The Marbella Property Sellers Guide

Selling Property

Selling one’s property is an art. The property market in Marbella has always been competitive and sellers with less experience might achieve far better results if they take advice from experienced professionals.

This brief article is intended to share some essential points about selling properties, based on our own experience of more than 45 years

Marbella is not a big city like London, Madrid or New York with a captive market within 50 kilometres of the centre. Instead, it’s a small city with a mostly secondary housing market and a buying public spread out all over Europe and the world – a subtle but important nuance.

As a result, one characteristic of a secondary housing market is that especially luxurious properties can take a longer time to sell, though in our experience this is considerably shorter where both buyer and seller are serious in their intent.

Establishing an asking price

The most important thing to establish is a ‘sales strategy’, at the heart of which is the asking price. In other words, if you ask too much for your property, people will not even bother to view and it will linger unseen. Ask too little for your property, and you are potentially throwing away money.

The right asking price is perhaps the most essential ingredient in the art of selling real estate and is the result of thorough market research. Do not opt for the figure you would like to hear, find out the true market value, taking into consideration: what sales of comparable properties have been accomplished, and at what price? What are other owners with similar properties asking?

The right asking price is perhaps the most essential ingredient in the art of selling real estate and is the result of thorough market research. Do not opt for the figure you would like to hear, find out the true market value, taking into consideration: what sales of comparable properties have been accomplished, and at what price? What are other owners with similar properties asking?

Avoid Quoting a net price

One thing to avoid, if you intend to use agents to market your property, is listing on a net basis, where you want a fixed sum with the agent’s commission added on top. What will happen is that you can end up with a property marketed at several different prices, leading to confusion among potential buyers.

Wise sellers will form a team with their agents and protect their agents’ commission, as they too expect to be protected and advised by their agents, and fix one sole asking price for the property, inclusive of commission.

Exclusivity or Not

Should you give an exclusive sales agreement to an agent? If you are an absentee owner, or if you don’t feel like playing a co-ordination role among various agents of varying ability, granting exclusivity to a leading agent can make your life a lot easier.

It also provides the agency in question with the confidence to fully dedicate its energy and resources to the marketing and promotion of the property. A professional agency will propose a coordinated strategy based on its experience and adapted to the specifics of your property. This will include the creation of quality marketing material and targeted promotional campaigns.

A responsible agent will try to avoid taking a sole agency unless he sincerely feels that the asking price is correct and that he or she is truly capable of selling the property within the time frame allocated. Providing agents you trust with easy access to the home is important in order not to lose potential buyers, though a good agent will screen interested parties first. They will also offer advice on how best to present the property for viewings and approach the negotiation process.

Commission Rates

The standard agency fee in a resort area such as Marbella is 5% plus VAT, which covers the marketing, promotion, and listing of properties and the arranging of viewings, follow-up with prospective buyers, property searches, providing background information and support throughout the buying process and beyond. Agents don’t give keys out to clients, they always show properties personally and they will spend a great deal of time in their efforts to find the right buyer.

Frequent comments by sellers:

"My property has been on the market for months and I'm hardly getting any viewings"
Some brochures of our exlusive propertiesThe only time this might be considered to be normal is if your property would only be of interest to a small cross-section of buyers. All other factors being equal, it is likely your property is over-priced in today's market, or that your property is not getting enough of the right market exposure. Our advice: speak to your agent for their feedback, or seek the advice of another well-established agency with a good reputation. An accurately priced and marketed property should be getting a regular stream of clients viewing it. Depending on the property, this should be from several viewings a week to at least two or more viewings a month.

An owner may say "but why should I lower my asking price if the other properties for sale in the same complex are priced similarly to mine and they aren't as good?" Good question. The fact is that if you are not getting viewings, they may not be getting viewings at their asking prices either. The other thing to consider is that if your property has a lower asking price than inferior properties for sale in your complex, then clients viewing those properties will certainly also be looking at yours.

"All the clients that agents bring to my property are time-wasters"
Are they really? If you are getting lots of viewings and no offers on your property, chances are your property is not as unique as you'd like to think it is. It likely needs to be reduced in price or perhaps consider making universally-desirable renovations to it in order to increase its appeal. And always remember, selling a property in many ways is a numbers game. The more people who view it, the better chance there is of one of them falling in love with the property and buying it.

"I really need to sell my property now"
If you need to sell your property within, say 2 to 3 months, you need to be prepared to price it at a heavy discount when compared to similar properties on the market. What kind of discount? Here is where you really do need to have a very knowledgeable agent working for you who can suggest a low enough price to attract the necessary viewings to get the property sold, while at the same time not pricing it too low. .

