Spain, remains a popular destination for those aspiring to buy a property abroad. For those living in Europe, Spain is easily accessible and the weather is predictable. It’s a large country and there is no shortage of variation in landscape and leisure activities.
The climate and lifestyle in Spain are just two of the reasons that every year people continue to buy here. We are now seeing a more buoyant foreign market in comparison to that of Spanish purchasers. In 2013 the number of overall house sales to foreigners rose from 4.24% of overall sales in 2009 to 11.15% in 2013.
The nationalities buying most frequently were British (15.10%), French (9.84%), Russian (8.58%), Belgian (7.26%), German (7.01%) and Swedish (5.63%). It doesn’t mean to say that we will ever see a return to the purchasing frenzy of 2004. However, it does indicate a steady flow of interest in Spanish property, at least from abroad.
So what if you are one of those people with your heart set on buying property in Spain? Where do you start?
Doing your research
Location is a very important factor when you make your choice. You should ask yourself:
* What is my real reason for buying a house in Spain and how does this influence my choice of location?
* What are my three main priorities in terms of location?
* Do I want to live out in the country, in an urbanisation or somewhere in between?
* Is it important that I live amongst Spanish speakers?
* How might my needs change in ten years time?
* What facilities do I need to be close to for health or other practical reasons?
With the internet there is no end of online methods of searching for a property. Reading books and searching the internet will give you some ideas but you will want to back this online search with on the ground research. Nothing quite replaces seeing things for yourself.
However, it is also beneficial if you can find someone who has made a similar decision and can give you some advice. If you already have family or friends in Spain then you have an excellent starting point for finding the area and property that might be right for you.
An increasingly popular alternative is to rent somewhere first in the area that you have in mind. Even renting for a two-week period as a holiday let can provide you with a good understanding of how it might feel to live there and how accessible the services are that you habitually use.
Some properties that are on the market are available to either rent or buy. You might be able to rent a property first before making the decision to buy it. In some cases, the rent you have already paid will be deducted from the final asking price if you do decide to go ahead.
Plan your budget
Whatever you do, make sure that you have costed out exactly how much you can afford, that you have an idea of what you might be able to purchase in the area that you are considering and that you know what your limit is.
Purchasing a property does not only involve the cost of the house itself. As in your home country, there are a number of supplementary costs that you must budget for. We advise that you should add 10% to the price of the property as a rough guide.
So, for example if your property costs 100,000€ then you will need at least 110,000€ to account for property taxes, solicitors’ fees, notary and Spanish Land Registry fees and possibly the acquisition of an NIE and/ or power of attorney. In addition, you need to allow for more if you need to furnish your property or pay for removal costs.
Another important consideration is how much it will take to maintain your property. Once you are the proud owner of a house in Spain, there will continue to be annual outgoings. Make sure that you make allowances for these.
Assuming that you have done your calculations and are confident that owning a property in Spain is well within your budget, then you can take the next step forward.
Finding the right property for you
Once you have identified approximately the area you think you would like to live and know approximately how much you can spend, then you can focus in on properties. You will need to make some decisions about:
* Whether you prefer new or rebuild
* Whether you prefer a house or apartment
* The outdoor facilities you need
* Whether you prefer a refurbished property or one that you can refurbish yourself
Of course, there will also be other issues such as size, number of storeys and the aspect of the property. A lot will depend upon your short term and long term intentions. If you are a non-resident then having lots of outside space that needs maintenance is a consideration; a swimming pool requires care throughout the year.
However, if you are planning to be a resident either now or in the future then places to store belongings and ‘extras’, more space for normal day-to-day living and perhaps even a garage or carport become more important.
You will want to consider the immediate environment you wish to live in. Do you like to be in a busy, possibly noisy, environment where there is always someone to pass the time of day with? Or do you prefer to be undisturbed and more isolated?
It is beneficial to find out if your property is part of a community of owners. The community of owners (comunidad de propietarios) is the legal body responsible for controlling and maintaining spaces and facilities that are shared by owners. It is worth enquiring if there is one attached to a property you are considering and getting some idea of how well it is run.
Once you have found a house you are interested in, then visits are crucial. Ideally you should try and visit a property at different times of the day and on different days of the week. The decision to buy a house is one of the biggest that we make but is often made on the spur of the moment and with relatively little research.
If you follow the advice in this article, at least you will have considered some of the main factors in choosing the right home in Spain for you.