If you are a Brit thinking of buying in Spain, the general election result last week that saw a surprise victory for the Conservative party has made Sterling even stronger against the Euro, so if you are looking to invest in property in Spain there has never been a better time
But to help you avoid the pitfalls of which there can be many, The Local brings you a top ten guide to buying Spanish property from Laura Richards, Spain Buying Guide Country Manager from the OverseasGuidesCompany.com.
1. Think about your finances as soon as you can
Once you have decided that you want to move to Spain, it's important to start organising your finances straight away. You will need to raise money for the purchase of a property, taking into account buying fees and any other costs that could arise; this could include legal fees, registration fees, estate agent commission and more.
2. Accept the consequences of currency fluctuations
Currency rates fluctuate continuously, as they are transferred on a ‘live' market. Very often, a buyer will view a property and decide to buy based on the GBP/EUR rate of that day. As rates fluctuate by the minute, by the time they come to complete on the purchase and make the transfer, the rate could have dropped dramatically.
3. Make sure your budget is realistic
It's so important to know exactly how much you can afford before you make a trip over to Spain to view property. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a property and then find out that you cannot realistically afford it. We also recommend speaking to a currency exchange specialist to help you assess the risk of currency fluctuations and guide you on the best ways to protect yourself and maximize your budget.
4.Research the Spanish buying process
With such a huge decision as purchasing property, especially one in another country, preparation will always be of paramount importance. Spend time researching online, but make sure that you ensure everything that you read is the latest version– legislations do tend to change regularly. SpainBuyingGuide.com is always kept up to date, and we receive regular contributions from expats in Spain who can update us on changes as they happen.
5. Research the areas you like with care
Photo: Wikipedia commons/Espenca
Don't presume that everywhere in Spain is hot, sunny and near a beach. There are myriad different landscapes and climates across the country, and it's so important to assess each area you like the look of and work out exactly what it is you want from your new neighbourhood – in terms of climate, facilities, residents and anything else important to you.
6.Find the right estate agent
Your estate agent will be one of the most important people to help you on your overseas property journey, and it's important to make sure you chose the right one. You need an agent that specialises in the areas that you are interested in, who will understand your exact requirements, and who has experience in buying or selling with expats from the UK. Researching online is useful, and will give you an idea of the different options you can chose from. If you know someone who has already purchased property in the area, see if they can recommend an agent personally. It's so important to make sure you have an estate agent that you trust; this will ensure you can make the most of any viewing trips, saving you both time and money.
7. Visit in the off-peak season
It's a good idea to visit your prospective neighbourhood in the winter as well as the summer. The weather will often be a bit colder and the towns a lot quieter than you would expect, and this gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with all the seasonal differences. In the winter months you may also find that the estate agents have more time for you and vendors may be willing to accept slightly lower offers.
8. Consult an independent, bilingual solicitor that you trust
Having an independent solicitor on your side, someone who is familiar with the buying process in Spain, is really important. They will work with your best interests in mind and will be able to advise you at every stage.
9. Think about renting before you buy
If you are still unsure about the best way to make the move over to Spain and purchasing a property while you are out of the country, why not consider renting a property first? You could always spend a couple of months in a few different places until you find your dream neighbourhood.
10. Avoid risk when sending money overseas
Whatever you decide to do, you can avoid the risk of currency fluctuations by making use of a specialist currency product called a forward contract. This enables you to lock in an exchange rate at the time you commit to purchasing the property, meaning you won't lose any money if the currency markets move dramatically while the sale is in progress. When the time comes to transfer the final balance for a property, you can be safe in the knowledge that the rate (and therefore the price of the property in sterling) will remain the same – no matter what the market is doing.