Tim recently purchased a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment in the golfer’s paradise of La Cala de Mijas. Being drawn to having year-round of sun, Tim and his family started looking in 2018. We explore what it’s like having an agent to ask all the questions (big and small!), advice on budgeting and when is good to buy time in the year.
- [1:33] The initial rough idea of what they wanted
- [1:53] The first step to finding a place
- [4:09] The experience of seeing properties online vs real-life
- [6:53] Two different parts to Costa Del Sol
- [11:42] What needs to be done now they own the property
- [12:17] Their plans to let out the property
- I’m Beth Davison and today I’m speaking with Tim, in Switzerland. He purchased his dream home in Spain in La Cala de Mijas knowing that his kids are keen golfers.
- Tim raises some great points about the recent changes in underwriting laws which could be really helpful if you're thinking about your own purchase.
- Tim worked with estate agents Affinity Spain 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.
Body of Transcript
Tim: Hi, My name is Tim. I purchased a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment in La Cala Hills, which is in the Costa del Sol.
Beth: Beautiful, and how did it all begin for you. Whose idea was it? Has it been in the cards for a long time? How did it all start?
Tim: Yeah, it was something that was in the cards for quite a bit of time. I had been out to that area before and really liked what I had seen. Obviously, the three hundred and sixty-five days of sun is definitely a draw and, obviously, the number of golf courses around that area are as well.
Beth: Yeah, OK, so you're a keen golfer.
Tim: Um, I wouldn't say I'm a keen golfer, I'd say my kids are keen golfers.
Beth: OK, very good, so, when you were looking, how many people were you kind of looking for? Did you have a specific idea of how many bedrooms you needed and exactly what you wanted, or did you go over with an open mind?
Tim: I kind of had an idea but still went in with an open mind because I was looking for something that, obviously, the family could use. So, really, that's the reason for the two bedrooms and two baths.
Beth: Did you begin online? What was the very first step in the process for you?
Tim: Yes, the first step was an online search. Obviously, that is how I found out about Kyero. From there I then whittled it down to a few agents that have properties on there.
Initially this start was in 2018, and, actually I went out the end of July, of 2018, and saw some properties. There was a change in family situation, so I had to push back the purchase into 2019. So, I built a relationship with Affinity Spain and just stayed in touch.
This year I started the search again in May. So, I had a look at some properties that they had listed, and arranged to come out and have viewings. So, I went out there and had a look. Initially there was a property that I was really keen on, but literally, we went in, saw the property, and as we walked out we were told that somebody else had made an offer on the property.
Beth: Oh no, it's horrible when that happens, but also I'm kind of a bit fatalistic. I always think that those things happen for a reason, and that, in the end, the place that you find is the one that was meant for you. Is that how it felt, or were you really disappointed about that one?
Tim: Initially I was quite disappointed, but then when we went to see the other place... I had whittled it down to possibly three, even though, I think in total we saw seven, but I really had made my mind up on three as the higher possibilities. So, when I went into the one that we ended up purchasing, I was like, "Wow, this is actually really good because it's on the doorsteps of a famous golf academy, golf course, La Cala Hills." Obviously, with the kids really wanting to get out onto the greens, that's perfect.
Beth: Amazing, and how did you find, on the viewings that you went to (you went to seven), how did you find they compared to what you were seeing on the internet? Some people say that it's a real difference once they see things in person, did you find that?
Tim: For some of the properties, yes, because we were looking at relatively new but not new builds. What I did find is that they did take me to a new development and, obviously, the photos or the images that are on the new developments are probably more the architectural design. When you go, then, and see the actual physical buildings it's somewhat slightly different.
So, as advice I'd say that unless there is a specific reason why you would need a new build, it's probably better to look at the relatively new builds. With those, the photographs that you have, as well, (speaking for Affinity), the photographs of what they have on the sight, this is what you then go and see are like for like. So, you really know what you're getting.
Beth: That's good. How did you feel like your relationship was with them? Obviously, you actually contacted them a year before eventually purchasing through them, but did you feel a trust there, right from the beginning? How did that process go?
