Buying property in Spain: how to search for homes for sale

Property search and price comparison for estate professionals in Mallorca and Ibiza casafari

We conducted numerous interviews with buyers of second homes and holiday homes from the UK, US, Switzerland, and Germany, and concluded that the majority of them encounter problems in finding and purchasing prime properties abroad. Not only that, but the dream of owning a holiday home in the sun sometimes failed to meet expectations.

Everyone we spoke to who had been through this process confirmed that a buyer’s guide with a checklist and step-by-step explanation could help to make significant savings in time and money.

In the first part of our Buying Property in Spain series, we provide you with advice on how to search for and source your perfect Spanish property investment.

a. Lay the groundwork

Finding your dream home is the first important step in buying a Spanish property. The stage will require a significant investment of your time in researching the area, contacting estate agents and deciding with the best ones to work with, attending viewings and obtaining additional information on the chosen property.

view from the roof terrace of penthouse apartment in Port Andratx MajorcaCopyright: All Rights Reserved

Only 60% of estate agents are likely to speak your native language whilst more than 70% have simply listed the properties they are selling, without having seen them.

As a buyer, this means you need to be precise in the search, and, increasingly, property investors are using a buyers’ agent, who can undertake much of this time-consuming work. This is at no additional cost to the client, as buyers’ agents’ fees are split with those of the estate agent. Their job entails researching the area, the selection of an estate agency to work with, assisting with the final purchase of the property and follow up support. Unfortunately, the majority of buyers remain aware that estate agents are employed by the seller, which can result in a conflict of interest while possibly compromising their impartiality.

When starting the search, you first need to set your budget, which should include fees and other additional costs. Secondly, ensure that your budget meets your criteria for the location and size of a property. Be very precise about your criteria, because the value of the property will ultimately depend on both its size and location. This prior knowledge will make your search more efficient and increase your chances of your dream home being what you want to buy, rather than what the seller would like you to buy.

b. Start the search process

Now you are ready for buying property in Spain, having set your budget and the criteria for the location and type of property, as well as activating multiple search alerts. Congratulations! Now the fun part of the search really begins.

Firstly, collect any information on the area available on the internet and from other sources. You can spend a great deal of time looking at this material and consulting regional guides. Therefore, we created the neighbourhood guides, for you to get a complete overview of each region and village in the Balearic Islands.

Neighbourhood guides to consult property buyers where to purchase a house in Mallorca and IbizaCopyright: All Rights Reserved

Searching for properties is the most challenging part, and can cost you both time and money. According to our 2016 research, there were over 15,000 individual properties on the market with different estate agents in Mallorca alone.

Multiple listings often result in disparities in price information and other data. Here is a selection of our findings:

In 10% of cases prices varied (by 28% on average);
In 16% of cases bedroom data varied (by 1 on average);
In 25% of cases bathroom data varied (by 2 on average);
In 28% of cases surface area data varied (by 6% on average);
In 39% of cases plot surface data varies (by 136 square metres on average);
In 83% of cases terrace surface area differs (by 8% on average).
Property price comparison in meta search with 20 real estate agencies in MallorcaCopyright: All Rights Reserved

What does this mean for you? Because there is almost no exclusivity on the real estate market, in order to get accurate information, you should check all the estate agents who are listing an individual property. Also due to the large number of estate agencies, sellers don’t always inform all agencies to update their listings when property prices change. Sometimes estate agents are not in direct contact with the seller, which can lead to inaccuracies in the information available. In order to save yourself time and money in research, check out  Casafari – Property Search, Price and Estate Agency Comparison in Mallorca and Ibiza. We compare thousands of properties and analyse the market in each area, so with one click you can access a market overview with price distribution information and decide which estate agent to contact.

Endeavour to gather information about a property from as many sources as possible and compare prices according to square metre throughout the area. Carefully examine the price dynamics and this data should give you the confidence to make the right decision for your investment. Bear in mind that real estate can offer one of the best opportunities for investment, by selecting the right area and type of property.

Finally, whether you use a buyers’ agent or conduct the search process yourself, only you can choose the right property to visit and maybe purchase.

c. Set search alerts

To keep yourself updated and in the loop, set up multiple and targeted email search alerts in order to receive an instant notification whenever a suitable new property is listed somewhere. Bear in mind, that other buyers are also seeking a dream home and great deals, so the use of technology can offer a strong advantage in finding new properties before them. Also, make the most of classified adverts, marketplaces and estate agents’ websites.

property search alerts with daily and weekly reports in Mallorca and IbizaCopyright: All Rights Reserved.

