The language you need to understand a Spanish property advert

Just like in English there is a totally unspoken language used within property adverts in Spain. Graham Hunt, a property expert in Valencia gives the lowdown on the lingo you need when house or apartment hunting.

The language you need to understand a Spanish property advert
Photo: AFP

Where in English you need to read between the lines and understand that “bijou”, “compact” and “cozy” all mean “Oh my god never mind a cat you couldn’t even swing a hamster in here” Spanish Property Adverts have their own language and you need to understand it before making any decisions to view.

Therefore below we have ten examples of what to look out for, the actual translation and what they really mean.

“Luminoso” as in “Piso muy luminoso”

Literally it means with a lot of light. The reality is that it means “With a lot of light as long as you turn every light in the flat on even at midday”. Luminoso is another way of saying that you will be living in the equivalent of a cave and will step out blinking into the light whenever you venture outside asking what is that yellow orb in the sky.

A genuinely “muy luminoso” apartment. Photo:


“Espacioso” as in “Piso muy espacioso”. 

Spacious taken in its literal sense. Small when used in a property advert. Beware of the variable, “Una sensación de espacio”. The only way any property described as such will feel spacious is if you remove all of the furniture, paint it white and add on an extension that effectively doubles the size.

“Con mucho estilo” as in “Un ático con mucho estilo”.

Well style is a matter of opinion of course but I have noticed that every single apartment that claims “con mucho estilo” means that it has a white leather sofa and black shelving units with a large flatscreen television dominating the “espacioso” room.

“Impresionantes Vistas” literally “Incredible views”.

However what this really means is that your view is not blocked out by a brick wall on the other side of the street just yards from your main living room window. When you see “Impresionantes vistas” in an ad think about what an impressive view actually is. As I have said before do you live in the spectacular facade or opposite the good looking building in a plain 70’s block?

A real “Impresionante Vista” In a Spanish city. Photo:



You'll know this means modernised of course.  What this usually means is that the flat has been freshly painted and possibly a new cheap Leroy Merlin kitchen has been badly installed. “Completamente reformado” means completely done up in a cheap way of course rather than just the kitchen.

“Ubicación inmejorable”

It means really well positioned (Beware of “bien situado” too). However as we know what is written usually doesn’t really correspond to reality. There is a difference in mindset between the average Spanish person and the usual foreign buyer. “Ubicación inmejorable” will often mean it is above a bus stop, metro stop and a main road and even better above the loud and late opening bar that the current owner works in meaning he never has to go far to get to work. Remember you probably won’t be working there.

“Primeras calidades”

Literally this phrase means “top quality materials”.  However this usually means that the windows are double glazed rather than just single pane and the tiles that were chosen for the bathroom were only the second cheapest available rather than the dog ends of production. It also invariably means that the taps are “Monomando” meaning there is not a separate hot and cold tap. Apparently that is the limit of top quality materials.


This means central of course.  However what it really means is, “not really near the centre…. actually half way to the outskirts but we don’t want to tell you where exactly” If an apartment for example is on the main shopping street or the most exclusive residential road the owner will let you know. “Centrico is much too vague.

“Muy cerca del pueblo”

Photo: PMRMaeyaert/CC/ Wikipedia 


This literally means “Very near to the town” and just like time, distance is relative. You would assume this means you could amble into town and stroll back to your house in the country after a nice meal and a couple of drinks but what it really means is fill up your tank in the car just in case you run out of fuel on the journey back or more realistically don’t expect to be able to walk home with the groceries because you would die on the side of the road in a trough of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

“Terraza amplia”

Again literally means “Ample or good sized terrace”. However as we know that is not exactly the case. What this means is that you can stand looking out over the street on the balcony and on a good day two of you might be able to stand there. What it does not mean is room for a table and four chairs and room to move around overlooking the Mediterranean. Believe you me if the terrace is a good size in Spain the actual square metre size will be mentioned. Anything into double figures is the usual cut off point for this consideration, ie 10m2 and above. If the words used are “Terraza amplia” expect a balcony…. maybe.

So there you have your dictionary of terms used in Spanish Property Adverts and what they really mean… usually. There may be some agents out there telling the truth but after 15 years doing this job I have never seen a “Luminsoso” flat that actually does have a lot of light and all of those places described as having a “Terraza amplia” have been sore let downs.

Remember to read between the lines.

If there are other typical examples of “estate agent speak” you have noticed let others know in the comments!

