Buying a house in Spain

Finding the perfect Spanish home for you

Conveyancing Sunday, December 21, 2014
Buying a house in Spain

You have made the decision that you want to buy a house in Spain. You are not on your own. Many people, living all over the world, make this decision every year. In fact, the number of foreigners buying in Spain has gradually been increasing as a percentage of the total number bought.

British buyers still top the league of foreigners buying in Spain:

  • UK (15%
  • France (9.84%)
  • Russia (8.58%)
  • Belgium (7.26%)
  • Germany (7.01%)
  • Sweden (5.63%)
  • Norway (5.27%)

So, you are in good company and now just need to make sure that buying a house in Spain is a positive experience that provides everything that you’d hoped for.

Deciding where to buy

Your first decision is ‘whereabouts in Spain?’ Spain is a varied country that offers a whole range of landscapes and cultural mixes, depending upon what your priorities are. If you are already a frequent visitor to Spain then you might by now have a very good idea of where you want to buy.

Usually, people locate according to where they already have some form of connection. It might be somewhere where they have had holidays before or where a friend or relative has already bought a property. This can be a good starting point.

If you don’t already have this link you might be interested to hear whereabouts others are buying. These are some of the most popular destinations:

  • British - Andalucia, Valencia
  • French - Catalonia,  Valencia
  • Russian - Valencia, Catalonia
  • Belgium - Valencia, Andalucia
  • German - Balearics, Canaries
  • Swedish - Valencia, Andalucia
  • Norwegian - Valencia, Andalucia

Of course, you will find groups of all these nationalities in virtually all parts of Spain and its territories. However, these are the areas where you might see the most. Being close to others who speak your native language can be both a boost and a burden.

If you are keen to learn Spanish then even having a few of your native speakers living close to you can mean that speaking Spanish is neglected. However, you may well find it comforting to have others who you can approach in those early days to find out some of the basics about living in Spain.

If you are buying as a non-resident then the best location for learning the language is probably the last thing on your mind. Instead you will have your own checklist that will probably include proximity to the leisure activities that you enjoy.

Consider:

  • What is my real reason for buying a house in Spain and how does this influence my choice of location?
  • What are my three main priorities in terms of location?
  • Do I want to live out in the country, in an urbanisation or somewhere in between?
  • Is it important that I live amongst Spanish speakers?
  • What facilities do I need to be close to for health or other practical reasons?

Keep your answers in mind as your quest of buying a house in Spain continues.

Deciding what to buy

Once you have narrowed your search you can start to focus more on the exact nature of the property you wish to buy. Some of the factors you should consider include:

  • Whether you prefer new or rebuild
  • Whether you prefer a house or apartment
  • The outdoor facilities you need
  • Whether you prefer a refurbished property or one that you can refurbish yourself

You should also take into account how your needs might change over the years. What might seem to be a quiet, country retreat now could become an out-of-the-way isolation unit in future years. 

You preferences will also change depending on whether you are a resident or a non-resident or even if you are considering letting out your property in the future. Think carefully about all the possibilities when you are choosing a property in Spain.

Do your research

You’re in Spain on holiday, you see the house of your dreams and you can afford it. The temptation is to sign there and then on the dotted line. Particularly if someone is putting pressure on you to do so. This is where we can’t state strongly enough that you should be cautious.

Always consider if this is something you would do if you were in your own country. Would you go ahead and agree to buy a property without having a survey done or involving a solicitor? Chances are you’d think you’d be mad not to do so. The same applies in Spain.

You must do your research when buying a house in Spain. Begin with taking time to visit the property at different times of the day and on different days of the week if you can. Find out:

  • Who your neighbours are and if they are happy living there
  • How well the community of owners functions
  • Where the nearest facilities are
  • What the transport is like in the area
  • If there are any issues with flooding or noise

Do keep in mind that some urbanisations can be very quiet during the winter and very noisy in summer if they are mostly populated by non-residents. If you are choosing somewhere to live you might want to ensure that you won’t be the only ones who are there all year round. Familiarising yourself with how to buy property in Spain is an important part of your search:

An Ábaco property assessment includes a wide variety of checks to help you make this important decision.

And finally...

Once you’ve checked out the property and you are happy that it meets your budget then you can take the next step. Get yourself a good solicitor. Try and make sure they have a good reputation in the area and that you can speak to people who have used them before. It is important that you can communicate easily with them. Ideally, they should speak your native language if you are not fluent in Spanish.

A good solicitor will make sure that all the necessary checks are done prior to the sale. They will keep you informed and be able to answer any questions you might have. Make sure that you feel confident that this solicitor will act in your best interests.

Buying a property in any country is one of the biggest steps you will take. Make sure that you do the right preparation and that this is the beginning of a long and happy relationship with Spain.

More information

Information used in the writing of this article comes from our handbook ‘Buying a property in Spain’.

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