BUYING A PROPERTY
Tips and advice about buying a property in Spain.
3 Questions Home Buyers May Ask and Get No Answers.
Home buyers like to know the score on the sellers. Some are more inquisitive than others and want to know the details about the home and the motivations of the seller. They can ask very probing questions.
Sometimes the questions are very personal and they may never get an answer. Sometimes what they ask may be public knowledge and the agent can share it. Other times the questions have no bearing on the condition or the status of the home and whether it will sell or not.
Here are 3 questions that buyers may ask of their agent and never get the real story or truth.
1.How long has the home been on the market and why hasn’t it sold?
The buyer’s agent can research and see days on the market but determining why the home hasn’t sold is pure supplication on the agent’s part. That agent would have no way of knowing if the home wasn’t made available when buyers wanted to see it or if many offers came in and the seller refused them all. Days on the market is only one small indicator of the market.
2.Why are the sellers selling?
How would the buyer’s agent know the true motivations of the seller? Many sellers do not even tell their own agent all the reasons they are selling. As for the condition or problems with the house, sellers should disclose them on a residential property condition report.
3.What is the lowest price the seller will take? No agent really knows the answer to this question. In fact even the seller’s agent may not know.
Sellers may hint as to what their bottom figure may be but when an offer comes in, they may not want to respond anywhere near that bottom figure.
The only way to know what a seller will take is to make an offer. It really doesn’t matter how long a home has been on the market, there could have been a dozen reasons it hasn’t sold. And why a seller is selling shouldn’t matter either. The home is worth what it is to the buyer that is ready to buy regardless if the seller is moving for health reasons, divorced, lost a job or just choosing to move to another part of Spain or returning to the UK.
3 Questions Home Buyers May Ask and Get No Answers. A good real estate will explain that these things do not matter. What does matter is the buyer making a strong offer and with reasonable terms.
Home Buyers: Don’t Wait Forever for “The One”.
When you’re dating, you can spend years searching for the perfect relationship only to—possibly—wait too long and miss out on something great. Suddenly, over your sad microwave meal and bottle of cheap red, you’re looking back on your life choices, wondering what could have been if you hadn’t been so darned picky.
Well, the same goes for house hunting. You can drive yourself crazy searching for your dream home. You’ve found houses that have come close, after all. So the perfect one is bound to appear soon, right?
Not necessarily. We know the hunt can be emotionally draining, but at some point you have to go from house hunter to home owner.
We’re not encouraging you to make a choice that will fill you with buyer’s remorse. But to borrow a line from the Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes … you get what you need.
We can’t give you love advice (and trust us, you would not want us to), but we do happen to know a few things about real estate. Here are three questions to ask yourself; the answers will help you determine whether it’s time to settle on a home that might not be what your dreams are made of.
1. Are my expectations realistic?
Everyone has a dream home. Mine is a Craftsman with Victorian high ceilings, art deco details, and a Mid-Century Modern feel. But here’s the thing. That Frankenstein of architectural styles doesn’t exist—and your dream home probably doesn’t either.
“There is no such thing as a ‘perfect home,’”
There’s always going to be something not so lovable in each house you view. The key to finding the right home is setting realistic expectations.
“You can find a home that meets almost all of what you are looking for,”
Make a list of your dream features and amenities before you start house hunting—but be willing to let some of those features go once you start looking at properties. It helps to score each feature on a scale of 1 to 10—that way you (and your partner, if you have one) are on the same page about which amenities are deal breakers and which are simply nice to have.
2. How many properties have I viewed?
Once you’re house hunting, it can be nearly impossible to decide when you’ve looked at enough houses. After all, the perfect house could be listed any day now.
Go ahead and view online listings as much as you want. There’s no harm in real estate stalking in your spare time, but you should set a limit for actual viewings.
“If you go view more than eight homes [without finding anything], there’s a good chance you’re confused as to what you’re actually looking for,” “You’re trying to piece together a home that doesn’t exist.”
