Your guide to finding a property in Spain

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    The obvious first step to buying is finding a property in Spain. There are three main ways to go about this – on your own, using a property finder or employing a real estate agent to do the work for you. In this article, we look at how to go about using each of the three channels and the pros and cons involved in each option.

    How to find a property in Spain yourself

    With the advent of internet and social media, finding a property in Spain online has never been easier. But if you’re going solo you don’t need to limit your search to online – traditional methods such as looking for se vende signs are still valid and reliable.

    Go online

    Numerous online portals offer sophisticated searches for properties in the most popular places to buy in Spain. Using search criteria you fix your budget, preferred characteristics and amenities and then with a map choose your location. You then click to read the description and see the photos. If you’re interested, you contact the owner to arrange a visit.

    What’s good about online portals?

    Good overview

    – you can get a fair idea of what’s on the market and for what price.

    Quick and easy – the best portals carry a wide selection of properties that you can browse at a glance and from anywhere in the world.

    What’s not so good?

    Unreliable information

    – as a complete newbie to the market so how do you know if the property advertised represents good value for location, size and features? (You don’t.)

    Inaccurate details – there’s no guarantee that what you’re seeing exists or that the contact given is really the owner. And of course, the photos will be heavily edited to show the best side to the property.

    Unreliable contact – the vendor may not see your email requesting information or forget to answer it.

    Time not on your side – in a fast-moving market an information request may not arrive in time and another buyer beat you to it.

    Go traditional

    You may prefer on-the-ground fieldwork tactics such as driving around your chosen area and taking note of phone numbers on se vende signs to contact later. Or asking around the local area.

    The pros – you can see the location immediately; and you deal with the real owner (usually).

    The cons – not everything for sale has a sign up so you won’t see the real selection; and this is very time-consuming.

    How to find a property in Spain using an estate agent

    Another valid source of information are real estate agents, which abound in Spain, particularly in areas of interest to foreign buyers. You’ll find small, independent businesses, perhaps with a handful of staff alongside big international names with offices in several countries as well as in Spain.

    The benefits

    • Access to property portfolio, although not always as wide as possible (see below).
    • Market knowledge.

    The drawbacks

    • Despite the choice of properties, a real estate agent may only have access to a limited number.
    • The real estate agent often represents and is paid by the seller. This is not always in your best interest.

    Read more about real estate agencies in Spain.

    How to find a property in Spain using a dedicated property finder

    The third option available to you in your search for a house to buy comes in the form a professional property finder. Also known as buying agents, they source properties that match your requirements (e.g. location, budget, size, features etc.) in your chosen area.

    The advantages

    Saves valuable time

    – a property finder narrows down search options to only those properties that tick all the boxes on your must-have list. You only visit those on the shortlist.

    Offers market know-how – good property finders have extensive knowledge of the local market in terms of property type, trends, prices and location.

    Has insider knowledge – good buying agents have their ears to the ground to source new opportunities, sometimes before they’re placed on the open market.

    Represents you – and just you. Not to the seller, an estate agent or other third party.

    Provides extra services – property finders go beyond merely providing you with a list of potential houses to buy. They negotiate on your behalf, provide updates and can arrange extras such as refurbishment, removals and help with official paperwork for visas, for example.

    The disadvantages

    Not always professional

    – not all property finders offer a comprehensive and reliable service. To ensure you choose the right one to act on your behalf, ask around for recommendations and go for one with an established name in the area.