Was it that nice looking villa that you saw on holiday or the thought of numerous sunny days that prompted you to look for a property in Spain? Well, whatever the reason, you will need to find the home that is right for you, and will probably make more than one trip over to view what is on the market.
Really the most important consideration is location. A lovely house in the wrong place will cause all sorts of problems for you and the family. With this in mind, make sure you allow time to research an area carefully and make a list of what you need in relation to amenities. An apartment on top of a mountain with a magnificent view may not be ideal if you don’t want to drive far, need quick access to medical services and fancy a daily plunge in the sea. Proximity to international airports to get you back to the UK will probably be on your list too.
Narrow down the area you are interested in, and when you decide to start looking there, take plenty of time to drive around and get a picture of the whole town, district or urbanisation and nearby shops, schools and amenities.
Your next thoughts should be about lifestyle. Are you retired? How active are you? What are you hoping for in Spain? Do you have teenage children, who will want to go to discos and meet friends? Do you expect lots of visitors? How will they be occupied? Will you want to engage in water sports? Are local bars and restaurants important for your social life?
Finally, think about what type of property you would like. Interestingly, most people will put this at the top of their list, but in reality location and lifestyle are much more important to an expat’s life. Are you buying to make it a permanent home or a holiday home? Perhaps you will want to retire there later? Will you want to let it out to holidaymakers? These questions will influence the style and size of your new house or apartment.
Now it is time to contact estate agents. Spain Buying Guide can help, or you can find agencies online. Make sure they are members of trade associations, such as GIPE or API though. When you arrange a viewing trip, it will usually be for between 3-7 days, and it’s a good idea to allow yourself as much time as you can, so that you can visit several properties without getting overly tired, and revisit one or two that you really like. Don’t forget about spending time researching the area too. Agents say that most people don’t buy what they had in mind before they started viewing. A good agent will quickly discover what they think will suit your requirements - and it may not be exactly where you feel you want to be for various reasons which will become apparent later. Be open to suggestions. Of course there will be some things on which you won’t want to compromise, but what suits friends or family who have already moved to Spain may not suit you and yours.
Three-to-four properties viewed in one day is more than enough. You need time to see everything, ask questions, imagine yourself living in the house or apartment and check out the surrounding streets. Tell the agents that you don’t want to be rushed from one place to another, and allow yourself as much time as you can for each viewing trip. The longer you spend in your chosen area, the better you will understand it; it may in fact turn out not to be right for you after all, but your agent may take you to a new and different area which you really like.
How many agents should you use? Well, this is a personal choice, but I would suggest 2 or 3 at most. You will have corresponded with several before you go and there will be those in whom you have some confidence and others you may feel aren’t quite the people you want to work with. Remember that agencies may have the same properties on their lists, sometimes at different prices!
So… before you view, it’s a question of location, lifestyle and then the property itself. Good hunting!