Spain Guide


Buy a House in Spain

It's perfectly possible to buy a house in Spain without using an estate agent despite what the agents themselves tell you! By pass the agents and you could save yourself thousands of pounds worth of commission, which is generally far higher in Spain than in the UK and other European countries.

It's easy to find properties for sale direct from owners on the Internet and in the printed media both in your own country and in Spain. If you're on the spot, you can simply drive around and you'll see private se vende (for sale) signs on the outside of countless properties.

The English language newspapers in Spain are another good source of properties for sale with no agents involved. They include The Entertainer, (which covers the Costa Blanca and Almeria) Sur (for properties on the Costa del Sol) and the Costa Blanca News.

You'll find owners' private property ads on notice boards in supermarkets, bars, clubs (even sellotaped to trees in the streets!). Owners are keen to sell privately because of the sheer greed of some agents. You have to do more donkeywork this way. But you've got little to lose and much to gain. So if you've got the time and energy, hunt down that perfect property yourself but whatever you do, don't buy it without using a good lawyer.

There are several advantages in using an estate agent of course. They have a ready pool of Spanish properties on their books, they'll take you to view the properties, they'll negotiate on your behalf and, if they're experienced, they'll have a wealth of knowledge and advice to give you.

But at the end of the day they want you to buy and they want their commission. And they want it as quickly as possible. There are a lot of cowboys out there so beware. Many agents are in it for short term gain and high commissions. Competition is huge in one small town on one of the Spanish costas there are 79 different inmobiliaria (estate agents) falling over each other to make those all important sales.

Average commissions are around 6% but some agents will take over 10% and that's after they've already bumped the sale price up over and above what the owner actually wants. If you decide to use an agent for convenience, make sure you shop around. Ask other people in the area for the benefit of their experience. Avoid the new boys on the block and go for an established agent with a good reputation.

It's never a good idea to fall for the temptations of a "free flight and accommodation" inspection trip where you're tied to one agent. These trips can be exhausting and mind numbing with some very high pressure (and effective) sales techniques. You may find yourself signing on the dotted line simply because you've overdosed on slick sales speeches (or sangria!).

Buying a House via an Estate Agent Local or Overseas

Estate agents in Spain don't need any qualifications, so it's advisable to look for an agent who is a member of a professional body either an "API" (agente de la propiedad inmobiliaria Property Sales Agent), or a "GIPE" (Gestor Intermediario de Promociones and Edificiones property development and buildings representative).

Normally these agents will automatically have indemnity cover provided by their professional bodies. Check that this is the case.

If you are buying from an estate agent in the UK, make sure they're a member of either FOPDAC (the Federation of Overseas Property Developers, Agents and Consultants) or NAEA (the National Association of Estate Agents). Members of these bodies are bound by a professional code of conduct.

If you like a property, go and view it a second time even a third and fourth time if necessary before making an offer. And even when you're totally convinced you've found your piece of paradise don't sign anything until you've consulted a lawyer.