My First Dealings with Estate Agents in Spain

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My First Dealings with Estate Agents in Spain


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Old 25th July 2013, 01:11 PM
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Well we've been thinking of a move to Spain for months now, but recently we went over to Andalucia to thoroughly research areas to try and narrow down our choices, and to do four viewings on properties to get a feel for the market, and to try and get a better idea what we want from a Spanish property, and what sort of style, and location, we prefer.

We met three Estate Agents, and ended up viewing eight properties.

The first agent was Spanish, nice enough, didn't ignore the 'crisis' in his viewing patter, and seemed approachable and realistic....the property was lovely, but overpriced (in my opinion!) and unfortunately not in the best of locations (we had asked to view, so our choice).

The second agent was British, has lived in Spain for many years, and was knowledgable, and informative. She took the time to answer our questions, and go for a drink to discuss what we were looking for, and gave us some very sensible advice. We warmed to her, and would happily deal with her further.
Her properties were nice. First one was nice, but not suitable. The second one lovely, but needing total restoration, and was very overpriced (based on asking price+restoration costs=way above market value). Again these were our choices to view.

The third agency was seeing five properties but with two agents. We saw two very interesting properties with one of them, one we quite liked, one we didn't, but in an area we knew little about. The agent was friendly, and helpful, but less polished.

The 5th property we saw was with the same agency, but with a different agent (the boss). We thought the house was ok, but hated the location. The agent was very 'slick!'!

My impression was quite good considering all I'd heard of these lying, cut throat dealers preying on green sun-seekers with more money than sense!

The Spanish guy I'd happily deal with again, the second one I've got faith in to forge a good understanding with, the third I think seems a good base to start negotiations with.

It's the fourth, the boss, I'm doubting......

I sent two emails out this week, I was honest and open in both. I put my cards on the table, and stated that some of the properties were based on values in owners heads, not based on what buyers like myself were prepared to risk on spending on properties in Spain in the present climate. I sent that to agent 2, and agent 4.

The reply from agent 2 was as honest as mine, she understood what I was saying, and said I was in the position to negotiate, and right to be cautious, and to keep my eyes open rather than be blinded by the dream etc. ....in my eyes an honest response.

Agent number 4's was a little different....he suggested that the prices have fallen to as low as they're going to fall, and that the nice properties are being snapped up, and house sales are the highest since 2008, so if we bought now we wouldn't sell at a loss if we decided to sell later.....

.....how daft does he think we are??? Those comments are so wide of the mark that I feel a little insulted!

I was only reading yesterday that the house values have dropped a further 10% over the last quarter, and that follows a continuing trend. Also, the two properties are very nice properties...both have been on the market for 18 months..no 'snapping up' there! It would be interesting to know what price band the high sales are in, and how much below the asking price the sales were?

I honestly believe that the Spanish housing market is kidding itself of the value of property. I think it's fuelled by owners unwilling to accept that their equity has vanished, and are clinging onto past values. And agents desperate for a sale at a high commission.

I think a calculation of €1000 per m2 is also only accurate if it is relevant to the market...I'm afraid it isn't anymore!

As a potential buyer, I think it is ridiculous the amount of money some owners/agents are expecting for some properties, and how much buyers like me are being asked to risk in the Spanish market at the moment. And it is a risk!...it's not about how much I can AFFORD to spend, it's about how much I'm prepared to RISK in the purchase of a Spanish property at the moment. The prices at the moment aren't encouraging buyers like me to take that risk.

I think some owners/agents should take a peak at properties in France....they are less than half the money for twice as much. And it's time owners realised that the current climate means buyers are having to be more savvy and cautious with their money, and aren't just blinded by 'the dream' and the sun!

Don't get me wrong, I do feel for the owners, but unfortunately that is the situation they are in. If I buy a property I would accept I'm now in the same boat. But I'm not going to be so stupid to fall for inflated prices just to minimise somebody else's troubles and then drastically increasing my own!....and I'm a bit annoyed that an agent thinks I'm so 'green' that I'll believe any old twaddle!

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Old 25th July 2013, 01:57 PM
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You might find it advantageous to find out what the owner of the property thinks it is being advertised for.

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Old 25th July 2013, 02:27 PM
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You might find it advantageous to find out what the owner of the property thinks it is being advertised for.
Wouldn't they know??? If I had a house for sale with an agent I'd agree a fee, then I'd have a look on their website at my property...just to see how it presented....but if I saw it was on at anything other than the agreed price I'd be cracking heads!!

