Just because we are in Spain, where everything seems so laid back, it does not mean that property buying can be treated any less seriously than anywhere else.
There are three main reasons for buying: buy a holiday or second home, buy a main residence for a new life in the sun and, lastly, to buy for medium/long term investment, possibly combined with the other two reasons. Don't buy if your only reason is a very quick return, you might be disappointed.
Whatever your reasons, it is recommended that you first come over and "try" the area that you think you would like to live in or is most suited to your needs, even if it is for just two weeks. Make sure that it is as you imagined it.
Once you have decided where, you need to identify what is available for sale.
You can approach the sales offices of any of the new developments in the area; you could also go into the local bars to see who may be selling a house
privately; practically all the classified announcements in the newspapers are made by estate agents.
Assuming that you do speak Spanish and you feel that you
can manage on your own, it does not mean that you will get the property any cheaper than going through an estate agent and that your purchase will be trouble free.
The language barrier, the different way of doing things and the demand for "that dream home under the sun" have created the need for an intermediary that also speaks your own language and knows your "typical expectations".
Despite what the British press implies, not all estate agents on the Costa are "crooks", there are many that are very proud of the service they offer to clients. Some have been on the Costa for many years and know the area very well. The number of successful and happy purchases by far exceeds the few raw deals that the press like to blow out of all proportions, unfortunately good news do not sell papers.
It is natural that you will feel more at ease with someone who speaks your own language, by the same token you should also be in a better position to judge if that person is taking advantage of that "trust". Remember, if you are going to be deceived, you will be deceived in your language.
My first advice is to find a local estate agent in the area where you want to buy, look for yourself, find one that you feel comfortable with and who seems to provide you with the level of service that you like and without aggression.
Once you are happy with that, do not resent his commission, it is not your money and you do not pay for it as a buyer; the amount of work and money that the agent invests to succeed in the sale ensures that he earns it.
Buying a home in Spain without assistance can be a complicated and confusing process for those who are not familiar with the Spanish legal system, involving unfamiliar legal procedures and large sums of money. There is also a significant amount of legal work involved to ensure that the transaction is made safely and in compliance with all legal and tax Spanish regulations. So, the other professional you will need is a lawyer.
Most Spanish Law firms speak other lasnguages, so you should be all right there. I said Spanish so as to be sure that the firm holds Spanish Law Certificates that qualify it.
If you need a mortgage, do try and walk into any high street bank and see what you can do for yourself. The chances are that you might be pleasantly surprised to find they speak your language; it is not such a formal and complicated issue as it might be in the UK. Do compare rates and terms. Of course there are mortgage brokers if you feel the need for it.
The choice of intermediaries (lawyer, mortgage broker) is entirely dependant on your finding yourself comfortable with whom you are dealing with.
I would feel easier if none of the intermediaries were "recommended" by one of the others. Intermediaries can have arrangements between themselves, not so much for money (commission), but because buyers often "change their minds" after talking to an "estranged" intermediary.
Quite frankly, a good estate agent deserves the commission he is earning, if you consider that: