Uncertainty created by BREXIT, the upswing in certain eurozone economies including Spain, and the new approach to world politics in the United States, are some of the reasons why a demand for Spanish real estate has grown in recent times. This, together with the price stagnation of the last few years, has resulted in interesting opportunities for those looking to buy in Madrid. El Mundo newspaper recently published an article stating that the number of property transactions in Madrid has increased by 30% in the first quarter of 2017 and expects it to increase fivefold by the end of the year.
The time to find a bargain may have gone, but there is still selected real estate on offer at attractive prices – especially for those who are looking for an investment opportunity. Potential buyers face a challenging market, however, and success relies on effectively applying some basic rules. If you can’t find what you are looking for, it may be due to one of the following reasons:
- Your lack of specialist knowledge of the local property market
There is a widespread belief that everybody is a pro when it comes to looking for property. In reality, many people don’t have the time or specialist knowledge to search effectively. They focus on a small number of known neighborhoods, rely on local estate agents with their limited portfolios, or use generalist property portals where photographs and information from sellers often give inaccurate information, to mention just some of the causes of delays and disappointment.
Whether you do it yourself or use a specialist, I advise that before you invest in Madrid, buy a “callejero” (a street map of the whole city equivalent to a London ”A to Z”) and walk the town. Visit as many districts as possible as there could be certain neighborhoods which meet your requirements and are in the process of regeneration (as for example, Valdebebas).
Most people are familiar with the “metro” (underground) but consider areas accessible by “metro ligero” (overground light railway), which is equally efficient and gives you access to locations on the outskirts of the town.
- Your budget does not correspond to the expectations generated.
Many agents, in order to attract potential buyers, encourage you to visit properties out of your price range, with the objective to try to convince you to acquire the property. Unlike in the UK, properties are marketed based on the property’s floor area quoted in square meters, however some include in this number parking spaces, “trastero” (storage usually located in the basement of the block of flats),a share of the communal gardens, etc. Find out if the number quoted is for actual habitable space or not. Compare prices by square meter within each specific area.
- Consider visiting properties with potential but which require some building work.
Sometimes an untrained eye might see a property is in a worse condition that it actually is. Visit these properties with a Personal Shopper Inmobiliario (buyer’s agent), or architect who would be able to advise you on the amount of work required and the cost, or who can redesign the property layout to fit your needs. Pay attention to any external modifications done by neighbors to the building’s façade, if changes have been made then it is a good indication that obtaining building consents could not be an issue.
- Consider which other aspects are important for you.
It’s not just the condition of the interior of the home that matters. Often little importance is given to the overall condition of the building and its possible deficiencies, common areas and services of the building (does the price include a parking space within the building, are there private green areas or swimming pools, etc.) and the expense of maintaining those services (“gastos de comundidad”) are also very important aspects to take into consideration.
- Listen to those closest to you
Looking at photos on a website and reading marketing publicity printed by the seller or his/her agent or answering the advert of a private individual is not always the best method to find what you are looking for. Unfortunately, it seems that the Spanish market is not dynamic enough to find many other logical solutions. If you are undecided about a property ask the neighbors, the building keeper (“portero”), etc about the area, and don’t hesitate to contact the building management company and ask questions. Spanish people are usually very friendly and love to talk so they will be more than happy to help you.
- If after applying the above rules you are still at a loss, consider using a professional
A Personal shopper inmobiliarios (PSI), property broker, architect, etc are just some of the individuals who know the real estate market well, and can help you to narrow down your search.
These professionals will aim to protect your interests, are regulated by a code of ethics, live locally therefore know the market well, allowing you to save both time and money.
Personal Shopper Inmobiliario