The Internet has become by far the most useful tool for those looking to buy properties and a net-based property search is usually the first step taken by any potential buyer. But, is it the right second step, once one sees a few desirable properties on several sites, to contact and make appointments with all the agents offering those properties, agents you don’t know or may not have even heard anything about, some of whom do not even identify themselves correctly on their sites?
If your home is your castle, then you won't be the first to decide that Spain is the best place for it. In reality, whether you are building, buying, remodelling or decorating, Andalucia is an ideal place to create your dream home.
To ensure that your real estate investment in Andalucia is sound, both structurally and economically, it is advisable to contract the services of a qualified property surveyor. That way, you will have a reliable building survey and property valuation on which to base your decision.
Andalucia exports nearly 100 million euros in furniture every year - and this is only 14 per cent of the regions overall furniture production. Combine the region's prolific production with a burgeoning import market - especially in areas heavily populated by foreigners - and you can be sure to find everything you will need to furnish your home.
There are a number of associations and groups offering credentials and licenses to real estate agents. Some focus mainly on sharing resources and provide a credential in as much as they associate prestigious or well-known names in the industry and therefore make a joint effort to uphold their good reputation. Others serve as official bodies that license agents or provide on-going training.
The majority of property sales in Andalucía are handled by estate agents (immobiliarias), particularly those where overseas foreign buyers are involved. It's common for foreigners in many countries, particularly Britain and Germany, to use an agent in their own country who works in co-operation with one or more Spanish agents or developers. Many agents in Spain also advertise abroad, and in English language magazines and newspapers in Spain. Most, if not all, of the estate agents in Andalucía have staff who speak English and other foreign languages, so don't be discouraged if you don't speak Spanish.
Buying off plan - or at some point during the construction process - is a popular option in Spain as the earlier you buy in, the less expensive your total purchase price will be. However, while many homeowners are satisfied with the final outcome, you should be aware that there is always the risk the developer will run into hard times and the building will not be completed.
Given the recent increase in foreign property purchases in Andalucia and particularly on the Costa del Sol it is hardly surprising that there is strong demand for mortgages. It seems that Spanish banks have been slow to target this market by appointing specialist mortgage advisors.
Foreign currency issues can have a significant impact on the cost of your purchase. In securing property abroad, purchasers are likely to spend more time searching for the right property via their estate agent and researching the best method of financing their purchase rather than considering the financial implications of transferring money overseas. The transmission of funds for property acquisitions is often done at the last minute. This leaves the buyer exposed to the prevailing exchange rate and can significantly alter the eventual total cost of the property.
Buying a property abroad can seem a daunting prospect for many reasons, none least of which are the language barrier and the difficulty in understanding foreign laws and legal documentation. Foreigners have been buying properties in Andalucia and along the Costa del Sol for decades. The majority of these individuals will have not experienced any significant problems, however horror stories abound whereby people have faced unexpected costs at some stage of the purchase process.