We aren’t just talking about the price of the actual property. Buying Spanish real estate also involves paying taxes and fees, between 8 and 15 percent depending on the price of the property.
Given the size of the investment, it makes sound financial sense to look at how to cut down your expenses.
In this article Celeste Alonso, manager of The Property Agent and an expert on real estate on the Costa del Sol, suggests seven ways to save money when buying a home on the Costa del Sol.
Between them, they can potentially save you thousands of euros.
1- Tap into expert advice
Your first step to save money when buying a home on the Costa del Sol is to take advice from experts in the area. They include:
An estate agent with established roots and experience in your chosen location. Local expertise is vital, especially when it comes to understanding market prices – only a seasoned real estate agent will be able to tell you if a property is really worth its asking price. A good agent will also be useful when it comes to negotiating the price (see below).
A lawyer who speaks your language and defends your interests. Expert legal advice will check your chosen property for charges and planning illegalities, problems that can cost you money, time and stress later on.
Bottom line? Choose an agent who listens and cares about your purchase. This attention to detail will not only ensure you get the home you’re looking for but could save you money during the process.
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2- Negotiate the price
In Spain, haggling forms part of the culture, so there’s always wiggle room on a property price. However, there’s also a fine line between paying less and offending the owner. Go too low, and you risk the seller walking away from the table.
So, before you suggest a sum, tap into some expert advice from your estate agent to help answer the following questions:
Is the property priced to the current market?
A reputable local estate agent should be your first stop for advice on the price. They will be able to guide you on market values and tell you if your chosen property has a fair price. Ask also for examples of recent sales of similar properties. A seller may be more likely to accept a lower price if you can show that comparative homes have gone for less.
How motivated is the seller?
Your agent may also be able to give you some background on the seller. Why are they selling? How keen or desperate are they for a quick sale? Circumstances working against the owner, e.g. divorce, debt or mortgage problems, can shift the balance to the buyer’s favour.
How much would a cash purchase lower the price?
Cash is always king and can help you save money when buying a home on the Costa del Sol. If you are a cash buyer (or can be one), see if you can negotiate a lower price in exchange for a quick sale. A seller in a hurry may be willing to knock off a few thousand euros if it means you buy sooner.
Bottom line? Before you go to the negotiating table, decide how high you are prepared to go for the property. If the seller will only accept more than you can afford, be ready to walk away.
3- Bag some extras
Another way to save money when buying a home on the Costa del Sol is to purchase a property with as many extras as possible. They include:
- Furniture and appliances – even if the furniture isn’t quite your style, you’ll be able to move in straight away and save on initial purchases.
- Soft furnishings – curtains and blinds can be expensive, particularly if they’re custom made. You could save money if you negotiate their inclusion in the price or make a separate offer for them.
- Garden furniture and fittings – most properties on the Costa del Sol come with an outdoor space, and you’ll save money if the terrace tables and chairs, pool loungers, barbecue… come included
Bottom line? Extras are only worthwhile if they’re quality. Sub-standard items with high wear and tear will cost you money to get rid of.
4- Get a survey
This tip for saving money when buying property on the Costa del Sol might seem contradictory because, after all, a survey costs money. However, the initial outlay can save you a lot of money later on.
Bear in mind that home staging and a fresh coat of paint make a home look fantastic, but they could be hiding a wealth of problems underneath. This is particularly true if you’re interested in an older or rural property. Bring in a surveyor to alert you to possible issues and defects so that you can negotiate a reduction in price with the seller or ask them to fix the fault before they sell.
Bottom line? Only a surveyor will be able to tell you the true nature of those cracks, the state of the roof, the age of the plumbing and electrical installations…
5- Shop around for a mortgage
If you’re buying on the Costa del Sol with a mortgage, spending some time researching what’s available has the potential to save you thousands. To help you see what’s available, use an online comparison tool and take note of the best mortgage deals suggested. Then contact the banks in question and find out what they can offer you.
Bear in mind:
- The pros and cons of variable and fixed-rate mortgages.
- Bank commissions for early cancellation, switching to a variable from fixed etc. Read the small print carefully and make sure you understand every clause.
- Other commitments such as compulsory house and/or life insurance.
All the above can cost you money, so it’s worth spending some time doing the Maths.
Bottom line? With the Euribor in the negative territory now is an excellent time to take a mortgage on the Costa del Sol.
READ MORE Spanish mortgages: Ten things foreigners should know before getting one
6- Use a currency transfer specialist
If you’re buying on the Costa del Sol with funds from a non-euro currency, transferring the money to Spain from pounds sterling or Swedish krona, for example, can cost you thousands in bank fees. To avoid extortionate bank charges, use a specialist currency firm to transfer funds for your purchase. Not only will you get a better exchange rate than at a bank, but you will also avoid a high commission. Transferwise is a great online tool that converts currencies at the market rate without all the extra costs charged by banks.
Bottom line? Consider looking into an exchange rate. While no one has a crystal ball and can predict what currency rates will do, there are general trends. Committing to a fixed rate for the time it takes you to buy can save you a lot of money.
7- Buying new build or off-plan on the Costa del Sol.
Photo: Niklas Schoenberger
Purchasing a new property on the Costa del Sol is a popular option, and there are currently some excellent new developments under construction. At The Property Agent, we specialise in this type of property and just like resales; you can save money when buying a new home on the Costa del Sol.
- Buy offseason
The winter months are the least busy time of the year for off-plan property buying on the Costa del Sol. By extension, this is when you’re most likely to find better discounts. January is a quiet time of the year and a good month to approach the sales office.
- Negotiate the price
Just like regular homeowners, developers are often open to discussing a price. Even if they refuse to budge on the final price, you may be able to get a special deal on the mortgage or an extra included for the same original price.
- Change your requirements
If you have your heart set on a particular new development on the Costa del Sol, but your dream home is out of your budget, consider buying a smaller property or one with a different orientation. Slightly smaller floorplans, apartments looking west instead of south or with views over the hills instead of the sea are almost always cheaper.
- Upgrade the finishes
Even if you can’t negotiate a lower price for your new build, the developer may be open to giving you better fittings and fixtures. You could get quartz worktops instead of granite, Bosch appliances rather than Balay or the air conditioning fully functional instead of the pre-installation. All these upgrades are worth money and add value to your home on the Costa del Sol.
Bottom line? The property market on the Costa del Sol is currently slanted towards the buyer, so there’s plenty of room for negotiation. And of course, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Contact the experts
This article has been written by Celeste Alonso, who runs The Property Agent specializing in real estate on the Costa del Sol. If you are looking for property on the Costa del Sol contact her for HERE.