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Hi,

having sold a property my wife and I were looking for somewhere to park our money with the prospect of a reasonable return in the mid to long-term. We had toyed with the idea of a holiday home before, and had looked at several potential countries. It was the sale of the property that re-focussed our attention.

After a lot of research we decided that Spain was the place. The market had been at rock-bottom for over a year, but estate agents were reporting an increase in viewings, and this was backed-up by rightmove analytics.

As we live near Stansted Airport it was the locations in Spain that could be reached from that airport that eventually led us to Malaga, and an exploration of the Costa del Sol.

Our budget was 200K -250K euros.

Rightmove gave us a list of properties in our price bracket, filtered by our other requirements (at least 2 bedrooms, pool or shared pool, detached house/villa). Eventually we came up with a list of 6 villas that we wanted to see, and booked a long weekend in Malaga and went out there just before Easter, and while the fares were still 30 euro each way with RyanAir.

Our first problem was in contacting the agents listed beside each property. I told them that I was coming to see 6 properties, 3 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday, and that I was likely to buy one of them, and that I was a cash buyer, and could they suggest an appointment time.

Two of the agents wanted nothing to do with this, told me I was doing it all wrong, and that if I did not appoint them to be my exclusive agent to find me a property, then they were not interested. Another agent grumbled along the same lines, but said they would show me the villa against their name (in Rightmove). The other three agents all gave me appointments with no fuss, and I gave them the details of the two properties that I could not get appointments for, and they arranged those appointments too.

We looked at lovely high-spec villas in Tropical Hills, and La Cala Golf resort (unsold since new, after 5 years). What let these properties down (for us) was their location. You needed a car to get to anywhere, and there were no facilities withing walking distance (supermarkets, other shops, bars, doctors etc).

We saw a couple of established villas in residential areas, but the online photographs gave them an air of space that did not match up with reality.

One agent (Remax) could not find the villa they wanted to show us, and we decided that Estepona was too far out anyway. We had grown to like the Benalmadena/Fuengirola/La Cala area anyway, and all within a 20-30min drive to Malaga airport.

The 6th property was to be the one shown by the agent who grumbled, and at the last minute refused to show us the property, so we went back to the last agent and asked if they could show us the property, and they found the owner, and arranged a viewing, all at short notice, on the Monday morning (we were leaving on the 3pm flight). The agency was Alamo. As it turned out the villa was not suitable either, but the agent said as she knew us better now, and had a good idea of our requirements she had a property in mind that might suit us.

We quickly moved on to the 'mystery house' and it was love at first sight. It was situated in El Faro about 2km west of Fuengirola, but unlike Benalmadena and Fuengirola was more of a middle-class residential village atmosphere rather than a developed tourist destination.

Just before the financial crash these villa/bungalows were selling for 400K euros, but the price had tumbled during the crash and the one we were looking at had come down to 235K euros. We offered 200K and finally agreed on 215K, and the owners left everything as included in the sale, taking only personal possessions.

The villa had two bedrooms, but an enormous double garage could be converted into a further two bedrooms, sea views, and had a shared community pool across the road.

The Norwegian couple that owned it were in their seventies now, and wanted to return to Norway to spend more time with the grandchildren. They left for Norway 1 week later after we had paid the Retention Deposit of 6K euros.

I went back to El Faro last week to sign a power of attorney, sign the contract, and pay the 10% deposit (less the 6K already paid). The lawyer opened a bank account in my name, will arrange the transfer of all utilities into my name, the NIE, and all other matters relating to the sale.

The contract says the balance shall be paid before the 23rd June, so if we get the funds together earlier we can complete earlier.

I had a good chat with some of the neighbours (all, it appears are British), and they gave me some useful tips and information.

There is a large British supermarket 5 mins by car (Iceland-Waitrose), a huge Olympic sized outdoor pool a couple of minutes walk away (1 euro admission), and a couple of restaurants a minute's walk away. It is 7 minutes walk to the beach, and a small parade of shops/bars/cafes/tapas etc.

All in all a quite painless exercise.

Wibs
 

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Congratulations:) you made a good choice and didn't get bullied by Agents trailing you around unsuitable properties. El Faro is ideal and has some good views.
 

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Thank you for sharing your story. Your experience with uncooperative agents will be useful not just for other potential buyers but also for people trying to sell their homes.
 

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Just a long weekend to look at and buy a place for upto €250,000 that you could spend the rest of your life in?

I would have wanted 2-4 weeks and started looking around agents and properties only after arrival.
 

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We are just starting on a similar journey but are going on a £99 trip with one agent, I wonder if this is very wrong or just a little wrong. Anyway it's booked for Tuesday so it's a done deal and it's only £99 after all. :)
 

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What do you get for the £99 Simon?
That covers flight from Bristol to Alicante (our preferred area) accommodation for three nights and being shown a list of properties while there. It also gets us picked up from the airport and driven back when finished. It seemed a good deal. :)
We'll have a look anyway. Can't hurt can it?
 

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I remember the crazy time when Agents were bussing people in. The Punters were never out of their sight, hard sell and just showed them what they the Agents wanted to sell...lambs to the slaughter.
 

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Congratulations! You'll enjoy Spain no doubt.

Mind you, for 215,000 here in this part, I could buy a mansion with a massive private pool! how expensive in Malaga!!
 

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Nice purchase

Congratulations and thanks for sharing your interesting story.

We plan to spend 2 weeks looking at properties in the Costa Del Sol in a weeks time. Some of them are in El Faro, which does look a "value for money" area. Just hope you haven't bought one of the ones we have our eye on.
 

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My wife and I recently decided to look at vacation properties on the Costa del Sol and elected to buy a duplex in Puerto Banus with great views of the Mediterranean and mountains. A similar property in Florida would be 2 or 3 times more and California probably 4 times more so we are very pleased even though we paid a little more than the OP (who seems like he got a great deal).

I expect the Costa del Sol to get back to where it was in the next 5 years so now is a great time to invest in my opinion.
 

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My wife and I recently decided to look at vacation properties on the Costa del Sol and elected to buy a duplex in Puerto Banus with great views of the Mediterranean and mountains. A similar property in Florida would be 2 or 3 times more and California probably 4 times more so we are very pleased even though we paid a little more than the OP (who seems like he got a great deal).

I expect the Costa del Sol to get back to where it was in the next 5 years so now is a great time to invest in my opinion.
I wish you were right with all of my might
But, you are not making the right move
You want to sow, and have got plenty dough
And tend to believe believe the agents groove.

Before you do anything, I advise you to rent
And perhaps you will not lose all
People like you, are heaven sent,
Please keep your eye on the ball.

In five years time, Spain will still be the same
And you'll have a lot less to rue
Property is a game by those of no shame
They don't care who they screw.
 

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Wibs, just looked at your photos and that's a great price for what you're getting. Things of that quality seem to be around the 265-315k at the moment. Hopefully we'll be joining you sometime later this summer as well.

May give Alamo a tinkle to see if they have similar bargains.
 

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Wibs, that looks superb and thanks for sharing your experience, very helpful.

Simon j how did you get on?
 

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Looks lovely. We just spent 10days in Costa blanca area looking at properties along the coast,and slightly inland. Did see some stunning new builds with pools and a couple of older ones (agents get high commission on the new builds). We are coming back over to rent for around three months to start. To make sure of the areas. Due to some mobility problems with my husband we have to be on one floor and not a lot of steps. So actually not that easy in Spain unless you want to live in the middle of nowhere. Our budget is up to 250,000 so we hope to find something decent in a nice area when we're back over. This will be our only house as going for it full time for good. Hopefully.
 
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