In this post, I would like to share some information and advice with you about searching for your perfect property abroad.
Simply, don’t do it.
Because, it almost certainly doesn’t exist.
I hear the groans and shrieks of disagreement from realtors and estate agents from all over the world as I write this. I feel the disappointment and the popping of bubbles of the many who dream of buying property abroad.
Before you get your back up or leave this page, cursing me, let me explain …
Perfect Property vs Ideal Property Abroad
My comments and suggestions are based on spending time with people from all backgrounds, with a wide range of budgets, as a Property Finder in Malaga, Spain. I do not believe in wasting people’s time nor money. I understand the stress and pressure that is involved with purchasing a property abroad, particularly in a country where the rules are different and when you don’t understand the language.
No matter where you are looking for property, think about this. Hopefully, you will thank me for it.
having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
“They dreamt of finding their perfect property abroad“
satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable.
“They were delighted to find their ideal property abroad“
Our ideal property abroad is not always what we initially believe it to be. Many people end up buying something that is very different to what they thought they initially wanted. What they initially dreamed of.
I am not saying this happens with everybody. The motive for the purchase is an influencing factor. Ask, yourself, are you buying with your head or your heart?
Here are a few points to consider…
Is this purely an investment decision, a personal desire or a mixture of the two?
In the majority of my clients cases, purchasing a property in Spain is a mixture of the two. They are looking for a property for their own personal use, either a holiday home or a permanent residence, but are also looking for something that they are going to make money on. Nobody will say that they are happy to lose money on a property. Or, at least, I will not allow them to.
Spain is a wonderful country with so much to offer so many. Malaga and the Costa del Sol are always top of the popularity tables for foreign investors.
However, purchasing a property in Spain is not cheap. There are many costs involved. Ensure these costs are clear and included in your purchase budget. Ask your lawyer to clearly explain not only purchase taxes but also annual tax obligations.
Does size really matter?
I am often surprised at the size of property and the number of bedrooms people initially say that they need. Admittedly, this is often before they start their property search with me. The importance of internal living space, particularly in the Malaga and Costa del Sol area, is secondary to the importance of outside living space. Are you moving over to spend all your time indoors or to be outside enjoying the stunning scenery and beautiful temperatures?
Consider which external areas you can adapt to maximise the time you spend outdoors. Covered eating areas, outdoor kitchens/bbq areas and indoor/outdoor terraces are worth so much more than an internal room.
You may not thinks so now but believe me, you will.
Remember that the tax obligations, cost of maintenance and upkeep of a property will cost a similar amount whether you are using it on a permanent basis or simply as a holiday home.
You can change a house, but you can’t change a location!
Do not fall in love with a property before researching a location. Read my Finding your Ideal Location post for more details on this very important point.
And remember, if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly always is. A stunning property at an amazing price is almost always hiding something. (See my next point).
Remember, estate agents are working for the vendors …
On a final note: Don’t cut corners on lawyers fees!
I insist on my clients using an independent lawyer. This is money and time seriously well spent. A slight delay in the completion date and extra cost at the outset will often save you a lot more money and time in the long run. After all, what is 1% of the purchase price when you can be certain that there will be a happy ending with no unexpected surprises?
Using the same lawyer as the vendor can cause a lot if unnecessary and expensive complications. Don’t do it!