If you find that you’re searching for your own Frankenstein (it won’t work, I promise), take a moment and ask yourself how many homes you’ve visited. Have you reached the (self-imposed) cap? If so, make a list of each property’s strengths and weakness, and then get ready to compromise.
3. What am I willing to compromise?
If you’ve set realistic expectations and looked at more than a few houses, it’s time to start making some tough decisions. It might feel like settling, but you’ll probably thank us later when you’re finally a homeowner.
Just make sure you’re not compromising on something you’ll regret later.
“If you’re going to compromise, do not compromise on location,”
The real estate adage “location, location, location” bears repeating here. After all, a great house won’t matter much if you’re driving two hours to work every day or the only nearby grocery store closes at 7 p.m.
If you’re not sure where to compromise, ask your Real Estate Agent. That’s what they’re there for.
The exception to the rule
After months of searching (especially in competitive markets), you might feel the pressure to choose something—anything—just to achieve homeownership.
We’re going to contradict ourselves a bit here and tell you this: Sometimes it’s OK to keep looking. When you’re deciding on a home, you should always consider the current market, even if it means you’ll be shopping for a little while longer.
“If you are having trouble finding a home and you have proper expectations, don’t settle—especially if you’re in a hot market,
If you’re in a sellers’ market, homes can go quickly and you might just be missing the window of opportunity. It might make sense to wait a little longer than rush to try to beat out an overzealous buyer.
After all, competition can breed short-lived desire—and you don’t want to be stuck with a dud after the admirers have moved on to the next attraction.
Retirement: It’s Not Your Grandma’s House Anymore.
Active members of the 50+ community are seeking to be a part of the real estate market in a much different way than before. Instead of keeping the family home as their parents did, they are seeking to make their dreams come true after a lifetime of dedicated work. It’s time to downsize, and seek out dream locations like Spain because it offers the best lifestyle, best climate and best value for money in the region for the next phase of life.
Many members of the “Silent Generation”, described as being born between 1920 and 1945, are certainly being silent about their retirement plans with their children. They are doing their best to follow their lifelong dreams while balancing taking care of their kids and grandkids. It’s important to them to make a great investment when choosing their second home, because eventually this second home will become their retirement home.
When deciding on a new place, it is usually a lot smaller than the home where they raised their children. While it’s certainly important to have a new place big enough for visitors, it’s not okay to have a new place big enough for all their children’s childhood memorabilia. Let’s call it what it is, junk; the stuff the grown children wouldn’t take with them, but still want Mum and Dad to keep for them.
Along with the Silent Generation, when Baby Boomers make the transition from working hard all those years to playing and relaxing, it’s important to them they find a community where they can stay active.
Community and outdoor activities like golfing, hiking, biking, skiing, and boating are just as important as places to volunteer and be of service. Even though staying active is top of mind, finding a home that has little to no maintenance and close to medical facilities is also on the top of the list.
People are living longer with a higher quality of life. Retirement doesn’t mean hanging out at the family home and taking care of kids and grandkids the way it did 20 years ago. It is taking on a whole new meaning. It’s very exciting to watch a whole new era create the life they want, which is turning out to be completely different than all the generations before them.
Skip the Pain: 7 Things That Will Fill You with Buyer’s Remorse.
Home shopping makes you a little house-obsessed. Between stalking online listings, flipping through all the design magazines, and gorging on “A Place in the Sun” marathons, you know exactly what you want in painstaking detail. Nobody is going to say you can’t have what you want? And we totally agree you’ve earned it. Buy whatever you like (within your means of course)
But we’re here to share an unsolicited word of caution. All those custom details you’ve dreamed about? Make sure you really, really want them before you put in an offer—and that, in order to get them; you’re not sacrificing other things that will ultimately drive you bonkers.
Is the big garden really worth all the hours of mowing and landscaping? Is your desire for more space making your home feel less cohesive? Are those floor-to-ceiling windows, which made you fall in love with the home, a total Pain in the Axxx to clean?