Tim: I'd say, as a group, they really are top notch. In 2018 I went out and was with a guy who was relatively new to them, but not new to being an estate agent. So, that was my first contact.
He subsequently left and I was put in touch with another one of their agents, Catalina, who then walked me through from a knowledge perspective. Obviously, buying for the first time in Spain, there are a lot of horror stories, a lot of things that you hear. So, she was really good at laying my questions and issues to rest and giving me advice.
One of the good things about it is that they try and employ people who have lived in the locality, and she was one of those people who has lived in the Malaga area all her life, so, her knowledge of the different areas and what goes on was really, really helpful.
Beth: Yeah, and you just need that sometimes. You just need a first person account of exactly what the area is like because, presumably, is it very different in different seasons?
Tim: Yes, and that was something that she did point out that, obviously, the summer is very family [focused]. That's when a lot of people are out there. Obviously there are two parts to the Costa del Sol. There's obviously the party lifestyle type of stuff, but there's also the family focused vacation area and there's the golf.
With the sun being out for so long in the year, the golf side of things is the part that pretty much is almost all year round. She highlighted and showed me what goes on during the different seasons and what we would have to expect as we go through it.
Beth: Yeah, absolutely. Are your kids interested in the party lifestyle yet?
Tim: Not as yet, they're still quite young.
Beth: OK, give them time.
Tim: Yes, my oldest is thirteen, so, definitely not yet there - a few more years.
Beth: Fantastic. Is this the first time that you have purchased in Spain? Is it the first time that you have bought abroad? How much experience did you have?
Tim: This is the first time buying in Spain and also buying abroad. Our only experience of purchasing is buying a property in the U.K., so, we were definitely very new to this.
Beth: How did you find the process compared to the U.K., out of interest?
Tim: We closed at a time when the mortgage rules were changing. So, initially, I think it was in August when the new rules kicked in. So, initially we were told, "OK, this is the process." Then, last minute, because we purchased using a mortgage, last minute we were told, "The rules are changing and we'll have to restart the process to get everything that's required in the new rules." Which was quite a surprise, but, I'd say in general, the same sort of common sense rules that apply in the U.K. would apply in Spain.
So, it's really making sure that you get a good lawyer who understands the area, understands the law in Spain. Obviously, getting your surveyors to do the surveys and have that sorted out. I didn't really see much of a difference except for some of the slightly different rules around how the closing happens. Whereas, in the U.K. it's pretty much my lawyer speaks to the selling agent's lawyer and everything is sorted out.
In Spain everything is done by the notary, who, obviously they operate on their own time. They're public servants. So, anybody who knows, within Spain, or any part of the world, dealing with public servants can sometimes be frustrating, but you take it on the chin. You know, they're doing their best and, obviously, probably over worked and under paid.
Beth: Yeah, can you remember the specific changes in the law? Could you paraphrase those for me?
Tim: Basically they've put in a law that mandates a cooling off period for anything that's purchased using a mortgage. From the offer being accepted and then setting up an exchange date, the notary has to give the buyer, I think it's fifteen days where they have an option to pull out if they no longer want to. So, that puts a delay of fifteen days on your closing.
Beth: Yeah, and a nervous few weeks I imagine.
Tim: Yes, because at that point in time the seller is still marketing that property. So, yeah.
Beth: Wow, yeah, a horrible feeling. When was it that you officially completed and the keys were handed over?
Tim: It was, I think it was August the 12th.
Beth: Lovely, OK, so it's very recent. How have you used the property so far?
Tim: Unfortunately, because of work commitments, we actually haven't been to the property. We're going to the property on this coming Sunday. So, this is the first time we're going in to get the keys and sort out getting furniture in, etc.
Beth: Lovely. It will be the perfect time of year to just have a little bit of sunshine.
Tim: Yes, it makes a nice little break. Our youngest one starts his autumn half term at that point in time. So, we're going out with him and he'll get a chance to experience that. There's a pool there, so he'll definitely be scratching around and having a bit of fun.
Beth: So, when you first arrived, you mentioned that you need to buy furniture. Is there anything else high on the priority list that needs to happen? Is there any work that needs to be done to the property itself?
