Before Buying Spanish Property - Whats The One Thing You Should Choose But Most People Don't?

Vince Barnes
 


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Many people come to Spain and buy a property without giving a moments thought about where it is. We all know the mantra of agents worldwide – Location, Location, Location. So why do people leave their minds in the boots of their cars? What are the ramifications of taking this approach and why should you make sure you do not fall into this trap.

I have met people who have quite literally got in their car/caravan and drove to Spain, then stopped to buy a property as casually as they would newspaper. Once in their “dream" house reality sets in – that remote secluded spot is actually very remote and very secluded – especially in Winter time, the cute little side street where the townhouse sits is a nightmare to walk down because cars whiz past day and night. The lovely little beach town is actually a ghost town in winter where no-one lives.

Or the converse is true whereby you are shown a property in a quiet area – but by night is is a clubbers paradise.

Its all well and good rushing in and buying a house – but without too much thought you could be stuck with it for a very long time. So what are the pitfalls of NOT selecting the right area?

Firstly you may well have paid over the odds for it. By not researching your area well beforehand how would you know if you are getting a bargain – why do you think that property is cheap. And is it cheap by comparison to other property in the area?

Secondly reselling it – if you chose badly you will have to wait until someone else either likes the area or has given as little thought to it as you did. These days those kinds of people are fewer (though not as rare as you might think). If you did pay over the odds for it then chances are you will either lose out on it or wait a long time.

There is an area in Oliva for example – the Gypsy quarters – where property is very cheap. But no-one wants to live there because cars get damaged, the area is run down and there is animosity (because previously owners sold their properties to foreigners very cheap, they did them up and sold on at a large profit and now they cant afford to live in the areas they grew up in). However do you think the agents will tell you this. Of course not they want to sell you the house.

Many people now trying to sell their houses cannot do so because word has finally got around and people are more informed. Which means the prices will surely fall and they will lose money.

Thirdly there may be language barriers. You chose an area that is far away from the madding crowd – but do you really expect the locals to speak English. So unless you learn (and you believe you cannot) then life will be very lonely – even basic things like shopping can become a real burden and all of a sudden life is not the rosy retirement or lifestyle you had planned but a real menace

Finally if you came over here to work then you may find you are having difficulties plying your trade. You may be an IT person – but find your area is difficult if not impossible to get a phone line in (and if it hasn’t already got one in then I suggest you look at another house) – so how do you get online without a phone? Or you may be a builder – but the area doesn’t have many residents – one of the initial joys and delights of buiying the place has become a big negative factor.

Or you may want real Spain and end up in Torrevieja, Fuengerola, Benidorm or Malaga where it is difficult to even hear the Spanish Language spoken.

So how do you ensure you choose the right property in the right area?

  • Research and read up thoroughly about the area you wish to move to. Use the internet, telephone and publications to get as much information as possible. The more information you get from people such as property developers, agents, locals and anyone else who may well know the area, the better informed you will be and the less likely you will be to make a mistake about the area you want to move to.

    o Also take into account such factors as do you need to be close to the hospitals, schools, town centre, and are you going to work there, in which case that fantastic Finca miles from anywhere can become a burden.

  • Make several trips, where practical, to the area . Make notes about what is good and what is bad. Visit if possible at different times of the year. Something that is a great little town in Summer can be a ghost town in winter – could you live like that for 10 months of the year?

  • Rent an apartment or townhouse for a couple of months – you will quickly find out what is good and bad about the area. Many owners will be ahppy to rent to you for 3 -6 months. In this way you get to see the place warts and all – and you are much better placed to see first hand what the area has to offer, what the typical prices are for certain types of property, and whether there are areas to avoid.

  • Have an idea of what you want. Make sure you both (or all) agree on this. I have seen instances where a couple have come out here and both thought they knew what they wanted but when it came down to it they wanted completely different things. They wasted a lot of time looking at properties that weren’t suitable. Decide on what is important, what would be nice and what you definitely don’t want. Do this before making contact with any agents.

  • Decide on the lifestyle you want and make sure the area will support this. No good looking at working here in a totally Spanish area, when you don’t speak Spanish. Either learn the language quick or find a more English oriented area. It’s a compromise but then what in life isn’t. Some people can learn Spanish Easily others never do – most people can learn a modicum fairly quickly. Decide whether this will help your objectives.

  • Locate important amenities and decide whether you can live with them where they are. Don’t buy a house 5 miles from anywhere if one of you doesn’t drive – it will be a very lonely existence and in all probability the non driving partner will be driving you back to the UK. Public services in Spain are great in Cities, but in rural areas they are either limited or non existent.

  • Decide on such things as Area, Inland or coast, Pool or not, Apartment or house, how many bedrooms as a minimum, how much you are willing to do to reform, how much you have to spend, how close is it to airports (for when family visit)

  • Go to see the property at least twice and at different times of the day. A couple I know who bought from an agent (before I met them I hasten to add) bought a property which looked really nice at 2:30 on a winters afternoon. Only when they came over did they see the road that was 30M away from their boundary – the main Alicante to Valencia N332 road. Had they have gone back at a different time of day they would have noticed the noise – but they were desperate to buy something.

    Double check everything you have been told – opinions are not necessarily fact so don’t believe everything you are told. In all make sure you find the area that suits you – and if not move on to the next town. Better to spend time researching and feeling the place and being happy ever after than moving on after a year disenchanted because life in Spain wasn’t what you envisioned.

    Vince Barnes is the owner of http://www.SpanishProperty-Direct.co.uk – a website aimed at informing buyers about the process of buying in Spain and keeping up to date with news and regulations affecting the Spanish Property Market. He has also just published the book – “The Insiders Secret Guide To Buying A Property In Spain – The Book Estate Agents Don’t Want You To Read" – available at http://www.spanishproperty-direct.co.uk/book.htm .

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