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Guides for International Buyers #1

"The first in a series of guides for international property buyers in Spain highlighting key issues. This one focuses on the item at the top of the list - Location."

Spain has long been a magnet for international buyers seeking a slice of the Mediterranean lifestyle. With its diverse regions, rich culture, and favourable climate, Spain offers a wide range of property options for holiday homes or something more permanent and rental investment. In a series of guides, I’ll delve into the current Spanish property market, highlighting some key insights and considerations for international buyers. 

Doing the due diligence at the start of the search process saves time, money, frustration and, often, disappointment later on. As property finders, working exclusively for the buyer, The Property Finders do the due diligence for you. The first phase of the search process is always about checking and double-checking and flagging up any issue that negatively impacts a property. It is so easy for buyers to be seduced by a wonderful sea-view that they forget to check for possible future construction that will block it out. But before any property visits, the most important issue is getting the location right.


It always has been, still is and always will be about location. Unless they have unlimited time to go travelling, and few do, for many property buyers in Spain that means looking in locations they already know, usually from annual family holidays in the past. A location that was perfect for sun n’ sand holidays with young children in tow may not work as well when you’re likely to be visiting more often and at different times of the year or, ultimately, making your Spanish home permanent. And Spain now has a global property market and while it may not be a problem to make repeat trips to check locations and properties if you can jump on a 3hr flight any day of the week but it’s another issue altogether if you are buying long-distance and getting to Spain requires 15hrs+ flying time and energy-sapping time changes. Getting help with the time-consuming due diligence and leg-work makes sense.

So, once we know what the most important criteria are for a new client who is not locked in to a definite location already, and we find the majority are not and welcome suggestions, the first step, before even thinking about specific properties, is to prepare area appraisals. These will give detailed information about the areas and locations in the preferred region that are a good fit for the criteria. And it’s at this stage one of the biggest differences between estate agents and property finders emerges. Estate agents don’t flag up, or even want to discuss, any negatives about their territory; it’s all wonderful and there’s nowhere else quite like it. We don’t take that view and over the years many clients have bought property in a location they had never heard of until we suggested it. 

The main reason for this difference is that, as property finders, we are not restricted to one particular area, unlike estate agents who want you to buy in their patch and nowhere else. But as we cover whole regions we can compare and contrast across difference provinces and different environments. As a result, researching in several locations up to a couple of hundred kilometres apart is nothing unusual for us. So, if you are short of time or would welcome more in-depth information about a wide range of locations and environments that you maybe know a bit about or nothing at all then ask The Property Finders to do their stuff. We know our territories better than any estate agent and we give you everything you need to know to make an informed decision. 

A recent case highlights just how much our area appraisals help, saving time and repeated trips, and that means money. Recent clients came for quite a lengthy stay during the summer school holidays, not having any idea of where to buy and they had no intention of buying on this trip.  They just wanted to work out which location would work best for them and leave the property search part of the process for later in the year. However, due to the area appraisals I had already sent them they were familiar with what to look out for and where and I left them to do some exploring on their own. Instead of going round in circles they were informed and focused. By the time they left we had viewed several houses I had already reported on, picked one, had it surveyed, and negotiated a great deal which has now completed. 

Current clients from California are looking for a home in the Andalucían countryside but their knowledge so far was based on research online. They didn’t know, until I told them, that winter temperatures in parts of inland Andalucía can go quite low, and are always lower than on the coasts. Finding inland locations with the winter warmth they wanted would be a challenge; the further inland you go winter daytime temperatures may be 10ºC - 15ºC lower than on the coasts. However, there are pockets of relatively warm temperatures in a few places and based on the area appraisals I had submitted prior to their orientation visit they were able to focus on the best for their requirements and reject the unsuitable ones. This meant that when we moved on to the search for specific properties I was told to concentrate on just two areas and they will be viewing in a few weeks time. With the information I gave them they can be confident they will get the mildest winter temperatures in inland Andalucía and can focus on finding the right property for them in the right location.

Detailed information about local conditions, comparing and contrasting disparate locations over a wide area really does make a difference to the property finding process and that’s what buying agents do and estate agents can’t.

Next time, I’ll look at the what we do once we’ve sorted out where we’ll be looking.

About the author

Barbara Wood

Barbara founded The Property Finders in 2003. More than two decades of experience and her in-depth knowledge of the Spanish property market help buyers get the knowledge they need to find the right property for them.

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