Buying a property is a big decision. It pulls on your emotional strings, and tugs tight at your wallet. And even more so in a foreign country. So, before you take the plunge and ring in an offer for that Spanish property, ask yourself the following questions, and then listen carefully to your answers.
Do you know where you want to buy?
As the old adage rightly says, the most important consideration is location, location and (then) location. Get it right and you’ll own a home to enjoy for years. However, get it wrong, and you could find yourself tied to a place that doesn’t work for you.
How to get the answer – do your homework and visit your preferred areas in high and low season (or summer and winter).
Do you know what you want to buy in Spain?
Once you’ve pinpointed the location, decide what sort of property you’d like (and need). Think about size (could it be too big or small in the medium-term?) and maintenance.
How to get the answer – read this.
What about the view?
The only truly guaranteed views come with properties with frontline beach or golf positions or at the top of a hill or mountain. But, if you buy anywhere else, your fabulous vistas could be interrupted or ruined by new development or infrastructure such as a motorway or shopping centre.
How to get the answer – check out plans for development in the area.
Have you got a good estate agent?
One who knows the area well and its market. One who you can trust to find a property to suit you and your requirements. One who will negotiate the price with the owner on your behalf and act in your interests.
How to get the answer – check this out.
Do you have an independent lawyer to work for you?
The procedure for buying a property in Spain is unique and you need professional help to navigate it. Choose a lawyer who speaks your language and acts in your interests only.
How to get the answer – ask around for referrals, read reviews or check out the list here.
Is the property worth its price?
Make sure you’re paying market value or as near as. The right price means you’ll have a better chance of recuperating your investment when the time comes to sell.
How to get the answer – ask your agent or compare prices in the same area. In many parts of Spain, property prices are still below their 2007 peak.
Can you afford to buy the property and maintain it?
Again, do your homework before you sign on the dotted line. Many people are surprised by how high community charges are or how much a gardener costs a month.
How to get the answer – get a breakdown of all the costs, monthly, quarterly and annual. Ask your lawyer, the owner and get quotes for services like pool maintenance.
Are you thinking medium to long term?
Buying property for sale in Spain involves high associated costs (at least 8% on top of the purchase price in most places). To recoup these, you need to own the property for at least five years, longer if the market is in a downward cycle.
How to get the answer – don’t buy if you think you won’t want to own a property in Spain in five years’ time.
Does the property need refurbishment?
And to what extent? If your chosen home just needs a bit of TLC, such as a coat of paint or new doors on the kitchen cabinets, the work won’t involve much effort and time from you.
Anything more significant and the picture changes completely. You’ll need plenty of energy and enthusiasm to see it through if you’re in Spain. And if you’re not in Spain, who will manage the work in your absence?
How to get the answer – look at the cost of a refurb in terms of your finances, time, energy and mental health.
Who are your neighbours?
Church bells or barking dogs could ruin the perfect country pad. A city apartment could be uninhabitable because of noise from the bars in the street below or the uber-loud TV in the flat next door. And your dream villa could become a nightmare because the next-door neighbours love to party.
How to get the answer – neighbours come and go so peace and quiet are never guaranteed, but you can at least check beforehand. Visit the property at least three times and at different times of the day.
Like to know more?
The tips included in this article are an extract from Your Guide to Buying Property in Spain, 12 comprehensive chapters that contain everything you need to know. From the first steps (such as those above) to that moment when you finally become the proud owner. Via everything in between. You can buy the guide (available as a full-colour pdf download) with the link below.