We could go on and on about the flip sides that have the potential to fill you with regret. Pay close attention to these things that might set you up for the dreaded buyer’s remorse.
1. Don’t go big, just go home
You may want the space to spread out, but consider what rooms you’ll actually use once you move in.
Do you really need five bedrooms, a game room, an office, and two formal living rooms? If you buy too big a home, you might end up regretting it when it comes time to cool, heat, and clean the place.
And don’t forget room size. If the space is too big, your furniture will seem miniaturized. To avoid going too big (or too small), bring a tape measure and measurements of your own furniture to verify everything will look the way you want.
2. Don’t get boxed in
On the other hand, if you’re planning to stay put for a while, consider the home’s architecture. You may want to expand one day, and not all homes are set up for that.
Look for more flexible, one- or two-story homes where additions are easier.
3. Don’t let your stairs become an uphill battle
Finally, when you’re walking the floor plan, think of how you’ll use the space when you own it, especially if you’re looking at an older home.
4. Get off the island … maybe
What we often consider to be an amenity can create remorse. Take, for example, the kitchen island. It looks cool. It adds more prep space. We all want one. Or do we?
Walk around the kitchen, following your usual prepping and cooking pattern. If you’re bumping into the island, you may end up hating it.
5. Pay attention to what’s missing
If the home is modern (or previous owners did some upgrading), take a hard look and ask yourself if anything is missing.
Often architects and remodelers will take something out to give a room a cleaner, more minimalist feel, and you may feel the loss after you move in.
There is a trend to eliminate the bath in favour of just a shower; some homeowners regret that decision, because sometimes they find themselves wishing for a nice long soak after a tough day.
6. Pools may not be so cool
You step outside, see a pool and immediately picture all the outside parties you’re going to have. We know, we know, pools are cool. But pools are also a huge expense.
On top of the regular monthly maintenance and cleaning (and there will be a lot of that), pools in seasonal areas are often opened and closed by a pro. Those costs add up.
Moral of the story: Pools are a big regret if the expenses cause a burden. Make sure you can comfortably afford the upkeep.
7. Don’t fall for fads
Today’s popular ice-white appliances, steel countertops, and Edison bulb light fixtures are yesterday’s saloon doors, linoleum, and brass hardware.
If you buy a house just for its trendy look, you may end up regretting it when the styles change, especially if you have to sell the outdated design. Instead, look for timeless features.
When all is said and done, look for a classic, well-designed home to ensure the smallest chance of stinging regret. It may not sound like as much fun, but you can always add a little (or a lot) of your style in the finishing touches.
Why Agents Want to Work With Ready, Willing and Able Buyers.
Most real estate agents are independent contractors and don’t get paid unless they close on a sale or rent a property. Selling real estate can be a satisfying career with lots of rewards both financial and for personal achievement. If you work hard as an agent you will generally become successful, that is if you can work with ready, willing and able buyers and know when to table those that are not.
Since our time is money we need to spend it where it will give us the most return, with real buyers and sellers. Spinning our wheels with a buyer that isn’t real is a waste of our resources and keeps us from serving real clients and making a living.
A Ready Buyer is ready to make a move. We aren’t talking about in a year or two; we are talking soon and that their timing is in the near future. This buyer has a need and we agents can make it happen if they will let us. The agent has to ask lots of questions and really listen to the answers and to what is not said as well. Body language can also tell the real estate agent a lot. I like to see a sense of urgency and even excitement, too
A Willing Buyer is ready to commit when they find a home that meets their needs. They are not looking for excuses or putting up roadblocks. They are willing to compromise and recognize there are no perfect houses. If a couple is looking for a home it is important to have willingness from both parties.
An Able Buyer has the financial ability to buy. Oh I have seen plenty of buyers that were ready and willing but had ZERO capability to buy and all the looking and negotiating in the world can’t make a deal happen. A buyer coming with a preapproval letter or bank letter stating they have the funds to buy is music to my ears. It gives the buyer clout and extra negotiating power too.
