As you read this, you may be one of the many people considering buying a second home in Spain or even living there permanently, with property prices at their lowest for years and interest rates still comfortable, now is a great time to take this a step further.
Preparation, as always, is very important and some of the unfortunate stories you may have heard about is often down to lack of preparation or an impulsive purchase.
The process need not be scary and is remarkably simple; all that is required is a little common sense and some advance planning.
The first step is to focus on what you intend to do with your property. Is it for holidays, investment or permanent living? Will others use it? Do you want to let it? Is it close to the beach, golf, shops, schools..? Make a list of your requirements before you are swayed by sun and
sangria and Sandra the salesgirl!
Once you are happy with your list you need to consider the budget. When assessing this, it is advisable to add on around 10% of the purchase price to cover the buying costs, taxes and lawyer. If you need a mortgage, currently a maximum of around 60% is available to
non residents and this may cost a percent or two more. Now you are ready to look at properties! Do you engage a property agent or do you go it alone?
The advantage of going independently is that you are free with no obligation to anyone; however this can be very frustrating. Do you speak several languages? How well do you know the area? Are you familiar with local developments, prices and legalities?
A popular misconception is that buying through an agent means the property could be more expensive, in fact in most cases nothing could be further from the truth, new developments already have the commis22sions built into the price and with resales the agents local knowledge of other recent sales can usually sway a stubborn vendor. Many agents have access to networks and multiple listing systems common in the USA and many European countries but a little alien to the UK buyer, this means they often have access to many property
portfolios, by dealing with many agents you may become confused and lose your objectivity.
When a property is marketed with multiple agents, which on the Costa del Sol by far the majority are, the agents register the clients details within the system and share commissions, currently anywhere between 3%-5% plus IVA (VAT). However it is important to know it is the seller who pays the agents commission.
If you have developed a good rapport with your agent, ask them to view any property you may have researched before your visit, they will ease the process significantly, arrange the viewings, liaise with the seller or their representative, generally speeding up and smoothing your
visit. This system does not affect you in any way and by developing a trusting relationship with your agent you will avoid any potential pitfalls of the purchase.
Many people waste an awful amount of time and money trying to go it alone or trawling through different agencies (of which even now there are thousands), some make a poor purchase by taking a subsidized viewing trip, as with most things `cheapest doesn´t always mean best. Most properties have annual taxes (IBI), and community fees, waste taxes and it is important to know that in Spain any debt stays with the property not with the previous owner, so ensure your agents explains these costs to you before you buy.
To summarize; before your trip, have a family meeting to list your requirements and ideal location for your property, arrange your finances and budget prior to viewings, find an agent you trust and who is wholly independent of any development, give the agent your requirements and try to avoid being diverted away by special offers or a bargain.
Before you actually buy have some sober time away from the sales consultant so you can discuss what you have seen objectively and, when you are happy, work with the agent to agree a price you are comfortable with.
Stick to the above any your search should be a fun and enjoyable experience!