"How much negotiation room should I build into my asking price?"
With the help of your agent we recommend getting a thorough understanding of the prices of similar properties in the market. Then price the property accordingly taking into consideration not just asking prices, but prices at which properties have actually sold. A knowledgeable agent in your area should have this information or can find out for you. Then price the property accordingly and as aggressively as you feel comfortable doing.

Bear in mind that no buyer will want to pay the full asking price on a property, they will still want a discount, and even more so in today's crisis climate. However, many buyers are very knowledgeable today and will recognize a realistically-priced property if they see it, and will take this into account when negotiating. But the old rule of "asking your final price" and not negotiating is still, usually, tantamount to suicide for a seller.

Other tips for selling your home:

Your property should be presented in its best light

First impressions count. When agents take clients to view your property, ensure that curtains and shutters are open to let lots of light flood the property.

Check your agent's website to see how your property is presented to clients, both in terms of the photographs and the description and the accuracy of the information presented.

Check your agent’s website to see how your property is presented, in terms of the photographs, the description and the accuracy of the information provided.

While photography should be representative, it should also present your property as well as it can, enthusing potential buyers. To stand out from the crowd you may need professional images, especially indoors.

If there are any small repairs or repainting that would enhance the overall appeal of the property, it's well worth getting this work done now to eliminate any small "objection factors". Although it goes without saying, a clean house is a desirable house, and many buyers are put off if the property is grubby or untidy, and use small factors to justify a seller and to themselves a lower offer. Make sure your home is spotless and you will instantly create a favourable impression.

Get your main agent to put up their "For Sale" sign

This always results in enquiries. Many potential buyers drive around different residential areas to get a feel for what areas they like best, before going to an agent. Who knows, they might even be looking at yours from outside, saying "that would be a nice property for us!" but without the sign, they would never know it is for sale. Not allowing a sign to be placed is to block one of the many proven paths for reaching the market place. Our experience is that signs help significantly in selling properties.

Facilitate viewings on as short a notice as possible

If you leave your keys with a neighbour who plays golf three times a week, you are losing a vital chance to show the property at the client's convenience. Bear in mind that the first properties that agents tend to show are the ones they have the keys to. Properties that need appointments to be set up in advance will generally be shown less.


Make sure that you are fully aware of your tax obligations when you put your property on the market. Meet with your lawyer and tax advisor, and find out the options open to you to ensure there are no surprises when you eventually enter into negotiations to sell.

Negotiating a sale

Let your agent form a team with you with respect to handling the negotiation in an eventual sale, checking points with your lawyer and tax advisor when necessary. This is your agent's job and one of the reasons you pay the agency's fee, and experienced agents are generally better at negotiating the commercial points of a deal than lawyers. Once this is accomplished, your lawyer should take the lead role (in coordination with your agent when necessary), draft the sales contract and supervise the eventual completion of the sale.

If you are frequently travelling, it can often make sense to leave a Power of Attorney enabling your lawyer to sign a private contract on your written instructions. You can negotiate the details of the sale with your agent by telephone and e-mail and your lawyer with the Power of Attorney can take the "first step" towards the sale by signing a private contract without delay.

Points to consider when a negotiation is taking place:

Is the buyer expecting a counter-offer from you or has he or she given you a one-and-only, take-it-or-leave-it offer? Do they have other properties in mind if they don't buy yours? Is their offer a fair one? Are all details included in the offer - price, target contract date, deposit, completion date, precise understanding of what is included in the sale in the form of fixtures, fittings and furniture, etc.? All these items should be agreed upon at the outset before lawyers are instructed. To avoid unpleasant surprises, under no circumstances should the commercial points in a transaction be negotiated "piecemeal".

Don't allow yourself to be pressured by your agent or anyone else to accept an offer! A good agent will simply point out your options, give you a sincere opinion based on his experience of showing the property often, along with information about real sale prices of similar properties and support the conclusion that you reach. But once you make up your mind to proceed, and considering the "emotional factor" of many property buyers where they can change their minds abruptly, make sure you move quickly (but surely) to close the deal.

In summary, selling a property can be as easy or as complicated as any task involving one's personal affairs. Competent, honest, professional help from agents, lawyers and tax advisors can go a long way to help you manage your sale objectively and easily.

By Alex Clover
Copyright © 2020
Panorama Properties S.L.
All rights reserved

Other articles from Panorama.

Marbella Property Market Report
An up-to-date report on how the worldwide economic crisis is affecting the property market in Spain's most important resort city.

Property Buyers Guide
The buyer's problem in finding the right property, negotiating its purchase and closing the sale is much more difficult than in one's own country.

Q & A buying a property in Spain
by Christopher Clover, Managing Director of Panorama, Marbella’s longest established Real Estate Agency.

Property tags