Using Estate Agents in Costa del Sol, Spain
I have spent the last few months planning to buy a place in Spain, this blog covers some thoughts about using estate agents in Spain and especially the Costa del Sol, which anyone looking to buy a place in Spain may find useful.
We started to look online and visit estate agents. Estate agents work differently in Spain compared to what I had experienced as a property owner for the last 30 years in the UK. Agents in Spain all have access to the same properties once they are promoted online. As a consequence, many do not want to promote properties online so they can keep them uniquely available to themselves.
Also, we found that many properties promoted online were actually not available – having been sold months before. It appears that estate agents try to keep as many properties on their portfolio to make it look more attractive to potential buyers.
Our first encounter was with many estate agents trying to offer us viewings, but we wanted to look at house details initially. The selling information we received on the properties were not as detailed or useful as we have come to expect in the UK. Room dimensions are not mentioned and many had vague descriptions and poor photographs.
After looking online we identified 4 properties we wanted to view and asked for the estate agent to arrange a viewing for us.
Viewing properties with the Estate Agent in Costa del Sol
The agent wanted to drive us to the property and we said we would rather be independent and agreed to follow them. We wanted the freedom to discuss the different properties immediately after each viewing without the agent listening to our conversation. It allowed us to make notes about our immediate thoughts without being interrupted.
We had a very specific specification of what we were looking for and one of the key criteria was for a garden with views. On visiting our first property, we were met with another agent – the company that actually had the listing of the property for sale. This agent was keen to show us the kitchen and living accommodation, but I reminded them that we were not so much worried about the indoor space, it was the outdoor that was more important to us. We wanted a place in Spain for the outdoor life and anyone who knows my husband would know that a kitchen is not an important feature in a house!
The agent then moved to the garden and showed us a tiny garden, which was overlooked by another town house – the view did not extend beyond the garden and surrounding properties, and not at all what we has asked for. I felt very sorry for the owner who had prepared for this viewing, only to end up being a complete waste of time for all concerned, as we did not have any interest looking at the rest of the house.
The house we were shown was not on our list and we then had to reiterate to both agents, what it was we were looking for. So the new agent (not from the company we had approached) said she had some other properties on her books and would show us them. The agent who had arranged for the viewings just followed and provided no recommendations of other properties. An interesting concept if, like us you are used to dealing with one estate agent and the properties they have for sale. So the new estate agent then took us to see 3 more properties (we followed in our own car).
To be fair they were all good, but only one of them was among those we had actually asked to view – the other properties we had asked to see were suddenly not available!
The only one we liked was a 2 bedroom finca and was a bit small, so we decided it was not the one for us, but explained the aspect, view etc was ideal. We said we would be in touch and they would keep us posted on anything else which came on the market. That was in July 2014, and I have had one call from them afterwards, when I said we had decided to go on “the place in the winter sun” TV programme to allow them to help us find our property. As such we would not be requiring their services. So we agreed to allow the Place in the Sun team to research ideal properties for us in the area.
My thoughts on using an estate agent when looking for property on the Costa del Sol, Spain
In summary, here are some top tips when using an estate agent:
- Outline exactly what it is you are looking for, give as much clarity and detail as you can
- Identify the properties you like the look of online and ask to see the details
- Ask the estate agent what he/she has on her books that is currently for sale that meets your exact criteria
- Clarify that the property is still for sale and how long has it been on the market for
- Ask if the estate agent has this property directly or through another agent
- Then ask for viewings of those properties
- You cannot rely on the paperwork to confirm if the property does or does not meet, or indeed exceed, your criteria
- Find an agent you think understands your requirements and has sold similar properties in the past, i.e., if you are looking for a finca in the campo, don’t go to an agent in the middle of a coastal resort used to selling apartments
- You may be better off sticking with one estate agent and let him do the research on your behalf
- Take a tape measure when you view the properties if you need to know room dimensions