But be attentive when you receive the first alerts and check the relevance of the information, as you are likely to receive details of a random selection of properties, which may not suit your requirements and are far from what you are ideally looking for.

d. Research the area

As already mentioned, you will need to carry out some research on the area for buying property in Spain, so let us provide you with the information you should obtain when selecting a location.

It is important to consider the surrounding infrastructure of a property:

1. the distance from the nearest airport

2. does the area have upmarket restaurants, golf and yacht clubs, secluded beaches and boutique hotels, or are there more pubs, noisy clubs, spacious beaches and large hotels?

3. what kind of buildings typify the neighbourhood: Bauhaus villas, traditional fincas, or high rise apartment buildings?

4. how good are the local healthcare facilities in terms of hospitals and clinics?

5. how many local supermarkets are there and what is the distance to them?

6. are there international colleges or universities nearby, for families with children entering higher education?

7. are there adequate sporting facilities locally and are your own hobbies catered for?

Research the local climate:

1. annual and monthly days of sunshine

2. average monthly rainfall

3. prevailing winds, how cold or warm, dry or rainy, clean or dusty? – each type of wind can impact on your well-being

4. average annual air and water temperatures

5. the position of the sun is important especially during the winter months, as it can influence the humidity levels in a property

buyers neighbourhood guide with climate, sunshine hours, wind direction in Mallorca and IbizaCopyright: All Rights Reserved.

If your second home is considered an investment that you might wish to sell in the future, it is essential to check any planned developments in the area with the local authority. It would be unfortunate to find a few years down the line that a large hotel has been constructed that will block your view, or that ongoing construction and other noise ruin your dream home. Even worse is finding out that there is nothing you can do, as it is all legal.

In order to feel at home, choose your neighbourhood carefully as you may prefer to live in an international community, as opposed to being surrounded by your own countrymen.

It’s worthwhile obtaining an idea of hobbies available in the area; Mallorca, for example, offers a wide choice of activities to suit everyone, regardless of age and gender.

Most importantly, check out the different types of beaches, and their distance from you. When they are likely to be most crowded and which nationalities are likely to frequent them and their overall security?

All the above-mentioned points are interconnected and each has a bearing on the choices you make in order to feel happy and secure, throughout the time you remain in your property.

e. Visit the area and properties

After gathering information on the area and selecting a list of suitable properties, it is time to plan your visit but before buying a plane ticket to Mallorca, select the right season and weather conditions. You need to ensure that you are able to check everything you had planned to, and that those few rainy days on Mallorca don’t spoil your first visit and leave you with a negative impression.

Don’t forget to request accurate photographs from the estate agents, so you will know what to expect from your visits to the properties.

Having done this, spend some time in the area you liked the most and speak to local people in order to help you make the right decision.

port andratx propertyCopyright: All Rights Reserved.

f. Use your visit to ask questions and check everything

Did you book visits for buying property in Spain? We recommend that you request the following information from the agents:

1. general plans and a description of the property, and its utilities (water, gas and heating systems) if available

2. a brief description of the property, facilities and services, if available

3. a brief description of the materials used in building the property

Secondly, examine the property’s physical features, and request information on:

1. the duration and direction of the sun and which side is the windiest throughout the year

2. the location of windows needing seasonal protection from the sun and the wind

3. the amount of light the property gets in winter

4. humidity in winter; look at the walls, cellars and places in the shade

5. date of the last refurbishment to the property

6. age of electrical and water installations

7. water supply – is it communal or dependent on private delivery in vehicles?

8. check noise levels

Finally, if the estate agent or seller is available, ask them any relevant questions about the property and its neighbourhood. Ask for detailed information about the before and after process of the purchase and try and ascertain who your neighbours are likely to be.

In summary, the search process is all about comparisons, careful examination, and requesting relevant information.

You can contact an estate agent whenever you need to and you can either instruct a surveyor for a professional detailed report, or you can do everything yourself although this is less advisable. The statistics indicate that it is easy to waste a lot of time and money when buying property in Spain without the help of a professional.

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