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As Barcelona’s property market heats up, foreign buyers can turn to a ‘Personal Property Shopper’ for help

Nexitum Barcelona
Left to right: Jordi Clotet, Helena Gallardo, and Jeremey Parker. Personal Property Shoppers / Buying Agents at Nexitum

Personal Property Shoppers can be particularly useful for foreign buyers in hot markets like Barcelona, where speed, contacts, trust, and expertise are crucial to successful outcomes.

Personal Property Shoppers who work exclusively for buyers (known locally as a ‘Personal Shopper Inmobiliario’) are a relatively rare breed in Spain, though their numbers are growing. It’s the most normal thing in markets like the US for buyers to hire a ‘realtor’ to handle their side of the purchase, and buying agents have long been established in the UK, but in Spain property sales have traditionally been handled by estate agents, who are paid by the vendor.

That is changing. More and more buyers in Spain, both local and foreign, are turning to Personal Property Shoppers / buying agents to help them navigate the complex and unfamiliar real estate market as they make one of the biggest investments in their life. Arguably, foreign buyers stand to gain the most from the help of a local expert working exclusively for them.

Nexitum is a Personal Property Shopper company founded in Barcelona in 2016 by Helena Gallardo and Jordi Clotet to help locals and foreigners buy property in the city. I sat down with them and English team-member Jeremey Parker to discuss the Barcelona property market, and the value they offer clients – especially international clients – who represent about half of their business.

Why hire a Personal Property Shopper in Spain?

You hire a buying agent to work for you, and look exclusively after your interests in what is probably one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Estate agents are paid by the vendor, so you can’t expect them to focus more on your interests than the person paying them.

With your interests aligned, property buying agents bring all their time, energy, and expertise to bear on getting the best results for you, and can save you a lot of time, money, and stress in the process.

“For most people, buying a property is a rare event,” explains Helena, a qualified Spanish lawyer specialising in real estate law. “Helping people find and buy is what we do all day every day, so our clients benefit from that experience. We get our clients the best property at the best price without losing any time, and we have access to properties from lots of different sources, including properties that you never see on the market.”

Due diligence and negotiations are other areas where buying agents like Nexitum add value. “We check everything for our clients before they buy, drawing on the expertise of our team including lawyers and architects,” says Jordi. “We help our clients avoid all the pitfalls of the local market, and negotiate the best price. Negotiations are a critical part of the process that can get emotional, and we make that much easier for our clients by advising them and negotiating for them.”

The property price is always a big concern for buyers. How much should you offer, and what should your final price be in a market that lacks transparency like Spain’s? A good buying agent with a finger on the market’s pulse can help you avoid overpaying. This can mean a saving of thousands, if not tens of thousands of Euros, especially for Spanish Golden Visa investors, who too often have been hoodwinked into overpaying because of the visa. “We know that many Golden Visa investors have been ripped off,” says Jordi. “That would never happen to them with us.”

In Barcelona’s hot market, buying agents like Nexitum can help you move fast

The property market in Barcelona is hot at the moment, with sales above where they were in 2018, and foreign demand recovering after the pandemic (see chart below). “Attractive property at the right price is selling fast,” says Hellena. “This puts buyers abroad at a disadvantage because they have to move quickly to compete with local buyers. We help them move faster because we are here on the ground working for them, doing everything for them.”

barcelona home sales 2021

House prices in Barcelona are still subdued, and good value by international standards, but that won’t last whilst demand outstrips supply. House prices started rising in the second half of last year after slumping in the pandemic, and finished the year up 7% year-on-year, according to government figures. 

Pent-up demand unleashed after the pandemic is one of the drivers of Barcelona’s booming property market, as is the rise of digital nomads who can live anywhere in the world, fueling demand for houses for sale in Barcelona. The international property company Savills just ranked Barcelona the sixth best place to live for an executive nomad because of its “ fast internet and strong global connectivity via air and rail,” along with its climate and quality of life. But rising interest rates also have a big role to play in today’s hot market.

“Interest rates have started rising for the first time in six years, which has significantly boosted demand,” explains Jordi. “Buyers are moving now to take advantage of the low cost of borrowing whilst it lasts.”

Foreign buyers are also incentivised by low interest rates, and their numbers are rising as the pandemic recedes along with other disturbances like Brexit and Catalonia’s constitutional dispute with Madrid. “People see the problems  were transitory, whilst Barcelona’s beauty and lifestyle attractions are here to stay,” says Jeremey. “Foreign buyers are back in strength, and we help them navigate the local market to a successful purchase.”

Satisfied clients are proof of the value that buying agents like Nexitum can offer. “Our ‘Piso Barcelona’ is working very well for us,” say Nexitum clients Robert and Cindy Beauchamp from San Diego, California. “Being from the US , we really needed someone whom we could trust to guide us through the Spanish real-estate process. Nexitum came recommended by an American-Spanish friend and delivered on all phases… search, value estimation, contracts, negotiations AND TRUST. Helena, Jeremey, Silvia and Jordi are a great team to work with. We give Nexitum our highest recommendation.”

Nexitum advertises in SPI’s service directory. You can find out more about Nexitum here.