Spanish fluently, this purchase seemed like a logical move for Peter and his family. Find out how he and his wife got on after selling their property in Dubai and finding a new dream home in Spain.
- I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next time!