Real Estate

Sean Woolley: ‘What research should I be doing before buying property in Spain?’

The headline for this post is, “What research should I be doing before buying property in Spain?” “Lots and lots,” is the short answer. I think the more you know, the more you’re armed with information and knowledge, the better your search is going to be in terms of likely success.

The first step is to narrow down and establish where you want to be. We have clients who come to us searching for a property, but not being sure whether they want to buy in Spain or Portugal or Italy. Those searches are difficult and frustrating for buyers and agents, and don’t tend to get very far.

So, before you start talking to agents, you need to narrow it down and develop a strong opinion about where you want to be and the places you love.

My advice is to go and visit the areas you think could work and get a feel for them, ideally a few times, at different times of year. Hang out, chat to locals, and find out if you like the place and you could imagine coming back time and time again.

You can also use Facebook groups and expat websites which share information on the area and lifestyle to make a more informed decision. Facebook groups are a great place to ask questions about specific issues that are worrying you, such as schools, jobs, clubs and societies, sporting options etc. As always, take answers with a pinch of salt, but they are a great research tool.

You can also check out our Area Guide videos to get to know different areas of the Costa del Sol a little better and narrow down your search.

Go (virtual) shopping

When you’ve found an area or areas that you’re interested in, look on the property portals which advertise properties in Spain, in your language. For instance, if I were trying to buy in the UK, I would probably go onto a big property portal like Rightmove to get an overview of the market, prices and property options. We also have dedicated Spanish property portals like Idealista and Kyero, and English sites such as Rightmove and A Place in the Sun also have a Spanish section.

There are also plenty of portals out there which aggregate all the listings from a multitude of different estate agents and put them in the same place. These are great tools at the research stage, because you can get a snapshot very quickly of what’s available.

However, I would add a few words of caution to keep in mind when you’re searching on portals and advise you not to rely on them 100 percent. That’s because you will often find properties listed in duplicate, or triplicate, with different prices and pictures, and even different property details.

In many cases, agents don’t update the prices on properties, nor do they always take that property off the website when it’s sold. There are also cases of agents putting phantom listings on there, just to try and attract leads.

That’s why you will sometimes see listings that are just too good to be true, to act as bait to get you to contact them and then be upsold to a real property at the market price.

Use these portals as a tool to get to know the market, check your budget against average properties in
the areas you’re interested in and also to see whether the prices between possible areas are
different enough to help you make a decision and narrow your area down even further.

The inside dope

Once you’ve chosen an area and have a feel for the types of properties available for your budget, you want to be putting together a wish list of requirements, and then looking for a local agent on the ground. Find an established agent, who speaks your language and who you feel you’d like to work with.

The relationship and the trust that you have in your agent is crucial and matters a lot more than the properties that are on their website. The reason for this is that we all have access to the same properties.

That’s because pretty much all the agents will use a multi-listing system, where the lead agent will share their listing and other agents can then show that property to their clients too, for maximum exposure for the seller.

This means, as a buyer, you know that if you’ve found an agent that you connect with and trust and who you feel is listening to your requirements, that they will have access to a database of all the properties which fit your criteria. We can search this database and really narrow it down on price, area, number of bedrooms or even the deal breakers such as it must have a pool.

Before you sign up with them, just double check that they have access to these systems and are happy to show you properties from other agents, as well as exclusive listings. As somebody coming from a foreign country, you don’t want to be pigeonholed into one agent’s own listings. You want to see more and to get a better idea of what’s out there.

So that’s a system that really helps us look after our buyers and make sure we can show them everything that fits their requirements, without them having to speak to 20 different agents.


Sean Woolley and Darren Simons from Cloud Nine Spain have launched a new video series on YouTube answering buyers’ questions on everything about buying property in Spain. E-mail questions to be answered on future episodes to [email protected] and you can watch all the videos here:
YouTube @CloudNineSpain.

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Sean Woolley is the founder and director of Cloud Nine Spain. With 20 years’ experience of helping clients buy and sell properties in Spain, he’s known as “The Property Doctor” and has contributed to a host of publications. 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.

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