So surely the owner would know?

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Old 25th July 2013, 02:30 PM
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I like this monster

5 bedroom villa for sale in La Paloma, Manilva (Malaga) - Spain, Spain

Shame it needs another 200k to finish it off.

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Old 25th July 2013, 02:49 PM
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I can only speak for what we experienced and that was a few years ago (2006-2007).

We met with both Spanish and British estate agents. None tried to push us (but the selling stakes were not quite as difficult then) however there was a wide variation in the expectations and reality. It was often difficult to tell whether the price being quoted by the agent accurately reflected the market value (or the owner's expectations) or was overinflated to allow room for negotiation while still giving the agent a decent take and for the owner to be content.

After seeing a number of houses in various states of (dis)repair and being sold both by Spanish and by Brits we came to the conclusion that Brit houses being sold by Brit agents were the more overpriced to the point of being unrealistic - they often had cheap DiY makeovers, electrics wired to Brit standards (illegal in Spain) even using Brit 13A plugs and socket and bayonet fittings on lights (Selling point - don't need to change plugs or bulbs), shiny slippery tiles on stairs (no need to polish), etc.

The most ruinous houses we saw were via Spanish agents selling on behalf of Spanish, but to be fair, the prices invariably reflected the state of decrepitude although they did also have houses that were 'sort-of OK'. A few Spanish-owned houses were being sold by Brit agents and, again, they were often overpriced. With many of the houses, we never saw the owners and a lot were unoccupied.

When the owner was there, he/she would often contribute to your seeing the house and frequently supplied interesting titbits of information (not available through the agent) so that you got to know more about the house - "My great-grandfather had the house built in 1905 and, then, this was in the centre of the village, not like it is now. "I was born in that bedroom. "In 1962, the house was pulled down and rebuilt using block and beam. "This is my favourite room and I sit here when I do my sewing and have a lovely view of the mountains. " That photo? "They were my husbands parents, mine are in that photo over there" etc.

When a house is clearly Spanish owned but unoccupied, frequently the previous owner will have died and the heirs are selling it to get their hands on the inheritance. You may see no problems with this, BUT check that ALL the new owners/heirs are in agreement about selling and about the price because you can waste a lot of time and money trying to make the purchase only to find, in the end, that one recalcitrant owner does not agree and everything falls apart.

We bought our house and it is useful knowing that it was rebuilt in 1962 with a more sturdy construction! The asking price in 2007 was €87k and we paid 85. We paid what we considered was the right price and by being friendly with the owner, we got latitude in making our payments (we needed to sell our flat in UK) and she and her family have been firm friends ever since. They have a huerta with their new house and we frequently get surplus produce from them including 50kg potatoes last weekend.
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Old 25th July 2013, 02:50 PM
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I like this monster

5 bedroom villa for sale in La Paloma, Manilva (Malaga) - Spain, Spain

Shame it needs another 200k to finish it off.
That is a good example of what I'm talking about!.....a big villa certainly, but worth €500,000?!??! No way!..and it's not even finished!! So like you say, pay another €200k getting it finished, and you've got yourself a €700,000 property!.....er, no, I don't think so!!

By the time it's finished you might be able to ask €600,000 for it, but more likely to get far far less to actually sell it!! That to me tells me the asking price is far too high to even contemplating buying it, then finishing it, to even stand a chance of breaking even!! What planet are they on???

But if you really were interested, and you offered €250,000 do you think they'd take it??

My other point is about the risk in the Spanish housing market.....do you really think me, or anyone, would happily invest €700k of my hard earned money into a house in Spain at the moment?...no matter how lovely the house is, the answer is no!...unless you've got more money than sense!

Do people not realise what I could buy in the UK for the equivalent of €700k?....it would be a very very impressive house, in a good area, well presented, and more to the point, with a fraction of the risk involved to my money invested, and my life in general, than buying in Spain!

It really is starting to annoy me that I'd love to buy in Spain, I've got the money waiting, I'm a serious buyer...but I'd practically have to insult some of these people with my offers because they are so far removed from reality!!

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Old 25th July 2013, 03:01 PM
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I can only speak for what we experienced and that was a few years ago (2006-2007).

We met with both Spanish and British estate agents. None tried to push us (but the selling stakes were not quite as difficult then) however there was a wide variation in the expectations and reality. It was often difficult to tell whether the price being quoted by the agent accurately reflected the market value (or the owner's expectations) or was overinflated to allow room for negotiation while still giving the agent a decent take and for the owner to be content.