Graham Hunt is a real estate agent and relocation expert based in Valencia. Originally from just outside Liverpool he came to Spain as a student and never left. Read more at his blog or follow him on Twitter. If you want him to show you around some properties in Valencia, drop him a line.

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EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

If you get locked out, have a break-in or need to change or fix the door lock at your home in Spain, here are the rates and advice you need before calling a Spanish locksmith (cerrajero).

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

Like anywhere, locksmiths are generally expensive and the price can vary greatly depending on the service you need and where you are.

It also depends on when you need them, as it’ll cost much more to call them out on a Saturday night than a Monday morning, for example.

Nor would it cost the same to open your front door as it would a reinforced security door.

But locksmiths don’t just make copies of keys and bail you out when you’re stuck outside your flat.

They also offer a whole host of different services including, but not limited to, opening safes, creating master keys, installing security doors, anti-drill doors, cutting specialist locks that reject copied keys, and even unlocking the boot of your car.

How much does a locksmith cost in Spain?

Given all these variables, the price can range massively.

According to Cronoshare, the average price for a nationwide call out in Spain can start from €80 anywhere up to €400.

On average, for a basic service, you can expect to pay anywhere between €40-€70 an hour for the labour, with the price of changing or installing a basic lock anywhere between €80-€200. 

For basic door openings, it depends on the situation you find yourself in: for doors locked with a key, which is a more complex task, prices average around €200, and for doors that are jammed or slammed shut, slightly cheaper in the €80-€100 range.

For an armoured or security door, prices can start at around €300.

In short, a general rule is that the more complex the task is, the higher the prices.

And as always, prices can vary depending on where you are in Spain, the quality of the locksmith, the time of the day and week you need his or her services, and if its a public holiday or not. 

So, as always, compare prices to try and find the most economical solution without skimping on quality.

As such, the following rates are estimations taken from average prices from locksmith.

Weekend/holiday rates

Where prices can really start to add up, however, is when you have an emergency situation requiring a locksmith’s assistance at the weekend, on a public holiday, or outside of normal working hours.

And if you live in Spain, you probably know there’s quite a few of those days throughout the year.

If you really need a cerrajero on a public holiday or during non-working hours (usually defined as anything between 8pm-8am) prices can reach €300 or €500 due to the fact you’ll have to cover the cost of travel, which starts from around €40 plus the increased rate.

Then you must also include the price of labour to the flat rate, which is usually somewhere between €40 and €70 an hour regardless of when you call them out.

Key vocabulary 

We’ve put together some of the basic vocabulary you might need if you find yourself needing a locksmith while in Spain.

el cerrajero – locksmith

la llave – the key

la llave de repuesto – the spare key

la puerta – the door

la cerradura – the lock

la bisagra – the hinge

día festivo – public holiday

cambio de bombín – change of cylinder lock

puerta blindada – armoured door

coste de mano de obra – labour costs

quedarse afuera – get locked out 

puerta cerrada de un portazo – door slammed shut

puerta cerrada con llave – locked door

Tips relating to choosing a good locksmith in Spain 

If you’ve just started renting a new place or have bought a property, it’s advisable to change the lock as you don’t know who has keys to your front door. If you’re a tenant, try to negotiate this with your landlord as it’s in both of your interests that only you two have keys to the property.

If there has been a burglary in your property while you’re living in it and there’s no sign of forced entry, then there’s a very big chance that the burglars had a copy of your keys, and you should definitely change the locks. 

If you’ve lost your keys and you think it happened close to your home, again it’s advisable for you to change the locks.

One of the best ways to avoid being locked out and having to cough up a hefty sum is to give a spare set to someone that you trust that lives in your town or city in Spain. 

When it comes to choosing a locksmith in Spain, you should make sure he or she is a reputable one. Asking friends and family first can be your first port of call.

If not, make sure you read reviews online if available to get any insight beforehand.

In order to avoid any nasty surprises, ask them on the phone for a budget (presupuesto) for all the costs attached to their services before accepting.

Be wary of cerrajeros that automatically want to change the whole lock when a simpler and less costly option is possible. 

Usually they should offer you a contract for you to read carefully before signing. It should include a three-month guarantee for the potential new lock or at least a breakdown of the costs.

Make sure that they are not charging you an excessively high price if it’s an emergency, as this is not actually legal.

There’s also asking them to prove their accreditation with the Unión Cerrajeros de Seguridad (UCES).

Weekend and holiday rates can be higher nonetheless, so consider your options and if it’s worth staying with a friend or family member for a night to save some money. A trustworthy and honest cerrajero will let you know about the money you could save if you choose to wait as well.