When a ready, willing and able buyer contacts a dedicated agent, that buyer can expect to find a home and have their agent work hard for them showing them the steps to buying a home. There will be success on both sides. Remember we are salespeople and love to make the sale but we also love to get paid.
Why Buyers Are Not Stupid When It Comes to Buying a Home.
There is so much information on the internet about everything you could possibly want to know. When it comes to buying a home, buyers start searching on the internet 6-8 months before they expect to be ready to buy. Buyers do not want to be stupid when it comes to buying a home.
Since most real estate websites are mobile friendly these buyers are searching wherever they are; at work, at home, at restaurants and even sitting in front of homes. In addition this information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is not a need to call a real estate agent at the beginning of the process because they are in the information gathering stage and not quite ready to buy. It makes them feel more in control reaching out and learning about home buying on their own.
The websites themselves offer all kinds of information to educate the buyers. Besides finding out all about the houses, buyers can get oodles of valuable information about buying a home. The home buyers can get estimated payments, find out about the neighborhood and the tax base for the area, they can locate the schools for the area as well as know where shopping and entertainment facilities are located. 4everspain I welcome any buyer to go sign up for housing alerts so they can be in the know of what is hot on the market in Almeria & Murcia.
At their leisure and at their own pace home buyers become familiar with the steps to home buying. They become educated about values and start to recognize when a home is overpriced. This doesn’t mean that they should step out and do the whole transaction on their own. There are many facets to the sale and negotiation steps that only a good real estate agent can foresee and master. So once the home buyer is close to being ready to start the looking process in earnest, the buyer should reach out to a real estate agent to work in their behalf. The service of an agent is much more than unlocking doors.
Having representation in the sale is strongly recommended. This doesn’t indicate the buyer is not knowledgeable either. In fact it shows that the buyer knows how to best navigate the sale with a real estate agent by his side. Buyers are not stupid when it comes to buying a home. They may not have all the answers and that is to be expected. It is the agent’s job to explain the steps of the sale and make sure the buyer is kept in the loop. Home buying can be a fun experience and it should be.
The Top 5 Newbie-Expat Mistakes.
If you are planning on moving out here, or have just arrived, hopefully some of these points might help you on your way.
1. Savings, who needs savings?
Moving is expensive. Moving to another country is even more expensive. There are always extra costs that you never imagined that creep out of nowhere. Being in a foreign country, often with no access to other family and friends, you are totally dependent on what you have saved up to keep you going until you get to that first pay day.
And that first pay day can often be quite far away, especially if you come out looking for a job or to set up a business.
Budget for at least two years worth of outgoing before you come out.
We ran out of money after just 4 months, even though my original sums showed we’d be fine for the first year with no income. Either I’m rubbish at maths or we spent too much.
It happens, so budget for two years, be pessimistic in your calculations and that will buy you enough time to get settled and find work.
2. It’s like being on holiday!
Erm, no it’s not. When many expats arrive, particularly if they arrive in the summer, they feel like they are on holiday. Sunny days, lots of beer, late nights and lots of eating out.
Unless you’re retired the last thing you can afford to do is piss all your money up the wall. It happens…a lot. It’s both a waste of time and money and starting off as if on holiday reduces your motivation to find work or start your business.
We have seen so many people make this initial mistake that they never quite settle and end up leaving having wasted a considerable amount of money at “my new mate Roy’s bar”.
Roy’s only your mate because you alone are keeping his business afloat!
3. Shouting: “Do you speekee English??”
Please, if you want to live in Spain you need to start learning the language before moving here. It’s not that tough really, at least to a basic level.
Simply adding an “O” to the end of every word does not make it the Spanish equivalent.
I once heard an English woman asking for an appointment at the dentist and she called it “an appointamento”. My face went bright red as I stood behind her, especially as she said it at a volume level normally associated with talking to your mates in a nightclub.
Aside from anything else, it is basic manners and culture to at least learn the language of the country you are residing in. Like I say, even to just a really basic level.