After seeing a number of houses in various states of (dis)repair and being sold both by Spanish and by Brits we came to the conclusion that Brit houses being sold by Brit agents were the more overpriced to the point of being unrealistic - they often had cheap DiY makeovers, electrics wired to Brit standards (illegal in Spain) even using Brit 13A plugs and socket and bayonet fittings on lights (Selling point - don't need to change plugs or bulbs), shiny slippery tiles on stairs (no need to polish), etc.

The most ruinous houses we saw were via Spanish agents selling on behalf of Spanish, but to be fair, the prices invariably reflected the state of decrepitude although they did also have houses that were 'sort-of OK'. A few Spanish-owned houses were being sold by Brit agents and, again, they were often overpriced. With many of the houses, we never saw the owners and a lot were unoccupied.

When the owner was there, he/she would often contribute to your seeing the house and frequently supplied interesting titbits of information (not available through the agent) so that you got to know more about the house - "My great-grandfather had the house built in 1905 and, then, this was in the centre of the village, not like it is now. "I was born in that bedroom. "In 1962, the house was pulled down and rebuilt using block and beam. "This is my favourite room and I sit here when I do my sewing and have a lovely view of the mountains. " That photo? "They were my husbands parents, mine are in that photo over there" etc.

When a house is clearly Spanish owned but unoccupied, frequently the previous owner will have died and the heirs are selling it to get their hands on the inheritance. You may see no problems with this, BUT check that ALL the new owners/heirs are in agreement about selling and about the price because you can waste a lot of time and money trying to make the purchase only to find, in the end, that one recalcitrant owner does not agree and everything falls apart.

We bought our house and it is useful knowing that it was rebuilt in 1962 with a more sturdy construction! The asking price in 2007 was €87k and we paid 85. We paid what we considered was the right price and by being friendly with the owner, we got latitude in making our payments (we needed to sell our flat in UK) and she and her family have been firm friends ever since. They have a huerta with their new house and we frequently get surplus produce from them including 50kg potatoes last weekend.
That is very interesting, and very similar to my impressions so far. I've not seen any 3-pin plugs...but I'm going to look more closely now!

I would like to do what you suggest..offer a fair price, haggle a bit, then buy with both parties happy. As it stands in most cases now it'd be, see house, make an offer 40-50% below the asking price, insult the owner, annoy the agent, lose any potential goodwill in the deal, and proceed if accepted under tension!......not how I like to do business!

Trouble is we're not talking €87k now...we're still talking silly money!..despite the current climate.

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Old 25th July 2013, 03:02 PM
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Wouldn't they know??? If I had a house for sale with an agent I'd agree a fee, then I'd have a look on their website at my property...just to see how it presented....but if I saw it was on at anything other than the agreed price I'd be cracking heads!!

So surely the owner would know?
Not necessarily. Often the owner can't even read (very true of many over 65-70 years of age) and will perhaps ask for, say 150k. The agent will say I can get you more than that, maybe 200k, leave it with me. I'll do all the talking so don't say anything. He puts on the market for 250k and maybe sells for 225k. The buyer thinks he has got 25k (10%) off. The seller gets 175k (25k more than he wanted so he's happy. The buyer is told , that for tax purposes the paperwork will only show 160k so give the agent a brown envelope containing 65k which by the time it gets to the seller is down to 15k (not hard to guess where the other 50k went).
Net result:
  • Seller happy got 25k more than he expected of which 15k is black money.
  • Agent happy made an nice 50k plus his commission
  • Buyer bought a house and got 25k off it so he's happy, UNTIL he goes to sell it for say 280k (55k profit) and gets hit with a tax bill on 120k profit (difference between paperwork price and new selling price)


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Old 25th July 2013, 03:06 PM
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I think I've heard mention of that before....I obviously wouldn't get involved with anything like that.

Most of the villas/houses we looked at were British owners...so I'm sure they wouldn't be as gullible as that...would they??

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Old 25th July 2013, 04:49 PM
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I like this monster

Shame it needs another 200k to finish it off.
Interesting...what would you say is the replacement costs in it's current condition? I live in Southern Calif and want to move to Spain to get out of the rat race. around here for the equivalent of $500K Euro, you get a generic home on a small lot in a bland suburban area, but there is financing available. So I guess it is all relevant in terms of price.

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