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Finding accomodation in Spain

 

Finding a home in Spain takes lots of patience and persistence. It can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, taking anything from 24 hours to 10 weeks! Many people make the mistake of thinking they will find something, and move in within just a few days.

Make arrangements to visit the area, it's a good opportunity to discover the place that will be your new home. Initially you should familiarize yourself with all the different neighbourhoods (barrios), make sure you have a street map, Spanish streets are not always well signposted. Go to the local tourist information office and get information on the local bus and train lines. Ensure that you are comfortable with the facilities that the area has to offer before committing to live there.
Once you have targeted certain areas, the real fun begins. Make a list of things that are most important to you in your new house, maybe having both an “essential” as well as a “preferred” list.

Estate Agents

The most obvious place to start looking for a new home is to speak to local estate agents, there are many hundreds of eager, professional sales people (comerciales) all willing to help you in your search. Many real estate agents will ask you to dedicate a day or two to look at properties exclusively through their company, whilst this may sound overwhelming at first, for many people it has proven a very time effective way of seeing a cross section of suitable, and not so suitable properties, give it a try!

I have personally used people like vivaestates.com who are realestate agents in Spain and have property for sale on the Costa Del Sol. They have a hundreds of properties for sale across the whole of the region and offer a very comprehensive service.

Advertising

If you're not keen on dealing with estate agents, possibly seeking a cheaper home that the owner is looking to sell direct, then you will need to get used to a property market that is very reliant on local, as well as online advertising, so ensure that you become familiar with the best local property publications and spend as much time online finding websites for vendors to sell directly to prospective purchasers.

Local Research

Another straight forward method of house hunting is to simply walk around the streets to see exactly what is available for sale in your desired neighbourhood. Many empty properties have an orange se aquila (for rent) or green se vende (for sale) sign outside with the telephone number of the owner whom you can then speak to directly, naturally most of these owners will be Spanish so ensure you go into the conversation well prepared.

Networking

Networking is a way of life in Spain, and searching for a home is as good a time as any to begin. A lot of the best properties are not generally advertised, but instead are recommended by word of mouth therefore talk to friends, family , or anyone who lives in the target area and let them know that you are searching for a place to live. The more people that know you’re looking, the better the chance that someone will point you in the right direction.

Make an Offer

Once you have found a suitable property you will naturally need to agree a sales/rental price. There is no hard and fast rule regarding the level of offer that you should make, however if you have a maximum figure in mind you may want to consider an opening bid of 5% below this amount, it will leave some room for negotiation. The property market in Spain is ever changing and there are bargains to be had, remember that if you don’t ask…you don’t get.
Above all, make sure that you find a good, professional Law firm to carry out all necessary checks on the property for you, almost all of the horror stories concerning expats that have ended up losing their homes could have been prevented if they had paid due diligence when appointing a Lawyer to act on their behalf.
Typically buying costs amount to between 10-13% of the purchase price.

Rental Contract

A typical rental contract runs for either 6 or 11 months. Ensure that you read the contract carefully, getting it translated where necessary, and ensure everything is clear. If there is an inventory make sure the items listed are actually there. Also, check that all electrical appliances are in working order, don’t ever accept a verbal guarantee that broken items will be fixed at a later date, get everything written down in the contract, or repaired at the owner’s expense.
Depending on the landlord, utility and community fees (gastos de la comunidad) may or may not be included in the rent. Community fees cover the costs of the porter, maintenance and rubbish collection and sometimes the utilities.

Deposit

Most landlords will ask for a months rent in advance and a two month holding deposit (fianza) which will be returned at the end of the agreement. In Spain it is also quite normal for landlords to ask for additional guarantees, such as a copy of a payslip (nómina) as proof that your monthly salary exceeds the rent. As a further guarantee, landlords sometimes ask for a copy of an aval bancario which is essentially a letter of credit from your Spanish bank which guarantees that in the event you default on your rental obligation, then the bank will pay the amount owed for the remainder of the term.

Good luck!

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