You have already decided, you have some savings, you have crunched the numbers and you are going to get into one of the most important adventures of your life: buying a house. But as you start you realize that it is not as simple as you imagined.
Let’s go ahead and discuss 8 practical steps to help you find your dream home in Southern Spain.
1. Be clear about what you want.
It seems obvious, but it is not. Before embarking on such a project, you should spend time thinking about what your needs are, present and medium term, and also your real capacity to satisfy them. Your possibilities will depend on the options you find and the budget you have.
Important things you should have on your list:
- Budget: what can you realistically afford?
- Location: beachfront / in-town / city center / in-land / golf / urbanization / resort style / marina / etc
- Property type: apartment / penthouse / villa / finca / townhouse
- Number of must have bedrooms / bathrooms
- Extras: pool / terrace area / min. garden or plot size
2. Research your prospective locations. Extensively!
Finding the right property for you in Spain also consists of knowing WHERE you want to live. The location of your new home will determine a large part of the quality of your everyday life. Many foreign buyers are looking for a "place in the sun" to live in an area with abundant sunshine that is ideal for hanging out outdoors, on the beach and enjoying a fantastic climate. One of the most popular destinations in recent years for this is the Costa del Sol in Southern Spain - this is where we actually have been researching our next home as well - our favorite spot right now is a small town on the coastline called Estepona.
More about our location pick: Estepona
When you think of Andalusia, you think of sun and sea, but also of white houses, narrow streets and brightly colored flowers. Estepona offers all this and much more. The municipality consists of an attractive old village, modern urbanisations, high mountains and 23 kilometers of coastline. The former fishing village owes everything to tourism and it therefore does a lot to continue to attract tourists. The last decade has seen Estepona going through positive public infrastructure development.
The squares and streets are constantly well cared for: the houses regularly receive a new coat of paint and almost all facades have colorful flower boxes with plants, each street has its own color. Estepona is therefore nicknamed 'the garden of the Costa del Sol' (El jardín de la Costa del Sol). All the beautification projects attracted a lot of tourism attention and the Estepona property market started booming a couple of years ago. New housing developments are at an all time-high and the second hand home market is in very good shape too.
The old town of Estepona is one of the best-preserved examples of an Andalusian village on the Costa del Sol. Many of the streets are pedestrian and it is a pleasure to stroll through the village and occasionally visit a shop or settle on a terrace. In addition, nineteen large murals can be seen in the center and you can walk a poetry route. You will also find the remains of the castle of San Luis and a fifteenth-century bell tower.
The old town center can be divided into eight neighborhoods, each of which has its own characteristics and is worth exploring. On the sea there is also the beautifully landscaped beach promenade, the marina and the beautiful orchid garden, which is housed in a building with a glass dome, which you can see from afar. And of course there are the long beaches of coarse sand, such as the Playa del Cristo and the Playa de la Rada, with all possible amenities.
Estepona is also an ideal base for lovers of mountains and nature. The Sierra Crestallina and the Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja Natural Park are just a short distance away. And only an hour's drive to the beautiful and world-famous Ronda and the wild mountain country behind it.
3. Use the support of real estate professionals
It is difficult to cover all the possibilities that the market offers you. The more you limit your search, the less likely you are to find the best home. There are real estate professionals to provide you with greater security regarding the characteristics of the properties and access a wider range of property offers. There are hundreds of Costa del Sol property professionals to pick from and the best advice we can give is asking around on local social media groups and searching for recommendations.
4. Once chosen, investigate what the housing situation is
We must know very well what we are buying: if you have financial burdens, property problems or defects. That is why we recommend going to the Property Registry, the Cadastre or even the town hall to find out your situation. It is essential that you get all the information about the conditions, the management involved and the obligations and expenses that you will incur.
5. Find out about all the procedures you will have to do and the expenses you will have to face.
The complexity of the administrative procedures and the expenses to be paid will depend on the type of housing that we buy. Buying a second-hand home is not the same as buying a new home. In any of them you must inform yourself well to be clear about the steps to follow and the payments you will have to pay.
6. Know the true value of your home
Before setting the price, we must check that what we are going to agree on is not above the market. Keep in mind that when applying for a mortgage you will be granted it based on its real value, not the agreed one. Let's imagine that you agree to pay 120,000 euros for a flat and then a professional appraisal determines that its value is 100,000 euros. If, for example, the bank grants you a mortgage over 80% of its value, you can count on 80,000 euros. The other 40,000 must be provided by you. It is vital to do a pre-appraisal or use online tools.
7. Study what type of mortgage you are interested in
Today you can choose between mortgages at a fixed, variable or mixed rate . In the first case, we will always pay the same fee. In the second, it will depend on the evolution of the indicator. In mixed mortgages, the first years are at a fixed rate and the rest at a variable rate.
8. Choose the home insurance that best suits your needs
It is important to know the difference between multi-risk insurance and minimum home insurance. The first is usually recommended for homes with jewelry, antiques, furniture of great value, or works of art. The second is much more basic but covers fires, pipeline jams, robberies and thefts. After analyzing both, the important thing is to choose the one we really need.
The above couple of points should put you into the right direction to get started on your home-purchasing journey in Spain. Hope you find it helpful and we are looking to get your comments and suggestions if you have any.