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Top tips: your guide to buying Spanish property

If you are dreaming of buying a property in Spain, there is so much to think about and many things to consider before you proceed. In this article, I want to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about buying Spanish property to guide you through the purchase process ahead of time and help you move forward with your search.

Q. How much does it cost to buy a property in Spain?

A. As a rule of thumb, the total buying costs for a resale property will be somewhere between 10%-11%, while the costs for purchasing a new-build property will fall into the range of 13.5%-14.5%.

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In addition to the costs of purchase, you will also need to consider the property’s running costs. These will undoubtedly include normal household utility bills, the local Town Hall tax known as IBI, the refuse collection tax called Basura, and if you live in an area or on a development with shared costs and services, you will need to pay community fees.

Q. Am I eligible for a mortgage in Spain?

A. To be eligible for a mortgage, you will need to satisfy a number of conditions, primarily the affordability test - i.e. that they have the means to afford the monthly repayments.

Most banks and mortgage brokers will insist on you providing your last 3-6 months’ bank statements, payslips and a list of existing liabilities (other mortgages, loans, etc), plus a credit report from the likes of Experian. Once they are armed with this information, a decision in principle can be given pretty quickly, normally within a week.

Nowadays for non-residents, most lenders will agree to 60%-70% of the purchase price or the valuation – whichever figure is lower.

Q. Do you recommend Spain as a place to bring up a family?

A. 100%! Spain is a truly great place to bring up kids. Many of my clients have emigrated to Spain and found that the quality of their entire family’s lives has improved beyond measure. The Spanish people have a love of family and family values rooted in their culture.

Children are welcome everywhere at every time, so it’s a great place for families. Finally, you will give your kids the gift of being fluent in a second language, which is a huge advantage in today’s international job market.

Q. Now that homeworking is becoming more common, could I live in Spain and commute to the office when I’m needed for meetings?

A. Absolutely. It’s already quite common and, post-Covid, I expect it to increase in popularity. I have had several clients plan on only using their property for holidays, but then gradually increase their time here, trying out working remotely and noticing the benefits to their health, wellbeing and productivity.

Of course, it depends on how flexible your bosses are and how well you work from home, but it’s definitely an option.

Q. If I am unable to travel to Spain, do international real estate agents offer virtual home tours?

Virtual viewings have become the ‘new normal’ for overseas real estate agents to allow our buying clients to effectively shortlist properties from the comfort of their own home, with the aim of physically viewing their selected options when they are able to comfortably travel to Spain. For clients who are already well-researched and familiar with the areas, there has sometimes been no need to physically visit.

Armed with a high-quality camera, a gimbal and a wide-angled lens, we have been able to conduct live walk-through video chats and to produce beautifully edited videos which are almost as good as the real thing.

Q. How can I find my perfect property in Spain?

A. First, let’s be realistic, there really is no such thing as a perfect property. That’s not being negative, simply practical. To get as close as possible, start with picturing your dream place. Make a realistic budget, and then research areas and options.

Get to know the area as much as possible, check out places at different times of the day and in different seasons if you can, to make sure you have a complete picture of the area and make sure it will work for you.

With a view of the market and your budget in mind, make a list of 10 things that the ‘dream’ property needs to have – sea view, south orientation, eat-in kitchen, private pool, etc. Think about who will use the property and how, to decide what you really need in that property. Then talk to a property expert on the ground and ask them for advice and whether what you want is possible on your budget.

Revise your list if required and keep it with you during the property search, with the understanding that you would be doing really well to tick seven or eight of those 10 boxes. This helps you to remain grounded during the property search, and it provides a point of reference when looking at properties and comparing them on a like-for-like basis.

Then it’s time to get serious! I’d advise you to treat your property hunting visit as a business trip or a fact-finding mission. Of course, combine it with having a great time, but don’t expect to get much done if you have an army of screaming kids in tow or if you intend to go out on the town every night.

Last but not least, choose a realistic budget and don’t overstretch yourselves, you can always buy a bigger property when you have a foothold on the ladder and know that you love the area.

About the Author

Sean Woolley is the founder and director of leading real estate agency Cloud Nine Spain. He has recently written the book From the Ground Up – The Insider’s Guide to Buying Spanish Property, sharing his years of experience, real life stories, tips and tricks with buyers interested in investing in Spanish real estate.

It’s available on Amazon now and features a bonus chapter on the ‘Impact of Covid-19’ on the Spanish property market.

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