Tim: Fortunately no work needs to be done to the property. It's really ready to move. It will just be clearing out the cobwebs. It's been vacant for quite a bit. [We'll be] moving in furniture and making it feel like home.
Beth: Yeah, absolutely. Are you planning on letting it in between the times that you can't be there, or is this going to be a family owned visiting holiday home? How do you think you'll use it?
Tim: We will be letting it out, because, without saying, it is kind of the ideal golfer's paradise, being on the doorsteps of the La Calla Hills Golf Course and Golf Academy, so you know, definitely, there will be people who will be interested in utilizing it when we're not.
Beth: Great, so that's kind of brilliant because that's, then, a little bit more income. Do you think you'll go through the same agent to do that, or will you use something else? Have you thought about that or is that a little bit further down the line?
Tim: Actually, the agent doesn't do that, but they have recommended a partner of theirs to do that. So, a part of our visit will be going to see them and just finalize on those contracts, etc.
Beth: Lovely, the one thing we haven't talked about is budget and value for the money. Did you have a specific budget in mind?
Tim: Yes, we did have a specific budget in mind. The property that we didn't get was bang on budget. This one was slightly above what we had budgeted, but not by that much, because we had said between one sixty and one eighty. This one was one ninety-five.
Beth: Ok, yeah, so, not hugely over but a little bit. So, would you advise leaving some wiggle room in your budget when you're first setting out?
Tim: Definitely some wiggle. I'd also say that one of the things that we realized is the market really gets very active between May, June, and July. So, if I had to do it again, I would have started earlier in terms of going out a lot earlier, probably in April or March, when the market is a little bit quieter. Then, obviously, people are more willing to accept offers. Whereas, when the market is really active people were, on our days going to do the visits Catalina was receiving calls, literally, almost every stop where it would be somebody coming back and saying, "Ah, that property I saw yesterday, I'm making an offer on it."
Beth: Yeah, that's fast, that's a fast moving process.
Tim: Yeah, it seemed that way. It definitely seemed that way. What she, then, explained was that those couple of months are really, really active.
Beth: Yeah, OK, well, it's a great thing to be aware of. Lastly, you touched on it there, but is there any other advice? If there's someone sitting in your shoes, thinking about making the plunge and purchasing, have you got any wise words or perhaps things that you would do differently if you were to do it again?
Tim: Yes, the only other thing I would say is if you're planning on purchasing using a mortgage, start the process early and be flexible. I think underwriting rules in Spain have gotten a lot tighter since the financial crisis and, apparently, the Bank of Spain, on a regular basis, adds new rules to the underwriting rules. So, you just have to be OK with giving additional information when requested. I think when we started we had a list of, I think, seven or eight things that we had to supply. In the end it was a lot longer list of things that we had to supply, but we got through in the end.
Beth: Interesting, I think it's great though. That's perfect advice to just be prepared and not worry too much if there are additional things to think about and give yourself lots of time.
Tim: Yes, that's for sure.
Beth: Perfect, well enjoy Sunday, when you make it out there.
Tim: Thank you very much.
Beth: It will be very exciting, and enjoy the swimming pool. Thank you so much for chatting to me, Tim.
Tim: Yeah, it's a pleasure.
Beth: Have a lovely day, bye.
Tim: You too, bye, bye.
- Thank you for listening and thanks to Tim for sharing his experiences and to Affinity Spain for making this episode possible
- It’s really interesting to hear that Tim was in touch with his agent for a whole year before making a purchase. Which just goes to show the level of trust that's built up between buyers and agencies. It sounds like his golfer's paradise was everything that he was looking for, even if he doesn't golf.
- Remember, if you like what you’ve heard, you can search this agent’s properties and more on Kyero.com
- This podcast is produced by Kyero.com and our mission is to connect you with estate agents and properties throughout Spain
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- Tune in next week when I speak with Jill from Northampton who worked with estate agent Home Espagne to find her dream home in Spain.
- As a water sport enthusiast, living near the sea was essential for Jill and her husband Johnny. She has got lots to tell us about the beneficial health impacts of living in Spain as well.
- I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next time!