Choosing the right agent & finding your perfect property - Mar 2018
With around 30 years professional real estate experience and extensive knowledge of Southern Spain, I am very well versed on where people choose to buy. Around 95% of our clients rightly target Western Costa Del Sol, from Malaga to Sotogrande, incorporating around 15 small adjoining towns, with total travel time of around 1 hour from one end to the other.
This area is favoured by clients from all over the world for its superior infrastructure and great lifestyle facilities. The Western Coast is a thin piece of prime real estate sandwiched between the Mediterranean and beautiful mountain backdrop. This unique setting offers more than just visual splendour, it creates the very best climate in Europe, with fabulous Mediterranean beaches to the South offering warmth from nearby Morocco and a high mountain range to the North protecting the coast from any bad weather moving down from Northern Europe.
If I was asked to broadly generalise I would say the areas between Malaga and Marbella like Benalmadena and Mijas Costa are more popular with families as there are a lot more facilities / activities and the cost of living is more favourable. The Area from Marbella to Estepona incorporating both the “Golden Mile” and “New Golden Mile” tend to be slightly classier and have higher quality restaurants and boutique shops. However, there are plenty of exceptions to this sweeping generalisation. Two property hot spots worth mentioning are the beautiful up and coming beach town of “La Cala De Mijas” (The Cove of Mijas) and Marbella’s Nueva Andalucia which is the residential area just behind the famous Puerto Banus Marina and beach clubs. Both areas are extremely popular and high on our clients’ viewing lists, which will stand them in good stead for both future capital growth and rental potential.
A few words of wisdom from someone who has spent most of his working life successfully helping buyers find their ideal property.
There are many beautiful areas all along the Western Costa del Sol coastline, many of which you probably haven’t even heard of, I have personally bought and lived in 3 completely different locations over the past 15 years and loved every area for different reasons. So I would recommend clients keep their initial area search fairly broad and allow us to open their mind to fabulous new areas they may not even know existed.
A number of clients come to Spain with a certain type of property and fixed budget in their mind, however, after a week of viewing lots of different properties they realise they can’t tick every box and come to the realisation that to get exactly what they want, they are going to have to increase their budget. This means booking a second viewing trip, incurring further costs, to view properties in their new, higher price range. So I would highly recommend potential buyers give their agent a preferred purchase price and also a (stretching their purse strings) max budget. This way you will get to see a good selection of all property available on just the one viewing trip.
Don’t be afraid of stretching yourself to get you perfect property, all things being equal owning a property almost always gets steadily more affordable every year you own it. The cost of a mortgage does not increase year on year, varying at most with interest rates. That means that your mortgage will get steadily more affordable as a proportion of your income year by year. Barring any personal setbacks, a property that was difficult to afford when you bought it will almost always be more easily affordable five years later. Mark my words with the prices still very low in Spain but now steadily increasing every year, you will be wishing you had stretched yourself or invested more into property when you look back many years from now.
You are unlikely to find a property that has everything you want, so you will have to make certain trade offs. Make sure you distinguish between what is superficial and what is fundamental. For example: many clients initially ask for 3 bedrooms which comes at a premium, but often the 3rd bedroom is only for the rare occasion that family may visit. The clients often then realise that it’s more important to find the perfect property for themselves, which in many cases would be a higher quality and better located 2 bedroom apartment for a cheaper price. The occasional visit from family can be resolved simply by incorporating a sofa bed in the lounge. Also, if you find a property that fits all your requirements, but is in need of some repair, ie; old kitchens and bathrooms etc., as long as the price reflects the work needed, we can oganise for quotes and for the refurbishment to be done for you. We always have a number of the best local building firms, transforming tired apartments and villas into stunning show homes for our clients.
Your agent should have a real feeling for what you want from a property, ideally we need to see exactly what’s in your mind. Some clients have a clear vision of what they want, but others are open to see what is available and then refine their search. The sooner the agent knows what is important to you, the sooner you are going to find it. So try and give the agent more than just price, type and number of bedrooms. Try and describe your dream home, for example are you dreaming of a character apartment in the centre of town walking distance to everything, or are you dreaming of a modern development in the hills with large open terrace and sea views. Everyone’s overseas dreams are different.
If you don’t have a set vision and want to explore options, make sure the agent shows you lots of different areas and types of property. We have so many clients come to us asking for a villa in a town they visited once, but after a few days of viewing lots of properties end up buying a large modern garden apartment or penthouse in a completely different area, as it fits their dream lifestyle better than the villas they viewed.
Choose the right agent !
When I first came to Spain, I spent weeks scouring all the agents’ websites and carefully selected around 30 properties via 5 professional looking agencies. They all confirmed the appointments with me, however, they then started showing me completely different properties, nothing like my original list. When I asked what was going on, it turned out that none of the properties I had selected from their websites were available, as they all subscribed to the same out of date shared listing portal. It obviously infuriated me and I took a mental note there and then, that when I started my new Spanish real estate business I was not going to follow the crowd. By that, I mean, I needed to set up a Master Agency with all my own listers and continue my professional UK real estate style. This had already proved to be very successful when I worked in London for 15 years previously to moving to Spain and has proven to be a fundamental part of my success in the many years that I have had my agency here.
So my advice is don’t waste your time looking through lots of different agencies that only use the multi listing service, use a “Master Agent” a more professional real estate business that actually list (takes on) lots of their own properties. Even if you happen to see a property that interests you on another agents’ website the Master Agent can still check if it’s available and arrange a viewing of these as well. Check the real estate business you use has a nice High Street office and Sales Team, as you will be surprised how many of the Costa del Sol Agents advertising in local papers and nice websites are one man bands working from their bedroom, with no staff support and no real chance of finding your dream home. Many of these one man bands look very professional at first glance, with thousands of properties on their website, but they simply pay a €150 a month to get a sharp looking website with thousands of often out of date property listings, that some property portals offer. Ask the questions !!!!! A master agent will have a clear understanding of the properties they are selling, meaning they can marry up clients to properties much quicker, rather than just offering old shared database properties they know little or nothing about.
Peter is one of the most published Costa del Sol property experts in both the UK & Spanish press, having spent most of his working life as a professional Real Estate Agent and Valuer. He is also the Managing Director of the successful Master Real Estate Agency “Overseas Dreams” which has registered offices in both Marbella and La Cala de Mijas. It goes without saying that his Master Agency obviously conforms with all of the above and a lot more besides.
For more information on buying or selling property on the Costa del Sol, contact Peter or any of his team on Tel: (0034) 951 551 444 or email: info@OverseasDreams.com
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