You cano do ito
4. We just need a small apartment
For a holiday perhaps, but when you’ve been used to a reasonably sized house back home with a nice garden, living in an apartment can be quite tough for many expats.
Villas (a word used to make a house sound more exotic) are generally very expensive to rent so most people will go for the cheaper apartment option. This in itself can put a strain on a family as most apartments tend to be a little on the small side.
The best option is normally to go for something in between a villa and an apartment, i.e., a townhouse. These are generally, but not always, larger than apartments and offer more outside space. They are also not much more expensive than apartments to rent.
We have seen many families climb the walls in properties normally only used for holidays; the lack of space often meaning everyone is on top of everyone else at home.
I used to live and work out of a small apartment when we first moved out and it was really tough.
You have to keep your initial costs low but you also need to be comfortable in your new environment. Be realistic as to what you need and if you can’t afford that extra space…just wait until you can.
5. I’m so popular
Established expats often prey on “newbies” like vultures. Newbies arrive all naive and innocent and will often trust those that befriend them early on. The vultures love this new fresh meat bearing their life savings.
Along with many others, we made this mistake and after a while we cottoned on to the fact that what they were after was our money; little did they know that we didn’t really have that much anyway!
I know, it’s sad really but it is often the case. Times are tough in Spain at the moment so many expats will go to some extreme lengths to put food on the table, or beer in the belly more like.
I would say it isn’t the Spanish that prey on the newbies, it is generally other expats. Expats are always shafting other expats. Newbies arrive not speaking the language and rely on other expats for advice and contacts.
It’s just that their advice and contacts aren’t always the best.
I’m not saying don’t trust other expats, just tread with caution and look for the tell-tale signs…a big beak and large wings tend to give them away
Written by: Justin Aldridge (EOS)
About the author:
Justin has been running Eye on Spain for over 5 years and recently with his partner Susan launched their popular moving to Spain video guide, Spain Uncut.
How to Buy a Property in Spain.
The majority of property purchasers in Spain do so through a Real Estate Agent. A buyer ought to be extremely cautious when appointing one, regardless of whether they have a large or small portfolio of properties.
At 4everSpain try to make the buying process as simple and painless as possible. We are here to assist you in your purchase by sourcing suitable properties and introducing you to reputable legal and financial advisers.
Before you start looking for a property in Spain, you should carefully decide on the area you will want or need, location should be the essential factor in your decision. Points you need to consider will depend on your personal requirements and you should consult with us and we will will guide and assist you in making your choice.
Reserving your property, prior to signing the contract you will need to enlist the services of a lawyer. We recommend that you use a English speaking Spanish lawyer, one who is familiar with the local regulations. Naturally they are more familiar with the process of property purchase in Spain and will be able to guide you through the legalities involved in your purchase with minimum expense and complications.
Once both parties have agreed to the main points, a reservation contract will be drawn up and signed. It is common practise to pay the reservation fee to either your legal representative, the developer or 4everspain in order to ensure that the vendors are assured of your genuine intention to buy. The reservation fee withdraws the property from the market and guarantees a fixed price.
The Purchase Contract – will need to be signed by both parties in the time agreed scale at the reservation contract.
A portion of the purchase price will need to be paid to the vendor at the time of signing the puchase contract, your lawyer will look after all these matters in your own names and first stage payments will vary from 10% for a resale to approximately 40-50% for a new property.
This is normally a non refundable deposit. In accordance with Spanish law, it is common practice for the contracts to be in Spanish, nevertheless your lawyer will be able to obtain a translation and will not ask you to sign any documents without having understood them beforehand.
In Spain a sale is formally completed when the public title deeds (escritura) are signed before a public notary, the final payment made, and possession given to the buyer.
It is standard practice to expect to pay charges and fees of approximately 10% of the cost of purchase. This includes 8% IVA (VAT), 1% Legal Fees, other costs will be stamp duty at 0.55%, Land Registry Fees and Notary Charges. The payment of these fees and charges will be organised by your lawyer.