Perhaps you’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and now you’ve finally decided the time is right to buy a property on the Costa del Sol. A great decision, but not necessarily an easy one! Simply because there are lots of things to think about.
To help, we’ve put together a list of useful tips on buying a property in the greater Marbella area. They help you choose exactly where to buy in Marbella, Benahavís or Estepona; how to plan your budget; get started with the paperwork, and then (the best bit) pick your home.
Read on, take note and then start planning to buy your dream property on the Costa del Sol.
1. Narrowing down the options
It’s always good to start by putting your thoughts and ideas down in writing. Buying property on the Costa del Sol might be your life-long dream, but now you’re about to make it become real. So, it’s well worth thinking about what you expect and need from your new home.
Which area best suits your needs? You can pick peaceful surroundings – for example, a residential development on the outskirts of Estepona or a country estate in Benahavís – or you might prefer the bustle of a town centre such as you’ll find in Marbella.
What amenities do you want to have close by? The Costa del Sol generally offers excellent amenities, but would you rather these were on your doorstep or a car journey away?
How important is accessibility to you? Malaga Airport is within easy reach of the greater Marbella area.
Do you have children? You may want to consider a community where they can meet friends and be near the school of your choice.
What kind of property do you want? You might prefer a larger home with privacy such as a villa or want the easier lifestyle that comes with an apartment.
These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself when you decide to buy property on the Costa del Sol.
Top tip – do plenty of research and ask local experts. Our Area Guides are an excellent place to start!
2. Do the Maths
Once you have a good idea about where you want to buy property on the Costa del Sol, the next important step is to work out the financial picture. Doing your Maths before you start looking will give you a realistic idea of what you can spend and help you find a property within your budget.
- Work out how much you can afford to spend on a property and set your maximum budget.
- Factor in the buying costs involved (they add 8% to 12% to the price).
- Be aware of fees you have to pay the professionals involved in the purchase (e.g. notary, lawyer etc.).
- Plan ahead for exchange rate exposure if your buying funds are not in euros.
- Take into account the costs of owning property on the Costa del Sol such as council taxes.
Top tip – spend some time on working out your finances to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.
3. Get honest advice
The two most important people when buying a villa in Spain are your estate agent and lawyer. In both cases, it’s important that you work with people with an established good reputation who put your interests above all others.
When looking for a trustworthy estate agent, make sure they listen to your needs.
If you’ve found a reputable estate agent, they can recommend a reliable lawyer to you who will work for you only and speaks your language.
The lawyer is important at all stages of buying a property on the Costa del Sol, and you should contact one before you pay a deposit or sign any legally binding paperwork on the property. Your lawyer will carry out the due diligence and basic legal checks; make sure that the property is free of any debts and/or encumbrances, request a review of building permits, licenses, certificates and taxes.
Top tip – find the right people to help you to ensure you get good advice from start to finish.
4. Cut through the Red Tape
Spain loves paperwork, and there’s quite a lot involved even when you buy a property. You’ll need the following:
NIE – the number that identifies you to the Spanish tax authorities. Find out more.
Residence permit or visa – straightforward for most people, but if you’re a non-EEA national, you need to plan ahead. If you have a good estate agent and lawyer they can help you with this process.
Top tip – allow time for paperwork and be patient or get a professional to sort it out for you.
5. Plan your taxes
Another very important factor is tax. If you move to Spain permanently, you will probably have to become a tax resident and pay income taxes, wealth taxes and capital gains on your worldwide assets, for example.
Make sure you have an accurate idea of what moving to Spain will cost you and how to pay taxes correctly.
To help you with this, ask your estate agent or lawyer if they offer these extended services or if they can recommend a reputable professional.
Top tip – get professional advice on Spanish and worldwide taxation always. This will save you money and problems.
6. Choose your property on the Costa del Sol
Finally, you’ll get to the fun part of buying your home in Spain: choosing your home!
Although initially, you may just want to go with what ‘feels right’, it’s a good idea to keep your list of needs close by (see “Narrow down the options” above). With this in hand, you’re ready to start searching.
After you’ve selected an estate agent, you have two options:
- Browse their website for properties that fit your requirements. This gives you a good first impression of what’s on the market in Marbella, Benahavís and Estepona.
- Or get in touch directly and let them help you select a good fit. This helps you narrow down your choices.
When you’re down to a shortlist of properties, your agent will arrange the viewings. Once again, keep your needs in mind when you view a house but if it doesn’t tick all your boxes, don’t let this put you off.
A home should also spark your imagination and include at least some of the things you’ve dreamed of!
The short, shortlist
Once you have a property in mind, you really like, keep calm. Get your lawyer to check the property before you commit to buying it. This might sound as if it slows the process down, but it saves problems later, and a reputable estate agent will advise you to do it and have no problems with it either.
In general, choosing a house is all about taking the time and thinking realistically. You may need to compromise on some things, but you will get a clear picture of what your home will be like.
Top tip – when you view a property you really like, take photos so that you can remind yourself what it’s like later on.
7. Following up
And to wrap up, bear in mind that it isn’t over when you’ve committed to buying your home on the Costa del Sol. You need to think carefully about things such as ownership structure and transaction costs (taxes, fees and mortgage costs).
Plus, you may want some advice on, for example, furnishing and short-term renting. Again, a good real estate agent and your lawyer can help you with this. So make sure you choose an agent who offers extended services to help you after the sales deal has been made.
Contact the experts
If you want more detailed information about buying a property in Spain, read our article about the buying process. If you want to look at properties, do browse our property database, bang up-to-date and with some truly inspirational properties. We have many excellent villas, apartments, plots and new developments for sale in the greater region of Marbella.
Just contact us if you need more help – we look forward to hearing from you!