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What you need to avoid when buying a property in Spain

Spanish property expert Sean Woolley shares his advice with The Local Spain’s readers about what to do and what to avoid when searching for a dream property in Spain.

What you need to avoid when buying a property in Spain
Photo: Supplied

If you are looking to buy a property in Spain there is so much to think about and many factors to consider before you proceed.

As an agent, we’re always offering advice and pointers for our buyers, flagging up concerns and issues. 

So we’ve put together our essential dos and don’ts, to help you to avoid the pitfalls and make the right decisions. 


1. Do your research      

Don’t let the dream of owning a second home in sunny Spain cloud your decision making. Buying a property is an important decision, and one which must be handled correctly to stop that dream turning into a nightmare. Look online, talk to experts, visit the area, talk to locals and be prepared for the good and bad aspects of living in Spain and owning property here.                               

2. Work with the right people   

Make sure you do your research when choosing your agent, legal representative and advisors, as you need to trust them implicitly to help you make the right decision.           

3. Trust your instinct                                         

Trust your gut feeling throughout your property search, from choosing an agent to signing a deal on a property. Ask yourself – Does this company or person feel right? Do I like what I hear? Does it all stack up? If you have doubts, check and double check and if you’re not sure, walk away.      

4. Make a list of ‘must-haves’   

Start your search with a clear view of the essentials for your property and then a second list of desirable elements that you’re willing to compromise on. Think about why you are buying, who for and what will you be using it for e.g. would you like to rent it out. Convey this to your agent so they can make sure you’re buying a property which fits the bill.                              

5. Treat your viewings seriously            

I’d advise you to treat your property hunting visit as a business trip or a fact-finding mission. Of course, combine it with having a great time, but don’t expect to get much done if you have an army of screaming kids in tow or if you intend to go out on the town every night.                                   

6. Negotiate on legal fees

Most lawyers charge a standard fee of 1% + IVA of the property price (with a minimum fee of something like €2,000). This means that if you spend €500,000, your legal fees will amount to €6,050 (1% + 21% IVA), but if your property is costing €1,500,000, your legal fees shoot up to €18,150. To me, this doesn’t seem fair. Effectively you are being charged three times more for the lawyer to do the same job. It’s still one property, with one set of title deeds. But I would strongly recommend negotiating either a reduced percentage fee or a flat fee in advance.                                              

7. Use a mortgage broker and currency specialist 

Seek advice from a specialist mortgage broker based here in Spain. The mortgage market is forever changing, and these guys have their finger on the pulse, and will be able to assess which lenders may offer the most competitive mortgage deals for clients. If you are purchasing in a currency outside of the euro-zone, you should definitely use a reputable currency broker to transfer your funds into euros, instead of using a high street bank. It can make a HUGE difference to how much you pay for your property!


1. Don’t expect perfection

I ALWAYS point out to clients that they are NOT going to find their perfect property. It normally doesn’t exist, and that’s irrespective of the budget. That’s not being negative, simply practical. So make a list of 10 things that the ‘dream’ property needs to have. Look at your list with the understanding that you would be doing really well to tick 7 or 8 of those 10 boxes. This means that you can remain grounded during the property search, and it provides a point of reference when looking at properties and comparing them on a like-for-like basis.

2. Don’t leave your brain at home

I’ve seen it happen so often in the last 20 years!  Clients become over-excited, they become unrealistic, they spend too much money, they purchase something wholly inappropriate, they even buy when they’re drunk. In essence they do things that they would never do at home, so don’t follow in their footsteps. The key is to get to know the area as well as possible, ask as many questions as possible and approach your property hunting seriously. 

3. Don’t overspend

Choose a realistic budget and don’t overstretch yourselves, you can always buy a bigger property when you have a foothold on the ladder and know that you love the area. 

4. Don’t confuse ‘cheap’ with ‘value’     

Great properties in the best areas will likely never need to be drastically reduced, because the demand for them is consistently high. You need to understand the market and the best locations to identify the best value property which will be the most sensible investment over the long-term. 

5. Don’t buy for your relatives and friends

Don’t be a slave to friends and family when purchasing a second home. Of course it’s great to share it with your friends and family, but remember who’s paying for it and don’t let their needs dictate your purchase.

6. Don’t trust all online property adverts

Please watch out for agents who seem to have an endless list of great-value and amazingly priced properties in 5* locations, posted on all the property portals. These properties are posted online simply to generate enquiries. They are NOT REAL! These adverts and listings are misleading at best, and fraudulent at worst. So, my advice is to be extra careful when using property portals. You can never be sure about the accuracy of the information.

7. Don’t forget about the fees

It’s really important that clients understand the costs involved in purchasing a Spanish property, and also the costs involved in owning the property from month to month. As a rule of thumb, the total buying costs for a resale property will be somewhere between 10% – 11%, while the costs for purchasing a new-build property will fall into the range of 13.5% – 14.5%. In addition to the costs of purchase, you will also need to consider the property’s running costs and community fees.

For more information, top tips and tricks to ensure your Spanish property purchase goes smoothly, read From the Ground Up – The Insider’s Guide to Buying Spanish Property, which is now available on Amazon. 

Sean Wooley is the Managing Director of Cloud Nine Prestige, a luxury real estate agency in Marbella, southern Spain. 

