Nick – I totally agree with you.
Admittedly it was back in 2003 but we flew over on the Friday night (£60 return fare I think), having found ourselves a beautiful little b&b just off Orange Square, Marbella, £30 per night.
We had set up via the internet appointments with four different agents, one each morning, one each afternoon for the Sat and Sun to show us two properties each i.e. 8 in total for the weekend that WE had chosen from their websites. Two agents from large firms, two small independent ones. Each agent met us and dropped us off at our B&B, all pre-arranged and agreed. Each agent’s properties were in a different area so we could begin to get a feel for the different locations.
The agent on the Sunday afternoon even kindly picked us up with our luggage before the afternoon’s viewings and dropped us at the airport when we had finished. An absolute gent and I don’t mind saying it was VIVA.
Nothing beats being independent, it needn’t cost a lot – and it doesn’t hurt to let these agents know that you are seeing others. Also was so nice to be staying in the heart of Marbella to enjoy the various restaurants as against being stuck out in the boonies somewhere.
Anyway, boothy, wish you good luck in your search but you may consider doing it differently on your next visit. Oh, and leave your credit card at home!