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +34 951 204 229

Mobile: +34 692 254 432

Member comments

  1. Don’t buy, but do rent. Luke 14 forsake all, everyone, and your life for Me.
    Matthew 5-7 work for Me not money and I will give you food and clothing.
    Mark 16 share the Truth to all.
    John 17 work together in love.
    Don’t take the Mark of the Beast; right hand or forehead, only way to buy or sell (not a mask or vaccine, but could be a quantum implant or tattoo thing). Revelation 13-14.
    USA maybe the Babylon, to be destroyed with fire in one hour. Revelation 17-18.

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For members


REVEALED: The cheapest most in-demand areas in Spain to buy a house

If you're considering making the move and buying property in Spain, but don't fancy purchasing in a rural village in the middle of nowhere, you should know where the cheapest, most in-demand parts of the country are.

REVEALED: The cheapest most in-demand areas in Spain to buy a house

If you’re thinking about relocating, Spain is a fantastic place to do it. Foreigners have been moving to Spain for decades, not only for its fantastic food and weather, along with a laid-back lifestyle, but housing is generally affordable – if you know where to look.

Though the rise in the Euribor has sent interest rates spiking, house prices in Spain are expected to flatten somewhat in 2023 and it could be a good year to find a bargain, depending on your financial situation.

Knowing what type of house you want and where in Spain you want to live is one thing, but knowing the cheapest, yet most in-demand parts of the country could really help you narrow down your search.

Fortunately, Spain’s leading property website Idealista has put together a list of the most ‘in demand’ municipalities of Spain and where you can find the most expensive and, more importantly for the house hunters among us, the cheapest municipalities of Spain to buy property.

It’s based on data from the last quarter of 2022 and is the average price of housing in towns with more than 1,300 sale announcements and costs valued at more than €1,100 per square metre. 

You can find the ten cheapest areas of Spain to buy property by average price below, but it’s worth noting that Idealista did these rankings by average price across the entire municipality, so there are likely individual towns and villages dotted around Spain where prices are significantly lower.

That said, this list gives you a good idea of the areas to look out for.

READ ALSO:  What will happen with property prices in Spain in 2023?

The 10 cheapest municipalities in Spain to buy property 

Santa Pola (Alicante) – Santa Pola, in the Alicante province, is the cheapest most in-demand municipality to buy a house, according to Idealista’s rankings. The average price for a house in Santa Pola costs just €151,796, though this may come as a surprise given its prime location in a foreign hotspot on the sought-after Costa Blanca. The main town of Santa Pola itself is a small beachfront community with a population of around 35,000. It also has a large foreign population and is a short drive or bus away from both Alicante and Elche.

Ourense (Galicia) – Next on the list is Ourense in Galicia where the average price is €154,941. The municipality is home to several towns and villages, surrounding the main medium-sized town of Ourense itself in southern Galicia. The town has a population of around 105,000 and is a little over an hour’s drive from both Santiago de Compostela and the coastal city of Pontevedra.

Oviedo (Asturias) – Third on the list is the municipality of Oviedo where you’ll pay an average of €154,968 for a property. Another area in northern Spain, the main city Oviedo itself, which is the capital of Asturias and has a population of 220,000. It sits between Cantabrian mountains and the Bay of Biscay. It’s known for its picturesque medieval old town and impressive architecture. 

Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) – Properties cost an average of €155,563 in the municipality of Jerez de la Frontera, or Jerez as it’s commonly referred to. It’s located in the Cádiz province of Andalusia and is a real piece of ‘traditional’ Spain. Jerez city is a decent-sized place with a little over 200,000 people and is known for horses, flamenco dancing and sherry, as well as the Alcázar de Jerez, an 11th-century fortress that harks back to Andalusia’s Moorish past.

READ ALSO: Is it better to buy or rent in Spain right now?

Torrevieja (Alicante) – Another municipality in Alicante and another incredibly popular with foreign homeowners. Properties here go for an average of €155,787. Torrevieja itself has a population of 82,000 and is another coastal town, but also has nature trails and salt plains nearby.

Murcia (Murcia) – Murcia is often overlooked, wedged between Alicante and Andalusia, but you could grab a bargain here with average prices of €157,119. Murcia capital is a bustling city of almost 450,000 people, and is strategically placed for trips to the Costa Blanca, Costa Calida, Costa del Sol, and Costa de Almeria.

Parla (Madrid) – The municipality of Parla lies just 20km south of Madrid and the town of the same name is home to 130,000 residents. It’s a great commuter area for those who work in Getafe or the capital. A house here costs an average of €160,652. 

Salamanca (Castilla y León) – The municipality of Salamanca surrounds the capital of Salamanca in Castilla y León in northwestern Spain. Buying a property in this area costs an average of €162,909. The main city of Salamanca is known for its university, which is the oldest in Spain and dates back to 1218. Understandably, much of Salamanca’s roughly 150,000 residents are students, which gives the town a lively atmosphere.

Burgos (Castilla y León) – Another northwestern Castilla y León municipality, is Burgos has around, where you can buy a house for just €163,164. The city of Burgos has around 180,000 inhabitants and is known for its medieval architecture and grand cathedral. 

Dos Hermanas (Sevilla) – The second most populous municipality in the province of Seville, properties cost an average of €163.274 here. The Andalusian town is just 15km south of Seville, making it great for commuters or those who want plenty of culture nearby.